Thursday, August 16, 2007

Stitches Mid-West weekend part 1

I had a great run last night with Claudia and Olivia. We met in Alamo and ran a short 3.3 miler on the Iron Horse Trail. They slowed down for me until just before the turnaround, then I ran alone for the last half. I pushed it, averaging under a 12 minute mile. It was pretty warm out but after Chicago the dry air felt good. It felt good to be back running again, especially in new shoes. I left the old worn-out ones in the hotel garbage!

Yeah yeah yeah, you want to hear about YARN, don't you!

We got into Chicago Friday afternoon after a crowded but uneventful flight. We had booked our trip through Southwest Vacations and saving all that money had definite downsides. The first was that they issue paper tickets (I know, positively ancient practices!) and so we couldn't get an early boarding pass. We were in "C" group, on a full flight. The only row with 2 seats together was the very last row; I took the window and Petra the center. It was cramped and claustrophobic.

A nice change from our visit last year is that the Chicago Transit Authority [I just cannot see that without singing songs from Chicago's first album] now sells multi-day visitor passes for the trains. We got a 72 hour pass that we could reuse the entire weekend, good for all the lines. We hopped on the train and headed for town.

We were again staying at the Chicago Palmer House Hilton because we'd liked it last year. This year we got screwed by Southwest Vacations. I had been told that "Double Room" meant just that, two double beds. No. According to the hotel it's ONE double bed. What most normal people in the world would call a "Single Room" because of the single bed. That wasn't going to work and after long discussions with a manager she graciously (not) gave us a "Double Room" with a cot. And out of the goodness of her heart she comped the cot. Oh big whoop, ending up with a small room with a small bed and a cot. We will NOT be using Southwest Vacations ever ever again. The savings aren't worth the discomfort and hassle.

We headed up to our room, on the 15th floor, and rearranged the furniture for the cot. Then we headed out for the other Hilton to go to the expo (more on that in yesterday's post). Our plan was to finish up at the expo and head over to Loopy Yarns for their Stitches party and sale. It was too early so we paused at the hotel's lovely lounge and had a martini first. We pulled out our knitting, sipped our cocktails and watched Chicagoers (Chicagoans? Chicagoites?) walking by.

When we were done we walked over to Loopy and were pleasantly surprised by the sign on the door saying that everything was 20% off. Yippee! The store was crowded with knitters and yarn buyers and wine and snacks and yarn. Oh, the yarn.

My plan for the weekend was to only buy special yarn. Things I couldn't get just anywhere. Pretty, soft, different yarn. I wasn't going to buy just any old felting yarn, anything I could get here. I made the circuit of Loopy, then walked around again. There were quite a few empty shelves but there were still yarns that I needed desperately. I decided to have a glass of wine, knit for a while and think about it.

There was an author signing copies of her new book, Mary Beth Temple and "The Secret Language of Knitters." She did a couple of readings and I decided the book would make a great souvenir of the trip. She autographed a copy to me personally. Awww.

One of the things on my list to buy were several row counters. I had lost my favorite one, the mid-sized locking green one, on a flight somewhere and hadn't seen them in any LYS. Since they were 20% off at Loopy I bought several, enough for many projects and possible losses on other planes. Then I had to pick the yarns I wanted.

I finally decided on two different yarns. The first was a sparkly gray/black, perfect for an evening shawl or scarf. It was Art Yarns Silk Rhapsody Glitter, 50% silk/50% kid mohair. The second was Claudia Hand Painted Yarns, sport weight, 100% merino, in Buckeye. I had a little more trouble with buying that, since I was sitting there knitting away on my fabulous Cider Moon Cherry Bomb chevron scarf and the yarns are similar. But only similar, not exact and I talked myself into buying it. Because I had spent so much I got a free Loopy Yarn bag. Sweet!

Petra was the winner of the bag full of goodies; she got a Loopy Yarn bag with a huge skein of bright green yarn (her favorite!), some huge wooden needles, and a couple of other things that I'm forgetting. Lucky girl!

After we had drunk too many glasses of wine and bought all our yarn we decided we wanted real food so we left and headed back toward our hotel. For lack of anywhere better to go we stopped next door to the hotel at Miller's Pub. The very taciturn host led us to our seats and we ordered beers. Because nothing goes better with vodka and wine than beer. We split an order of delicious crab cakes, then split a very tasty smoked white fish salad. Very filling and precisely what we wanted. We finished and returned to our room to admire our yarn and get some sleep.

Continued later!

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