Sock Summit 2011 Day 3: July 30, 2011 – Far Afield

Back to our regularly scheduled Sock Summit Update (warning – picture heavy)….
Saturday morning found us a little more leisurely than usual.  That’s not to say we slept in, but Jess didn’t have class at all that day and Troy and I didn’t have class until 1:30 PM so there was no rush to get out the door immediately.  We had decided this would be the perfect morning to do a little exploring and we thought the Farmer’s Market would be the perfect thing to do.  Jess was amazing and pretty much figured out exactly where we needed to go and which TriMet route we’d need to take to get there.  Luckily, we were in the free zone for where we wanted to go, so it was super easy.  All I can say is, kudos to Portland for their public transportation!  If only we had something this nice where I live.  Of course, it’s not hard to get around in my town, but there are times where I’d like to not have to worry about driving or parking.

Skidmore Fountain

We hopped the Trimet to the Skidmore Fountain stop which was a quick 5 minutes or less from the Convention Center block. At our stop, I was initially put off by the group of scruffy looking loiterers shouting obscenities at each other over their shopping cart, but we just walked the other way and I put it out of my mind.  What caught my eye first was the historic architecture surrounding us; buildings with flourishes, and the historic colonnade housing a portion of the market.  I never cease to be fascinated by old structures and their histories.  The stories are there, buried, waiting for me to discover them.  I wonder about the people who lived and worked here. What was life like for them?  Were they happy, sad, indifferent?  As I soaked it in I snapped a few photos for posterity.

Architectural Details of The Colonnade


The Saturday Market - Portland, OR

We wandered, we looked, we soaked it in.  I found a lot of inspiration at the market, seeing all kinds of items that had been re-created from vintage or cast off things; upcycling being the buzz word I presume.  This has always been an interest of mine and seeing examples of this in the marketplace gave me all sorts of ideas for future projects.  I bought a couple of leather cuffs made from old belts.  Because I needed to “toughen up my image” I told Troy.  Couldn’t hurt.  Before long we were getting hungry and we decided we’d all divide up and get the food that sounded best to each of us.  Troy and Jess convinced me I’d love pierogies, which I had never before tried, so I bought my lunch at a cute little cart just across the street from the Portland Saturday Market sign up above.  Mmmmm…. Potato and cheese filling with onions and bacon on top.  I have to say, my first experience with pierogies was a blissful one!  Troy, who was holding a table for us, had to have the same after I came back with mine.

My First Pierogies

The picture is a bit blurry you see, because I was salivating so hard I could barely hold the camera straight :)  I told Jess and Troy that I did believe my blog was starting to turn into a food blog as most of the pictures I took over the weekend seemed to be of food!  After eating and looking a bit more, we thought we spotted the mecca of doughnut shops – Voodoo doughnuts – on an adjacent corner, and had to have a look for ourselves.  As we got closer, we asked a few people what the situation was and they told us that the line was at least an hour long.  An hour long!  And it was mid-morning, not even breakfast hour anymore.  Of course, there is no bad time for a doughnut.  But none of us was down with waiting an hour just to say we’d been there.  We satisfied ourselves with snapping a picture of the sign and Jess even got a guy sitting outside at a table, about to bite into a doughnut the size of his head, to agree to having his photo taken.  I’m pretty sure one of his friends had one of those specialty maple doughnuts with bacon on top.  Oy.

All Hail Voodoo Doughnuts!

After that, we wandered around a little longer to see what we could see.  We thought maybe there’d be a fun little shopping district or some such somewhere near all this other goodness, but no such luck.  We did see this, which explained a lot:

Keep Portland Weird!

Coming up on Chinatown, we thought perhaps there would be something fun to explore here too, but it was all but dead.  I did find the entrance enchanting though, and thought a rather funny sign deserved preservation on film.  Do you think they realized what they were advertising?  Or did they think it was funny too?

