Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sock Summit, Part One

Last Tuesday, the kids and I drove down to Black Butte Ranch in Central Oregon to spend some time with my folks and sister and niece. We swam in the pools and played tennis and the kids investigated Paulina spring and played badminton with balloons instead of birdies. We took a rafting trip on the day when it was cool and rainy, which my poor freezing father survived with grace and the rest of us enjoyed, despite the occasional shivering jags. I took a quick trip to the
Stitchin' Post and spent a gift certificate my folks had given me back in 2003. Here's what I got:

That's two skeins of Koigu Kersti, two skeins of Lamb's Pride worsted, and a roll of Stitch Witchery. I also got a quilting panel from the 2008 Quilt Show, but I put it away before I could photograph it. The Stitchin' Post is still a great shop, but now that I've moved on from quilting to knitting, my interest in what they had has dwindled. It took me over an hour to find these things I was willing to use my gift certificate on-- that's a lifetime in Paige-shopping-time.

On Friday I packed up and headed for Portland for the Sock Summit. I can't stress to you enough what a big deal this was. When registration opened for the classes and events at the conference in early May, 30,000 people helped crash the server. And that was just in the first ten minutes. So to be one of the lucky few who were able to get a ticket and to be doubly lucky to be within driving distance... well, yeah. Huge deal. So although my friend Johnna was going to join me the next day and we were going to have two days to dedicate to just walking around and shopping for yarn amid the hundreds of vendors, I just couldn't stay away. I grabbed a quick pastrami on rye at Kenny & Zuke's and headed for the convention center.

My one suggestion for Stephanie and Tina, the event organizers, would be to set up an elevated platform to give people the proper vantage point to photograph the vendor's marketplace, just to capture the magnitude of it. I'm sure that people who had been to a Stitches event were more acclimated, but most of us were walking around in an overwhelmed daze.

This is just a tiny glimpse down one of many, many rows of vendor booths.

There were so many elements to the overwhelming effect. Volume was certainly one of them. And beauty, and color, and talent and camaraderie.

Another was celebrity.

I listen to these beautiful people every week! Steve and Kathy Elkins own Webs, America's Yarn Store in Northampton, MA. They love hot weather and their kids play hockey. I know more about them than I should, really. And me? I'm just a geek with a camera.

And check this out:

I know!!!! Can you believe it??? I'm sitting next to Amy Singer!!!!!!! Holy crap! I was just sitting at the table next to this one, knitting on the world's largest sock pictured below

and talking to a woman named Helen from Texas who was working the needle next to mine when I glanced up and went, "Oh my gawd, that's Amy Singer!" Helen dropped her needle and said, "Come on, come with me." She insisted that I break up the conversation that Amy was having with her friend and she nabbed my camera and documented the fact that I was treating the creator of the most widely-used online knitting magazine like an Egyptian Pyramid. I didn't say anything nice and human like, "Thank you so much for creating Knitty!" or even "Keep up the fantastic work!" I know I didn't say, "Smile and look like you like me," but that's just what she did. And the Schaefer Yarn representative she was sitting with even showered me with samples!
How cool is she?

This next gal was not a celebrity when she came to the Summit, but probably was by the time she left. There were many people taking her picture. Can you see why?
She cut a space blanket into strips, connected them with Scotch tape, and knitted it into a hat. She said the hat "keeps the crazy in." As far as I could tell, it was working-- she seemed really normal and lovely to me.

And can you believe it? I had the opportunity to kinnear the Yarn Harlot herself, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, whose brainchild all this awesomeness was. That's her in the orange Tshirt just to the left of the woman with the baby on her back.

Look at how overwhelmed this woman was!

She's literally hip deep in yarn. Her job was to take requests from the customers surrounding the huge bin to toss things closer to them. I shit you not. After I took this picture she bolted upright and posed for me, poor thing. Don't tell her this is the one I posted-- I just thought it captured the moment more accurately.

By about five o'clock, I just had to sit down. It was all too much. So I called my friend Jill in Tigard and drove to her house for a long overdue visit. I got to meet her son Aiden, who is delightful, and see how much her daughter Faye has grown. Seeing them brought back the memories of when my kids were littler and frankly made me miss the days when they'd curl up in my lap. At the marketplace, I had forgotten I had kids. So that was a good thing. Remembering them, I mean. Thank you, Jill!

Throughout this weekend, I tried to take more pictures than I normally would, knowing that I wanted to blog about it. So I took this picture while I was stuck in traffic between the convention center and Jill's house.
Of course I didn't know at the time that the next time I got into the car, to leave Jill's house and go to my sister's, would be my last time in the Volvo. Or, I should say, I hope it will be the last time-- I haven't heard from the body shop or the insurance company yet. Fingers crossed.

