24 April 2009

Day 2 of STITCHES South 2009

I remember getting to Exit 16, realizing I had forgotten to grab a sandwich out of the refrigerator, and deciding not to worry about it. Thanks to Thursday morning, I knew to expect rush hour traffic and I came prepared. Friday morning the front parking lot of Cobb Galleria Centre was already full by 8 AM. I believe there was another event of some kind -- something business-oriented and not as much fun, to be sure. It was the only day I left the Zippy Sippy in the covered parking underneath the front lot. But I still got off to a lovely morning. Lots of chatting with other knitters and ogling their beautiful finished objects. Registration was going fine and they had everything they needed. I think I passed Fran, who was wearing a different Clapotis from the previous day.

I settled myself into Susanna Hansson's Lapland Hand Garment class. A couple people from the Thursday Japanese stitch class were also in this one, so that was nice and I was already feeling at home amongst friends. This is a very interesting technique. The garment is worked in the round in a main color, but zig-zagging stripes in a variety of colors are worked on one area, usually the back of the hand. The patterns involve pairs of stitches and very much resemble the decorative ribbons seen in Northern European clothing. We started off with some excellent instruction from Susanna and then moved into large-scale swatching on our homework.

The coffee break was great! Let me say right now that having a coffee break was a brilliant idea and should be continued, if at all possible. I believe the coffee was Starbucks. Doesn't matter to me, as I'm a tea drinker. There was Tazo tea provided. Of that I much approve, as Tazo is what I tend to have with me anyway. What was really important to me is that there was hot water. As a tea drinker, I just need a steady supply of recently boiled water. There it was! But beyond the basics of hydration, the hot watering hole was a great place to bump into people during the course of the weekend. On this particular sortie, I encountered Robyn Coward. Robyn did a lot of PR work for Atlanta Knitting Guild, especially for the scarecrow, before resigning her post this spring. She has been too busy to attend meetings, so it was a delight to see her and give her a hug! I remember telling her what I fabulous time I was having. My first STITCHES class was great and now the second appeared to be more of the same.

Once we got back and started swatching, I began to realize that this particular technique did not appeal to me with the same vigor that others do. Partly this is because I am very perfectionist in my knitting. (Gee! Look at the header on this blog. Who knew?) This particular technique is not perfectly symmetrical. Could I do it? -- yes. But did I like what I got? -- not entirely satisfying. This is not a good thing to discover in the second or third hour of a six-hour class. On the plus side, it did mean that I wasn't in a hurry to get my work done. So I wasn't afraid to get up and help other ladies divide their project yarn into quarters or untangle a skein. And it did mean that I didn't need to push myself all afternoon. Again, I would later come to realize that the little bit of rest was a good thing.

During the lunch break I hit the market. I had two yarns on my shopping list. I needed 75 meters of a narrow dark red ribbon yarn. I have a Coldwater Creek ruana that my mother gave me. It goes well with several outfits. And it is knitted. The downside is that it has a drop stitch pattern in it. It's a few years old -- same vintage as Clapotis, proving that someone from Coldwater Creek was paying attention to knitwear trends. I've worn the ruana so many times that the drop stitch pattern is beginning to disappear, as the tension evens out across the rows. I thought that weaving a ribbon through the drop stitches would preserve the pattern. (Note: I did not succeed. Tess' Designer Yarn had a red ribbon that would have worked, but it wasn't dark enough.)

I was also looking for a red-yellow-orange (think fire) colorway of a novelty yarn. The Zippy Sippy has a curling ribbon frou frou on the antennae. I stockpiled several of those ribbons, since I need a replacement about every six to nine months. So I was looking for a yarn that would make a good permanent knitted frou frou and would survive 75 mph driving. (Note: I did not succeed. Closest I came was a Tilly Tomas in just the right colorway. But it was silk and cost $45. Uh, no.)

My memories are a little fuzzy about the dates and times, so I don't remember if it was Friday or Saturday when this happened. I'll just tell it here. I was standing at the sock wall when Amy C. Rutter came by. Amy won for the Cherry Tree Hill lace socks. She recognized me, because apparently she had taken a class with me at some time. I had no idea. So one of my students actually won something in the contest. Just like Merike!

Walking through the market was basically one big hug fest. I've taught in this area for several years now, first at one of the big box stores, then at a fun yarn shop in Marietta, and now at The Whole Nine Yarns in Woodstock. And I belong to both local knitting guilds. The thing is, I didn't realize how many people I know. This was very good for the Cuddly Hubby's credit card, as I was so busy meeting people and saying hello and visiting and catching up that I almost couldn't shop the market. It was wonderful to catch up with knitting friends I hadn't seen in awhile, especially a few refugees from the closed Marietta shop.

As time was running out, I bumped into Bruce. He hadn't eaten either, so we headed over to Concessions. I was standing in line with Bruce and Debra Davis, when someone from the guild (was it Linda Fetter?) saw me and said Benjamin was looking for me. So there was guild business to be done. Bruce kindly bought my soft pretzel for me. I ended up inhaling half the pretzel, heading back to class, and finishing the other half in class.

The quiet afternoon in class was probably exactly what I needed after being overwhelmed in the marketplace. I swatched and experimented a bit with the Lapland technique, while the rest of the ladies worked in the fine yarn and small needles on the class wristlet project. There are interesting things about the way this technique looks on the wrong side. And it is an inventive way of dealing with intarsia in the round. I definitely will need to spend more time with it later. Susanna did a lovely PowerPoint presentation about region and culture. But with all the excitement in the market and the lack of food, my blood sugar crashed about 3:30 PM. By the end of class, everybody else had something dainty and complex to show for their afternoon. I didn't, but that was by choice. Still, the emotion didn't improve how I felt physically.

