Well, the trip to Columbus for this year's big TNNA event was (to make some kind of pun) uneventful, in the sense that nothing awful happened, and there was NOT A BIT of construction on I-75, which I take to be some kind of modern miracle. One of our clients, Lois, who may well become a part-time employee, went with me, and I was glad for the good company.
At the show itself: We spent a few minutes at lunch and, of course, at Jeni's Ice Cream (at the wondrous Farmer's Market near the convention center), where you can find Cherry and Goat Cheese, Lavendar-Honey, and a number of other amazing flavors. I am sure there are better ices in the world, but I can't say that I've ever found anything better. Over our splendidly abundant Mediterranean lunch plates and ice cream, I have to say that we had an unpleasant encounter with a shop owner from a Detroit suburb who, against all odds, still refuses to learn my name or even to remember that we know one another. I get very tired of this idiotic game, which might be called East Side-West Side. The West Side thinks it's superior to the East Side. I had hoped we would be over this kind of Queen of the Mountain nonsense upon high school graduation. But no. Once again, and even though I saw her two weeks earlier in her own shop, where I pointlessly invited her to a reception, she did the same diengenuous "Don't I know you?" thing that she's done for the last four times. We have even co-sponsored visits by a certain well-known knitting designer (I'll withhold specifics). This kind of thing makes me want to yell, "When was the last time YOU were asked to address the United States Supreme Court?" But why? I would make a spectacle of myself -- as I'm probably doing right now.
Inside the convention floor, I had a wonderful time with Laura Bryant, whose work is changing -- it's as if she is cutting away everything except the essentials of design (color, structure, texture) to get at the essence of a particular garment. She thinks that something is going on, too, and it's really gratifying to watch her work through this stage in her own development. What a brilliant woman, and possessed of one of the nicest life-partners imaginable (the handsome Matt). At Trendsetter, I finally met Heidi, the woman with whom I trade e-mail notes, and got to hug Barry. I was surprised not to see my Tonalita vest design -- but he may not be ready to publish the pattern. Everything happens in its own good time. Trendsetter Yarns don't really fit the studio's hand-crafted profile -- but I carry them anyway, because I'm the owner and I think they're beautiful. I can be indulged.
Beyond that, I filled in some holes in the studio's holdings. I ordered some of Lorna's Laces new sock yarn (Sole Mates) in a half-dozen colors, filled out our button collection from 3 or 4 different vendors, and picked up some wonderful one-skein lace patterns from a new firm, Fickle Knitters. But two encounters were the most memorable. I found an American cotton-spinning and hand-coloring firm from Pennsylvania and bought up quite a lot of their product (lofty, delicious balls that will please people who can't work with wool). And, most fun of all, I had a riotous conversation with Leslye Solomon, who mercifully has no memory of my temper tantrums in one of her continental knitting classes: I sat there, doing it just fine, bitchily insisting that I couldn't do it, didn't want to do it, might leave any minute, etc. etc. What a crank. What a terrible grump.
The button problem is actually more complex than it appears. I had hoped to be able to maintain a fairly large collection of hand-crafted, dichroic glass buttons. But, in the present economic climate, a lot of the glass button makers have either stopped producing glass or diverted energies to other glass products. The good news is that we have one of the nation's finest glass button makers in our own midst. So this past week, I called up the gifted Terrie Voigt and asked her to stop by with some of her least symmetrical buttons -- and of course I grabbed a huge pile of them. But I continue to be worried about the button makers. Terrie says that the shops aren't calling as often as they used to, and others have told me much the same thing. How could they stay in business? Worrisome.
But that was it. There were quite a few absences on the floor -- people who apparently didn't think that travel and set-up costs could be justified in the present economy. Let's hope recession eases and that Americans don't stupidly blame the whole thing on Barack Obama, which would be to blame the messenger. More later. svb