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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Stash Enhancement: The Stitches West Update

Happy Tuesday!

I've had enough time to decompress and reflect on this past weekend so it's time for a proper update, which is, of course, going to include stash enhancement :) So, go pee and grab a cuppa because I suspect this is going to be a rather long post with (hopefully) lots of photos and information and so on and so forth.

............seriously, go pee and grab a cuppa. I can wait............this is a long one, no joke!

Okay? You're back? You're ready? Good. Let's talk about Stitches West!

Stitches West was at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California. For those of you that give a rip about football, it's literally right across the street from Levi Stadium, home of Super Bowl 50 (which, based on past expectations, should have been Super Bowl L but the infancy of social media ripped that apart a decade ago). Stitches West, for those of you that don't know, is the largest of the Stitches events. Other Stitches events include: Stitches Texas, Stitches Midwest, Stitches South, and Stitches East. I believe Texas is the newest one and I've heard the head honchos are pondering doing one somewhere like Colorado but that's nowhere near definitive. Anyway, biggest Stitches event in the country right in my backyard. To be fair, when we lived in Wisconsin, Stitches Midwest wasn't far away, in Schaumburg, Illinois.

Anyway, things started rolling on Thursday but I didn't arrive until Friday afternoon. After picking Little Man up from school on Friday, the three of us went to Santa Clara where I proceeded to blow 95% of my Stitches Budget.

My largest purchase, which I didn't photograph, was finishing out my full set of Signature Needle DPNs. I have both full sets of 6" and 8" DPNs from US #1-US #8 (which, for the record, totals 18 5-needle sets because they also include US #1.5s). It took me three Stitches events to do it (buying six sets each time - don't do the math; it will make you ill) but I did it. So, I now have no excuse for not using my DPNs....unless something is otherwise occupied twice :)

My second largest purchase came from Jennie the Potter. She's from Minnesota and her work is to be coveted. Seriously. It's gorgeous. Expensive but totally worth it! I hit her on Friday because I knew if I didn't, I wouldn't get what I was after....which was a mug! Like I need another mug, right? Whatever. I can never have enough, which is odd because I don't drink coffee/tea at home that often. But, I got my mug.

It's really difficult to tell properly because of bad lighting and all....but it's a bear and she's wearing mittens. It was a little reminder of home....and how I don't miss winter :)

But, of course, I couldn't resist buying just the mug. I also came home with buttons (who gives a rip if I never ever use them?! They're glorious!).

And I came home with ceramic stitch markers. Now, I have a bazillion stitch markers in the first place. I honestly do not need any. Aside from all the ones I already have, I was also participating in the stitch marker swap that was going on, meaning I made a bunch and was swapping with other consumers, as well as vendors. So, I now have five bazillion stitch markers. But these are lovely and they wanted to come home.

So, those were my two HUGE purchases....and the rest of my purchases were relatively small but they added up. 

We'll get to all that in a little while.

So, we get there on Friday and we immediately have lunch because we had just gotten out of school and we needed food.

It was noon. Everywhere there were tables, there were people sitting at the tables. So, we sat on the floor and it was perfectly fine with us. Stormageddon had plenty of people to look at, we ate food, and all was well. 

Then we went shopping. 

I don't know if I've ever told you about Little Man's yarn snobbery. I am raising a yarny. Seriously. His first trip to the yarn store? He was two weeks old. He would have been there at a week old if we hadn't wound up in the hospital with the metabolic disorder diagnosis that day. I've taught him how to touch yarn to see if how it feels (rubbing it on his cheek), I've taught him how to hold yarn up and look at it to see if it's a good color in natural light (if there's any around - there isn't at Stitches until you leave the marketplace), and I've taught him that all yarn has a purpose, even if I don't use it. We're still working on color sense (what colors go together, including what looks good on other people) but he is definitely a yarny. 

On top of that, he's like his daddy: he's an enabler. If I like something, he will tell me to buy it. If he likes something, he will tell me to buy it. 

So, many of my purchases from Friday may or may not be linked to him. I'm not telling which ones are which. 

In addition to the items from Jennie the Potter and my Signature DPNs, I also came home with project bags, books, yarn, and a project kit. 

I fell into the Yarn Barn booth and came home with three new books. I've been eyeing Shetland knitting for awhile and even if I never knit a Shetland shawl, I have the books to tell me how. And God knows I need another Stitch Dictionary like I need a hole in the head but I don't have this one and I wanted it and it's Melissa Leapman so it came home. I almost fell into the Japanese Stitch Dictionaries but I've successfully avoided them for now. 

The kit I came home with came from the Mother Bear Project booth. The Mother Bear Project is a Minnesota-based charity organization that gives hand knit or crocheted bears to children in emerging nations that have been affected by AIDS/HIV, mostly in Africa but also Haiti and Cambodia. Included in the kit is the pattern, of course, needles to complete the project, and the yarn needed. When you finish, you send the bear back to them and they deliver them. And then you have the pattern and needles to make more. It's a fabulous organization and I have a feeling that more than one bear will make it's way to Minnesota. 