Entrance To Chinatown


Hung Far Low

Perhaps this was old Chinatown and there is a new and bustling Chinatown somewhere else in Portland.  By then in our travels, it was getting close to time to head back.  So we boarded the TriMet and were on our way back to the Convention Center.  I’d had a raging headache all day and it wasn’t getting any better.  I think we got some coffee before our class and maybe poked around the Marketplace again and at 1:30 PM Troy and I headed to our Perfect Rib Class with Cookie A.  I have to admit, I wasn’t feeling 100% by the time we got to class, and there was a lot to cram into this one-hour wonder.  Despite Cookie A. being a friendly, knowledgeable, and all around excellent instructor, my brain was at maximum capacity and most definitely not firing on all cylinders.  So I didn’t get much out of it, unfortunately.  Through no one’s fault but my own, of course.  There were lengthy handouts that I brought home and I imagine I will study them later, the next time I get around to trying to design my own sock.  I loved the idea that you can incorporate ribbing into the pattern itself (the main idea of this class) and I think that is perhaps why Cookie A.’s designs are among the most beautiful of all sock patterns.  Her ribs never look just stuck on, in fact, everything flows seamlessly together into a harmonious design.  I know accomplishing this myself with my own pattern, will make much more sense when I can sit down and study it later with my brain in a more receptive state.

Cookie A.!

After class, we met up with Jess again and decided it was time for another field trip.  We piled into Troy’s car this time (I think yesterday’s trek had taught us that it would be much more relaxing to drive just in case we got lost again) and headed to the nearest LYS, Portland’s Twisted.  What a sweet little shop!  They had all sorts of yarns my LYS doesn’t carry and a lot of local indie dyed stuff that was really fun to see.  The Twisted booth at the Marketplace at Sock Summit had been handing out 10% off coupons for the brick and mortar shop, so of course we had to take advantage.  I bought some beautiful Madelinetosh Tosh Merino in “Grasshopper” for a slouchy hat.  I love slouch hats, but don’t know if they love me back. I’m thinking this is a bit like shawls.  They look funny on you only if you feel funny in them.  You have to work it and just know you are cool and then, in turn, you will be cool.  It’s my new experiment.

Twisted Yarn Shop - Portland, OR

Jess asked the gals in the shop for a restaurant recommendation and they gave us a few.  Jess and I were thinking sushi, but after driving back and forth a bunch, with no sushi place materializing, we settled for the one place they recommended that we could actually find: Cha! Cha! Cha! Taqueria.  It was cool inside and inviting.  Most of the clientele were seated outside, so it was nice to have the place to ourselves.  The food was billed to be authentic and locally sourced which is apparently a condition for every restaurant in Portland.  But you know, I do believe it makes a difference!  Our meal was delicious.  Troy and Jess got something called Molcajete that Jess says is served at one of her favorite restaurants back home.  All I know is it arrives in a ginormous sizzling bowl of goodness and smells heavenly!  I got poblano chile and cheese tamales and we all got the requisite frosty adult beverage necessary to complete a summer meal such as this.

Jess & Troy


Mmmm... Tamales & a Margarita!

After dinner was consumed, we headed back to the convention center for a “special kind of baby shower” in honor of Ravelry founders Casey and Jess’ new baby Eloise.  Each of us had knitted a hat to donate to the cause and it was astounding to arrive there and see the sheer number of sweet knitted things that people had made.  There were several gift bags on the tables and I was a little confused as to what that was all about until Tina Newton and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee started looking into one of them and exclaiming over the huge amounts of tiny socks nestled inside.  I guess that one knitter had gone sock wild and knit dozens upon dozens of socks for donation.  Kind of made me feel a little subpar with my one measly hat :(  But I guess every little bit helps!

