Thursday, April 30, 2009

Stitches! Stitches! Stitches!

I cannot believe I've been gone from Stitches South for four whole days and I have yet to blog about it! Of course, there's the whole thing about needing to see my kid (who stayed with her grandparents while I was gone), coming home and spending time with my husband, and getting the house back in order after having been gone for so long. Those things have taken up some time, but I could've written during naptime in the afternoon. It was my intention to do so. However, depsite having been completely indundated by knitting, yarn and other knitters for four days, I really wasn't ready to step away from the needles and have cast on a new project.

I'm trying to work my way through some of my older stash before getting to some of my newer and more beautiful things. One of the things in my collection is some acrylic sport weight that has been destined to become a striped zippered cardigan with a hood for Lilly Bean. I have it in LSU colors and University of Florida (we have a mixed marriage in this home). Unfortunately, I have been unable to find a pattern that I like. I really do want a simple pattern, garter borders, stockinette body, in-set sleeves and a hood. I've checked everywhere and the only patterns I've found that even resemble this are for kids no older than 24 months. Given the fact that Bean is already the size of an average four-year-old (she's two and a half), those sweaters are not going to work. So, the solution here is to venture out and become a little bit of a designer. I have a book that gives the basics of what I want to do, now I just have to put it all together. I am feeling very empowered after my trip to Stitches, aren't I? I'll keep you posted on how it goes, thus far I have only about three inches of the back done, so it really is to early to tell.

On to Stitches! I have been looking forward to this trip since around October when Lara suggested we go. For those of you who don't know our story, it's pretty simple. Lara and I grew up in the same home town and went to the same high school. We were well acquainted enough to greet each other in the halls with a smile, but did not hang out together. I remember thinking she seemed like a super nice person, but being a bit insecure, didn't reach out to become better friends with her. After graduation night, we really didn't think on each other again. Enter Facebook. While perusing FB one day, one of my other friends commented on a picture of Lara, which then popped it up on my home page for my notice. It was the same big smile I remembered from school, so I sent her a friend request mostly so I could comment on the picture. She accepted really quickly and we began chatting. We learned that we both love to knit, but we also really enjoyed talking with each other, emailing regularly and finally having a real-live-phone-conversation one day while I was walking the streets of Manhattan looking for Purl (I think she may have been talking me down from a ridiculously large purchase)! Anyhow, sometime in October, Lara sent me an email about Stitches and we quickly decided that we needed to attend. After that, we just had to wait five and a half months until we could finally hang out. Ergh! That part took FOREVER! Okay, after having typed that, maybe it wasn't quite so simple...

I won't bore you with the conversations that happened during the waiting time, needless to say, we were excited and impatient for the trip to arrive. For me, it was a chance to drop Bean off with her grandparents and act like "Sarah" again for a while. Without the responsibility of being "wife" or "mommy"! I love both of those roles, but sometimes I just need a little break.

Last Wednesday, I loaded up the car and headed to my hometown to drop Bean off at my folk's house. They had been so looking forward to having her to themselves. In fact, it was my mom's birthday the next day and she was treating Bean like her present! I was supposed to leave their house around 4:00 the next morning. Unfortunately, I woke up around 2:30 and couldn't get back to sleep, so I finally decided around 3:30 to just go ahead and get on the road. Needless to say, by the time I got to Atlanta, I was a little loopy! After a joyous reunion with Lara (why the hell weren't we friends in high school?), we headed out for a quick lunch and then on to the conference at Stitches.

Our first class, Cable Ready, was with Melissa Leapman, who is an amazing designer and such a good teacher! I think I was a little star-struck by her, I mean c'mon, a real, live, knit celebrity! We hit the Market right after that class to buy both of her books and get them autographed. They are going to go right next to my autographed copy of Martha Stewart's book! (Yes, I am aware of what a big dork I am) The Market was incredible, but we couldn't stay too long, #1 - we had to get checked into our hotel in time to shower and get ready for dinner and #2 - it was complete fiber overload! Such beautiful yarn! All over the place! We did have a lot of fun in there over the four days we were there and I can honestly say that I did my fair share to stimulate the economy! Maybe tomorrow I'll bust out the camera and photograph my stash additions!

Lara and I had a blast while we were in Atlanta. We hit Rathbun's for dinner the first night (phenominal) and Sotto Sotto the second (even better). One of my old sorority sisters joined us at Sotto Sotto and we also got to meet her fiance. It was so great seeing them both and I don't think that she could have found anyone more perfect for her! On the third and final night we headed out to Lara's friend's house to have a great dinner with some of her friends from when she lived in Atlanta. They were such a fun group. I love when I can walk into a group and feel totally comfortable. Believe it or not, I can be a little awkward in groups of new people (a hold-over from my high school days), but these folks were a blast. As were the incredible women we had the joy of meeting during Stitches.

