Sunday, October 14, 2007

Charm City Credit Card Meltdown, or Knitting is the new D and D...


Stiches EastI was only in attendance at Stitches East from Thursday evening to Friday afternoon. But this period of less than 24 hours still permitted me to hear Kaffe Fassett talk about his newest book, take a very challenging 'Argyle Socks in the Round class', and do some major damage in the Marketplace area. But first, an observation: it strikes me that these knitting events are really no different from gaming conventions when it comes down to it. Instead of playing D and D or World of Warcraft, we are knitters, and this gives us instant rapport with one another. So when sitting down next to a stranger, instead of asking "Which wizard of the Netherworld kingdom are you?" we ask , "Oh wow is that the Swallowtail?" and then a meaningful, shorthand conversation ensues, one which would be virtually unintelligible to someone on the outside because of the specificity of our jargon. It was kind of fascinating to be present at an event where everyone was so focused on the one single purpose that happens to be my own own single purpose. It was exciting, but there was also a touch of bad teenager alienation as well, as while I love yarn with every fiber of my being (hehe), I am not prepared to be seen wheeling around a suitcase on wheels for it, nor will I ever wear any buttons in public, ever.

Kaffe Fassett, rhymes with 'safe asset':
First of all, what a huge relief that he doesn't have a fake British accent, even though he's been living in England a lot longer than Madonna. He talked about how seeing something like a stack of oil barrels in Portugal motivated him to do a painting, which became a gigantic tapestry, and then a series of smaller needlepoint canvasses. A small motif from the canvasses then showed up in a Rowan sweater, which then mutated and became something else. At one point someone from the audience asked if he steeked his work, and replied that he had never heard this word before and had absolutely no idea what she was talking about. This really made me realize that more than being a hardcore knitter, he is a practitioner of color. He told the audience that when knitting "...I really need to see a motif appear before lunch, that's just how I see the world" and that sock knitting was the most tedious thing he could think of. He also recounted a hilarious anecdote about being on a British radio show. He brought the hostess a tea cozy with a rooster motif on it, which caused her to exclaim "I am sitting here next to Kaffe Fassett and his glorious cock!". Yeah, I love this guy.
Sucktacular Argyle Sock
Argyle Socks in the Round:
Dipshit over here never knew that argyle always had to be done flat and that doing it in the round was thought to be unthinkable at one point. Our teacher, Suzann Thompson, was truly patient and nice and did an admirable job of helping all of us with her technique, which was somewhat difficult. Despite her expert help, my sock basically looks like our cat threw up some Cascade 220. I can't say that I rushed home to complete my sock as it was frustrating and did push me to my limits (which is what a class should do), but I will pick it up again at some point. She is an excellent teacher and I recommend taking a class with her if you can.

STR Mosaic
Marketplace Damage Report:
First off, I was glad to see certain yarns in person so as to diminish their hype factor and thus prevent buying them sight unseen. Lisa Souza and Interlacements were pretty enough, but I was not overly enthralled by them and most likely won't be jumping on their bandwagons. No matter that I have many, many skeins of Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock residing untouched in my stash, the inexorable pull of their booth took over, yarn gluttony kicked in, and I bought some more (pictured above). I also came home with more than a few skeins of Tess Super Socks and Baby yarn (first pictured below), which after the STR prices felt like a screaming deal at $15/skein. I was perhaps most excited about the Shelridge Farm booth--their yarn is unbelievably soft and the colors were stunning (last two pictures below). Also, they're Canadians which makes them just plain nicer than everyone else.

Tess Super Socks and Baby
Shelridge Farm Fingering Weight in Thistleflower
Shelridge Farm Fingering Weight in Robin's Egg, Brown and Peacock
All told, Baltimore really was the Charm City for me, and I recommend attending this event to anyone who has the inclination, cash and time. I ended my visit at the location pictured below, which was the perfect, sweet ending to my jaunt:
Charm City cupcakes

40 comments:

peaknits said...

My mouth is watering for a cupcake, I wonder why?...

