Thursday, February 28, 2008

Here's the Story... Stitches West 2008

I had a great time in Santa Clara at Stitches West. It's taken me four years to figure out how to make the most of this trade show. My first year, overwhelmed by the magnitude of the event, I bought two skeins of Schaefer Elaine yarn. Turned out not to be quite enough for a sweater but a sleeveless top/vest. Second year, I thought I'd walk around and wait for something to grab my attention. Duh, everything grabbed my attention and I couldn't figure out what to do. I left empty handed, if you can believe it. Third year, I had a plan- sock yarn and needles and I got them. Not a lot but enough to get me started on my first and second pair of socks.

This year, I made a list of vendors/yarns that I wanted to see in person. I knew I wanted to something laceweight to make the Skater's top from Knitting Classic Style. Something to substitute for Kid Silk Haze and it didn't have to have mohair. Also, I knew I wanted a knitting purse and would decide then and there between the Knitter's Satchel and Bella from Jordana Paige.

Sunday, the last day of the show. Much less crowded than the previous days. I couldn't go any other day, due to other commitments. I missed all of the Ravelry meet-ups and the Stash and Burn meet-up. But I went with my cousin and aunt, the one who taught me how to knit years ago. They'd never been and I don't think they knew what was coming. They came away with some great deals on yarn and seemed pretty happy about it all. We also bumped into my mom's friend, a master knitter, there too. We compared yarn.

My haul:

I was going to play the Ravelry Passport game (get stamps from participating vendors) and have a chance to win a prize. But I arrived with only an hour left in the game, so I decided to focus instead on orienting myself at the market and not rush around collecting stamps. I bought a Ravelry tote bag right away, since I'd need it, in addition to my other shopping bag, to hold my purchases. I introduced myself to Jess and we chatted for a bit. That was really nice, seeing as I'm a complete stranger. At the end of the day, I came back and bought a t-shirt from Casey. In between, I met Kathy from the WEBS podcast. She rang up my purchase and Steve bagged my yarn. It was fun to hear their voices and finally see them in person. She thanked me for listening. I spoke very briefly to Dianne about her Creatively Dyed yarns. Really nice colors! I hope the trek across the country was worth it for her and her family.

Plus, I have a new purse/knitting bag! Thanks so much to Jordana's mom (I think it was her mom?) for letting me peek into her Bella bag to see how it looked and to "test drive" it around the booth. Although I chose the satchel, I may acquire a Bella in the future. One at a time.

I'm gushing. It was definitely my best time at Stitches West to date. There were other yarns I thought about getting, but it began to overwhelm me towards the end. By the time I got home, I was so tired. But quite happy.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Monkey Socks

080209 monkey socks

Monkeys! Aren't they cool? They were super easy to knit, even though they look like there's a lot going on. These are my first pair of patterned socks and my first Cookie A socks.

Pattern: Monkey by Cookie A
Yarn: Trekking XXL blue multi
Needles: size 2 (2.75mm)

I really enjoyed knitting these socks! I know Monkey is considered the easiest of Cookie's patterns, and I can vouch that they're a great way to jump into sock knitting. Before this, I had knit three pairs of plain stockinette socks, which I thought were ok but not anything that made me want to join the ranks of crazy sock knitters. These, however, have changed my way of thinking. The pattern contained just enough challenge to keep me happy and was easy enough for me to crank through.

I noticed that she included a plain stockinette heel flap, which I'd never done before. I'd always made a slipped stitch or eye of partridge heel flap. No matter. Next time, maybe I'll add one of those in. Yes, there will be a next time! I plan to make another pair but in a lighter color yarn. I think it'll make the pattern a little easier to see.

Anyway, this is the other project I had talked about before. I had cast-on for my v-neck sweater but wasn't too happy with it. So, I started and completed the Irish Hiking Hat and also had the Monkeys going too. Quick note about my v-neck sweater. It's frogged. After my needle cord snapped off while trying to knit it, I took it as a sign that this sweater was not meant to be. Last week, I re-purposed the yarn for the Rorschach jacket by Elizabeth Zimmerman but I'm still having a little knitting trouble. It must be the yarn? It's chunky, the color isn't exactly me, etc. It's physically exhausting to knit with this stuff; it doesn't move easily down my needles and cord. If it's a needle issue, I've got a new set of Knitpicks Options headed my way. By the way, I received my replacement cord from the Denise company and I'm happy to have my kit in one piece again. Anyway, we shall see what happens with the Rorshach.

What else is going on? I've cast on for Pomatomus socks. Fish scales!

Next week: Stitches West! Can't wait.