Monday, October 26, 2009
Stitches East Recap
Trust me folks, this was the extent of our sightseeing in Hartford, CT.
When I first heard that Stitches East was moving from Baltimore to Hartford I was quite excited. It was a little more difficult and longer to get to, but I had never been north of Manhattan before and being a history buff, was really eager to go into New England. My friends and I book Amtrak tickets back in March, reserved a hotel room in the Marriott connected to the convention center where Stitches was being held, and we were on our way.
This was my first long distance train journey since living in Japan where train travel was part of my daily life. Maybe I should just say upfront that it was a good thing that I brought a 800 page book with me. Our 5 hour train trip took closer to 7 hours due to electrical problems - but I was okay. We arrived in Hartford just before 11pm, caught a taxi back to the hotel, and I was amazed at how clean and pretty the city looked. We passed the State House and some other historic buildings and I was eager to get out and explore the next day. The Downtown Hartford Marriot is a gorgeous hotel, by the way. It has a golden yellow theme throughout and is very striking.
The Stitches Market was fabulous as well - I had no problem spending money. There were a few vendors I missed seeing - Carodan Farms, Uncommon Threads, Rosies Yarn Cellar, Brooks Farm Yarns, Maple Creek Farms - none of which were at Stitches East -but there were some other New England-based vendors I had never seen before. Here's what I bought:
Farmhouse Yarn's Fannie's Fingering Weight in Aruba:
Handpaints by Artsygal:
Doodlebirds Creations in Watermelon Whee:
Creatively Dyed Yarns in Cadiz:
Great Adirondack Yarn Company Soxie in Blueberry:
Valley Yarns Valley Superwash DK in a grape-y purple to make Willow a Mi Escuelita cardigan:
This should keep me busy for a little bit!
The burblings of trouble started when I was took a break from the constant walking and sat at one of the cafe tables. One of the women who sat at the table said that she was unable to get reservations at the hotel restaurant because the hotel was booked solid. No problem - we'll go elsewhere to eat. But then we started hearing problems about Hartford's escalating gang problem and how it wasn't safe for people to be milling about the city.
Jeez - how bad could it be? The concierge advised us to not even walk the two blocks to the Arch Tavern. One of the local Hartford vendors told us that when he travels into Hartford on the weekend, he carries a pistol with him. My friend Denise had something irritating her eye and wanted to go to CVS to get some eye wash and was told it wasn't possible - that CVS closes at 3:30pm on Saturday and doesn't open again until Monday morning. Omigod - this is not a great location for a conference that is 95% women! Yes, there is strength in numbers and all that, but was this even taken into consideration when Hartford was chosen as the next location? We had a laugh on our taxi back to the Amtrak station the next day - 1:30pm and the McDonald's, Dunkin Donuts, and other restaurants we passed were all closed! (Thankfully the Subway in the train station was open so I could get a sandwich for the trip home!)
So, we stayed in the confines of the hotel the entire weekend. We weren't the only ones, either - we saw plenty of people ordering pizza and Chinese and eating it at the hotel and not venturing out. We had fun - my friends are great company, the hotel was beautiful, I had lots of yarn to fondle - but my friends and I have decided we are not coming back to Stitches East next year. We will go to another festival - perhaps SAFF or Rhinebeck.