Your yarn collection rocks - literally! Glad you had such a great time, I had to read the story about the "glorious cock" several times...I was thinking "did I just read that?" - bu God I did - what a great laugh!

Tammy said...

I am so jealous! What a great time!

kim said...

That story about Kaffe Fassett is hilarious! I never knew argyles could be knit in the round; you have piqued my interest. Love your new stash, and the cupcakes - oh!

Angela said...

I agree about being able to see things in person. I have fallen prey to the podcast hype of a dyer or supplier only to feel kinda duped when said item arrived. Interlacements is hit or miss for me. I scoured their entire booth at Stitches this year and nada. The other night I strolled into my LYS and bam!, two gorgeous skeins leapt into my hands.

The KF story is fabulous!

Ashley said...

Am I being completely oblivious when I ask why an argyle couldn't be knit in the round? I mean--it's just intarsia, right? Or no?

Anyhoo, this post cracked me up because I was just giving a dear friend grief about his World of Warcraft addiction, but checked myself before I wrecked myself when I remembered that I was just as dorky, only in a different way. Oh, subcultures.

Terhi said...

Hehee... Kaffe sounds like a funny man. Thanks for the laugh!

I'm quite jealous about your yarn purchases. Everything looks amazing!

miss88keys said...

Thanks for such an interesting recap of Stitches. I also agree that the Lisa Souza yarn was a letdown and I also understand the draw to STR. It's definitely my drug of choice.

I'll definitely have to check out Shelridge Farm when I attend Stitches in February. I sure hope they are a vendor there.

gradschoolknitter said...

2 things: 1. thanks for the nice comment about Canadians... I try to live up to the "nice" standard as much as possible!

2. I totally would have (and actually did until reading this) that argyle should be done in the round... especially on socks, but in general too.

Finally (I guess a 3rd thing), despite living in Charm City, I attempted to stay away from Stitches this year... only a couple more hours to go. I'd love to be I just can't afford to buy more yarn right now!

amanda cathleen said...

mmmm, cupcakes! I must now have a cupcake.
Huh, really argyle was once only knit flat?
I'm totally drooling over your new yarn, (and your argyle sock) very nice choices!

Kristin said...

I'm confused?! Did the class teach you to knit arygle in the round or flat? And I think your sock looks great.

Good shopping! I forgive ladies over a certain age for wheeling their yarn purchaces around.

Nora said...

Oh, what a glorious selection! I'm totally envious... :)

Tanya said...

Really missed you after you left! Class just wasn't the same. Just so you know, you were not the only one that left a little early. It was very intense and the muscles between my shoulderblades didn't relax until the 2nd Margarita that night.

I totally agree about the fake British accent. I don't think I could have listened to him if he had had it.

I hope we meet again sometime. It was really great meeting you face to face!

weezalana said...

If that's what your idea of cat yak looks like, then you've got a feline with some nice digestive enzymes!

So true about hyped yarns. I've heard great things about Tess and Shelridge, it's nice to know they pass the IRL test, too!

Sarah said...

First of all, are your word verifications seeming longer to anyone else or is it just me?

Second, I think your sock looks amazing. It looks like a very difficult technique.

Thirdly, don't let Canadians fool you, underneath our soft, squishy, aw shucks, exterior were all sharks.

Diana said...

I'm still laughing about the "cock." I wonder if he saw your cupcakes?

Sheila said...

Sounds like you had a great 24 hours at Stitches. That is an interesting argyle sock technique.

Faith! said...

You're totally right about knitting conventions being a nerd fest! That's one of my favorite parts about the knitting community- total indulgence in absolute geek-ness.

Lone Knitter said...

It looks like you had an awesome time! What fun. It just occurred to me that there should be booths of yarn at academic conferences and conventions. And we could land jobs by demonstrating how well we can knit and listen and talk and teach at the same time.

Heather said...

Great post and hilarious as always. I've gotta do one of these knitting events sometime. And Charm City Cakes? Tell us more!

Robin said...

