Sunday, October 14, 2007

Stitches East 2007

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I'm safely home now, well-rested after a good night's sleep in my own bed following a whirlwind half-week out of town and many frazzled hours driving round-'n-round the Beltway. (I've had enough of the Beltway now to last me the rest of my life, thankyouverymuch.)

Tonight, I have a few Stitches pictures to organize and share, and my goal is to get that done within the next day, upload them to Flickr and link to them here, eventually.

In the meantime, I do have a couple of photos I can show you.

First, this "e-postcard" of Bess and I taken at the XRX booth:

(By the way, I got my hair cut Tuesday, and the bangs are back.)
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That purple bag is just some of my loot. Oh, my! I may be too embarrassed at my excess to do a big reveal!


Here's a screen capture from the live web-cam of the Stitches East 2007 marketplace:

The little booth to the right of the purple "X" on the floor
is where postcard photos are taken.

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So many beautiful, incredible yarns and other items for sale there. So much so, that it really became overwhelming, and I found it necessary to take a break after a couple of aisles of shopping, and get away, sit down and desensitize, in order to be able to appreciate what was in vendors' booths in the next aisles. I can now understand why people come for the entire three or four days, and take a class here and there, and visit the marketplace in dribs and drabs, so as not to try to see it all at once.

I would recommend, to any future Stitches attendees, that if you're at all interested in purchasing trendy yarns like Blue Moon Fiber Arts' "Socks That Rock", that you find that booth first. I managed to stumble upon it Friday afternoon and snapped up four hanks while the gettin' was good. By Saturday afternoon, the booth had been incredibly picked over, with not much sock yarn inventory left. One can always order from their website, of course, but half the fun is seeing and touching those gorgeous colorways in person.

So, Friday afternoon, exhausted after a long workday and just an hour or so of sensory overload in the marketplace, I walked across the street and had a drink outside at the Wharf Rat, where Charlottesville-based Margaret met me, and we swapped stories and showed our purchases.

When I serendipitously ran into Bess on Saturday, it was a good enough excuse for both of us to take another marketplace break and grab a coffee upstairs at Starbucks. Upon returning, we got our postcard photo taken before continuing shopping, and then lost each other somehow in the 300's aisle, so I never did get to say a proper goodbye. Sorry, Bess! Hope you had a fun there on Sunday, too!

I did run into several other friends while roaming the aisles. Friendly-Knitter Amber & I were reaching for the same kit at the Shelridge Farm booth and recognized each other. I also saw (blogless) Pam, who had temporarily misplaced Emmy & Becky, but I'm sure they found each other again, eventually. I know this, because I saw the Colonial Heights gang's Stitches postcard on the website. (Aren't they cute?)

I had one FKS, or Famous Knitter Sighting. While browsing in Rosie's Yarn Cellar booth, I heard a familiar voice and turned around and saw Lily Chin sitting there, chatting with the vendor and customers alike. I was too shy to say hello, as is my usual M.O. around famous folks. It's times like that I wish I were more gregarious and had asked her for a picture or an autograph or something.... My spies told me later that Bess, always gregarious, stopped Lily in one of the marketplace aisles and gushed appropriately. Oh, Bess, how I wish I hadn't lost you before then! ;-)

Seriously, though, it was a fun experience and I'm glad I had the opportunity to go. I've actually never spent much time in downtown Baltimore before this weekend, except for an Orioles game at Camden Yards last year, so that, too, was pretty darn cool. I don't think Stitches will be an annual event for me, but I do hope I get to go again sometime.

Stay tuned for photos out on Flickr!

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10/16/07: I am editing this post to add a few thoughts about my hotel, so that I'll remember the details if ever I'm considering where to stay again in downtown Baltimore.

I stayed at the Sheraton Inner Harbor, which is connected to the Baltimore Convention Center, where Stitches East 2007 was held, making it particularly convenient. Because of my last-minute decision to attend Stitches, rooms at the hotel were going for $350/night, which I wouldn't ever pay, normally. Fortunately, I had enough Sheraton hotel points that my one-night stay was free. That being said, if I were to have paid that much for the room, I might have felt I'd been bilked. The rooms are tiny, and the walls are paper-thin. But, you're not paying for the room -- you're paying for the proximity to downtown events and locales, (harbor, convention center, Camden Yards), and you're paying for the incredible view. All those skyline and harbor shots I took, even the marathon shots, were taken from the comfort of my room with it's great windows.