My Little Hat for Eloise's Charity Baby Shower

We kind of thought that, since it was a baby shower and all, there should have been some cake or something.  But no cake.  We settled for milkshakes from Burgerville (yum!) and some knitting in Troy’s room instead.  I’d all but convinced Troy and Jess to take on the Westknits Mystery Shawl KAL 2011: Earth & Sky with me so we purchased the pattern and discussed color choices while sipping our cool frosty treats.  After a while Jess and I bid Troy goodnight and headed back to our room for some shuteye.  A thoroughly wonderful, totally exhausting day.  And one of the best ever in recent memory! And tomorrow would mean goodbye :(


Sock Summit 2011 Day 2: July 29, 2011 – Class & Consumption

Poor Jess.  She was still on her “home time” (2 hours ahead) and I kept her up late talking about yarn and life and me me me.  For a shy person I can sure talk about myself too much.  Sheesh.  She still got up before me and I expected to hear her getting ready for her 9AM class, but instead she left the room.  Gulp.  Was I so annoying that she had to leave?  Did I snore all night?  I worry about this stuff.  But no, apparently she was up early due to that time difference thing and, polite as she is, she actually did some work (that’s a four letter word, yo!) in the lobby before coming back to get ready for class so as not to disturb me.  Too sweet.  I was up by then working on my homework for my Saturday afternoon Cookie A. class and it was still only about 7:30 AM.  I thought I’d find the time to sleep in once or twice while away, but apparently I’ve got my internal alarm clock set to Knittymunchkin time and it doesn’t reset no matter how many miles away I get.
Jess and I met Troy in the lobby and it was just a mere half hour before Jess’ first class.  We’d talked about walking to Voodoo Doughnuts which we thought had to be fairly close due to the frequent passing by of that most glorious of pink boxes containing warm frosted doughnutty deliciousness (or so we presumed, but we’d be schooled later).  But with Jess’ class imminent, we just decided to go to Burgerville again.  As if it wasn’t enough to have an eco-conscious burger joint nearby, it had to be one that served breakfast too.  I have to say, I’m impressed with the place!
Jess headed for class and Troy and I headed for the marketplace.  “Let’s just look around” turned into “Whoopee! Let’s go nuts and buy some YARN!”  At least for me.  We were very curious about the big fuss over Goth Socks.  Word on the street was that her stuff was one of the major draws for the massive line snaking around the convention center the night before.  Turns out, I think those rumors were right.  We headed to her booth first and I asked her about her stock.  Apparently they sold out between the night before and this morning.  As in everything that she brought was gone except for two measly little hanks of self-striping sock yarn.  Wowzers.  I ended up buying a super cute project bag there with bees on it (Oh how I ♥ bumblebees!) mainly because, after engaging her in conversation and then planning on walking away empty-handed, I felt kinda bad about wasting her time and figured the least I could do would be to buy something.  I am such a sucker.  But hey, I’ll use it.  It’s already holding my little sock yarn scraps and all my tools to make The Beekeeper’s Quilt.  So appropriate :)  I heard a lot of talk about The Sanguine Gryphon and The Plucky Knitter being big draws too, and if you gauged that by the sheer amount of people pressed into each booth, not to mention the rapidly disappearing stock, then I’d say it was true.  It’s kind of fun wondering who or what the next best thing will be.  Personally, I was really interested in Stricken Smitten and Sophie’s Toes and expect to hear more of a fuss about these dyers soon.

