Monday, October 26, 2009

yarning oversaturation

Yesterday I drove 3 hours to Hartford CT to see what the knitting show, Stitches, was all about. Like the last yarn-filled weekend in Rhinebeck wasn't enough. Just had to find out for myself.

I set out from my house early Saturday morning where the leaves on my trees looked like this.
Every year I'm amazed at how they fill my windows with yellow leaf glow and I take pictures of it.

Connecticut's leaves are still glowing too. I'm happy to be driving through the Fall landscape passing towns with names like Beacon Falls and I try to describe by name the colors that whisk by.

Around 11 I arrive in the parking garage at the Hartford Convention Center. I'm armed with copies of sweater patterns that I think I might need to knit.

It's a convention center like many, you could be anywhere, and the booths are set up like any tradeshow. After the first aisle although I like what I see in the String Theory booth by the end of that aisle I've forgotten all about their lovely yarns, because there's lots of yarn and lots of people. In the third aisle I think maybe I better get a shot of something. So I hold my camera up over my head and click the button to shoot the busy aisle.

By the time I get to the end of Aisle 300 there's an announcement over the PA system about ....some unauthorized photography. What? I take it personally, close my camera and shove it back into my purse. Though I'm a visual person I've apparently missed the big signage at the entry warning the attendees that there's to be no unauthorized photography, because apparently there's something classified going on here.

I've now lost track of what I'm doing here and temporarily lost the will to buy yarn too. I'm also wondering if I can go home before seeing every booth, but I'm also not ready to sit in the car for another 3 hours. It's beginning to look to me like every yarn store within 70 miles has decided to sign up for a booth and brought all their stock with them.

I spot the Tutto Isager booth ---these people know how to display yarn and knitted samples and the urge to buy something wooley comes back to me. I do that, but apparently I wasn't at the right end of the line (what line?) to make my purchase. At least they didn't announce that on the PA system.

One kind lady manning a large booth from another state, a patient state, took the time to show me all the needle felting options. Handles that secure multiple dangerous needles for poking wool---maybe this is what I'm not supposed to take pictures of. Anyway, I buy the one she says she likes the best, the cheapest one.

The Habu booth is filled with baskets of little skeins of intriguing fibers. I buy pineapple twine, it looks like, in two colors and plan to bring it home to add to my collection of unused skeins of wonderous Habu fibers. Oh yes and there was that skein of Possum Lace I bought from the discontinued yarn booth because... I don't know why. Was that a good thing to do for the possum community or not?

In one vendor's booth I was encouraged to knit with triangular knitting needles, but preferred his flat needles. Though he is good at making weird shaped knitting needles in his workshop, his wife has suggested he learn to knit. Good idea.

I'm real tired and I don't remember what aisle I'm shopping in or not shopping in. It's a blur of yarn store cubbies. I've yet to pull out my sweater pattern reference. After all, my current sweater knitting isn't going all that well. I've started 2 different sweaters and a scarf all from the blue yarn I purchased to make one sweater. Sweaters involve things like fitting and knitting to gauge, things I'm not interested in. It takes a long time to do make all those parts and then you also have to be willing to wear the sweater once you've knit it. But that's not Stitches East fault, they probably have a class to deal with this problem, I just didn't READ their information.

I see every last booth or think I do in spite of my hunger and thirst, make one last purchase of Moving Mud glass buttons (for what? a sweater?) and head for my car. Four harrowing hours later I'm home having driven through the pouring rain to safely conclude my weekend knitting or "yarning" adventure. (In my household, "yarning" refers to any activity related to knitting or dyeing yarn or looking at yarn online or receiving it in the mail, now also including taking off for the day or part of the day to do any of the above).

Perhaps no more Stitches for me. It just made me think a yarn crawl of the yarn stores and any independent yarn artists studios within 70 miles of the Convention Center would be a more interesting thing to do. That way you get to stop in towns like Plainville or Beacon Falls, maybe, and be inspired by their leaves, have lunch at a local restaurant, meet a yarn store owner and buy yarn from their brick and mortar establishment and/or meet a creative yarn-dyer in her studio and appreciate the work that goes into that skein of hand-dyed yarn.

Or maybe I've just hit my yarning capacity for the month and I need to turn my attention to scrubbing my stove.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

post Rhinebeck post

The much anticipated NYS Sheep and Wool Festival, aka Rhinebeck, has been and gone. I'm home, sorting and reorganizing my buttons, the booth components and the rest of it.

