Friday, August 17, 2007

Stitches Mid-West weekend part 2

Last night I had another good run. Pam and I ran 3.2 miles, our new route, the flat version. I just wasn't really up for the hill so we ran along the street and back on the trail. It's a nice change running from the Park & Ride instead of the regular spot. It was cooler than the night before but still warm.

Back to the trip!

We rose early on Saturday, anxious to get out to Stitches. We walked over to the Corner Bakery and ordered breakfast. In addition to needing the sustenance for a full day on our feet, I was carbo loading for the next day. I had their baked french toast and bacon with fruit (and a latte), actually a pretty good meal. We scarfed our food down and headed over to the train station.

Where we found that it was closed for construction work. There are apparently "slow-down zones" through the transit system and they were doing work to alleviate them. They're currently working on the line we needed to ride to get to the conference center. We hopped on the bus and slowly made our way to the station that was open way down the line. Waaaay down the line. The good news was we got a good look at an area of Chicago we wouldn't have seen otherwise. The bad news was it was cutting into our Market time!

We finally got on the train and made our way past several stops to Rosemont. While riding along we noticed many -- how to say this nicely -- uh, geeks. That certain type of male, teens to late 30's, black tee shirts, usually with some logo or picture, and jeans, mildly bad grooming habits, nose stuck in a comic graphic mag or computer 'zine, normally in groups of at least two or three. We idly wondered where they were going and were surprised when they debarked at the same station at which we disembarked. Could they possibly be going to Stitches??

That would be a big "no." We all walked in the same direction, to the conference center, through the blazing sun and high heat and humidity. Nobody was enjoying their black shirts, I can tell you that. [C'mon, you KNOW that I always wear black shirts!] We finally arrived and saw:
Nope, they weren't knitty boys in disguise, they were heading for Wizard World. Ahhhh, that explains the costumes! The guys and gals dressed in various and assorted DC or Marvel or Top Cow characters. That's why we saw a storm trooper! And a Power Ranger! I get it now! We were plenty amused, as I'm sure they all were by all the fiber fanatics headed upstairs.

We decided on a whim to buy a two day pass. After all, we would have to leave early to get to the ball game and didn't want to have to rush. We walked in and stopped for a bit, just staring around, stunned by the yarn and yarn and yarn and WARNING WILL ROBINSON yarn and yarn and oh my. I thought my brain would explode, and this was my third Stitches Market. Wow.

So we were going to go up and down each aisle so as not to miss a thing. If we got separated we planned to meet at WEBS since they had a big area. Petra had decided she'd look at everything first, then come back and buy it. That wasn't going to work for me, I was just going to buy it as I saw it.

And buy it I did! You can't really get burned out buying yarn, but walking around for hours can certainly get to you. Hours later we finally reached the far side of the room and realized we had made it through the entire market. Whew! We were both loaded down with bags of yarns and patterns and notions. And very tired. It was time to scoot back to town if we wanted to get to the game on time.

That was the plan, anyway. We walked back through the heat to the train, shuffled on board with all the fanboys and fangirls, crammed into the bus and pretty much just sat there in traffic. What would have been a relatively short train ride became an everlasting bus torment. Since this wasn't a normal bus they weren't picking up or dropping people off in normal places. The drivers were just as befuddled about the route as the passengers. There were many Transit workers at every stop, and between stops, and along the way, and -- well, everywhere. I don't know what they do with all those workers when they're not bridging construction gaps, but there were dozens and dozens of them standing around directing.

We had planned our schedule to have time to drop our purchases in the room, rest for a bit, walk to another train line and get to the game on time. That wasn't happening any longer. We'd have to scurry, drop and run. It was a tough decision but we decided to bag the Stitch n Pitch and consider our ticket purchases a donation to the White Sox. We really just wanted to rest for a while, eat a good dinner, play with our yarn and go to bed.

We got back to the room and quickly dumped our purchases on our beds. Hmm. Looks like I bought a lot of yarn. Maybe a different view would be better.

