Stitches West 2013


For the last 4 years, I’ve been going to the giant Stitches West knitting expo in Santa Clara. And for the first three years, I’d posted a fair amount of detail about my time there. Not this year.

This year I still went, took classes, met friends, shopped, had fun, and slept very little, but I have no proof. No pictures, no daily posts. I haven’t decided if I was too busy or too lazy. Maybe both. So you’ll have to take my word for it. A good time was had, but I can’t be arsed to write it all out right now. Maybe later.

Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to take a nap. Zzzzzzzzz…

Stitches West 2012

I had the best of intentions. Honest. I was going to post daily accounts of my time at Stitches West, like I did last year, but the days were so packed that I didn’t have the time. So, here’s a recap!

Stitches West began on Thursday. I went to the opening session by Betsy Hershberg, author of Betsy Beads. XRX, who runs the show, is promoting the book. I’d gone in not really interested in it, and by the end of the speech, I wanted to purchase the book (and did!). Funny how that works. Nice job, XRX.

Opening session

After the session was lunch, where the teachers came around to our tables at five-minute intervals. It was a great chance to see what was being offered at Stitches. While there were classes Thursday afternoon, I didn’t sign up for any, choosing instead to hang out and wait for the market preview to open.

Marketplace entrance

I did take three classes at Stitches.

My first was a three-hour class on Friday: Embroider Your Knitting with Anna Zilboorg. Amazing lady, beautiful work. I sincerely hope she comes out with a book on the techniques in the class.

Embroidering class

My second class ran all of Saturday: Color and Weave Mini Tote Bag with Deborah Zarchow. I’d taken her introductory class last year, which led to all of those scarves I wove since then. I wanted to try something different, hence the bag. (I’ll show that off with my thing-a-week, next.)

Weaving class

Finally, I had a class on Sunday morning: Spinning for Knitting with Merikke Saarnit. I already spin, but this class was worthwhile to gain a better understanding of different fibers and techniques.

Spinning class

I purposely didn’t fill my schedule with classes. I’m fortunate to have fallen in with a group of great folk from Northern California and enjoyed spending time hanging out and knitting with them. I also met with relatives for dinner on Saturday and spent an afternoon with a high-school friend on Sunday before my flight home. Oh, and my roomie Sherry bestowed upon me a beautiful skein of yarn that she spun and a knit cowl. What great friends I have!


The rest of my time was spent at the marketplace, which was pretty awesome, as usual. Nearly 200 vendors, thousands and thousands of yarns and books and other goodies. It’s a wonderland. I didn’t get that much, considering how much there was to buy.

Market haul

That’s pretty much it. It’s all a blur, and I didn’t get much sleep, but it was great. Definitely want to go again next year!

Stitches West 2012: Prologue

I’m in Santa Clara for another Stitches West! It doesn’t start till tomorrow; I like to get here the day before so I’m not rushing around on the first day.

Last year, I posted some complaints about my trip down. In a surprising reversal, everything went smoothly this year. I am amazingly unannoyed. Here’s why:

  • I was not subjected to a full-body scan by airport security.
  • I heard all of the boarding announcements and boarded in a timely manner.
  • The one-year-old baby next to me on the plane was well-behaved and slept most of the way.
  • The TSA did not search my bag.

There’s really only one annoyance that continues from last year:

  • The sinks at the hotel are still stupid.

But that’s ok. Also, this is my view:

View from the hotel

It’s 75 degrees right now. Oh my.

To good friends.

Almost two years ago, I made a new friend: Ewenique. We met when I, a total stranger, offered to drive her to Sock Summit 2009 in Portland while she was visiting Seattle from the UK. (Honestly, I could have been an axe murderer for all she knew!) We got along famously, and have been keeping in touch and sending presents back and forth and doing all the things that good friends do.