On Friday I arrived in Rhinebeck around noon, picked up a sandwich from Bread Alone and unloaded my stuff on the fairgrounds and set up my new display, which is sort of fiddly to do, but shows off my wool buttons and button-centric knit samples better than previous displays or at least I think so.

At the end of the day I had a chance to shop in The Folds booth in it's new location. I couldn't decide which Socks that Rocks yarn I wanted with only a handful of people in the booth! I need that Filene's basement frenzy to do a better job of shopping! Workshop attendees and other vendors have that Friday advantage.

Maybe the alarming weather predictions were a factor this year and maybe the upcoming Stitches East impacted the attendance, but the wonderful, avid, rabid fiber people braved the sunny, brisk Fall weather to come to the Dutchess County Fairgrounds were greatly appreciated. Saturday morning before the gate opened it looked like this, (see the happy-to-be-there attendee waving!):

I took a few minutes before it opened to attempt to shop at my short list of booths. My wonderings are restricted since I'm supposed to be there selling and not shoppin'! Beyond my booth in Building A I sought out Creatively Dyed Dianne's colorful yarns and went away with a skein of the multi-multi colored fingering.

Across the aisle was the popular Briar Rose booth which had a line in it already, so I had to abandon any notion of shopping there or even seeing the selections, unfortunately. (Look at the detail on that lady's sweater!)

Had to scurry back to find my boothmate Sarah selling buttons for me already. The rest of Saturday was made up of a flurry of sales of my leaf pins, shawl pins and assorted buttons. Jane (as in, Not Plain Jane) stopped in to compliment me on my new direction---she's been a supportive customer there each year through all my transformations. I asked about her current projects and she's very pleased to have one of her shawls in Clara Parkes' new book. Yay! Jane!

I also was fortunate to be next to the Wool Room booth where author and artist, Carol Cypher, was helping out. Two years ago I had bought her then current book, Hand Felted Jewelry and Beads, she signed the book and talked with me briefly about the book process, being an author and teacher. I intended to start felting right away! Didn't happen. But now I'm determined with her encouragement to get my dyepots going, dye my supply of roving and get started with wet felting. Hope to take a class from her next month at the Kinokuniya book shop in NYC.

The aisles bustled in Building A with great knitwear and other fiber celebrities. I wore my Swiss Cheese Scarf knit in Dicentra Designs glowing golden orange and it befriended several other Swiss Cheese Scarves throughout the day.

Half way through Saturday a woman in an eclectic array of garments dropped into the booth to admire my Einstein Vest (also in a glowing Manos yarn, glowing was the key word for my accessories) and I started to refer her to the Sally Melville books and the pattern for it. It's a very, very simple garter knit but makes a great billboard for a special set of embroidered buttons. She didn't want to knit it she wanted to buy the vest off my back! I thought she was kidding, but she wasn't. We made a deal, I clipped off the special buttons and she left me there unsweatered. That was just too funny! I asked what she wanted me to knit for her next year!

On Sunday the weather was not so great and surely many chose to avoid the damp and drippy conditions. I got to do more shopping and headed for a booth that Sarah guided me to, Julia M Hilbrandt, who makes sleek, simple bags, purses, pillows out of industrial felt with great machine stitched detailing. I was so attracted to her aesthetic I tested all the strap lengths and found the bag I couldn't live without. She also had on display an apple green, heavy felt tree skirt with curvy stitched pleats that should certainly be on someone's Christmas list. Hope to see her again next year.

A big thank you to those that stopped by my booth and bought buttons, admired buttons, touched buttons, rummaged through my sale buttons and my vintage buttons and appreciated my work.

And I'm thankful that I have friends in the area that are willing to put up with me for the weekend, feed me warm dinners, give me a comfy bed to sleep in and accommodate my whims. Thanks Sue and Jamie!

The sun's out here, the Fall color is just arriving in our neck of the woods and it's perfect light for photographing buttons to upload to the new etsy shop:

Saturday, October 3, 2009

2 weeks to go

I don't blog regularly, or haven't you noticed? Last time I sat down at the keyboard I was busy knitting cowls and hats with Noro yarns. Cowls became hats and hats became cowls, it got confusing even for me. There were several transformations and they ended up looking fine. Haven't touched them for a month so they must be done!

The buttoned cowl now looks like this:

And the original cowl morphed into this conehead hat:

These two items will be on display along with other button-topped samples in my booth, A28, at the Sheep and Wool Festival, in Rhinebeck, NY. Stop by my booth in Building A. I share the space with sisters McNamara from The Paisley Studio and Thimblefolk. I know Sarah and Barb are working hard to get ready for this big event!

There is still much work to be done as far as button production, display components---a big list. I can't wait!