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.
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 :)
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.
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!