Well, Ewenique is back in the States, her visit once again happily coinciding with Sock Summit 2011. I actually had quite a few things stored up that I’d been meaning to send, not the least of which was a little housewarming gift I knit for her:


That’s Girasole, a beautiful lace blanket/shawl designed by Jared Flood. The yarn is Berroco Ultra Alpaca, an alpaca/wool blend in the color “Steel Cut Oats.” I’d started it some time ago, and when Ewenique told me they got a new house, of course I had to finish the blanket for the occasion (months late, as it worked out, but who’s counting?).

Ewenique and her husband only just arrived a couple of days ago. They came to our house last night for a BBQ, after which she stayed over so we could get a head start on our trip down to Sock Summit. (Given the jet lag, they held up quite well!) Ewe also gave me some lovely purple Old Maiden Aunt yarn, some buttons, and some yummy bikkies, which I believe I will devour in record time.

Today was a gorgeous day, so I trotted out the convertible and we made the trek down to Portland. Once there, we walked and stroked the yarn to our hearts’ content. I didn’t get very good pictures, so this will have to do.

(Edit: Ewenique posted her pictures, here. They’re much better than mine.)

Sock Summit 2011

I did catch Ewenique fondling her yarn when she thought I wasn’t looking. Naughty girl.

The weather was quite warm, and stayed that way all day, even after sunset. Naturally the convertible top stayed down and we basked the whole way home. The day could not have been more perfect.

Stitches West 2011: Epilogue

Well, I’m home. The flight home was totally uneventful. No annoyances whatsoever.

Today, I took a better picture of my market haul:

(The Bugga is the gray one in the middle, and the Codex is the magenta one below it.)

And some nice ones of that weaving project I’m so enamored with.

weaving project

weaving project

I haven’t washed it yet, so I expect it’ll still smooth out a little bit.

That’s it! I’m feeling a little less tired now, too. I guess I’m recuperating!

Stitches West 2011: Day 4

Well, that’s it. It’s over. It was a jam-packed, exhausting time.

This morning I had a Farmyard Friends: Needle Felted Animals class with Sharon Costello. I made a sheep. Well, most of a sheep, since we ran out of time to finish.


Aren’t the samples cute?


After class, it was back to the market for last minute stuff and the grand prize drawing. Nothing really grabbed me except a couple of dizzes and buttons, and I didn’t win anything. What a drag.

Sherry was kind enough to drop me at the airport for my flight home, so here I sit, waiting for my flight.

I’m completely worn out, but I had a wonderful time. Thanks to all my great Northern California friends, you made me feel a part of the family. See you next year!

Stitches West 2011: Day 3

O noes! Stitches is almost over!

Today was the last full day at the conference. Much fun has been had. Much learning has been learnt. I had a full-day weaving class. Yes, weaving. And surprise, surprise, I think I like it. My decent into madness began with knitting, crept into crochet, sojourned in spinning, flirted with felting, fled to fiber prep, and now is wending its way into weaving. Save yourselves! I’m done for!

Anyway, the class was Learn Rigid Heddle Weaving and Use Up Your Stash with Deborah Jarchow. Everyone in the class had a rigid heddle loom to work with: some had Ashfords and some had Glimakras. I had a Glimakra. Unfortunately I was so into it that I forgot to take a picture while the class was in session. You’ll just have to imagine these looms out of their boxes with beautiful weavings of all different colors and textures coming off them.

After class

We made scarves. Well, we tried to. I didn’t have enough time to finish the whole thing, so I ended up with some sort of short table runner.


The warp (lengthwise) yarns came mostly from my stash, including some handspun I wasn’t going to use for anything. For the weft (crosswise yarn), I ended up going to the market and picking up some Cascade 220 sport in rich chocolate brown. I really wish I could’ve finished the scarf!

After class, I went to the market for a short while, then went to dinner at Pedro’s with friends. It was delicious. The tamale had the best masa.


Back at the hotel, my roomie and I chilled a little bit and took pictures of our marketplace haul. (I didn’t get good pics of the Bugga, so I’ll just have to get proper pictures when I get home!)

