Our annual trek to Santa Clara for the Stitches West convention was a wonderful way to spend a day off, surrounded by friends and thousands of wonderful yarn-loving people. The Convention Center was awash in color and textures and I have not seen it this packed since the first year I attended with E___.
We took the day off to go to the Marketplace on the first day it opened, and perhaps next year we will go on Sunday instead. It was tricky to get around with the hordes of shoppers, and there were more booths here this time than in any time I have ever attended. We were there the entire day and closed the place down and still had barely enough time to stop at all the booths.
E___ and her sister J_____ and A____ filled our bags with snacks and treats and started working in a logical grid pattern to see every nook and cranny. This was helpful because we all have varying interests in things and some of us would linger longer at a booth than others so it was easier to find our group when we scattered. Plus E___ wearing a hot pick backpack was so clever, we could always spot her and A___’s newly purple hair!
I fell in love with the soft hues and the pattern for this shawl that took only 600 yards of worsted weight alpaca. Alpaca became the theme of the day, if I fell in love with something, it was alpaca! Seems like there was a lot of alpaca here this year, replacing kid mohair as my yarn of addiction.
One skein was around $70, a theme for the day also. Seemed like all the great yarn was around $70, with the average sock yarn climbing to $35. In past years the sock yarn average was $25.
This is a bear rug, knitted. Isn’t he adorable? We all wanted to hug him. A lady saw me taking his picture and started to clown around putting her hand in his mouth, then his teeth fell out! I was laughing so hard I missed that picture of her trying to fit the teeth back in without the vendor noticing, and while we were screaming, “The bear is eating her!!”
Now isn’t this a clever idea, iron on patches in cashmere for your sweaters and jackets that get holes. The moth shaped patches were hilarious I thought. The vendor had some really cute plain knit sweaters using the patches as decor, they were gorgeous!
This booth had one of the prettiest displays we saw the entire day. Their hexagonal knitting needles felt really good in the hand but sadly the joins to the cables had a gap and I just hate it when your yarn gets stuck on the joins, it’s like a log jam or Los Angeles traffic, something to avoid. I continued on in my search for size 3 and 4 circular needles for the Viajante shawl that I will be starting soon.
We eventually stopped for lunch and an “ankle break” aka a rest break for The Crankle. A___ spotted these slutty nachos being sold, for $8! They were so massive and the cute young man serving us gave us each a pint of sour cream *each*.
We staggered away in a nacho coma for about an hour but it was worth it.
I also made spiced pecans for snacks and they kept us alive while we waited in line for about 30 minutes for our food. Here they are, sauteeing in butter and sugar about an hour before we left for Stitches. The recipe is here.
I purchased a darling kit for crewel work, since I needed some needles and canvas and an embroidery hoop. There was also a really cute book of crewel patters that I had to get, perhaps I shall cheat on embroidery a bit and use up the gorgeous Persian wools I have from petit point needlepoint for crewel projects.
Such a pretty leaf pattern on this sweater. Last year I purchased from this same book a pretty shawl pattern with leaves like this around the border. I realized that I could use the knitted on border to make a sweater or any scarf with these kinds of leaves.
I had to go and get a hug, and to check out her designs. I love her patterns and her eye for detail and fit is amazing. Kira K was a mentor to me when I first started knitting, she worked at the original Artfibers location and a lunchtime I would go there and buy obscene quantities of gorgeous yarns and then ask her what I should try making as a beginning knitter. She encouraged me to knit lace and helped me interpret difficult bits as I went along. She was so kind and encouraging and I can’t thank her enough for helping boost my confidence as a beginner. Love her!
There is a trend I’ve been seeing for the past few years for yarn bowls, instead of using a ziplock ghetto bag like I do most of the time. This gentleman takes the yarn bowl to the ultimate level in lathed burlwood bowls. I just want one for my coffee table, yarn or no.
I told you in my last post that I planned to buy out every stitch marker in the place, and if a booth had stitch markers, I bought some there! Sadly, they were sold out of the owl stitch markers but I got two chickens that are jingle bells! So adorable but I am not sure how annoying they will be to use, stay tuned on that.