About two miles before my exit to Val's on I-205, construction caused the two lanes of cars to have to merge into one. Traffic was heavy and there was stop-and-go-less-than-10mph for quite a while. I was tired, and bummed to have to spend my precious alone time doing something I hate, but we were slowly making progress. I had just passed a section where an onramp had merged into traffic when I saw headlights quickly approaching my rear bumper. Yep-- slam! And then slam! My car running into the semi truck in front of me. The hood was all munched up and I was just able to move the car over to the shoulder in time before it lost its ability for me to do so. I took a few deep breaths, assessed my body, and got out of the car. Antifreeze and who knows what else were flowing out of my car like a river. The trucker in front of me got out and made eye contact with me while he talked to his dispatcher in his tiny headset. I can't tell you how confusing that was. You think it's confusing on a normal day-- try it with adrenaline running through your system. The guy who hit me from behind approached with nothing but kindness and apology. The three of us all agreed on the story immediately, and that we were were sorry that we had to meet under these circumstances. I apologize for the lack of photos for this part of the story, because I know that's what all you non-knitters (and my husband especially) would appreciate most. But in primal situations like this, where injuries have been narrowly missed and strangers have had to interact in person and such, I get all old-school on it.

Information was exchanged, police came, AAA was summoned, tow trucks arrived. I called Scott and my family at Black Butte to let them know what happened and get their brain trust working on the problem of how to salvage my weekend of beauty. How was I going to pick up Johnna from the train station on Saturday? How would I get back to the convention center? How would I get my kids and all my stuff home to Seattle on Sunday? How was I going to get any time to myself without having to deal with insurance companies, DMVs or body shops?

To keep it short and not as boring, I was given several good options by Val, who is always on her toes. But once I'd had some sleep and my brain clicked in, I called Jill and she came to my rescue, picking me up and taking me to the grocery store and then to the DMV to file my report. I was frankly happy to have an excuse to see her again so soon! I talked to Johnna and we decided to just have her and her husband and son Joey drive down instead and stay with us at Val's. Roni gets the medal of honor for shuttling us around town all weekend, playing single dad the rest of the time, and hauling us all back to Seattle Sunday night. I wish I had a picture of him to insert here so you could see the man who salvaged my weekend. I'm a big fan!

So by Saturday early afternoon, with the help of my powerful network of friends and family, I could turn my focus back to the Summit marketplace.

If I had been one of my children, my feet would have hurt within the first hour or so, I'm sure. I heard about other shoppers complaining about the concrete flooring being hard on their feet. But I might as well have been floating. I mean, it's not every day that you see sights like this:

Are you kidding me???? The guy running the booth there assured me that this is something they do a couple of times a year, at one show or another, and that their business is fine. This only shows half the booth. There were huge piles of yarn, all labeled like meat by the pound. Here are the new friends I made there:

The guy said that he was not very popular with the other vendors at the show. I really felt bad for the people whose booths were directly across the aisle from him. Owie.

There were many displays like this

and quite a few booths had blankets made up of squares created from the different colorways of sock yarn they were selling so you could see how a skein looked after it was knit up. Very clever, I thought. I liked this scarf too:

It was hard to tell how the vendors were doing. There were a lot of people there, but the marketplace was so huge that it never felt crowded. Most of the vendors looked underwhelmed. Lollipop Cabin was selling these for $5

all weekend, but after the closing ceremony on Sunday, gave them away. I took that as an indicator. Those of us who were there and shopping really did our best to do our part. Here's my effort:
A yarn so soft if feels like cotton balls, even though it's 100% wool. But yeah, okay, you got me. The real reason I bought it was because of the name. I'm a sucker for a good name. This one's name is Sea Glass. The same vendor was selling off stash yarn, so I also bought this from her:
a skein of Arucania Multi, two skeins of Lorna's Laces, a skein from Chameleon Dyeworks and the big mystery, no-label skein in the middle. I visited this booth all three days and bought something each day. What can you do when they keep replenishing their sale bin?

Johnna and I had a hard time selecting our purchases at the Coloratura booth. They were from Missouri, and we'd never seen yarn like theirs before. We were worried we'd never see it again, so restraint was difficult.

I shook my fist at a display of Pagewood Farms yarn, so frustrated was I by its unyielding allure. Little did I know that the owner of Pagewood and husband of the insanely talented dyer was watching me! He came over to see what my problem was. Well, clearly it's my lack of tact. I explained my stooopid behavior, and Johnna and I fawned all over him like he was Sting. This skein of Yukon is my souvenir of that embarassment.

Some lovely people from a shop in Port Townsend sold me this Cascade 220 for almost nothing. I would love to go visit them again next week, but after all this weekend, I know I won't be able to afford to.

My last minute, final purchase was at Webs to take advantage of their ridiculous sale on Arucania and to get some of their dyeable stuff.
For some reason, the photo of that yarn doesn't want to load. One skein of green, one skein of burgundy, four skeins of white. Use your imagination.

Someday I hope to have some of these in my collection.
They are Signature double point needles. I had heard about them, but this was the first time I got to touch them and knit with them. They are out of this world. And they cost eleven times what any of my other size 2 dpns cost. Yeah. Someday.

Are your eyes rolling back in your head yet? Well I've still got Sunday to tell you about. Stay tuned.

No comments:

Post a Comment