New stash

After that, we headed down for yet another PJ party. We showed off our market purchases and I showed off my scarf. I’m so proud.

Nite Owls

We all pretty much crashed after that. I didn’t even post this till the next day.

Stitches West 2011: Day 2

Woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head…

…and then I went to class. Only one class today, Creative Knitting: Crazy Quilt Style with Myra Wood. It was very interesting, about how to plan and knit crazy quilt knitted pieces. Myra’s a great teacher, and the class materials, especially the handout showing how many increases is needed for any given angle, were very helpful.


After class, I hit the market. Didn’t buy much, just some Bugga and Codex at Sanguine Gryphon. It was super crowded. The rain didn’t deter the crowds at all.

Stitches Market

Stitches Market

Now, I did run across this little gem of an item at one of the booths. It’s called a Stitch Light, an LED pendant light that hangs on your neck and lights up your knitting. Very cool. I decided to get one, but am waiting on someone to get back about whether they want one or not. Ahem.

Stitch Light

Shortly after that, my friend Erin was gracious enough to drive my butt (and the rest of me) over to the Bobbin’s Nest in Santa Clara, where one of my favorite dyers, Three Irish Girls, had a trunk show. As if the marketplace didn’t have enough yarn.

3IG at Bobbins Nest

The rest of the afternoon consisted of food, more marketplace, and some wonderful knitting time with the Nite Owls. Then came the Stitches Pajama Party!

Stitches PJ Party

I do have one thing to say about this PJ party. The coordinator of tonight’s event explained how the party started at Stitches, and she seems to have bent the facts to make it sound like it was her idea. Not a chance. For the record, the Nite Owls had a PJ party on the hotel mezzanine at Stitches West 2010, before this woman was even representing XRX. The party was organized by my friend Cole, but the Stitches staff thought it was a great idea and made it an official party. After this coordinator/community person came on board, she started making it sound like it was all her doing, presumably starting with Stitches South 2010. Shame on you, girl. Maybe you should read up a little on the history of the event, as documented on your own blog:

I can’t say I was actually invited, but I did get to witness the first ever STITCHES pajama party, dubbed Night Owl Knitting by Cole (or coleyknits on Ravelry, the one with the sock monkey), the parent of this brain child. Tipped off that these knitters in their comfort zone would be visited by sponsors bearing gifts, I showed up, camera in hand.

Susan (cocohugs), crashed the party from her nearby Hilton home, showed me her first-time Magic Loop socks-in-progress, and explained that almost everyone came from 2 (exceptionally devoted, if I might add) knitting groups: Llama Llama Knit in Novato, CA and Yarn Cottage, which is sadly no larger in business, but the knitting group party’s on!

Pack your pajamas and let’s make it a regular thing: STITCHES, Friday night, Night Owl Knitting Pajama Party, following the Fashion Show Dinner, location TBA! See you at South!

The list of gifts was long and generous. There were representatives from Cascade Yarns, Malabrigo, and Knitter’s Magazine present.

[Posted by Natalie, Feb 27, 2010]

Anyway, about tonight’s festivities: there were indeed prizes. There were questions like who came from farthest away, who’s been knitting longest, that sort of thing. They also had contests, like crazy PJs.

Stitches PJ Party

The Carmen Miranda look-alike won, of course. Though the coordinator and both judges had no clue and just called her “the fruit lady.” Kids today, I tell ya.

Stitches PJ Party

And I won a prize, too! The prize I won was for closest anniversary. Ours was on Feb 5th. When I told my husband that I won, he was pleased to have had a part in it. Until I told him what it was for: a $15 gift certificate to the Fine Needle and a neck-down sweater DVD. He suddenly lost all interest.

PJ Party prize

(Yes, I brought my charted chicken to Stitches West.)

So that’s it for today! Tommorow, I weave (as in make fabric. I’m not going anywhere!).

Stitches West 2011: Day 1

Day 1 of Stitches West complete! It was a slow starter, but it ended with a bang.

