You know how it feels when you find a person who understands your passion about something -- who doesn't think it's frivolous or weird or laughable, but nods excitedly and gesticulates animatedly and confirms that your passion is worth every minute, every blog post, every hand cramp? Now imagine being surrounded by thousands of them.
It's not often that I have felt surrounded by people who accept and understand me, on that level -- I can really only think of two other periods in my life like that, and I look back on both of them with a lot of fondness. Now I can add a third.
There was a real feeling through the weekend, of talented women together, supporting and lifting each other (not that there weren't also some men, both those who were knitters and those who were husbands-in-tow.) When I saw this plaque in the Convention Center, I had to take a photo because I felt it really encapsulated something -- the inscription reads: "This country fosters a kind of woman who never seems to bother about who she is supposed to be, mainly because there is always work, and getting it done in a level-eyed way is what counts most. Getting the work done, on horseback or not, and dicing their troubles into jokes. These women wind up looking 50 when they are 37 and 53 when they are 70. It’s as though they wear down to what counts and just last there, fine and staring the devil in the eye every morning."
It was a weird weekend, being in the presence of so many of the kniterati -- the first time I was face to face with Stephanie (coming out of the ladies' room) I was too shocked and excited to even pull together a proper smile, so I think I grimaced at her. By the end of the weekend, I'd seen her so many times (she was walking around amongst the rest of us like a Normal Person!) that I just shook my head endearingly at the fans that clustered around her for a photo. Myself, I am too Canadian (or too shy or too awestruck) to go up to the knitting celebrities that I was within arm's reach of, like Stephanie or Amy Singer or Lucy Neatby or Jessica or Casey and Jess or Cirilia (who wanted a photo of my bag!) or Sandi Wiseheart (but yeah, I will drop some names.)
As I mentioned, I didn't make it into any classes (which I hear were fantastic, alas) but I spent copious amounts of time wandering around the Marketplace, just soaking it in, and buying many many skeins of yarn.
Some Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock in Koi Koi, which I've wanted for yonks
More BMFA STR in Crabby McHappypants (yeah, the name won me over as much as the colourway)
Madelinetosh Sock in Lichen is the first find I made there that I just couldn't walk away from. I think this one is destined to be a mobius wrap (On a side note, I was entranced once by another yarn called Lichen -- it was the first 'expensive' yarn I ever bought myself)
Hazel Knits superwash fingering in Strawberry Lemonade (the photo doesn't do this one justice at all -- I saw it the first day in the Marketplace, and the colour haunted my thoughts all night until I finally went back and bought it the next day)
A sock kit from the Sanguine Gryphon, who are completely awesome and I have stalked online for ages but never before bought anything from (extra points if you know which kit this is)
Some handpainted merino silk also from the Sanguine Gryphon (admittedly I promised myself not to buy more fiber until I have spun what I already have, but how can I resist something so perfect and shiny (and called Transmogrification, to boot))
Some Louet Gems Fingering in Cloud Grey and Caribbean, for a double-knit hat in the current Vogue Knitting
Some wonderfully variegated Zauberball which I have already separated into two balls for socks -- I came back to this and held it and stroked it every day, until finally weakening enough to buy it on the last day of the Marketplace
The Luminary Panel was also amazing -- we were all so awestruck by the whole group of knitting crones (and I mean that in the respectful sense, before you get all wound up) that our emotions were incredibly heightened. I shed more than one tear just hearing them speak, and I'm sure we all cherished every moment of it. It was something you can't explain to most people -- at one point, Meg (swoon) Swansen told a story of a funny incident in one of her classes. Apparently Barbara Walker was in there, auditing the class, and when Meg mentioned the SSK stitch, she turned to Barbara, and asked if she had indeed been the inventor of the stitch. Barbara nodded quietly, and the other instructor of Meg's class just burst into tears. That's how amazing it was to be in the presence of these women. But how do you explain to someone that the woman who replaced SKP with SSK made you cry in public, just being near her?
As for the rest of Portland, it was still pretty great -- my hotel was totally posh and very friendly and was a great place to crash, exhausted, every night. Powell's Books was awesome (obviously) and I scored a couple of fantastic books there. I even made a little stop, at the last possible minute before I checked out and went to the airport, at the Portland Doc Marten store, where I scored this truly wicked pair of Docs.
Cupcakes are so last year. How about some freshly made donuts from Coco Donuts (right next to my train stop for the hotel) -- this one even looks like a skein of yarn (or am I just drunk on fiber?)
It was an amazing weekend and I am still in recovery. There is so much more to tell (like setting a Guinness World Record.) I finished some socks (duh) while I was there, but I will show you those next time.