Ms. Newton And Her Friend

My first class of the summit was today at 11AM.  It was a one-hour lecture about dyeing yarn with Blue Moon Fiber Arts’ Tina Newton (also one of the co-creators of Sock Summit along with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee a.k.a Yarn Harlot).  It was entertaining and enlightening, though without prior dyeing experience, I don’t think I came away with much useful information.  I did feel inspired but also a little dejected.  That part of me that thought it might be a wonderful idea to start dyeing yarn and maybe someday doing something with the yarn I dye, like, oh maybe getting paid for it, has apparently been high on yarn fumes all this time.  Dyeing is hard work.  And it’s time consuming, and you have to love it.  Not to mention, you have to be good at it or people won’t buy it.  It’s o.k. to have dreams, but I suppose they have to be achievable.  Maybe we’ll just sleep on this one for a while.
After the lecture I didn’t have enough time to go back to the hotel so I went on a huge shopping binge in the marketplace.  With no witnesses to stay my hand I powered my way through the booths in a shocking flurry of cash and credit.  And I won’t lie.  It felt good.  It takes a lot of energy to blow through so much money at once, so I needed to refuel before my 1:30 PM class and bought a sandwich at the little lunch counter inside the convention center.  It took forever so I wouldn’t recommend it unless you are in dire need like I was.  Sandwich finally in hand, I headed for my next 3 hour class: Judy’s Magic Heels.
This class was a revelation. Seriously, I shit you not.  A flap heel without picking up any stitches or working any short rows.  Sheer genius!  Well sheer magic, really.  Judy was an excellent teacher. Friendly, knowledgeable, approachable and patient.  I highly recommend her class should you ever have the chance at another Sock Summit.  I, for one, will be most definitely trying these heels on the next pair of socks I start.
Troy met me in the conference room as class ended. He’d had a class himself during the same time frame, in a room just adjacent. We went back to the marketplace and texted Jess back and forth until we caught up with her.  We all had tickets to the Sock Hop which would be later in the evening, and decided that maybe we needed to have a little dinner first and that perhaps it was time to explore a bit further afield.  What would follow would be an epic struggle to find sustenance in a mysterious concrete labyrinth filled with sketchy-looking locals, firearms dealers, and forlorn shopfronts.
O.K.  I’m kidding.  Well, a little.  I believe Jess actually referred to it as “The Death March”.  We were most certainly not prepared for the trek we ended up having to take.  Guess we took a wrong turn at Albuquerque and got ourselves all turned around somehow.  I don’t know about Jess but personally, as a woman, I get nervous walking around places I’m not familiar with.  Especially as the more populated areas drop away and you find yourself in something industrial or when you see a sign that is clearly advertising pawn items and firearms.  Not to mention, when you are clearly not dressed for hoofing it, are carrying a knitting bag the size of Texas, and look really scared.  Which I was trying not to do.  Thanks to Jess’ map function on her smartphone, we finally managed to get turned around and happened onto the restaurant she had enjoyed the night before we arrived: The Farm Cafe.  It couldn’t have materialized at a better time.  We were hot, tired, and ready to end our journey.  I felt badly that Jess would be eating here a second time, but she seemed enthusiastic about the food and probably more than ready to eat too.  We all had pretty much the same thing.  Green Salad (two orders were enough to share between the three of us) and Goat Cheese Ravioli.  It was well worth the journey and the wait.  This was one of the most delicious meals I have ever had in my life.  And from the “mmm’s” and general hush at the table, I think Troy and Jess concurred.

The Farm Cafe's Goat Cheese Ravioli

Perhaps it was the company, or all the energy I burned learning, knitting, shopping, and walking today, but I actually suggested ordering dessert.  I never do this.  But it felt good to linger in Troy and Jess’ company and having something sweet is almost always one of life’s biggest priorities (in my book).  So we each ordered something different and then shared tastes around the table.  Jess ordered the Sunken Chocolate Souffle, Troy ordered the Marscapone Cheesecake with Pecans and Dulce De Leche Sauce, and I ordered a seasonal Rhubarb Crisp.  Heavenly.  All of it!  I savored each bite and the simple joy of being among friends sharing a meal and conversation.
Tonight’s final event was the Sock Hop.  It was already in full swing when we dropped in after the much shorter walk (going the correct direction this time) back from the restaurant.  None of us had costumes, though to give Troy and Jess credit, I believe they had each brought something.  Yet again we realized we’d paid for hors d’ oeuvres included in the price of our tickets.  But I don’t think a single one of us would take back our meal at The Farm Cafe to eat deli meats and crackers and cheese, no matter how nice those snacks probably were.  After a few minutes we decided to ditch the party and go back to the lobby of our hotel for some knitting and drinks.  None of us had spent much time knitting yet and it sounded much more appealing at the moment than checking out everyone else’s costumes at the hop, no matter how fun and nostalgic the music was.
We stayed up late, knitting, drinking and just hanging out.  It was a wonderful end to a jam packed day!