Speaking of charity work, another group that I may also do some knitting for: Knitted Knockers. It's exactly what it says on the label. Basically, you knit prosthetic boobs for women that have had mastectomies or other procedures to the breast area. You can knit them any size, the organization stuffs them, and delivers them. The only caveat to this one is making sure the yarn you use is soft and machine washable. I cannot find that on the website but the woman I talked to in the booth said the best would be some sort of cotton, probably mercerized. 

After all our shopping, we went home. Yes, yes, I'm going to show you the rest of my swag. Just give me a little bit! 

Saturday morning, I got up early, got Stormageddon fed and ready to go, and off to Santa Clara we went. Little Man stayed home with Husband and they had a fun day to themselves. Stormageddon fell asleep in the car so while we waited for our friends to arrive, I spent some time knitting.

Sleepy boy. He slept for probably a good half hour right away in the morning.

In the meantime, I pulled out my Vanilla Latte Socks and worked on them. I was also a total fashion victim. I had on a Doctor Who shirt, denim capris (that require rolling because if I don't, I look like I'm wearing high-waters), my Traveling Vines Socks, and running shoes. 

Did I mention the fashion victim part? Because guess what? Totally did not care. I saw stranger things. Also, my socks are awesome.

When our friends arrived and Stormageddon woke up, we went to get something to eat. I honestly don't remember what I gave this boy....probably a muffin. He likes those. He was quite happy after his nap. 

Here are some photos from the marketplace on Saturday:

This was our view upon walking in the door. This was just after 10am and the place was already busy busy busy!

I did not enter the Webs booth but there it is. I don't know if I would have come out unscathed if I had fallen into that booth!

Anzula Cloud.......I do love Anzula. A couple of things from Anzula fell into my stash over the weekend but no Cloud.

This was an interesting piece. It was outside the Colette's Garden booth. Both boys were fascinated with it (we saw it both on Friday and Saturday). It was taller than me. 

Something from Verdant Gryphon fell into my stash, as well. Yes, you're going to see it soon enough. Stop being impatient little monkeys!

We also took a quick photo by Zombie Yarns....Lorna Dyes Again. Now, here's something you need to know about Zombie Yarns. Zombie Yarns started out in the 1980s.......but it wasn't called Zombie Yarns. What Lorna started in the 1980s grew up to become Lorna's Laces, which, by 2003, had been sold to a woman in Chicago (who kept the name, because DUH!). But.....Lorna got the itch again and just last year, she started up Zombie Yarns......Lorna Dyes Again. 

Upon coming home on Saturday, I discovered that my KeepCup had arrived from Australia. I wasn't expecting it until sometime this week, at the earliest. But, there it was. I heard about it over on the Knitty Blog and decided I could have one. Just be forewarned, before you go buying them: the prices are in Australian currency and won't reflect your country's currency until you go to pay for it. I did mention that on the survey. 

Sunday was my big day at Stitches West. Husband was going to fly solo with both boys while I took two classes. I was up early, stopped at Starbucks, and was halfway to the Santa Clara when I tried my chai latte......only to discover that their milk had gone off. My latte tasted like poo. I was sad. 

But, I tried not to let it screw up my day......two classes with Marly Bird

My morning class was called Curvy Knits: Plus Size Knitting (which you can also find as a class on Craftsy). The idea was that we would learn how to go about adjusting patterns to fit our needs, or, if we were feeling really adventurous, how to just knit our own sweater with our own measurements. Admittedly, I have taken a similar class, but this class was specifically aimed at women that were "big" (either tall, wide, boobs, etc.). We talked about specific issues that we have. One of the ladies was very tall, but not what I would consider "big" other than having love handles. There was another woman that was short but had a rather large chest. Then you have everything in between. I also learned a few things about patterns and pattern writing that I need to pay attention to, specifically the gauge on patterns. Pattern gauges are supposed to be  the gauge when the item is blocked, which I knew....but so often, patterns will say, "knit for X inches or rows," which doesn't necessarily take into account the difference between what Marly calls unblocked, blocked, or weighted blocked gauges. 

In other words, we all need to swatch (and our swatches should be at least 6"x6", if not bigger). 

I hate swatching. 

But, I also learned something about blocking. When I blocked my gauge swatch for this class, I washed it, and laid it out flat to dry, which is what one would normally do. But Marly brought up a really good point about blocking. What happens when you wear a sweater for eight hours? Is it going to sit the same way it did when you first put it on in the morning? Is it going to lose all sense of shape and wind up dragging behind you? Hence: weighted swatches. So, when you swatch, she recommends doing three gauges: unblocked (so, you've bound off, lay it out as flat as you can and measure your gauge), blocked (washed and laid flat to dry), and weighted blocked (take the blocked swatch and get some of those hangers that have clips, and add some clothespins to the bottom and hang it up for a day or so and remeasure your gauge). 

