Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Knitters on the Bus: Lots of Potential!

Well. Tonight I am supposed to be walking Bonnie and paying bills. I've done the former, and may yet do the latter (suggestion: don't hold your breath), but for now, I want to revisit Saturday's trip to Chicago.

At 7:30 in the morning, my friend Jess and I joined a couple dozen women from our local knitting guild, climbed aboard a bus, and headed to Chicago, and Vogue Knitting Live.

What do knitters do on a bus? A clue: it doesn't involve singing yarn songs (although there are some; if I have time, I'll come back here and add a link). Another clue: we're knitters, people! We ate, talked, and knit our way to Chicago.

There was one rest stop break, with a great photo op.

We got to the Palmer House Hotel right around nine, which gave us an hour to kill before the action started. We picked up our passes and programs, and read that there was a Knitter's Lounge, on the mezzanine, open from 9-3. Perfect!

We made our way to the mezzanine, and walked all around it, and never found the advertised lounge. We did find tables and chairs, with a view of the lobby, and opted to sit and knit and chat. (We never did find that elusive lounge.)


At 10, the Marketplace opened, so off we went. This year, we started with the artists' gallery.

First, we chatted with Ashley Blalock.

Ashley, crocheting, and happy I didn't make her pose

This is Ashley's installation, Keeping Up Appearances. It really is not a good picture - take a look at her website for better pictures, and some explanation.

Crocheted, not knitted!

Carol MacDonald creates prints that are inspired from her knitting. I bought a card with one of her prints, Potential.

Love this illustration!

I didn't take pictures as we wandered through the market (too much to see! too much to touch!), but we saw splendid things. Here are just a few of the vendors that I remember.

Tin Pan Arts - they had buttons galore, wonderful buttons, sparkly, shining, buttons. Unfortunately, I have found that stashing buttons is of limited value. Maybe I just haven't stashed enough yet, but I've never found what I needed in my button box - I've always had to head to the store with my finished project in hand. So, without a finished project, I could only admire these buttons, and then leave them behind. (And, sadly, I have neither website nor address for these folks...)

KnitCircus Yarns - Oh.My.Goodness. One of the things I had my eye out for was a gradient yarn. (You can read about and see some gradient yarns here and here.) So we were delighted to stumble across gradient yarns by KnitCircus. My favorite was a set of two skeins, each of which went through several shades of blue. So you could knit a pair of socks that would match (if you were a sock knitter), or you could knit two identical halves of a scarf, join them together, and have a scarf that flowed from one color, through varying shades, and then back to the original color. So beautiful! (I resisted this yarn. For now.)

Nerd Girl Yarns - Beautiful, gorgeous, bright, hand-dyed colors. I resisted (For now); Jess did not.

Sophie's Toes Sock Yarn - More glorious yarn. The initial draw here was a shawl, Sunstruck, knit in three shades of gray. It was squishy and classic and beautiful and I think everyone who walked by, wanted to knit it (or to have someone knit it for them). They also had Magic Balls, and a wall of shawls knit with them. I stood there for quite a while, and somehow my credit card came out and this fell into my bag; it has the potential to become a beautiful shawl:

Harvest Celebration

Two Grey Dogs Designs - How can you resist a vendor that hands out business cards with dog biscuits?

I could not resist for long. Their hand-dyed yarns were subtle colors, which really appealed to me. We left empty-handed, but I went back later and picked up two skeins of Schnauzer Snuggle (that really is the name of the yarn), in the color Smile a Pose. I don't yet know what this will become, but it has great potential:

We lunched on the mezzanine - which reminds me, I need to share a beagle story. The night before our trip, I packed some food for breakfast & dinner on the bus, and lunch at the show. Saturday morning, as I was getting ready to leave, I set my bag by the door. I went to get my coat, and came back into the kitchen, to discover Bonnie happily devouring one of my sandwiches. Her beagle nose certainly discovered that food quickly, and her chow-hound appetite knew exactly what to do with it!

After lunch, we went to one of the fashion shows (there was a show pretty much every hour, put on by different companies). We watched The Fiber Factor Fashion Show. According to their website, this "is a knitting design competition being held to find the next great knitwear designing superstar." Some of the garments were terrific, some were a bit bizarre. There was even a dog sweater, modeled on a stuffed animal. Now I'm tempted to go back and watch the previous episodes.

This year, I took a class as well, "Pinwheels and Pi Shawls," taught by Brooke Nico. She showed different techniques for starting the center of a shawl (which may come in handy with my next knitted elephant), and also explained several different architectures for circular shawls (concentric circles, rays circle, pinwheel). We knit some samples, got confused, and generally had a fine time. (Brooke has a book coming out in the spring, Lovely Knitted Lace, which might be worth a look.)

With the class ended, I rejoined my group, and we found our bus and headed home. It poured rain, so I was very glad to be able to sit back, relax, and knit.

I look at Carol MacDonald's card, Potential, and it seems to me that it captures the essence of why we traveled several hours on a bus: to surround ourselves with potential. When we see rows and racks of yarn, in varieties of colors and weights, we immediately start to imagine what we could make with it. When we see samples in booths, or on the fashion runway, we imagine how we would knit them, and what we might change. When we attend classes and workshops, we imagine how we will use that new technique.

And then we head home, knitting and talking and eating, and thinking about what we'll do next, with our sticks and string.


  1. I enjoyed reading your post...especially the last 2 paragraphs about why you traveled several hours on a bus.

    1. Sarah, thanks for that comment! (Esp since I worried that those last two paragraphs might be a bit "much"!)

  2. Love the schnauzer yarn colors. Fascinating to look at the giant doilie website and hear about all the stores and classes