Sheraton hotel rooms do have a few things going for them. Having spent many a night last year in a Sheraton, I knew about their Sweet Sleeper beds, the superb comfort with which few hotels can compete. I was therefore looking forward to that aspect of my room, and although my bedding was the high quality I expected, the mattress was another story. It had a tell-tale tilt on the left side where I'm guessing most guests sleep, and I found I kept having to pull myself towards the middle of the bed so I wouldn't feel I was rolling out. It probably just needed to be flipped. So, great bedding is nice, but you need a good mattress, too; otherwise, it's like a fantastic buttercream frosting on top of a stale cake.

The rooms at the Inner Harbor Sheraton also have a giant flat-screen LCD (or plasma?) television, which is nice, but not entirely necessary for my hotel-staying pleasure. I suppose it helps some folks feel they're getting their money's worth to have a high-dollar tv in the room. But, I found the DirectTV satellite television to be quite sluggish as far as channel changes, which was a bit annoying. So, again, some bad with the good.

Internet access is not free, which also annoys the hell out of me, when many of their competitors do offer it for free. Another annoyance -- the desk chair was too big for the room and the desk -- the arms made it too big to push under the desk, thereby making it difficult to walk through that part of the room. And the chair was also dangerously tippy -- there was no leaning back in it, unless I wanted to topple over backwards and crack my skull on the floor, which I very nearly did.

Something else I'd like to mention about this hotel. Having just spent the two previous nights at a very low-key and pleasant business-traveler-oriented Marriott Courtyard hotel in Rockville, MD, the pushiness of the bellhops and other hotel staff at the Sheraton was a big turn-off. No sooner had I pulled up were they opening my car doors and grabbing bags out of the back and off my shoulder. After a frazzling 90 minutes on the Beltway, pushy-grabby strangers were the last thing I wanted to face at the end of my journey, and I finally had to tell the little broken-English-speaking valet to back-off.

Another mark against this hotel -- the bathroom is considerably smaller than the Marriott's, and the towels were of a lesser quality. They need to up-the-anty in the towel department, to match the quality of their bedding.

Besides nice bedding, good location and great views, the Sheraton does have a few other things going for it. It's got a couple of in-house restaurants, as well as almost round-the-clock in-room dining. Most Marriott Courtyards have no in-house restaurant, so, often there's no room service, but they do typically have a fairly reasonably-priced breakfast buffet including hot foods.

I think that the next time I go to Stitches, I will stay at a more business-oriented hotel, which suits my temperament. I hear the downtown Marriott is decent, and Marriotts now use nicer bedding, too. Plus, their internet access is free. So, Marriott it is -- I've made a decision!

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8 comments:

Anonymous said...

It was great to see you & meet Bess, I thought your new look was great, I didn't know that it was so new. Look forward to seeing your stash enhancement. Emmy, Becky & I had a super time. Fun, Fiber & friends are the BEST!

Margaret said...

I am definitely too embarrassed to show my loot! It was very quiet in the Market Sun AM, quite a difference from the Sat afternoon insanity.

Bess said...

Oh I was so sorry we never met up again, but I understood how it could be if you got sucked into the WEBBS vortex.

We finished at about 5 o'clock - and finished for good. Spent all our spending money, sucked up all the ambience, gushed all over the stars.

We spent a lovely night lounging and came home early on Sunday.

hugs hugs hugs
bess

Robin said...

I am SO envious....what did you buy me?? I'm sure I can answer that question for myself!!
Maybe I can make it next year! Glad to hear you had such a great time.

Jane said...

I'm sure I would have been completely overwhelmed by all that stuff! That postcard of you and Bess is a hoot!

Issy said...

Sounds like you had a great time. One day I'll get there!! Can't wait to see the loot--bring some of it to TNK.

Nikki said...

I can't wait to see what you bought (or what you share with us! :) ) I just love STR. I'm waiting until after SAFF to place an order for some of the new colorways.

Monet said...

Love the STR that you bought! STR is highly addictive, that's for sure.

The pics were great and you have some wonderful additions to your stash.

Love the hair, love the postcard...