Friday, February 27, 2009

Riding the Rails: Day 2 A Kinda Big Shew

I slept like a rock and didn't wake up until 10:30. As soon as I woke up, though, I knew it: I ached. My back ached from the train and from carrying a lot of weight, particularly once we got to San Jose and I was already too tired to carry my back properly. My head ached, probably because I had not only not eaten for something like 14 hours at that point, but also because the air on the train had been dry and I probably hadn't drunk enough water to make up for it. I had decided against packing an analgesic for some dumbass reason and was regretting it. Ouch. I came to gradually. A hot shower loosened some muscles. A couple of glasses of water helped with the head.

flair I got ready. I put my flair on my backpack. I decided on the Martial Arts and Crafts t-shirt. I got everything I would need into my backpack and I was off.

While I had paid attention to streets on the way in the cab last night, I hadn't really noticed how the hotel was oriented with respect to the street. Admittedly, it took me about 10 minutes to get out of the parking lot, which adjoined a fitness center, another hotel, and a casino of all things, to the street. The side street the hotel was on had a sidewalk but it had been laid by some assholes who thought they were funnier than they were: it undulated from side to side like a snake.

I made it to the major cross street, which in this area was lined with Silicon Valley-corporate buildings and large empty lots. I decided to cross to the other side of the street where there were some shady trees over the sidewalk, except when I got across... there was no sidewalk. Assholes! Instead of going back and crossing the street or just walking along the grassy areas in front of the office buildings, I decided to keep going up the side street, which had lots of tech offices. And no sidewalks. There was little traffic, though, and my sometimes sketchy memory of the map was that there would be a cross street to 1st and I could get to the Karina station that way. I walked a couple of minutes. Then I really started hoping this wouldn't end up being a cul-de-sac or something. I kept walking and finally there was a regular sidewalk. I finally saw a cross street with Stop sign a little way up. Fortunately, it was a nice day. The sun was a little warm as I was moving around, but there was a cool breeze to make up for it.

I turned left in the direction 1st should be in. While I have a serious knack for getting lost, because I have a lousy internal sense of direction, I have apparently never managed to get permanently lost yet. And, in fact, I did get to 1st. Except I was not on Karina and I realized I had probably gone past it, but I wasn't sure. I just couldn't see a rail platform in either direction, although I could see the tracks going down the middle of the road. That at least was a good sign.

I walked several more long blocks, past ebay and finally saw a platform. Ok, something I've noticed about San Jose is that the crossing lights at major intersections seem to make the most annoying bird-like electronic chirping noises. It had seriously startled me the night before when I was trying to figure out how to get to my hotel. At the intersection I now found myself at, of the three crossing light chirps I heard, they all seemed to be different pitches, all annoying. I mean, it's a good idea, but the actual sound they used in their implementation was just too annoying. Anyway, this was actually the Component station, which means I had overshot Karina by over half a mile. Oh, well. The bag wasn't that heavy and it's not like I couldn't use the exercise. I bought my ticket from the machine, which required practically putting my nose against the screen as the sun was shining directly on it, making it almost unreadable. My train showed several minutes later.

I got off at the Great America station, which in my through-a-fun-house-mirror memory I had thought was several blocks from the convention center. (In my defense, one of the muy annoying things about Google maps is that, when I type "Santa Clara Convention Center," it doesn't show the damned center. It shows all the hotels in its database that match that or mention their proximity on their web sites. I had to guess the convention center's actual location based on address, which is not always easy to do.) I saw this woman in front of me with Ravelry pins on her KCRW messenger bag (oddly like the one I have had from years, except not -- I got mine the first year they offered it. This was probably from a subsequent year) and asked, "Do you know where you're going?" "Yes, right over here." Oh. We were literally directly in front of the convention center entrance. If I had looked up instead of at her bag, I would have seen the sign.

Anyway, into the show's market. I had bought my ticket online and printed out the barcode ticket. Those things are becoming ubiquitous. In I went! I had brought a specific list of projects I needed to find yarn for, and so my eyes scanned mostly for that. The first booth where I purchased something was actual by an importer of Japanese kimono and fabric. My mother loves Japanese fabric and her birthday is coming up, so hopefully she can incorporate it into her quilting. Birthday present, check!

The next purchase was of beautiful hand-made glass buttons I think will go nicely with a cardigan I am going to start Any Day Now.