Before I start, there were a couple of more annoyances to add to the list from yesterday. First, I had a hell of a time getting to sleep. (Yeah, I know, waaah.) Then, some school up in Washington calls my phone at 5am and then at 6am to tell me that school is delayed for a couple of hours. I had no idea what they were talking about, but sure do appreciate the wakeup call.

Alright, so, after I caught a couple more Zzzzs, I got up and wandered down to registration and then over to the opening day talk. It was actually pretty good: it was put on by three designers, Gwen Bortner, Myra Wood, and Barbara Kerr, who had undertaken a challenge to come up with interesting semi-crazy designs and present them and their design process to the audience. It was really interesting to see how they came up with their designs. They were all beautiful, too.

Opening Day Spotlight

After the show came an opening day luncheon, where attendees got to meet teachers speed-dating style. The teachers would come around and introduce themselves and their area of expertise. It went really well; the only downside is that we didn’t get to meet all the teachers!

Opening Day Luncheon

After lunch, I hooked up with Sherry, my roommate from last year who also agreed to be my roomie this year. She had to toddle off to an afternoon class, and I was left to wander the halls alone. I didn’t have a class, but I eventually found some other classless knitters to sit with while we waited for the market to open. It was a pretty lousy day outside, too.

Santa Clara weather

Calm before the storm

The market, for anyone who doesn’t know, is a exhibition all full of yarn and knitting vendors. It’s huge. What was deserted only hours before became a hotbed of activity. Sherry and I didn’t get through half the market in the three hours it was open for the preview. It’s nuts.

Line outside market

Stitches Market


After the market, Sherry and I stopped in the hotel lobby for dinner. It took over an hour to get food, and made us late for the Ravelry meetup. Harumph. The meetup was decorated for Valentine’s Day. It was so cute.

Ravelry meetup

And finally, we stopped up in a friend’s room for margaritas before heading to bed. I’m exhausted, and I still have three days to go.

Stitches West 2011: Prologue

This weekend is Stitches West in Santa Clara. If you remember, I was there last year. The festivities begin tomorrow.

I flew down this afternoon, enduring a succession of minor annoyances: it started with airport security, where I was “randomly selected” for a full body scan. The process itself was unobtrusive and really no worse than what we’ve been subjected to for the last decade. It’s just strange to think that someone in a booth somewhere is eyeing me through my clothes and reporting the results to the pat-down artists on the floor.

So, after that, I got to the gate with plenty of time to spare. The gate area was extremely crowded, so I found a seat by the next gate. I heard frequent announcements about my flight: first class is full, flight is full, etc. But apparently, the boarding announcements themselves are broadcast only to people within five feet of the door. I missed them all. I finally scoot over there at 15 minutes to departure to find that everyone already boarded. Really, guys? You announce everything but boarding over the PA?

The lady at the gate grabs my pass for a moment then hands it back without a word. I head onto the plane. Everyone is already seated, of course, so I go straight to the seat I was assigned. I know I was assigned the seat because I had enough foresight to look at my pass when I first got it. 15A. Ok. Well, yeah, it was 15A, until I got there and noticed a child in my seat and confused looks on her parents’ faces. So I look at my pass, and see that the mute gate lady crossed that out and put me in 6A without mentioning it. Just great. So I trudge back the 9 rows to my seat, looking like an idiot for holding an entire plane up.

I didn’t actually hold the plane up, by the way. We sat there for 15 more minutes before we pushed back anyway. The flight itself was pretty uneventful, though I did have some twit woman behind me remarking on every obvious thing she saw like it was a revelation. OMG, shut up. At least there were no babies crying in my ear.

And one final insult: when I got to my room and opened my bag, I found a note from airport security saying they’d opened up and searched my bag. Thanks TSA!

So here I am, alone in my hotel room, waiting for the convention to start. The sinks at this hotel are as stupid as they were last year:

Sink at the Hyatt

Looks nice, but it’s actually awkward, splashes a lot, and is not very functional.

More tomorrow!