After class, I slinked out to the Zippy Sippy. It was a good thing it was parked under cover in the shade. I got in the car and just cried. So much was happening and it was just too much, too fast. I ate a granola bar from the stash I keep in the glove compartment, and that brought my blood sugar back up. I listened to a favorite calming music mix on my iPod. I just chilled. At that moment, that was what I needed.

When I felt better, I went back inside. And right away I bumped into Bruce. At this point, I was looking for hot tea, and was headed over the Renaissance Waverly to see if I could find some. The coffee break station had been taken down for the night. Bruce and I headed down to the hotel lobby to see if hot water could be found, and there was Betty Salpekar. I told them I really wasn't ready for the rock star treatment. I was hoping that Betty would have some good advice, as she is the grand prize winner from the sock contest as has been the subject of some attention. Or I'd hoped that perhaps Bruce would find some words of wisdom, as he has an IQ in the top 0.5%. But just then Whit and Gordon Robbins arrived, and reminded me that it was time to get moving. I found some hot water at the bar, so I had my tea to give me strength. Bruce accompanied me part way down the concourse. And then off Whit, Gordon, and I went toward the fashion show.

Once again, I was running late. I told Whit and Gordon to go ahead without me, that I needed to duck into the restroom. I think I remembered to comb my hair, which it hadn't done on Thursday as I'd been too busy. I got down to the fashion show and there the kind and very patient XRX folks led me in a side entrance and got me to my assigned seat. Again, I had no idea they were going to do that.

The fashion show was wonderful. There were twenty-six door prizes, and Valerie Cross from Atlanta Knitting Guild was the first winner! Andrew, the hot model from Elise's presentation, was once again on stage. This time he was sent out to model boxer shorts! OMG! Again, is somebody please going to post video somewhere on the web? Jonelle from South West Trading Company had to adjust her shawl on the model. The sign of a good design -- it looked great even when the model didn't have it on correctly. And the way the Yang yarn sparkles! I must go see how the price point compares to Artyarns and Tilli Tomas. And there was a felted scarf kit that I missed winning by two numbers. Whit gave me an odd look when I was saying, "Oh, please, oh please, oh, please." Ah, well. Let's just say I thoroughly enjoyed the fashion show. Lots of great ideas!

Then it was time for everyone to shuffle next door for the banquet. Again, I was near the back of the pack. I got chatting with friends and congratulating people for winning the door prizes. The room was mostly full by the time I got over there. The attendees were all a-buzz about the flowers. Later on, someone said the models weren't a little intimidated, because they were being upstaged by the flowers. It truly looked magical. No, I didn't get any pictures, dang it. I don't know how Ashton Kutcher manages to be a star and take pictures at the same time. At this point, I needed food and I needed to sit.

And to give you an idea of the banquet, there were two wine glasses on the table. When the nice waitress asked if I'd like any, I said just a swallow of the white and a swallow of the red. I'd be driving later, and I only wanted a taste to see how the food paired with the wine. After all, the luncheon food on Thursday had been pretty respectable, and I didn't want to miss out on any culinary opportunities. The wait staff was so good that they kept filling glasses. I wasn't looking, and then I noticed I had a full glass of red wine. No, I did not drink all of it. I just had a swallow or two, thank you.

The response to the knitted flowers made Friday night extra special. And here, I must pause and give credit.
Whit Robbins -- for saying we should make centerpieces, and much work on flowers
Linda Fetter -- for design and project management, and much work on flowers
Megan Brightwell -- for design work, making stems, much assembly, much work on flowers
Marian Rose -- for bookkeeping as well as much work on flowers
Elizabeth Clause -- for work on tags and much work on flowers
Diana Baber -- for serving as Whit's understudy and for much work on flowers
There were about fifty people in the guild who participated in some way or another -- by knitting a kit, or coming to an assembly party, or transporting flowers. And having them be tall and up off the tables really made a difference. Kudos to Megan for as she envisioned, the flowers decorated the space rather than just the tables. Whit said she wanted something that people would be talking about for years. Well, Whit, your wish has been granted.

There had been a fair amount of discussion over the final disposition of the flowers after the banquet. Some of the issues included the fragility of them, the size, the difficulty in transporting them, and the fact that it was a group project where multiple people had worked on a single flower. Benjamin solved this problem for us. First, he had everyone who worked on a flower stand up and receive applause. Then he offered to acquire the flowers, take them to the next STITCHES event, and find a permanent home for them. It was fortuitous that several people who worked on the flowers as well as several members of the current AKG board, including both the outgoing president (me) and the incoming president (Linda), were present. Our by-laws sure don't cover this! But everyone was in agreement that Benjamin's offer is a good one, indeed.

After the banquet, Benjamin and Alexis and Lisa and I'm not sure who all else (my memory is fading here) helped get us and some flowers set up on stage. Many pictures were taken. Much merriment was in the air, even for the late hour. When I got home, I needed to return a phone call to Jenna the Genius Yarn Pimp. So Jenna listened to me blabber on about the day's events. It was after 11 PM. I made a couple phone calls to people who had been involved with the flowers who needed to know what was happening. Then I woke up the Cuddly Hubby. I told him about the day. I told him I was photographed by Alexis Xenakis, the man responsible for so many of those beautiful coffee table knitting books I own. And then Cuddly Hubby helped me to get online and write the e-mail to the rest of the people who worked on centerpieces. It was after midnight when I went to bed. But by that point, I'd already told the Cuddly Hubby that I thought I was in the middle of having the best weekend of my life. And STITCHES South was only half over.

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