Now, while I had decided to limit the yarn shopping as much as possible to specific projects, I hadn't really considered the fact that I would see new patterns I wanted. The next purchase was for a nice short-sleeved cardigan with lacy placket. I often don't buy the yarn a pattern is designed for, but I was at the yarn company's booth and one of the suggested yarns was both very pretty and inexpensive.

I eventually stumbled onto WEBS' booth. I love WEBS. I've ordered from them often, both because they have a very large selection, give excellent discounts if you, um, spend enough, um, money, and get some great close-out yarns, which, while not subject to further discounts, are already good deals. They're located in New Hampshire, so obviously they could only bring a small subset of their selection, but that was enough for me. I got some closeout, self-striping Noro Matsuri for one an entrelac sweater I've been trying to find yarn for for ages, and some of WEBS' own line of wool for a felted bag. The woman at the cash register next to me was 11 cents short of the amount needed for the next discount level. "Well, can I just give you 11 cents?" "Oh, I'll just give you the discount! Don't worry about it." Aw, they're nice, too.

9784529046039 One of the things I had been looking for was some self-striping laceweight yarn, preferably a fuzzy mohair type, for the pattern on the cover of this Japanese book I had gotten the last time I was Kinokuniya. I am honestly not exactly sure about what kind of yarn/fiber type/exact weight the recommended yarn is, because the book is, well, in Japanese, and it would be a Japanese brand anyway. (Noro is one of the few Japanese yarn makers that has widespread American distribution.) I found a beautiful, soft, laceweight merino wool yarn, which, while not a fuzzy mohair, was self-striping. It may make the cardigan seem a little airier than the sample, but I'm hoping it will work.

The last thing I got was a pretty polymer clay barrette. I keep losing barrettes. I strongly suspect when I finally move, I will find where the cats have hidden them. Seriously.

At some point after a couple hours, I had left the hall to get a refreshment and put down my bags. I shared a table with two separate groups of people, as the snack area was pretty crowded. One woman, who otherwise looked like a perfectly respectable 50-something lady, whipped out her piggie and holstein cow finger puppets. I guess she takes them around with her because she gets lonely. (Well, in that silly, metaphorical way.) I told her about the Obama and McCain puppets and the turkey puppet I had made. Then I suddenly recalled a pair of gloves I had had as a child. They were knitted in bright primary colors, and each finger was a different color with a little face on the end! I seem to recall they also had little tufts of hair! I think the finger puppet lady and I got the same gleam in our eyes at the same time. Now to find a simple glove pattern, ripe for faces and hair to be embroidered on the finger tips.

It was 5 now and I had made the rounds many times and wasn't seeing anything new to catch my eye. And I was tired. I had planned to meet an on-again-off-again friend I hadn't talked to for a long time, but I had told him I would probably stay until 6, but I called him and he said he could head out now.

After we had dinner and he dropped me off at my hotel, I took out all the stuff.
Yes, that is a box of Girl Scout cookies. They were, um, girling the coat/bag check booth.

Spread out on the floor, I realized I didn't actually buy as much as it had seemed like, and I was rather pleased with both what I did and did not buy. I got yarn for two hard-to-shop for projects, and found another pattern and already got affordable but suitable yarn for it. I brought one of those travel Space Bags with me, and I might be able to fit most if not all into my suitcase after squashing it down. And, um, unzipping the expansion section of the suitcase.

All in all, the show's selection wasn't quite what I expected. There were a lot of small companies bringing their own hand-spun and -dyed yarns. Such a statement is fightin' talk to some yarnies, but I'm just not that big on those yarns. They usually are mostly wool, which, while I don't go out of my way to avoid, do try to find alternatives. Also, with the price of hand-made yarn, sweater quantities cost more than I would usually like to pay, and I have more than enough small quantity yarns in my stash that are suitable for scarves (which I make few of) and other small projects.

That said, I wasn't disappointed with the show at all. I had a really good time, and I'm pleased with what I ended up with. I really enjoyed talking to the people there. I got to see and touch a lot of yarns I had only ever seen online, and even if I didn't buy them there, if a project comes to mind that they click with, I can order them knowing what I'm getting. It was a very nice afternoon.

After I got back to the hotel and settled down, I drew a hot bath. Ahhhhhh....

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