There were a lot of non-fiber vendors here this year, tons of knitting themed jewelry, scarf pins, buttons, baskets and the like, and these shaker boxes. The gentleman behind the table was finishing a box while we watched. The scent of sanded wood was lovely. I long to have an entire tower of them like the one in the corner, can you imagine the cost?
Doesn’t this look like an armadillo? Sleeping in pretty pottery yarn bowls. Some of the bowls at this booth had lids, which was quite clever, it keeps the ball of yarn from leaping out and hiding under the coffee table when you pull its tail.
Please look at this closely. On size 19 needles this lady is knitting a rug. Yes, a rug, and it’s out of pure alpaca. I couldn’t stand it. I had to touch it. I had to walk on them, sadly though I didn’t feel up to taking off my shoes. Some of the booths had these lovely gel pads to stand on, the same kind that cooks use to cushion their feet from hours of standing on concrete floors. I love those gel pads. But the alpaca scattered throughout this booth were 10 times cushier than the gel pads. Can you imagine having an alpaca rug at home in the kitchen?
Everyone has to do something crazy at Stitches West, and this was my crazy. I forked out $70 and bought the yarn to make a rug. The skein was so large I just carried it around like a pet dog. People were stopping me and asking me about it, the yarn looks like a giant skein of dreadlocks, like I had scalped Bob Marley alpaca style. It was incredible. I started calling the skein Rover (aka roving, get it??!!) and it is a great way to meet people. I should have bought two skeins, one just for conversation purposes. I imagine putting it in one of those nylon dog carriers and taking it everywhere. This is where I realized I was getting very fatigued.
I bought this shawl pattern too, it’s called Flame and knit out of, take a guess, it’s not alpaca. It’s quivut! One of the most expensive yarns on the planet this scarf was so divine to touch, it was almost x-rated. The quivut blend required for this shawl would run over $110 for the project. But what a shawl… A girl can dream. And the available colors were stunning.
The yarn in this booth, the Verdant Griffon, was divine, the rich hues of their dyes glimmered like jewels. I am going to make these socks someday but not in parchment colors, in something jazzy. Have you guessed yet? It is the first lines of Beowolf in the original language. I adore them.
One of our last finds of the night was the magic Painfree Pillow booth. We were resting our feet and having an ankle break around 2 pm, drinking tea and generally looking and feeling exhausted. I remarked I wish they had massage chairs there, or those vibrating foot things, A___ suggested. A woman walking by whipped her head over and almost shouted, “You have to go the magic Painfree pillow booth, it’s amazing!!”. We giggled, thinking there were magic pain filled pillow somewhere in the world too, and then promptly forgot about it. Later, when we walked by the booth we were cajoled to sit by the hunky young men working there. What a clever staffing choice, by the way. The Painfree pillow vibrates when you put weight on it, battery operated, with 4 different vibration patterns that cycle through for 12 minutes. Oh my, my feet and lower back were in heaven and sitting there for 12 minutes really did give me enough of a boost to go on. A___ and I both bought these pillows and for the rest of the weekend my feet were so happy. I can’t wait to get home tonight and am seriously thinking of getting one for the office. Magic.
As we left for the day we realized that Tess was missing from the show this year. It is probably a good thing as I had already gone over my budget for the day. I got some great sock yarn from Miss Babs, and a huge cake of yarn from her for a Viajante, 1750 yards for $75. I also found some darling heather-flecked sock yarn that will make a shawl, and the kind ladies at that booth gave me a link to the pattern for it as well. Of course I found a ton of stitch markers, which I sorely needed for the Event Horizon shawl. I will share photos of these finds as I use them.
Meanwhile, we left the conference, actually they asked us to leave because we were there past closing time. We entered into the twilight hour and it was about 67 degrees outside, shirt sleeve weather and palm trees. I love California winters on the Peninsula!
We headed North to San Mateo to stop for dinner at a Japanese Izakaya and it was fine, it wasn’t ramen but everyplace was mobbed. Who would have thought that San Mateo was the epicenter of dining on a Friday evening? It was good to get home and use my vibrating pillow and to examine all of the cards and photos I took, and admire my new yarn and patters. It was a wonderful day and I am looking forward to starting my new projects.