With those three gauges, you can do evil evil math (which is not as bad as you think) and figure out how much you actually need to work when patterns tell you to work until it measures X or to work X rows. Or you can, you know, ignore it and do it how it needs to be done to fit your body type. Just a thought.

A couple other things she discussed with regards to swatching: when you swatch, make sure you swatch in pattern and in stockinette (if you're a knitter). Most often, patterns will say: X stitches + X rows = 4" (10 cm) square in stockinette. Well, if there's a pattern of some sort (cable, lace, stitch pattern, etc.), that may or may not alter your gauge. Some people have a difference in their knit and purl stitches, which can be further altered by knitting in the round. So, if there's something other than plain stockinette, swatch that and the stockinette. 

::sigh:: I hate swatching.

After my morning class, I dashed off to the marketplace for lunch and the big drawing. I sat with a lovely knitter from Milpitas who mentioned something that I was subconsciously aware of but, you know, wasn't consciously aware of.......and then this happened:

Clara Parkes was signing copies of her knew book, Knitlandia, in the Verb for Keeping Warm booth! I was all confused at first because I follow her on Instagram and noticed she was in Portland on Saturday for a book signing when I thought to myself, "huh...I thought she was here for some reason." Turns out, I wasn't wrong....but she was only going to be there on Sunday. So, I met Clara Parkes. 

It gets better.

In front of me in the line:

Yeah, that's Sivia Harding. I'm pretty sure I got a little fangirly and I don't even think I ever told her my name (both of them, actually)....

It gets even better than that (though there are no photos of this). Directly behind me in line? A lovely lady with bright bubblegum pink hair, named Jasmin, her adorable baby, and her mother, Gigi. 

No idea? 

Knitmore Girls. I had actually met them on Saturday, talked with them, cooed at idea who they were. They were in the Never Not Knitting booth, where I was shopping with Carrie

I'm pretty sure I got a lot fangirly. 

These were from the grand prize drawing that happened. Of course, by the time I got back from fangirling, the only places left to park my backside were the floor and the floor. I chose the floor. I didn't win. Oh well.

And then it was back to my afternoon class with Marly Bird. 

My afternoon class with Marly Bird was Hobby to Profession: Becoming a Designer. The first rule of Hobby to Profession? We don't talk about Hobby to Profession. Okay, it's totally not like Fight Club but it is a very personal class for Marly Bird. The door is shut and she tells us secrets. Honestly, we talked shop. I couldn't even begin to describe everything that went on in that class. Let's just say that people cried, I took lots of notes, there are no handouts for the class, and discovered I have a lot of work to do (you may have noticed a couple ads on the blog - nothing major, just a little change). 

I came out of that class feeing quite invigorated, to be honest. When I got home, I set up a "business" Paypal account (where my pattern writing money will hang out), I put my pattern up for sale on Craftsy and LoveKnitting, and of course the aforementioned ads. Nothing major, but more than what I had been doing. 

Also, I pondered TWO sweater patterns on my way home. Okay, one is more of a coat than a sweater but I still pondered it. The other one was a doodle I made during my designing class.....yeah. Let's not even talk about the fact that I've not touched my Wink sweater in weeks, if not months, and here I'm pondering making my own sweater design. What. The. Hell?!

Sooooo, all that happened. 

Seriously, she's so sweet. She may be my new super-famous role model. 

Now, let's talk about all the other things that came home!

Oh, before I forget....something that I've not photographed. I met both StevenBe and Stephen West in the StevenBe booth. They're both so sweet. StevenBe asked Little Man to make him a sweater. Little Man hid behind me. I think he thought he was nuts, which isn't exactly true but he's very eccentric, especially to a five year old. I bought their tour pattern book and both of them signed it. Just for the record, they are both as eccentric in real life as they appear, but they're both fabulous. 

And speaking of the StevenBe booth......

I got the last one of these, on FRIDAY! It's a skein of Adorn Luxe from Three Irish Girls in a self-stripey format. I've no idea what I'm going to make. A little rounded shawlette is coming to mind but we'll see how things go. 

.....and then there's this bag. I saw it on Friday in the StevenBe booth and I decided against it but I told myself that if it was still there by the time I got around to the StevenBe booth on Saturday, I would buy it. It was there. It's now mine. 

This yarn has a specific project in mind. One of the blogs I read (if she'd get back to blogging!) had a pattern for a little Minecraft Creeper. Little Man picked out the yarn. I expect I'm going to have leftovers so I'll probably be making a hat or something with the remaining yarny goodness. 

