Thursday, November 5, 2009

Stitches Recap

Stitches was all that I wanted it to be this year.

The Connecticut Convention Center is new, interesting, plenty of very nice, well-maintained bathrooms, and the Mariott Hotel (which is connected to the Center) is also nice and new. We had a corner room on the 17th floor with great views that looked east and south. The hotel was very welcoming: our room keys had the Stitches logo on the backs, and the light-up sign board outside the center had the Stitches info rotating on it. The overall feeling was that the convention center and the hotel were glad to see us, which is not always the sense at other hotels.

I took a 6-hour design class with Barry Klein from Trendsetter Yarns. He is delightful: very knowledgeable, and he's able to impart that knowledge with humor and great patience with those students who either don't get it or ask kind of dumb questions. The first half of the class was spent using yarns together to see how they work. He encouraged us to pick yarns we wouldn't normally choose; initally I found it very hard to choose the yarns, then I jumped in, grabbed a safety yarn and two that I wouldn't use in a million years. My swatches turned out beautifully.

The second part of the class was no knitting (fine for me because I did something to my wrist),rather it was looking at pictures of clothing while Barry talked about what detail(s) drew him in. Usually, when I look at a photo in a catalog, I look at the whole sweater and think about how I can replicate it. Barry had us thinking about detail: in fact, take those photos that you like, cut them up, and then pick different pieces of them: cuff, collar, drape, etc. It really opened my mind up.

My last class was with Edie Eckman and again was no knitting: Where do they get those numbers? Interesting class in how to figure how much yarn you need, etc., etc.

The Marketplace seemed a little more subdued this year: I don't know if it was because the space was bigger so the show seemed huddled in it or whether there were fewer vendors. There were a lot of new, more local vendors, and some of the regulars (like Brooks Farm) weren't there because of a conflict in scheduling.

I got some yarn at WEBS (and was able to share my gift cards with Colleen), a few skeins at the half-price place, and my big splurge was from Coloratura Yarns: a huge skein of worsted weight merino and silk in a blue/lavender/white colorway. What drew me in to their booth was the sample sweater in that yarn: a cable-fronted long (almost tunic length) sweater with a ribbed collar. It was gorgeous. I went back later to check the pattern sizing; the measurements for the smallest size sounded too big, but Bjorn said "Try it on". I did, and it was amazing. I looked and felt 20 years younger. The guys who own Coloratura said I should have worn it in the Fashion Show the night before. And that did it: the cash came out of my wallet as soon as I took off the sample.

And I won a book at the Fashion Show: Jane Slicer-Smith's new book which has wonderful designs in it.

Now to Hartford: the downtown is not at all residential the way Philadelphia is, so after the rush hour, it's pretty dead. Colleen and I had located a restaurant a few blocks away and weren't afraid to walk (like many non-urban attendees). We found the streets to be empty of people, but well-lit and there was a lot of car traffic. The most difficult/annoying part of the walk was how long we had to wait at traffic lights for the pedestrian crossing lights. Not a walker-friendly city. We had dinner the first night at City Steam, excellent burgers, relaxing atmosphere.

On Friday afternoon, after our classes, we walked over to the Wadsworth Atheneum to see the Allure of Lace exhibit, a small (two room) exhibit that was packed with visual and mental stimulation. There was no knitted lace, but it was inspiring and interesting nonetheless. We were curious as to why Stitches didn't do any cross-promotion on this, and I found out later that if we had presented our Stitches badges we would have gotten half-price off. Oh well.

Friday evening was the Fashion Show and Dinner, and as they have for several years, the two events are divided rather than rolled in to one. Obama was in the area so the traffic was bad and the models were delayed, so the show was late getting started which meant that dinner was late getting going. The food was much better than at Baltimore, but it was just served too late.

Saturday night we went back to City Steam and then had our private, in-room show and tell where we each take turns laying out our purchases and describing them. Much, much fun.

Sunday was a leisurely breakfast, check out, load the car, and then a last swing around the Marketplace; we stayed for the Grand Prize drawing which neither of us won, and then headed home.

I'm already looking forward to next year.

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