No, still looks like a lot of yarn! Of course, this includes the yarn I bought the night before. As if that made it any better. Lots and lots and lots of yarn. Red yarn, gray yarn, blue yarn, purple yarn, speckled yarn, multi-colored yarn, wool, silk, hand dyed, fancy, plain YARN!

Petra also had a theme going with her purchases. Ok, I buy a lot of reds and blacks and grays but she's pretty green happy, as evidenced here. Green green and more green. Not only a color that isn't my favorite, but in general shades that I'd never buy. But great yarns all the same. Nice that we'll never compete for that last skein on the shelf!
It was dinner time, so we transited and walked over to McCormick & Schmick's along the river. We had eaten there last year and while the wait staff was as annoying as they come, the food was pretty good. That was true again this year. The waiter was an obsequious pain in the neck which probably plays well with yokels from the farm but bugged the crap out of me. We sat outside and the views were wonderful, Chicago at its finest. Whichever way we looked were examples of the fine city architecture.

Since I was running (early) the next morning I went with my usual pre-race meal, grilled fish and mashed potatoes. Yum. Very well done. Would have been better with a glass of wine or a martini, but I had already had a glass of wine in the room and that was my pre-race limit.

We got back to the room, I arranged my clothes for the early morning wake-up alarm (5:00 am) and crawled into bed with a book.

After the race we decided that what we really wanted to do for the rest of the day was return to Stitches. Petra wanted to return to look at some yarn she hadn't bought and I wanted to look at books, which I hadn't had a chance to do the day before. We grabbed sandwiches and headed to the bus.

The bus was even slower going on Sunday. The Grand Prize drawing was due for 1:00 pm and we thought if we were lucky we'd just get there in time. I had several entries that I hadn't dropped in the drum because I didn't know we'd be returning. We kept checking our watches, the time drawing closer and closer.

I wasn't in the mood to be running from the station but we did walk at a good clip. We rode up the escalator, time running out, and got there juuuuuuust as they were closing the container. I scurried over and dropped in my tickets and waited, waited, while the third prize name was called (not mine), the second prize name was called (not mine) and finally, the grand prize winner (hundreds of dollars) was called. Naw, that wasn't my name either.

We now had just under three hours left to shop. We arranged a time and place to meet and split up. I headed first to return to Purrfectly Catchy Designs to get more stitch markers. I looked neither right nor left so that I wouldn't see yarn that still wanted to go home with me. I was determined not to buy more yarn. While I was looking at markers Petra walked over; she had won a door prize, a book. Double winner weekend for her! Maybe that means my luck will come through in the lottery this week. If I remember to buy a ticket.

I wandered over to the different places selling books and settled in to browse and get some ideas and see if I wanted to buy any books or if they were all still too advanced and complicated for me. I was peacefully involved in a felting book when Petra ran up calling my name. Apparently we had missed an entire vendor! NO! She insisted that I had to come look so I reluctantly (oh, right!) left with her. On our way over we passed the table where an author was selling his new knitting mystery. I stopped to talk with him, glanced through the book, figured what the heck, I like to read mysteries! He autographed the book and we moved along. (I read the book in the next couple of days. I will not be buying any more books in that series.)

Ooh, Petra was right. There was no way we could leave without buying some of the yarns from Brooks Farm Yarn. What especially caught my eye was their Duet (55% kid mohair and 45% fine wool, sport weight) and their Riata (48% wool, 36% mohair, 16% silk, worsted weight). My goodness, what lovely yarn. Thick and plush and soft and cuddly and it even smelled great. Yeah, I sniff yarn, wanna make something of it? I had a terrible time trying to decide which yarn, which colorway to buy. They weren't cheap but there was a lot of yarn in each skein. We finally decided what we needed to buy and oh look, the show is closing down! It was time to go, we had spent enough and bought enough to keep us in projects for ages. Years. Lifetimes. This was the addition to my purchases:

Next week I'll finish the trip story and tell you about all the wondiferous yarns that came home with me. I have my 20 miler scheduled for Sunday so keep your fingers crossed for cool weather!

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