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Let's Talk Stitches, Texas!

First real blog post in oh... two years, maybe more? It ought to be about one of the greatest fiber arts events ever, right!? Okay, okay, maybe not the greatest one EVER since this was the first Stitches, TX event, but it was pretty great for me - it was just the kick in the pants I needed to get started blogging again! Amongst many other things. Let's begin!

Early on Thursday, September 17th, I got up, shoved some food in my face, did my last minute packing, and threw way too little yarn in the car along with all my bags (I think I took more snacks than clothes!) and drove to Dallas, Texas, arriving about 9:30 am. It was the very first Stitches event to come to Texas and my very first major fiber arts event, so I was just a tiny bit excited. ;)

I got checked in, got my badge, and was killing time before the first event at ten when I had my first fan girl moment. There I was, trying to get a peek in the market, and up walks StevenBe. THE StevenBE, y'all! Aka the Glitter Knitter? Yeah! He had coffee in hand and seemed in a bit of a tizzy (I would've been, too, if I'd been there trying to get a booth set up - SO much work!), and my mouth just wouldn't work. I stood there like an idiot, probably with my mouth hanging open, for about 37 seconds while he did ... something, I don't even remember now! And then he was whisking through the doors and was gone. Gone! Moment lost. Sad face. But how exciting!

My very first event was a talk by Anna Zilboorg: Knitting a life in wild times. Wow. What an awesomely inspiring and talented woman. It was absolutely fascinating to listen to her talk about her life! I really hope one day she'll write an autobiography; it would be so good!

As it was, I bought one of her books: Splendid Apparel. And truly splendid it is! Anna brings knitting and embroidery together to create just stunning fabrics. I wish I'd taken pictures of some of her samples, but I was so busy taking everything in, I took very few photos!

Oh, and no, I'm not really a knitter. I do dabble periodically, but crochet is where my passion lies. However... well, my mother is always telling me that knitting wouldn't hurt my hands as much if I just DID it more, which is probably true, so it's coming, I expect. One day. Meanwhile, I have no problem whatsoever with picture books that might inspire me!

I felt so blessed to have had the opportunity to meet and speak with Anna, though, however briefly. And yeah, I think my mother would love her! :)

Next event was the Teachers Luncheon, which was kind of like speed dating! There was a designated Teacher's Seat at each table and they each got five minutes to introduce themselves and talk about their classes. While we ate lunch and they didn't, which seemed kind of mean, actually. But it was fun! I met a couple of the teachers that I had scheduled classes with and a few that I think I would enjoy learning from. Next time, though. I had a full plate as it was!

That afternoon was my first class: Bavarian-to-Go with Jenny King. It was also my very first class as a student! And it was a good one to start with, too. Bavarian is a technique I've been meaning to try for some time, but just hadn't gotten around to yet. It was nice to learn it from someone who has, literally, written a book on it! Well, I suppose it's more of a pattern booklet, but it was neat to hear about her research into the history of Bavarian crochet - in fact, she SHOULD write a book on it! I'd read it.

Jenny was great to learn from. She's patient and kind and even shared a few of her tricks with us, like the Jenny King method for weaving in ends - something I'm still a little skeptical of! But I was brave and decided to try it. I tested it out in class and I'm going to continue to use it as I grow the tiny little blanket I made. Wish me luck!

I learned Bavarian Crochet from THE Jenny King!

Day one concluded with lots of chatting and class comparisons with my roommate, whom I found on Ravelry, believe it or not! Don't worry, we met for lunch beforehand to determine neither of us were axe murderers. And despite the fact that she knits and I crochet, we got along great. We plan on meeting up later this month, actually, for lunch while doing the Hill Country Yarn Crawl!

Here we are together in the market - aren't we cute!? :)

Day two was my longest day. First up, Intro to Color with Laura Bryant. Whew, did that one make my brain hurt! Or at the very least my eyeballs. O.o Laura is the Creative Director and Founder of Prism Yarns and she has been studying color for many years - and it shows. She seems to have a sixth sense for color and it's both impressive and intimidating. But inspiring! I've never had any formal color training, so Laura's color classes were a big part of my motivation to give Stitches a try. And I'm so glad I did! I don't have any fun pictures from class, but here's a "fun" color perception test for you:

The afternoon I spent in the market. Wow. So. Much. Yarn! It was overwhelming. But I met some fun people and bought myself a new project bag/purse from 3 Green Sisters, who make really fabulous bags with up-cycled fabrics. I knew the one I had my eye on wouldn't last (most of them are one of a kind), so I decided I'd better splurge or I'd regret it! It's a Katrina bag and I adore it. I'm sure you'll see it pop up in pictures here and there!

And check out all the fun stitch markers I got by participating in the stitch marker swap! My favorite is the purple sheep, of course.

Stitch Marker Sammy and all my Stitches, TX Stitch Markers!

