As I dropped my husband off at work this morning, I remarked to him that it was probably pretty crazy to drive 1.5 hours just for some yarn shopping. “The thing I don’t understand,” he replied, “is that you’re taking a class at this Stitches thing on Sunday, and you can shop then. Why do the extra driving today?”
I told him that I was worried I wouldn’t have time to shop at all on Sunday, between the two classes I was taking and a lunch date with other knitters. But the truth was that I was terrified there wouldn’t be any yarn left on Sunday. No special yarn, anyway. No yarn that was worthy of my first knitting convention. What if I got to the market at 2:30 on Sunday (it closes at 4:00) and the only stuff remaining was yarn my LYS had in stock? The horror! I understand that my fear was completely irrational. Intellectually, I knew there was no reason to be afraid of a yarn shortage. And yet, I couldn’t help myself.
So, I made the long drive up the 101, radio soothing me with NPR while the baby slept in his carseat. It was a perfect California day, snow-capped mountaintops wreathed with fluffy white clouds, a crystal blue sky overhead. The sun was shining. I’d shop for an hour, I figured, then meet my friend in San Jose for lunch. Rationally, I poked fun at myself. How big and special could a knitting convention possibly be, after all?
Well. The Santa Clara convention center is HUGE, people. And my first tip that my expectations were about to be trampled like a muddy piece of paper was that the normal parking for the convention center was full. FULL. At 10:15am on the first day. I was shunted into overflow parking, and figured there must be another event going on. No bother. Then I noticed that in every car around me, the woman driving was wearing something hand-knit. ALL of the cars headed into the overflow lot were knitters. I am pretty confident there were thousands of people there. Certainly there were hundreds of cars. Each one carried her knitting bag and wore or carried a piece of their craft, it seemed. (Right. Note to self: Wear Forest Path Stole on Sunday.)
Beginning to be daunted, I got baby into his stroller, picked up my own knitting bag, and set out on the walk to the convention center. The line for tickets was long, but since I was taking a class I simply got my badge and went into the Market. Three thoughts immediately went through my mind.
Oh my god.
OH MY GOD.
I need a bigger budget for Rhinebeck.
I was overwhelmed (the exhibit immediately opposite the entrance was Jane Sowerby (!!!) with her samples from Victorian Lace Today). She was chatting with knitters and signing books. A little bit of panic set in. I think I let out a shrill little giggle. I gave Jacob some Cheerios, looked at my shopping list (Handmaiden Sea Silk, DK weight for the Debbie Bliss Cable and Rib jacket, Astrakhan for the Slimline Jacket), and set out into the throngs. And it really was throngs. There were so many people I sometimes had trouble winding the Maclaren through them. (For the uninitiated, that’s a mighty tiny stroller.) As I walked through, I saw booth after booth after booth of gorgeous fiber. Yarn, raw fiber, tapestries, hand-painted, every weight, configuration, fiber imaginable. Buttons, hand-carved knitting tools, jewelry, bags and bags and bags. Books. Patterns. And everywhere, more yarn, each more tempting than the last. After about five minutes, a few more thoughts forcibly pushed their way into my brain.
I might not make that 12:00 lunch date.
No *way* am I spending my Stitches budget on Debbie Bliss I can get locally.
I wonder if I will even be able to *find* the Handmaiden before Jacob flips out?
In the hour and a half before Jacob flipped out, I think I saw perhaps 1/3 of the market. I spent 60% of my budget on three items. I didn’t even get *near* the Blue Moon Fiber Arts booth. The line there was completely ridiculous. I didn’t find the Handmaiden.
But. Uh. I chose quality over quantity.
Handpainted Claudia lace-weight silk, color “Ink”. 1100 yards. 10:30 in the morning on the first day and I got the last hank.
Three ounces of overdyed 100% cashmere laceweight from Springtide Farm in Maine. The color is a devil to capture. It’s more muted than the above picture: Turquoise over Taupe. It is the softest thing I have ever felt. I want to wrap it around my neck and never take it off.
And oh, baby. Three hanks of Pure and Simple, and one of Rock Star. For this. The short-sleeved version, although I’m going to lengthen them a bit. I’ve been able to ignore this yarn before because I’ve only seen it online. And silk is nice, yeah, but it’s expensive and I’ve seen some fairly ugly Simple Knitted Bodices. But in person…
…the colors. The beads. My understanding of the necessity of negative ease, with heavy silk. I just couldn’t walk away. I would have fought someone for this yarn. Luckily, I didn’t have to. Several vendors carried it.
And by the time I’d bought the cashmere, Jacob was really done. So we went to the car and I brought out the yarn, petting it a little before heading to my lunch date. I was only a half-hour late, after all.