ROFLMAO about the Kaffe Fassett and the rooster story!! OMG. Sounds like he was extremely entertaining! There was SEVERE credit card meltage going on this Saturday for me as well. If this gives you any idea of the carnage, Jim's task for today is to take pictures of all my finds. (Wouldn't you just love his job? LOL)

Zarzuela said...

Sounds like a really interesting experience. Nice yarn haul too! Is it possible to get the info. on the circular argyles anywhere other than the class? I would really love to know how to do them in the round instead of flat!

Jessica

Veronique said...

My roommate once tried to explain to me how she had knitted intarsia in the round. I just nodded my head and said "oh, I see" every once in a while, but I still don't get it.
Mmmmm, new yummy yarn...

Karen said...

Sounds wonderful!!! Yarn, cupcakes and a glorious cock. What more could one want?

Sonya said...

So. Jealous. So cool to be surrounded by fellow knitters and yarn. What could be better? I think I must get some Shelridge Farm yarn!

Sourire11 said...

I'm so going to get to one of these events next year!

And I'm with you... Buttons do not belong outside of 1991.

The cascade 220 throw up looks pretty good...

Gingersnaps with Tea... said...

Sorry you scorched your credit card but it sounds like fun times! Any trip that has cupcakes is a good trip.

And that whole "nice" Canandian thing... we may seem nice but many a pleasant Canadian hides a dark, cynical, twisted sense of humour. Also we can be rather frightening to go drinking with ;-D.

nicole said...

Holy crap, I've just had a window into what it might be like for me at Rhinebeck: the suitcase-toting, button-sporting over-achievers, the deep and meaningful conversations with complete strangers, the incontrollable urges to whip out my credit card to buy stuff I'd set out not to buy, the need to refuel with gourmet cupcakes once it's all over.

The only thing missing will be Kaffe Fassett's cock... Pity!

Stella said...

I have been wondering how to pronounce his have forEVER.

Ohh, and do I spy some Pond Scum?? Love it.

schrodinger said...

I have always pronnounced Kaffe Fassett's first name as 'cafe' I feel the fool now eh? Great haul, and I'm really impressed by how much you fit into the day.

I missed your hypothetical question (can see it on bloglines) hope you got it answered though - I'm actually having some trouble with my ssl, I hate the yarn and I wouldn't want to put anyone else through it, so I may have to find more yarn and start anew - &*^$ing bollocks!

nova said...

The playground that is Stitches East...a beautiful thing. Thank you for the pronunciation bit, very useful, I won't even share how I pronounced it, I am sure no one else is as linguistically stupid as I.

Knittymuggins said...

Me so jealous! I love that STR too :) And thanks for the fill-in on how to pronounce Kaffe Fassett! I've been saying it wrong in my head for a *really* long time now.... I bet his cock was amazing - hee hee. Glad you had such a great time!

tiennie said...

Those socks are so cool! The yarn! Oh the yarn!

JulieFrick said...

just fyi, this was a great post to read while pumping the boob. very entertaining.

Katy said...

Knitting it totally grown up D&D for the (largely) double-X chromosome set. I was quiet the other night and Alex asked me, "Talk to me--what are you thinking about?" I answered, "Gauge." Which is roughly equivalent to, "Who would win, gandalf or Obi Wan?"

But yeah, just say no to the wheelie suitcase.

Kirsten said...

CUPCAKES!!! Yum!
Pretty yarn haul!

The Ninny said...

I love Charm City Cupcakes!!! My mom and I have been there on too many occasions!

Esoteric Knitter said...

Awesome stash enhancement. Sounds you like you a fantastic time. :) And to top it off with cupcakes, yummm!

Kim said...

Maybe next year I'll make it to Stitches East. Too bad it's scheduled so close to Rhinebeck. I don't think my bank account could take a double hit like that! What a fun and funny time you had! Great yarn too!

Romi said...

What a great haul! The sock looks great, whatever you say! Wish I coulda been there. :)

trek said...

You went to Charm City?!

I am so jealous.