CGOA in Charleston

As many of you know, I was in Charleston, South Carolina for the CGOA conference earlier this month. I flew out on July 12th for an all day travel day to get there and returned on the 19th. You heard a little bit about my travel adventures last post. I’m mostly recovered from all of that and finally getting the promised post up about my fun adventures at the conference.

Badge and Pin

It was a great time seeing my crochet friends from all over the US and even some from out of the country. I was absolutely crapastic about taking photos at the conference though. I was producing the fashion show for the “CGOA Grand Finale Fashion Show & Banquet”, and it was a wild time getting everything coordinated and organized. More about that later.

Tuesday evening was just about getting unpacked in my hotel room and reunions with all the other folks as we all began to arrive. Some more would be showing up over the next few days, but by 10 p.m. that evening I had seen many of my dear friends. A big group of us had gathered for drinks, deserts and cold food in the hotel restaurant. The restaurant was having technical issues with their stove, so cold options were all that were available.

The laughter with friends was great though. Best way in the world to recover from the travel tiredness. My journey to get to Charleston was actually quite smooth. My dear friend and roomie Jan did not have a good travel day. Her flight coming to Charleston had all sorts of delays, but she eventually made it to the hotel and I grabbed her off the shuttle from the airport to hug her hard.

Wednesday morning was a fairly easy start. Neither Jan or I had any commitments for early morning, so we slept in a bit then grabbed breakfast and saw friends there. A little later I went over to the conference center with Tamara to help Jessie and Lorene with setting up the room for the judging of the Design Competition. Jan decided to venture out exploring around the hotel area.

That afternoon I joined up with Jan and the two of us found a comfy spot in the lovely hotel lobby/atrium beside a gentle waterfall fountain to crochet and talk. Jan was taking a class that evening, so we decided to go out of the hotel for an early dinner.

Bonefish napkin

We walked to the Bonefish Grill just down the road and ended up having a wonderful meal. We even managed to time it well enough that we didn’t get soaked in the early evening rainstorm. The rest of Wednesday evening sort of passed in a blur as more friends got to the hotel and I prepared my supplies for the class I would be taking the next morning.

Re-invented Broomstick Swatch

My first class at the show was with the talented Linda Dean. She kept teasing me about being nervous that I would be one of her students, but I knew that it would be a very instructive class. This was her “Re-Invented Broomstick Lace” class. Linda had some lovely samples to show us the various ways you could work up the techniques with simple changes. I really enjoyed the class and look forward to experimenting more with the things I learnt in it. My little class sample swatch looks a bit sad, but that is no reflection on what Linda was teaching us.

That afternoon I helped with the Hooked for Life booth set-up. Mary Beth was teaching and both of her other helpers had some back injuries, so I volunteered to be the one climbing up and down the step-ladder and lifting boxes of things into place. Once that was all done I stopped by the Registration desk to pick up the garments and forms for the fashion show.

I took them all to the room we had been given to use for setting up for the fashion show.  I dropped off the garments and then I zipped back to my hotel room to clean up for the CGOA Business meeting and Conference Kick-off that evening.

Purple Backpack bag

I’m not sure what the numbers were, but the first 100 or so folks coming to the meeting received an awesome gift bag. The bags themselves were from Crochetville. They were a gorgeous purple lightweight backpack with a zipper pocket. The bags were stuffed full of yarn, crochet tools, crafting booklets and loads of coupons. I think everyone that received one was amazed and pleased with them.

Yarn from 1st Gift Bag

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the brilliant idea to take a photo of all the items in the bag together until much later, after I had emptied the bag and tucked the various goodies into my suitcases. This is a pile of all the yarn that was in my giftbag that evening.

After the meeting it was the market preview. A great crowd of folks happily waited to get into the show floor when the doors opened. Jan and I decided to drop off some of our stuff back at the room first. We missed the opening ceremony, but managed to have plenty of time to look around in the market place.

Market Preview Night purchases

I bought some yarn and 2 tools for winding yarn (one for me, one for Jan) that evening and spotted some other booths to investigate when it wasn’t so crowded later that week. Jan bought me the fun ruler with colorful sheep on it.

