Hello! Long time, no see! Hope you all have been having a good winter. We got some snow here in Pittsburgh recently, after a mostly mild winter. The only 2 times it has snowed and been icy have been the 2 times this winter I have been trying to get somewhere, of course! In late January I went to Myrtle Beach, SC to visit some family, and was amazed the flight actually left only 1.5 hours late. I barely made my connection in Charlotte that day, but I did make it, and being down south was nice. Then this weekend was the Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet show, so of course it snowed a few inches. Joy!
Since it’s been so long since I’ve posted, buckle in, it’s gonna be a long one. 🙂
Although the show started Friday, I attended Saturday and Sunday only, and the drive up north of the city was a little hairy, but not terrible. Thank goodness for my Jeep. I have to say I had a moment of schadenfreude when a big SUV who had driven aggressively behind me for a few minutes in the middle of a snowstorm peeled out and sped around me at dangerously high speeds, then (safely) slid off the road about a mile later. I slowed down enough to see that a) they were alright and b) they were on their phone, so they weren’t stranded or anything, so I didn’t stop, and I reminded myself that if they’d just driven the speed limit in those conditions, and didn’t drive like a juicebag, they’d probably never have skidded off the road. Having 4WD is great for the going, but it ain’t great for the stopping or the turning, you know??
Myself and 3 girlfriends decided to make this a weekend event, so we each drove up early Saturday, spent time shopping in the vendor market, took a class or two, did some charity knitting for Warm Up America, checked into our rooms, had a nice dinner at Max and Erma’s, went to a Pajama Party put on by the event planners, and then spent time knitting into the wee hours. It was a lot of fun! It was fantastic getting to see some old friends, make new ones, enjoy the emcee-ing by Stephen Berg (of StephenBe) at the pajama party, and run into your favorite local blogger (Hi Karrie!) The contest at the pajama party was fun, too, and it was hilarious being in serious running for ‘best socks” at the party. I didn’t win, but I came close to third prize for my Crabby McHappypants socks, and I’m damn proud of that given I’m relatively new to socks. It was nice just to see a sock expert take my work seriously and really consider it, even if she chose someone else’s very worthy work, and it was nice to have someone (Hi Karrie!) point out my socks to multiple people and tell them they’re cool. 🙂
The festival wasn’t as well attended this year, likely due to the weather, so it was nice being able to browse the vendor hall without bumping into people no matter where you turned, though of course I hope the sales were plenty enough to entice vendors back next year. There was a really nice turn out of vendors, including some old faves and some new ones I’d never heard of. StephenBe, Space Cadet Creations, Noni, Cosymakes, Wren and Rita, Bloomin’ Yarns, Yarns By Design, and Unplanned Peacock all had fantastic selections and great inspiration for festival goers.
One new-to-me vendor worth a mention was Flaming Ice Cube (LOVE that name!!), comprised of some fantastically bubbly, friendly, enthusiastic punky guys with a yarn/gift shop and vegan restaurant that serves “Compassionate Cuisine” in Boardman, Ohio. If I ever find myself in Boardman, I will DEFINITELY be stopping by. And Catherine Harrison of Knitting Notions in Nashville, TN had some GORGEOUS nostepindes for sale, and after resisting one that had caught my eye all day Saturday, I finally bought it on Sunday. Although I have a ball winder, I really do prefer hand-winding on a nosty.
I was fairly restrained in my purchasing this time around – I’ve already got a lot on my plate, yarn-wise, so I’m keeping it real. Beside the nostepinde, I bought a few patterns: StephenBe’s Eyelet Ponchini (he had the kit, but I’m allergic to mohair, I think, so I just bought the pattern), Noni’s Three Confections, and Pam Powers Knits’ Ruffled & Ruched Scarf. I also bought a tiny bit of yarn for my Beekeeper’s Quilt: Stephanie of Space Cadet Creations had some mini-skeins for sale in bundles of 5, to introduce people to her new mini-skein club, and I saw a skein of Koigu in a color that I have never seen before, and it was the only one there, so I just had to have it. It’ll be PERFECT for my blanket. And that was all I bought. I think that’s pretty restrained, for me. 🙂
My class with Bev Bortner, on double-knitting, was fantastic. Bev is very nice and a good teacher, and I really enjoyed it! I look forward to utilizing the skills learned in her class.
