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Stitches West 2010, being my first Knitting Conference ever, was AWESOME. I had a wonderful time, I learned a huge amount, and I came home inspired and refreshed. (Well, other than being in the airport for hours longer than I was expecting, but that’s a small bother compared to the AWESOME of Stitches.)

Since I wasn’t sure how many other conferences I’d be going to, I did what’s called “The Works,” which includes all the banquets and extras, plus 21 hours of classes.

I got picked up from the airport by my sister-in-law (who I adore) and had dinner with her and my sweet little niece. She dropped me off at my hotel, as well.

The one thing that I’d do differently next time (and yes, there will be a next time) would be to book my hotel room when I book everything else. I’d definitely stay at the Hilton again, too. However, this time, I booked pretty late, so I got what was left at the Hilton. That was a 7th-floor, king bed room. It was…palatial.

Very nice. And quiet. I like quiet.

After a nice, quiet night, I went off to Stitches!

This was the first slide in the opening presentation, “Miters and Multis” with Anna Walden and Jane Slicer-Smith. I got adopted by Pam and Ruby (front to back, respectively):

They were both very nice and willing to take me under their wings.

The talk was amazing. There were many good slides. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to use flash photography, so my photos are pretty blurry.

This is Jane Slicer-Smith, author of Swing Swagger Drape. She told us a lot about her design process and her education. (I bought her book after I got home.) I really liked most of her designs–they were innovative, yet classy.

And this is Anna Walden, who does a lot of designing with color and is part of the Twisted Sisters team of knitters and designers. Her designs are a little more funky, a little less classic. I like them, but I don’t think I would wear them.

Following the talk, we had an excellent luncheon. (That’s another thing about Stitches: The food at the banquets is delicious.) The organizers also tried a “speed dating” scenario where the different teachers spent about 5 minutes at each table. Unfortunately, this was the first time they’d ever done this, so there were some hiccups in the process. All in all, though, it was really fun.

That afternoon, I had my first class, which was Making the Most of Self-Striping Yarns with Sandi Rosner. We swatched and did math and I learned how to make mitered squares! I also had my picture taken:

And afterwards, there was a very necessary little drinky-poo.

The next day, I felt that I’d gained my rhythm. I’d been worried about getting back to SFO to fly home, but I booked a shuttle. (Note to self: 50% off if I book online!) Heeding my wake-up call, I rose, dressed, and wandered across the street to get to my all-day class with Cookie A., Top-Down Sock Design!

I have so many notes from this class. We did math and learned about “Cable Suckage” and swatched (though swatching involves doing the first three inches of the sock and then seeing if it fits over my heel) and laughed and had personal consultation and invented our own patterns!

Here’s Cookie holding her socks:

And here’s Cookie holding my sock:

My brain was so full when I got out of there. That night, I went to the banquet and fashion show, which was actually very interesting. I’ve never been to an actual fashion show before. I learned a lot about the new yarns and the new patterns coming out, as well as this essential fact:

Any garment will look stunning on a model that looks stunning to begin with.

I won a skein of yarn at the banquet:

(Why yes, I did finish those socks. Full pictures and details next entry.)

The next day was Shetland Shawls with Joan Schrouder!

This is my Shetland Shawling:

Isn’t it adorable?

This was mostly a class on structure, but it was absolutely inspirational. I went out and purchased some Malabrigo Lace during the break to make a full-sized one for myself.

That night was the Student Banquet and Fashion Show, which was actually really nifty. (Not that the whole conference wasn’t a fashion show; there was a near-constant murmur of “Is that…pattern? What yarn did you use? Did you make that? That’s beautiful! How did you do that?”) I got a really good table, thanks to Ruby and Pam, who are friends with a very nice lady whose name I have lost and can’t remember just at the moment. (Have I mentioned that I’m really, really bad with names?)

The final day of Stitches was spent in Bohus Stickning with Susanna Hansson.

I have no idea why she looks so intense in this picture.

This was partially a history class and partially a hands-on class. It was amazing. Susanna had several examples of actual Bohus garments, including these:

So beautiful. I want to make a Bohus pullover as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the kits from Sweden cost around $120. (They’re worth it. Totally worth it.) I think I need to get some other things off my needles before I even think about it, though.

I did, however, start a sweet little cuff:

The yarn is so soft.

I had dinner on my own that night, and it was nice to just relax and decompress a little bit. The next day, I went home. Guess who was seated next to me on the plane? Joan Schrouder! We talked about knitting all the way home, including how to get into tech editing and things like that. That was really fascinating. It’s nice that she’s local.

And, last but not least, there was the Market! I experienced serious Stash Enhancement:

I would say that about 75% of that is Malabrigo. I purchased Malabrigo Twist (enough for 2 sweaters and a pair of mitts) and Malabrigo Lace (for a Shetland Shawl). I also learned the Magic Words and said them at the Malabrigo booth and received two free skeins of yarn, one superwash worsted and one alpaca/merino blend. (The superwash went to Ornerie, who told me the Magic Words.) The bag in the top left corner is Crystal Palace Aran Marl, which I got for $22. (Yes! $22 for the whole bag! Jimmy Beans Wool is awesome!) That’s going to be a Cobblestone Pullover, hopefully done for next winter.

There was also this:

These are going to turn into some nice, thick, rainbow-and-black colorwork knee-high socks. Purr.

I also got this:

Quviut/Silk blend, one tiny little skein, destined to be a beautiful lace cowl. And it was on sale.

All in all, Stitches West was a wonderful experience. I definitely want to go back next year. Lots of people talked about being burned out after taking classes all day, but I just felt inspired. (It probably helped that I knew pretty much nobody, so keeping myself busy was a good thing.)

Next Entry: My First Yarn Swap, WIPs, and some FOs!

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