Monday, August 10, 2009

I guess I'm blue

Family visit: wonderful. Sock Summit: awesome. My current favorite color: apparently blue!

What a way to get inducted into the world of serious knitters! Sock Summit was my first-ever fiber/knitting convention, retreat or class. Classes and workshops are offered at Black Sheep Gathering and the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival, and of course at my LYS (local yarn shops), but I am too busy with sheep at the shows and too busy with life for the LYS classes - or even such things as "knit nights." But Sock Summit was so close and sounded like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I carved out some time to attend with the blessings of my understanding family. Wednesday night I thought I'd better look over the Sock Summit schedule along with reviewing the requirements for my class, and realized that my Thursday class ended at noon, and the marketplace didn't open (for students only) until 4:30. I just could not kill four and a half hours to spend two more hours shopping instead of spending time with my family, so I offered to pick my sister up from the airport at 12:30 (instead of her husband driving up) and head home.

It was a good thing I left in plenty of time Thursday morning, because I missed my exit and added several miles to my trip. But I arrived in time to register, pick up my pre-ordered swag (Sock Summit button and knit light) and look around a bit before my class. The Portland Convention Center is beautiful inside and out:As advertised, the registration desks were set up under the dragon boat (off to the right in the above photo), with the marketplace set up in the exhibit hall behind.

My class, "Hip Hems for Him and Her," was educational and fun, thanks to our excellent and amusing instructor, Stephen Houghton. (Yes, I'll admit it; I saw the instructor's name many times before the actual class, and it still registered as "Stephanie." How is that for gender stereotyping? As for “orientation” stereotyping, well, you'd be spot-on.) I took the requisite five mini-balls of yarn and needles to cast on five different hems (although we only had time for four). Before diving into the hands-on part, Stephen had each of us answer a few questions as an ice-breaker. Wow! The group included two from the Washington, D.C. area, one from New York, one from Pennsylvania, one from Arizona and one from New Mexico, with the rest from Oregon, Washington and California. It began to dawn on me that the demographics of the attendees of this event were a vendor's dream! Of course, anyone who found out I was leaving right after class and missing out on the opening of the marketplace thought I was out of my yarn-lovin' mind. I did stick my head in the doors to smell the fiber fumes and snap a photo before leaving for the airport....
Not to be deprived of a once-in-a-lifetime shopping experience, I was done with chores, showered and out the door early enough Sunday morning to hit the marketplace when it opened at 9:00 a.m. I really didn't need anything and had no shopping list, just a short list of must-visit vendors: the Sock Summit merchandise booth, Enchanted Knoll Farm, Woodland Woolworks, and the Royale Hare. Why those? Well, the first one was for a Sock Summit t-shirt. I hadn't ordered one ahead of time, but when I saw them while picking up my swag, I loved the colors and decided to get one if they had my size left on Sunday. They did, in several colors. I was really drawn to the faded red one with black trim, but EVERYone I asked thought the blue one looked better up close to my face. From then on, blue (and its close relative green) was my destiny. But back to my short list of vendors. The other three were all about bloggers: Enchanted Knoll Farm is run by Farm-Witch and her family, and she is the most amazing blender, dyer and spinner (with a razor wit, on top of it). I decided that if I was to indulge in just one fiber fix, it would be from her. In the absence of anything blue, I was bewitched by these sparkly "Peeper" batts:
Woodland Woolworks' owner has a blog, too, as well as horses, and is just an all-around nice person. Plus, I think I'll always be attached to the place from which I bought my first spinning wheel. So I stopped by and gave Diane a hug. The Royale Hare is where blogger Romi's badge was hanging out, so I stopped by for a photo. I put on a very sad face, because there were no nickel north- or southbound sheep pins to succumb to in my fiber-fumes-weakened state. Oh well, more money for fiber! And since I had told myself that I wouldn't buy another of Romi's gorgeous shawl pins until I had a shawl to pin, I started shopping specifically for shawl yarn. I wanted some color, but not so much that it would have limited use. I looked at every single booth in the marketplace (not necessarily in-depth), getting my hands salt-scrubbed and moisturized in the process (resulting in the purchase of this Lo-Lo Bar)and then started through again. One advantage of shopping on the last day of the event was the sales, and a stack of bins with a "buy one, get one free" sign caught my eye. There I found the perfect yarn for my shawl - Rio de la Plata sock yarn in green/blue/violet/rabbit(it's darker than this; the "acquisitions" photo at top is more accurate), and a couple skeins of sock yarn.The one on the right seduced me with its lovely hues, the one on the left with its auto-Fair Isle patterning. The colors of that one don't "sing" to me, but they were better than the others and should look good with jeans.

