The Palmer House Hilton in Chicago’s Loop was just absorbing the rain, with its lights shining but not twinkling on this dreary beginning to rush hour. The Starbucks on the ground level was unusually quiet, with only about six people scattered throughout the chairs, booths, and bar stools. One woman was wearing a hand-knit shawl, and another was making a sock on double-pointed needles.
The registration area on the fourth floor was a stream of a few people at a time, without any noise. The closer one was to the line, however, the more excited the people getting their lanyards sounded. This was Vogue Knitting LIVE, an event that is making its second appearance in Chicago because the first one was too successful not to repeat. The excitement was growing; there were SWAG bags to collect, programs to peruse, and badges to wear around the neck. Most importantly, there was the promise of full-on access the next day. A woman appearing to be in her fifties whispered audibly to her companion, “I can’t believe we are finally here!”
Down in the lobby, instructor Patty Lyons walked out of the elevator, surveyed the room, and then turned right, walking with purpose as many New Yorkers do. Mandy Peterson, owner of Windy Knitty in the Andersonville neighborhood, was surveying her booth space with her hand on her hip as two of her helpers unpacked yarn and moved around the fixtures. Steven Berg, known professionally as StevenBe, was telling anecdotes and buzzing non-stop around his space, passing out caffeinated beverages from downstairs to his partners in setup.
Two women were sitting on a couch in the lobby. One was knitting a wrap from a Classic Elite Yarns pattern, and the other was engaging in what she referred to as “mindless knitting.” That is, there was no counting, no purling, and no changing. Just knit and go.
I sat down after asking if the seat was taken. The two women, Patty and Alina, were from Miami, and they were on a pilgrimage with about eight other people from their local yarn shop, a lovely place called The Knitting Garden. Patty showed me the website on her smartphone, and I noted there was a sheep statue wearing a beret and a scarf. “Oh, that’s Bob,” she said. This was their first Vogue Knitting Live show, and they were there for the duration of the event from Friday to Sunday. Each of them were already registered for classes, one together and then one each on their own.
A gentleman in a melon-colored shirt and walking with a cane stopped by the three of us, waited until one of us made eye-contact, and said, “38 short, please,” while pointing at my set of hands as they flew with yarn in them. I smiled politely, and told him that I was making socks, and it would be a really uncomfortable 38 short.” He laughed and walked away. Typical comment to a knitter, I thought lightheartedly.
By 6p.m., the lobby was full of knitters and businessmen wanting a nightcap after leaving work. Patty and Alina were joined by other members of their group, and we were all introduced before the Miami group headed toward the elevators. “It was nice meeting you, and I am sure we will run into each other some time this weekend!” said Alina as she stood up to join her group.
Outside, by then, the twinkle was back in the lights of the Palmer House.
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