It was such a great experience being surrounded by such a large group of creative women. Yes, there were men there, too, but there weren't very many. We met women from all walks of life and had a great time getting to the convention center early, knitting and meeting other knitters. I feel like writing about all of them, Anne from North Carolina, TJ and her crew from South Carolina, and Millie and Susan from Georgia. We even met two women from our hometown (one of whom owns a knit shop)! Unfortunately, if I write all these stories down, this post will get even longer and I may need to schedule an intermission for you to hit the potty.

Classes, oh yeah, we took classes! We took three other classes after the cable class. I loved two of them, the Joy of Finishing with Chris Bylsma was awesome! You know how I hate finishing projects. Chris made it seem so simple and was such an incredible teacher. In fact, I've already written her a thank you/fan letter! We also took a really good intarsia class with Sarah Peasley. Of the four classes we signed up for, this was the one that I was the least excited about. How mistaken was I? It was great and I'm looking forward to jumping into some colorwork in the very near future! There was only one class that I really didn't enjoy very much. It was called Columns of Color and I'm not going to call out the teacher by name. I don't want my blog to become a platform for bashing people. The technique that was used in the class to create vertical lines of color was very cool and I have nothing but respect for this very creative woman for coming up with it, but I felt like she wasn't a very good teacher and was more interested in plugging her book that teaching us any variations of the technique, like increases, decreases or anything else. In fact, I think she told us those things were "in the book". What we did learn took maybe an hour, tops, so the rest of the two hours was really kinda dull. Combine that with the fact that we had stayed up until 3:00am talking and drinking wine the night before and you have the perfect recipe for me not enjoying myself. I did not buy her book!

In spite of how much fun we were having, all good things must come to an end, and after dragging our sorry asses out of the Market, it was time to drop Lara off at the airport and then head back to my parents' house to get my Lilly Bean! It was sooooo good seeing her and getting my arms around her! Then Hubby came over the next day to see us, he had work nearby, and on Tuesday, we finally made it back to our house. I'm thrilled to be home and although now I'm back in the real world of having to go grocery shopping, doing laundry and taking care of my family, it's nice being back! My batteries are recharged.

I was a bit worried about Shinerbock while I was gone. He has never reacted well to me being out of town and with all of his health woes recently, I was especially worried. He did great though. He is responding well to his new foods and is even gaining a little bit of weight. He does seem to be having a bit of a respiratory problem, so I will check with the vet when we go back for his check-up next week, but hopefully it's nothing to worry about. Thank you all for your concern about him. He's a big part of my life.


carpoolknitter said...

Hi! loved meeting you and Lara at Stitches. I had a class with Chris Bylsma and loved it too. Good to hear Shinerbock is still with us, may he continue to improve. Hug your Lilly for me!

Monkey said...

So glad you had fun! Stitches can be overwhelming- can't it! I go to Stitches Midwest- I imagine it is the exact same thing.

I am jealous that you were able to hang out with Lara and knit. That sounds like a tiny slice of liquor-soaked heaven.

Glad you are back- and we better see that stash!

Dingo said...

Ohhhh! I didn't know about the Lara/Sarah B. connection! I love Lara.

So glad you had a good time in Atlanta. I'm also happy to hear Shinerbock is doing better. I don't know anything about knitting or I'd say something about that, too.

Solanaceae said...

Happy to have you back! Got a little concerned because I forgot about Stitcheds! Sounds like you have a great time! Glad to hear the kitty faired well!

Sarah B. said...

Carpool - we loved meeting you too! Lilly has been duly hugged!

Monkey - I think you just have to switch and go to South next year!

Dingo - I am truly lucky to have Lara in the cyber and real world. Thanks to the warm thought for Shinerbock.

Solanaceae - Sorry to worry you. I've caught up on reading your site. Email will hopefully follow today.

Lara said...

Sarah, thank you thank you thank you for writing such an awesome post on our knitty trip so that now I can be the lazy arse that I am and simply link to it! SA-WEEET!

I was worrying about Shinerbock the other day and am glad to hear he's doing better! Alex and Biscuit say "meow" to him.

And now, I'm off to daydream about us getting Monkey to meet us in Atlanta for Stitches next year...(OMG how much would that ROCK?!@?)_

Knit and Purl Mama said...

Sounds like you had a great time!