Back at the hotel after the marketplace closed, Jan and I said “hi” to all the folks hanging out in the hotel lobby bar area but didn’t hang around long as we both had classes the next morning. In fact we would be taking the same class – Vashti Braha’s “The Starwirbel Way: Shaping & Spiraling Star Stitches”.

This class was sold out and I was very glad that I had been able to get into it. I always enjoy her classes because Vashti  always knows her subject in depth. She had experimented and broke down the intricacies of the Star Stitch. I hunkered down in the class and happily crocheted away on the lesson.

Starwirbel Swatch

Even in a simple worsted yarn my class swatch is rather wonderful. I had the best time experimenting with the increase method Vashti taught us and increasing the hook size I was using to see how the fabric would change. I am going to really enjoy playing with the star stitch more now.

Tamara, Lily and I
Photo courtesy of Bonnie Barker

The rest of Friday after noon I spent working on prepping for the Fashion Show. I got the room arranged to my satisfaction and started laying out the items for the show in some sort of order. Later on I met with Tamara and Lily to strategize for the show and a couple of our models joined us so we could assign and fit garments. Bonnie Barker came and set up her photography equipment so we would have good photos of all the items modeled in the show that Saturday evening.

Yarn from 2nd Gift Bag

Friday evening was the “Excellence in Crochet” ceremony where the Design Competition winners were announced and Doris Chan received her Lifetime achievement award. I helped model some of the garments that won the Design Competition. There was another gift bag at this event, more yarn and fun stuff.

That evening after the awards were all presented Jan and I headed out to dinner with Karen Whooley at Bonefish Grill again. I was so happy with that restaurant and will be taking my family to the nearest one here in Colorado soon. The food was delicious and there were loads of Gluten Free options on their menu.

Saturday Purchases

Saturday I spent was pretty much all day preparing the fashion show. I took a brief break for quick shopping in the marketplace with Jan when she was on her lunch break between classes. I had spotted a couple of items that I had wanted to take a closer look at the evening of the market preview. That allowed me to go right to the booths that had what I wanted. Got some wonderful yarn, buttons, fun little sheep tools, and of course a marvelous set of Tulip hooks from Vashti’s booth.

New Shawl Pins

These 2 shawl pins were both gifts from other friends at the conference. The pink one really made me chuckle as I had almost purchased it for myself when I saw it in the marketplace.

Then it was back to working on getting all the fashion show garments ready for the evening. There was a bit of last-minute frenzy with the wearables that won prizes in the Design Competition, but most were sorted out. The banquet went by in a blur as I hustled to get the last few items ready.  Despite some of the behind the scenes craziness I heard that the fashion show was great. That is the problem with producing it, you don’t actually get to see the final product.

If you weren’t able to come this year, or you were there and would like to see the fashion show again check out the CGOA Facebook Page. The fashion show was “live-streamed” and you can watch the videos. I have watched them and they give you a fairly good idea of the fun that was on stage, though nothing beats being there.

I couldn’t have pulled the fashion show off without all the other folks that helped with the behind the scenes work. Of course one of those was my marvelous right-hand woman, Jan (Janet Bates). There was also Chel Rattray, Jenny King, Nancy Smith, Deb Seda-Testut, and Bonnie Barker.  And our wonderful volunteer models, they did such a good job.

Margarets Book

One thing not shown in the videos is the drawings for Door Prizes. I won a copy of Margaret Hubert’s 2nd edition of “The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet”. Margaret even autographed it for me later that night. In fact the entire conference was made extra special by the generosity of all the wonderful sponsors that contributed door prizes, products for gift bags and funding for conference events and competition prizes.

Some of the other fun stuff from the various goodie bags.
Some of the other fun stuff from the various goodie bags.

After the banquet and fashion show finished everyone hung out in the hotel atrium/bar area not wanting the conference to really be over. Jan and I were staying in Charleston until Tuesday so that we would have a chance to tour around the city. I’ll share more about that in a later post.

Next year the conference is going to be in Chicago, Illinois.  A nice central location and if I understand correctly it was where some of the very first “Chain Links” were held. CGOA is also returning to its roots in that this will be a “Chain Link” show again by being all crochet guild. Not held in tandem with the TKGA (The Knitting Guild Association). It would be great to have a massive turn-out of CGOA members to celebrate with us all.