On the evening agenda was the Fashion Show, Dinner, and Pajama Party. I really wasn't sure what to expect, having never been to a fashion show, but there was a real runway and models and everything! If you have some time to kill, go check out Knitting Universe's photo album for it on Facebook. There were some truly stunning pieces and yeah, most of them were knit, but that just means there's a whole wide world of opportunity for aspiring crochet designers!

Dinner was tasty (mmm, dessert!) and I got to sit with some new friends from the Crochet Texas Guild, who also were kind enough to drive me over to the Omni for Marly Bird's Pajama Party! It was super fun but that's all I'll say because it's kind of like Fight Club... What happens at the Pajama Party STAYS at the Pajama Party!

Day three was far and away my busiest day. And after staying up until the wee hours the night before, I was feeling it!

IKAT and Fibonacci Crochet with Laura Bryant

- 8:30 to 11:30, yes a.m., was class with Laura Bryant again: Intro to IKAT Knitting and Crochet (feeling brave? Check out her Craftsy class on knitting with hand dyed yarns). An exciting technique to learn, but definitely not tv watching material! She called it "mindful" knitting or crochet. Indeed. Despite the challenge, it was quite rewarding once I figured out how to manipulate the numbers and stitches to achieve the patterning you see in the picture there. The argyle was hard, but it will not defeat me! I have plans... Oh, and it's pronounced EE COT - not EYE KAT like I've always said it in my head. Me and everybody else, though! Who knew?

- 12:00 gave us a look inside the pages of Knitter's Magazine with the hilarious and wonderful Rick Mondragon. I even got to chat with him after class for a while and pick his brain about being an aspiring designer! So, SO cool. He was super easy to talk to and gave me some pretty great advice. It was invigorating!

- 2: 00 to 5:00 was Fascinating Fibonacci with Laura Bryant again. I was starting to worry that she was getting tired of seeing me! But not to worry, she kept us busy in that class, too. Yeah, it was more math, but this was pretty easy math compared to what we did with the IKAT techniques earlier in the day! It boils down to applying the naturally, visually appealing Golden Ratio to color patterning, which is surprisingly simple. It definitely got some wheels turning!

- 6:30 to 9:30 had me back in the banquet hall for dinner and the Student Fashion Show. Marly Bird invited me over to her table so I must have impressed her with my killer *beep* *boop* at the Pajama Party. Oh, oops... 1st rule of the Pajama Party is you don't talk about the Pajama Party. Right! ;) So I got to hang out with her and a few other teachers, who were all a riot. Then the two gals sitting next to me participated in the fashion show with their knitted garments, so I snapped some pictures for them. One of them even ended up winning a prize for participating!

Oh and I won a prize, too! It was one of the very last ones they gave away and was actually an unclaimed prize from the show the night before. I won ... drumroll please ... a Knitter's Bundle from XRX Inc! Ha ha, yeah, I know I'm not really a knitter and all that jazz, but it was still pretty exciting! I gave the 3-year print subscription to Knitter's Magazine to my mother, but I'm keeping the tote and handbook. Because I'm telling you, one of these days, I'm going to pick up the knitting again!

Day four. My very last day of Stitches. Two final classes and just a little bit of shopping. And the drive home, of course.

My first class was with the amazing Marly Bird. Hobby to Profession: Becoming a Designer. It was both a laid back class and a raw experience. She shared so much with us and I am really glad I had the opportunity to learn from her - she's a big reason y'all are hearing from me today, actually. I knew that having a good website was important but I tried blogging a few years ago and didn't do a great job with it. I didn't want to just have a store front, either, because that's not the only thing I'm about. I already had a vision of the website I wanted and had even begun playing around with the templates on Wix a bit, but I just didn't have the drive to pull it all together and put myself out there again. Marly gave me that drive. So I'll say this: if you ever have the opportunity to take this class with her and you have any intention of ever turning your love of fiber arts into a business of any sort, do it. She has a wealth of knowledge across many different aspects of the industry and she's not afraid to share her experiences and advice with you. This class alone was worth the entire trip.

Accent on Color, Laura Bryant again! That was my very last class. And it was a good one to end on, truly. She took what we learned in Intro to Color and expounded on it. We picked out one yarn and then went looking for something that would give us a striking contrast. And then we played. :) We added in other colors and tested out different quantities - Fascinating Fibonacci was a great help here! It was just a fun class where we got to play with color. With a color expert there to guide us! I ended up with four colors that I would never have picked out to go together. Not in a hundred years. But they actually worked together! I'll have to put together a separate post to show you my little color odyssey when I finish it. Right now it's looking to become a hat!

And suddenly, that was it. My last class was finished. The market was closed. My roomie had already left. I was done. It was over. It was almost a shock! As I packed up my yarn and notes for the very last time that afternoon, I reflected on my first Stitches experience. It was... exhausting, ha ha. But also inspiring! Challenging. Overwhelming. Brain bending. Amazing. Wonderfully tactile and colorful and busy. And just what I needed.

I can't wait to do it again!


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