Sock Summit 2011 Day 1: July 28, 2011 – Goodbye & Hello

July 28, 2011 was probably just another Thursday for most people.  Instead I awoke exhausted, to find myself both excited and anxious.  This would not be just any day for me.   At 8 AM my super knitty pal Troy would be picking me up to attend that most glorious of knitterly events:  Sock Summit 2011.  Today would mark the beginning of four days of intense yarnophoria (yarn + euphoria = yarnophoria!).  But it would also mean leaving my nearly 18 month old son for the very first time since he was born.  I felt more than a little guilty as I showered, ran around packing last minute things, and remembered final tidbits to tell R. Darling about household stuff.

Before I knew it the doorbell was ringing and it was time to say goodbye.  There were no waterworks, but there were lots of hugs and kisses and “just one mores” as we headed out into the cool summer morning.  One stop for caffeinated beverages (mine chock full of sugar of course!) and we were on our way.  I didn’t knit on the drive down, though I sat with knitting at my feet most of the way.  Ever since I was pregnant I get car sick very easily, most especially when I knit.  How sad is that?  5 hours in the car and I could have accomplished so much.  But getting to know more about Troy and keeping him company was just as important as knitting a few more rows on whatever I’d brought to work on.  Not to mention keeping his car a barf-free zone.  But Troy is a gentleman and a professional driver, so I’m quite sure he would have gotten me to the side of the road safely, and in time, to blow my chunks somewhere more appropriate should the need have arisen :)

Mid-way, lunch was consumed at the Red Lobster in Kelso, WA and the fuel tank refilled.  I was afraid that Troy would be disappointed with his first visit to a Red Lobster (I’d never eaten lunch there before and the menu was different from the dinner one that I am always slobbering over) but at least the biscuits were good and the place was clean enough to impress him thoroughly.  We arrived at the Convention Center in Portland, OR sometime around 2PM – 2:30PM, made our way past the construction and into the parking garage.  We were to meet Jess for the first time in person at 3PM near the statue outside the convention center.

We, of course, parked about as far as humanly possible from the check-in area for Sock Summit 2011.   However, this afforded us the opportunity to familiarize ourselves with the attendees of the other major convention being hosted by the Convention Center that weekend: OSCon.  Everywhere we were greeted by hordes of computer nerds and signs featuring wildlife (is this a reference to the Safari brower?).  Most prominently featured was a little lemur of some sort with big eyes that I kept insisting was slightly creepy, which Troy kindly said he thought was cute.  What surprised me most was the complex demographic of the OSCon group.  Not just scrawny twenty-somethings in t-shirts with programming jokes, we saw a man in a kilt, a grandma or two, stuffy-looking gents, and regular schmoes.  I pretty sure I even saw a hoochie or two.  What made us laugh most was the fact that we considered ourselves nerds too, just of a different caliber, and figured we were probably just as mystifying to the computer hackers as they were to us.

The Goji Concourse inside the Oregon Convention Center

After coffee was procured, we headed outside to meet Jess.  I suddenly felt afraid I wouldn’t recognize her were I to see her from afar.  Even after all these years, seeing pictures of each other on our blogs, I wasn’t sure I would know her.  But then I saw a blonde walking up the steps towards us and I knew it was her without hesitation.  I couldn’t help myself – I gave her a hug.  Not everyone appreciates a hug I know, and I’m not always a hugger myself, but after all this time a handshake just didn’t seem appropriate :)

Space Age Mushroom Lights Outside The Oregon Convention Center

After introductions, we headed back to the car and off to The Crowne Plaza to check in.  Jess had stayed there the night before (she had classes on Thursday as we were driving down) and mentioned that one of the indie dyers (The Grinning Gargoyle) had made a point of leaving samples for Sock Summiters at the main desk, and could we please have a few?  I loved mine; a beautiful silvery color which will be added to my most current obsession (The Beekeeper’s Quilt – more on that later!).  The lobby was classy and the room was stylish and modern.  I felt spoiled!  Troy was quite satisfied too, though he’s had the opportunity for much more opulence than I and didn’t swoon quite as hard as I did :)