As last year, I was impressed with the organization of Barb Grossman and her team to pull off a really nice event that makes me want to keep coming back. Here are some highlights, with a couple of suggestions for things I’d love to see improved on next year.
The tables were well organized at registration, making it easy to pick up your packet and class schedule if you’d pre-paid, with another area for at-the-door registration. I love it when picking up a registration packet and finding the things you need to find is painless. The vendor hall was fantastically laid out, and I appreciated the giant open area near the Warm Up America lounge and raffle table. It was nice having a big space open up in the ballroom, where you could breathe, sit down in a comfy chair and take a load off, people watch, and maybe help knit or crochet for charity while you were at it. I also really appreciated the steady supply of ice water pitchers and cups available this year. I don’t remember them doing it last year, but the hydration station really helped keep the tired and cranky at bay. (What, doesn’t everyone get tired and cranky like I do when I’m thirsty???) The classrooms were well-organized, the maps up to date, and the teacher evaluation forms were well thought-out.
The facility, again the Sheraton Four Points North, in Cranberry, is a great setting. I really like it there. It’s a pretty hotel with a central atrium setting. It has good party space, good classroom space, and nice and comfy hotel rooms for staying overnight. There is also a good room service breakfast, decent lunch/coffee/snack options available, friendly and helpful staff, and this year they added shuttle service from the parking lot to the front door, which I can tell you was a freaking godsend when I parked the Jeep in the back of the lot in the middle of a blustering snowstorm and the shuttle pulled up to me as soon as I pulled out my suitcase and locked the door, offering me a ride to the hotel. YES PLEASE AND THANK YOU! 🙂
I really appreciate the attention to details in this event.
My minor quibbles are as such (and I do hope the organizers will take them constructively, as I do love this festival very much and would love to see it continue to grow and succeed every year. 🙂 )
1. I wonder if it possible in the future to use one integrated registration/payment system that works seamlessly, shows you a printable confirmation of the class(es) and module(s) you registered for, with a checkout (possibly linked to paypal or google checkout if you like) that automatically confirms how much money was received and what you paid for.
Case in point: a friend of mine paid for 2 days registration, 1 class, and the pajama party, with administrative fee, via paypal after having filled out the web form and clicking submit. The organizer apparently didn’t get the web form showing what classes my friend registered for. My friend, nervous about the fact that she never got confirmation of her class, contacted the organizer a few days later, which was when she found out wasn’t registered for it, and because several days had gone by, the class was now full, and they could not get her into it. Oh, and the same friend had to confirm with the registration desk that she also was expected to attend the PJ Party that she paid for. That was fine, they did have her down, but she never received any confirmation of such. So, that’s an improvement I would love to see next year. Their process *is*, for the most part, pretty seamless from the consumer point of view, and I commend them for their mad organizational skillz, but mistakes like this are going to be less well-received the bigger and bigger this festival gets.
2. My only other quibble is to say I really didn’t like being told no less than 3 times that my name was “ethnic” or “unusual”. Two of these times were by event representatives. The third time was by a vendor who wasn’t from Pittsburgh, so maybe where she is from it is an unusual name, though it was a little odd of her to say so, but for the event reps/volunteers, all I have to say about that is REALLY? In Pittsburgh??? My name is “ethnic”??? Pittsburgh is full of Polish people, Polish food, Polish traditions, heck, people are eating paczki by the handful this time of year, and my name is weird here? I understand that the motivations are not malicious, but innocuous or not, the more I sit with it, the more it bugs me. I hope it’s addressed with staff for next year, not to comment on people’s names or ethnicity or anything like that when they do something as simple as sign in for a party or event. I would like to be able to attend this festival without feeling I’m being singled out for being Polish, which, despite my name, is only 1/4 of my heritage. Maybe there was something in the water up there in Cranberry that day but I haven’t had anyone comment on my name since living in Pittsburgh so it was really weird.
Anyway, quibbles aside, I LOVED IT, it is fantastic, and I will keep attending. I hear the festival is pushed back by a month for next year, which will hopefully mitigate any winter weather issues. 🙂
When I got home, I saw a parcel I’d been expecting from the UK, filled with an unprecendented amount of awesome, but this post is long, so I will have to post about that next time…