I may or may not have fallen into the Anzula booth a couple of times over the weekend. The top skein is a new yarn they debuted at Stitches: Beta v. 1.3. Little Man picked out the yarn color. I knew I wanted to try the new base but I let him pick the color (which is called Peacock, by the way). The next one down is a limited edition colorway, Jawbreaker, in the It Could Be Worsted base. The bottom one was in the "sale" bin. I suspect it's either For Better or Worsted or Cricket for the base. It's not as yellow as this photo implies, just as the Beta v. 1.3 isn't as blue-green as it seems (it is a blue-green but it's not so green). 

I already mentioned that I fell into the Verdant Gryphon booth. This came home. 

It's a skein of Bugga in Emerald City. No idea what it wants to be when it grows up but we'll see. It was too lovely a green for me to pass up!

While I was shopping with Carrie on Saturday, I wandered across the aisle from the Never Not Knitting booth and fell into Yarn on the House. I picked up four skeins of Little Brother in Caviar (which is a blue-green-grey and isn't as dark as the photo shows). It's destined to be George's Vest for Stormageddon. I actually only needed three skeins (barely) for the largest size....but if I bought four, I got a lovely tote. Guess how many came home?

I also found a booth called Cozy Rabbit Farm. She started dying yarn in her kitchen and hasn't stopped since (which is in addition to the angora yarn they have - which comes from their own angora rabbits). It got to the point that she hasn't even had time to name her colorways! So, these two she has tentatively dubbed "Melted Crayon." I picked up two skeins of the worsted weight but it was also available in fingering and DK. 

I found myself being very well behaved in the Miss Babs booth this year. This skein of K2 came home with me. I'm pondering the need to revamp a couple of patterns in my head, which means (in some cases) reknitting some of my non-published patterns. This one will probably grow up to be at least one version of Susan's Hat, quite possibly two if I can squeak them out......which is a distinct possibility because the skeins are 240 yds of bulky yarn. I might be able to get three of them out! We'll see, though. 

Funny story about the Babs booth....on Saturday, when I had Stormageddon with me, we went to the booth, as one does. I mistakenly had Stormageddon too close to the yarn and he leaned forward, grabbed some lovely purple sock yarn off the hanger, and did exactly what I taught him: he started rubbing it all over his head and face. 

No joke. I almost bought it because it was so adorable but I managed to resist. 

Moving along.....

And, lastly, the project bags (aside from my sexy Irishmen and YOTH totes). 

The Doctor Who one came from Front Range Bags. It's bigger than my usual project bag but it can be meant for a bigger project. Currently, the yarn for the Creeper is inside it.

Of course I fell into the Slipped Stitch Studios booth. The bag on the left is a Donkey Kong themed bag. The one on the right is a woodland animal theme. That one may or may not stay in my stash. I'm offering it up for a prize in one of the Ravelry threads. The little black bag in the middle was won by Little Man. For what I bought, I got to pick an egg from their bucket and I won a stitch marker and a grab bag. The grab bag included a couple of lovely items, including an iocaine powder necklace from their Princess Bride collection, some magnetic keepers (My Little Pony), a mini skein from Dizzy Blonde Studios, and some other items. Also, not in the photo, I picked up some Hufflepuff pride buttons. There are 12 mini buttons and since I was long ago sorted into Hufflepuff on Pottermore, I needed some Hufflepuff pride :)

And lastly, my swag from Erin Lane Bags. To be fair, the Stitches West bag and the green sheep bag were pre-ordered and I had to pick them up at Stitches West. The kitty bag on the right is the other choice being offered up for a prize on Ravelry (but I'm only giving up one of them). 

WHEW! Did you make it?

Go to the bathroom. Grab another cuppa. Or not. 

That was a long post. 

In addition to all that, I was also participating in the stitch marker swap. I only caught a few people/vendors so I've not pulled them out yet. 

I hope you've enjoyed! I know I loved every minute of it and I hope Husband watches the children all weekend when I go next year!

I should be back on Friday with my FO Friday post about the Mountains Beanie. Until then :)


  1. You got some good loot here. I'll need to check out Zombie Yarn next year. I left around 1 p.m. on Friday. Sorry I missed you.

  2. Great loot! I've met the Stevens....lots of energy there.....loving your purchases....we no longer have Stitches East here, but I've got Rhinebeck, NEFF, and Vogue Knitting, plus the smaller local shows....

  3. oh my gosh, you got SO MANY GOODIES!!! Looks like you really made the most of your time there, which is the smart thing to do- you got all sorts of things that otherwise would be more $$ with the shipping, and some great resources to help as you continue designing, and some classes- smart smart smart. A thing about all those swatches, though- I find that you totally need to d all that if you are working with a new to you yarn. But it's one of the reasons I go back to a lot of the old standbys, I find that I like knowing how the yarn will behave after all that and can knit accordingly. It saves me time.