(Continued from here.)
Stitches Midwest 2005 is not really happening in Chicago. It’s happening at Rosemont, a convention center complex near O’Hare. A cab ride to Rosemont from my neighborhood costs more gelt than I care to shell out, so I decide to take public transportation.
I am laden with a knitting bag, an umbrella, a present for Colorado Jon, my smallest camera bag and a rucksack with clothes for two days. I look like a gay bag lady with a fondness for lace knitting.
There has been so little rain in Illinois this summer that we’re in a severe drought. For weeks the skies have been blue and empty. Today, as I leave the house laden with wool, I step into the first steady downpour since April.
Happily, I did decide to wear combat boots. They're waterproof, comfortable, and of course will fit in so well with the crowd at Stitches.
At Rosemont, on the escalator in the lobby, I catch sight of my first Other Knitter. Classic Midwestern: short haircut, ample tuchus and a tapestry knitting bag covered with pink and green cats. As I follow the signs to registration I see another knitter. Then two more. Then six. Then I turn a corner and find myself in a sort of lounge area where 26 of the 30 people sitting around are knitting socks.
I join the line for registration and everybody in the queue is friendly. Almost too friendly. I wait semi-patiently as the ladies in front of me register, then ask about the market hours, then compliment the staff member on her haircut, then talk about their grandchildren, the air conditioning, the official Stitches Midwest 2005 t-shirt, the official Stitches Midwest 2005 pin, a darling design in the latest issue of the magazine, that funny Rick Mondragon, their grandchildren, and where to get lunch.
Finally, I step up to the window. The nice woman does not recoil at the sight of a man holding a knitting bag. She smiles brightly and gives me my registration packet. It takes fourteen seconds.
I Meet Colorado Jon
Jon and I have agreed to meet near registration at around this time. Before I can move 10 feet, I hear somebody shout, “Franklin!” and there he is, just like his picture but minus the hoodie and clean-shaven. I would have known him anywhere. It’s odd, this meeting someone you’ve known online but never in person.
But the strangeness passes very quickly, and instead it feels like we’ve known each other for years.
There is, in addition, the still-unfamiliar thrill of talking about knitting with another guy. Make that talking about knitting with anybody.
Jon sweetly suggests I drop off some of my impedimenta in his room as I am starting to develop dowager’s hump. I take advantage of the moment to give him his present: three t-shirts, two with his blog name and one with a witty knitting-related slogan that C came up with.
He is visibly delighted. I am so happy.
He presents me with a perfectly gorgeous hank of luxury yarn in a purple-blue colorway and a rare back issue of Vogue Knitting devoted to patterns for men. I jump up and down. When he shows me the “odds and ends” of yarn he offered to bring me for use in intarsia class (I’d bought Lion Brand Wool-Ease) I realize that a friend who works in a yarn shop is to be treasured above rubies.
On our way to our first classes, we stop by the glass doors into the market. It’s not open yet, and vendors are still setting up. Jon points out this booth and that booth, telling me some of what I'll get to see. I press my face up against the glass feeling distinctly Augustus Gloop-ish.
To be continued.