Friday, August 10, 2007

Stitches Midwest 2007

If there had been a bar at Stitches Midwest's market, I would have bellied up and ordered a whiskey. Around about the end of my third aisle, I was overcome by anxiety. About yarn. About crowds. About color. Really, about too many choices, and a feeding frenzy of knitters swarming around bins of sale yarns in oversize bags, at discount prices. The energy of the place was frantic. People stepping in front of one another to get to the Koigu. Constant debate over choices. A million and one options: hand-dyed and woolen spun and cotton and silk and wool. Understandably, not the best in customer service, so that, if you did find someone to help you, she typically wandered away to help another customer as you were waiting for the answer to your question.

It was at this point that I decided to take a mental health break. I'd already made the decision to create my own little bubble of privacy by listening to my Ipod. I don't do that in public much; I think that we're way over-stimulated as a culture and should allow ourselves to notice what's going on around us. But I just felt that I needed a force field, and Vivaldi's Four Seasons was it. Eccentric choice, perhaps, but calming. I took myself and Vivaldi over to the lunch counter, bought a tray of nachos with cheese and had a snack. Then bought a bag of M&M's, because chocolate was called for. Then I plunged back into the fray.

The rest of the afternoon went much the same. Habu Textiles was surrounded by confused knitters, trying to imagine what the tiny skeins of stainless steel and linen paper and kasuri silk could be made into. There was Koigu everywhere else, and I began to see it as a metaphor for multiple-personality disorder. Am I the pink with orange variegation's? Am I the sky blue with tones of purples and green? Am I the jewel tones or the pastels or the crazy skein with a bit of everything in it? I started detouring whenever I saw a booth with Koigu in it. At Rovings, which I love, no swatches for any of the yarns that I was interested in. And I wanted to buy. I kept fondling the Polworth Wool and Silk, which has a beautiful hand and makes a perfect, light-weight shawl. But last year I purchased the brown shade (undyed - a beautiful rich brown from the fleece), and the very light grey (the rep called it pewter but I wasn't seeing it) and the ivory weren't ringing any bells.

Here's what I brought home: Evelyn A. Clark's new book on shawl design, Knitting Lace Triangles. (Not available for purchase on the Internet, yet, as far as I can tell, but here's a blog posting by Jessica of Rose-Kim Knits, showing her handpainted example.) It was the first thing that I saw when I walked into the market hall. Sitting on the corner of the Yarn Barn of Kansas' display tables, just waiting for me. (Because very little other than coincidence and conch shells make me believe that there is some higher order in the universe, I thought it was interesting that I came home from Stitches to find an email from Joan, recommending the book to me.) So, that one was meant to be. I also purchased a copy of Barbara Walker's A Treasury of Knitting Patterns. Volume I, because I lost/misplaced/buried Volume 2 somewhere on Tuesday. I had it when I left the house to go to the yoga studio, and did not have it when I arrived home. I'm hoping that the Luna Lovegood principle of all things eventually returning brings it back home to me.
And a copy of Alice Starmore's Fishermen's Sweaters. The designs remind me of the Magic Sweater that my husband loaned to me when I was pregnant with our older daughter. Hmm. Let me try that again. The Magic Sweater - a warm, itchy, traditional Irish fisherman's sweater - that I took out of my husand's dresser and made my own while I was pregnant, which also traveled to Outward Bound with my older daughter, is either with her or on its last legs. I'm going to try to knit a sweater for my husband from Starmore's very traditional yet comfy and intricate-looking designs, and I have already warned him that it will be a long time before the sweater is finished. (Decision made: Inishmaan. My favorite, too, when I was skimming the book at the show. Here's one actually finished. My estimated time for completion: 2 years.)
And buttons.
A detail of Bianca's Jacket.

Even though I'd cast off the edge of Bianca's Jacket at 2 am the other night when I could not sleep. I'll have to play with a way to get them to attach one side of the sweater to the other. Maybe add a button band?

Next year, no Stitches. Or perhaps they'll consider a helpful suggestion of adding an open bar to the list of vendors.

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