Then it was off to find a seat among the 1800 or so knitters who registered for the Luminary Panel (second photo at top). I snagged a front-row seat off to the left and sat there in my handknit socks listening to people talk about their classes and chatting with the friendly strangers on either side. As 2:00 approached, the excitement in the crowd grew. When the doors opened to usher in the panel, you would have thought a group of Hall-of-Fame rock stars - or at least heads of state - had entered the room! Some of the names were familiar to me, and some weren't, but still I caught the thrill of being in the presence of knitting greatness.From left there were Lucy Neatby, Cat Bordhi, Deborah Robson, Anna Zilboorg, Priscilla Gibson-Roberts, moderators Tina Newton and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee,Meg Swansen, Barbara Walker, Judith MacKenzie-McCuin, and Nancy Bush. They were warm, real, often funny (or in Stephanie's case, ALWAYS funny) women who were inspiring to listen to, not just as knitters, writers and designers but as women. At the end of the panel discussion, we all sang Happy Birthday to "Saint Elizabeth," since it was the 99th anniversary of Elizabeth Zimmermann's birth, and EZ's daughter Meg Swansen cut the birthday cake (more treats were offered in the foyer).
Oh, and someone was handing these cute little freebies out as people were leaving!

All told, it was an incredibly rich experience; I'm so glad I got to be a part of it! Of course, Sock Summit wasn't the best part of the past week. It was so good to see my family, to visit and laugh, even if Brian and Jackson thought everyone was here just for them. :-)

Now it's catch-up time at . . .

14 comments:

Becky Utecht said...

So glad that you had a such a good time at the Sock Summit. Wow, what a distinguished panel of knitters! And that mini-sock lolli-pop favor was so cute. I'm about to start in on two pairs of baby socks for a gal at work who had twin girls this week. :-)

melanie said...

Sis-

So glad you had an excellent time...it's very nice having yet one more thing we can commiserate about. Blue, eh? My mind is already working...

An English Shepherd said...

What a cool experience (blue...)

Wizz :-)

A :-) said...

I'm so glad that you had such a good time! I knew you would :-) I'm sorry you didn't get to The Loopy Ewe - it's a real favorite of mine. But clearly you came home with some great stuff! All that green and blue - were you channeling me?! :-D

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Oh, but I DID visit the Loopy Ewe, and told one of the people there that I was told I must (that, and The Fold)! I do love the mix of blue/green/teal/purple; I find those colors very soothing. Not sure they look great around my face (most greens definitely DON'T), but they look good with jeans, my most common attire.

Leigh said...

Wow, what a fun thing to do. And what a gathering! Definitely sounds like a worthwhile experience.

Nancy K. said...

What a wonderful post! Thank you, SO much, for sharing your adventures at Sock Summit! I've never even knit a pair of socks and I wish that I could have gone. I would have been thrilled just to see the famous knitters and browse the many vendors. What did you learn in your class?

Jenny Holden said...

A sock summit! Who would have thought it! Glad you had a fabulous time. We'll look forward to many more sock photos when you use that yarn!

A :-) said...

So you managed to get to The Fold and you didn't come home with any Socks That Rock?! :-D I'm glad you got to The Loopy Ewe, too!

Kathleen said...

I'm so glad you snagged some Peepers fiber! The Sock Summit sounds completely awesome. Maybe I can look forward to going to the next one. (fingers crossed!) Thanks for the pictures!

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Nancy, the class covered four different cast-on methods for socks; a hemmed cuff in straight and picot edge (which could also be done as a cast-off edge with toe-up socks), a channel island cast-on that would make a great neck or bottom hem edge for sweaters, and another that didn't impress me (I forget the name).

Diane said...

I think there's a lot of folks with post-Sock-Summit "blues"! and reds and pinks and greens... ahhhh. So nice to see you there!

Kathy said...

Is Sock Summit a yearly thing, Michelle? I have the same problems as you - time constraints and problems with attending much at the LYS, blah, blah, blah...so something like that sounds very interesting to me. Hmm...

I'm hoping for more time "socking" after tomorrow when Kelly and Gwen head back to NZ.

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Kathy, this was the first-ever Sock Summit, but there is rumor it may become an annual or semi-annual thing. The next location mentioned is Toronto. I won't be able to go anywhere that requires a long or expensive trip, so I was thrilled this one was in my "backyard'!