We packed a few things into our knitting bags and headed back for the early, students-only, opening of the marketplace at 4:30PM.  We’d seen people lining up even as we were checking in a couple hours before.  By the time we returned, the line had grown out into the convention center, circling into a meeting room and still more were adding themselves to the growing string of slavering shoppers.  We chuckled and plunked ourselves at a table to wait our turns.  There wasn’t much we could think of that would warrant needing to be first in the doors.  So we chatted and knit and soon enough the line was moving.  As we entered the marketplace, a warm miasma of sheepy wool smell with a hint of vinegar enveloped us.  Only a smell a knitter or fiber-lover would welcome as if it was the finest perfume.  I was dying to get to the Sanguine Gryphon booth first thing and Jess and Troy were kind enough to humor my mania.

The Saguine Gryphon Booth at Sock Summit 2011

Oh joy!  A giant bin of one-offs and overweight specialty colors!  I dove in headfirst and only came up for air after I was satisfied I’d done my best to blow my wad ‘o cash in nearly one swipe.  I felt dizzy with the ability to spend freely for once, in a veritable fiber paradise.  After all, R. Darling had told me to spend it all!  We went from one booth to the next, intent on the ones that interested us most for our first trip through the maze.  There was so much to see and not enough time to do it all.  It was overwhelming and astonishing and simply fantastic.

After our 2 hour preview was over and the marketplace was closing, we had just enough time to get something to eat and then Troy and I would be attending the opening ceremonies.  Jess would head back to our room where I’d meet up with her later.  We took the short walk up the street to Burgerville and had a surprisingly delicious fast food meal.  Leave it to Oregon to have a fast food place that recycles, composts, and serves up local produce and free-range eggs and meats.  A little overboard, even for someone from my crunchy little town, but the positive effect on the flavor of our meals was truly eye-opening.

If we had known that hors d’oeuvres were included in the price of our opening night ceremony tickets, then perhaps we wouldn’t have eaten beforehand, but that’s o.k.  Now we know for next time.  There were some speeches and some antics, and a lot of it was funny.  But I frankly wasn’t really paying attention.  I wanted to pet my yarn and call my son and husband and finally fall asleep after a long, fun day.  There would be so much more to explore the next few days and I, for one, couldn’t wait!


Sock Summit 2011 Preview

And much gluttony was had by all!
Or, at least by me!


Just a little preview of the mad yarnage purchased by my very own sweaty little paws at Sock Summit 2011.
From Top Left to Right:

  1. Limited Edition Dancing Sheep project bag complete with pattern & 1 hank Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in “Jam Session”
  2. Overweight hank of Sanguine Gryphon Codex in unnamed colorway (turquoise)

From Bottom Left to Right:

  1. Project Bag purchased at Goth Socks Booth
  2. MissPurl notions tin
  3. 1 hank Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in “Jam Session”
  4. 2 overweight hanks of Sanguine Gryphon Eidos in “Monadology” (The Gold Bug equivalent)
  5. 1 hank Hazel Knits Divine; a  red “Rogue”
  6. 3 hanks Sanguine Gryphon Gaia Lace in “Owlets”

So much more to show you and share with you, but that must wait for another day….
Last but not least, Troy, Jess & I jumped on the Westknits Mystery Shawl KAL 2011: Earth & Sky bandwagon while at Sock Summit.  Yes, I have fallen down the slippery slope that is shawl knitting.  I blame Mr. West for that completely.  Sock Summit added fuel to the fire with a new and exciting shawl spotted covering shoulders everywhere you looked.  Oh dear.  What happens next?  Do I start wearing housedresses that zip up the front and putting out bowls of congealed hard candy?
It was a joy to, for once, pick out yarn specifically destined to become a certain pattern.  What better place to drop my wad ‘o cash than The Sanguine Gryphon booth?  Here she is, Clue #1 all finished and ready to be continued:

Clue #1 - Westknits Mystery Shawl KAL 2011: Earth & Sky

Back soon for more Sock Summit 2011 fun!