What can I say about this event that hasn't already been said? (not much!) - getting together with some of my fiber friends and heading to Stitches West is an annual event AND a luxury. This year, I spent a lot of time admiring yarns but knew full well with my upcoming projects I wouldn't have a lot of time to knit for myself. Instead of coming home with bags of yarn, I edited my wish list until it held just the essentials.
Armed with my messenger bag and a WIP, we entered the marketplace with a strategy: begin in the far back corner and visit aisle by aisle until we reach the front. Of course, too many shiny things mean we get distracted, but eventually this strategy yielded a result of our viewing every booth.
What did I buy at Stitches (besides a $6.50 slice of pizza)? Here's a summary:
1.) Nancy's Niddy Noddy. On the list. I wanted a nice niddy noddy for skeining my handspun. After searching the marketplace for just the "perfect" one, my friend Michael pointed this one out. It allows for varied skein sizes (from 27" to 2 yards) and comes with a sturdy bag. I liked this one most because of its versatility and since it was collapsible it won out over the others.
Now I have the perfect tool to wind my handspun, and a cute carrying case that will keep it for me for years to come!
2.) Sock Blockers. On the list. I LOVE Rosemary and John Chapman's sock blockers. Since I have had a set for a number of years, and love them more than any other type I have tried, I decided to invest in another set. Rosemary is adorable, and is really proud of the work her husband puts into these pieces. I purchased the sheep blockers this year, and asked John to autograph them for me. From what I understand, they only show/sell these at Stitches events, so it's another good reason to make the pilgrimage!
These are amazing and hold up incredibly. It's the kind of thing I can have a dozen of and be quite happy. Truth be told, hand knit socks only get washed in bulk in my house - so the more blockers I have, the more socks that can be cycled back into use. Hooray for Stitches 2013; this purchase means one more pair can be cleaned when it's time to tackle that chore! (Gosh; I should have picked up more wool wash!)
3.) Lazy Kate. On the list. I have had my Sidekick wheel for about a year now, and have been *suffering* by using my made-up lazy kate (which was crafted using small photo storage box, a set of knitting needles, and a rubber band). For this item, I was hoping to find a kate that was hand made, that was beautiful, and that did the job without being overly fussy.
This lazy kate, made by local woodworker Willard C Taylor (Will) was the perfect find (thanks to Morgaine of Caroline Homespun). Crafted of black walnut, this kate will allow me to make up to a 3-ply yarn, and doesn't need to be tensioned if the spinner plies keeping one hand steady and using the other hand to move back and forth between it and the orifice. When being used, it's placed on the floor about 4-6 feet behind, and the brass rods are pointed away from the spinner. When not in use, the rods are removed and store cleverly in a cute little storage compartment!
4.) Shaker Banded Box. Not on the list. It was a bit of a surprise to find this artist at a fiber festival, but it was a lovely compliment. Tim Arnold's boxes are stunning. The one I purchased has burl wood on the lid and has a little lift out tray.
I walked by this booth once, then the second time around spent a few minutes admiring the craftsmanship. Tim was VERY nice and really pleasant to talk with. He showed his work with such pride. After talking for a while, I realized that he had driven all these pieces from Tennessee (he lives in Nashville!) - and his passion for the craft is what made me decide to purchase during my third visit to his booth.
I realized that I loved these boxes, and appreciated the craftsmanship and history. Out came the wallet and I now have this wonderful box for craft storage. Tim offered to do other pieces if I like, and also expressed an interest in custom making pieces. While it wasn't an expected purchase, I reminded myself I'm on "vacation" and justified supporting this artist and his work.
5.) Yarn. Not really on the list but who can resist? It's Stitches, after all, and Miss Babs always has such gorgeous colors. I was looking for something specific for an upcoming design and found these skeins of "Yet" lace - 65% Merino Wool, 35% Tussah Silk, in colors "Naples" and "You're the Only One" (Babette).
So, I came home with 2 skeins of yarn. O.K. and a cone of black sparkly fingering weight yarn... but no roving, no spinning wheels, no looms, no quilting frames... all-in-all, I feel like I did pretty well.
Of course, during the frenzy of stitches we see lots of friends. That's the real reason I like to go. I even met up with one of my students from last year (I taught her intro to knitting) and today she's working at a yarn shop! It was great to see her and hear how she has stuck with knitting and, most of all, how it has changed her life.
I didn't get to see everyone I wanted to see, or do all the things I wanted to do. Lucky for me, there's always next year. Until then, I'll be treasuring the purchases I made at this year's event, and each time I look at them I'll remember the fun day we had in Santa Clara.