I personally think that it is a little gift from the universe that my birthday and Stitches West are very close to each other on the calendar. This year my birthday was on Tuesday and Stitches started on Thursday (really how lucky can one girl be).
This year it was the usual suspects (the OC girls) and a few new comers (Grape, Wendy, Denise, and Laura) and as always we had a wonderfully fun time. It is amazing how funny, talented, wise, and creative our little Stitches group really is. If only we could have that group together all the time, it would be the best!
This year ItShe and I applied what we learned from last year's Stitches West to this year's experience. We learned last year that eating 3 meals a day from a slightly swanky hotel adds up. We also learned that enjoying alcoholic drinks at said slightly swanky hotel REALLY adds up. So this year we checked into the hotel dropped our bags and headed out on the bus to the closest Trader Joe's. We stalked up on oatmeal, fruit, granola bars, yogurt, cheeses, crackers, egg white salad (super yummy), healthy "just add boiling water" rice stick noodle bowl soups and most importantly booze (many many bottles of wine and a bottle of champagne for mimosas). This allowed us to do two things, eat much healthier and save a huge amount of money. Lesson one learned.
Lesson two, last year we did the "Almost the Works" package, this left us with one time slot open, that is one time slot out of 8 possible time slots. This made it almost impossible to sleep (we got less than 16 hours of sleep in 4 days) hang out with our friends very late, and it was very exhausting(very fun but draining). This year we took 12 hours of classes as opposed to 24 hours of classes (which was also cheaper too). This allowed us to go to the gym (twice), sleep in on day two (which was key), hang out with our friends, and most importantly keep our sanity. Lesson two learned.
Lesson three, don't spend money just because you can. Last year we both stayed within out budget (we should be given an award for that alone) but both of our budgets were bigger and I think slightly more fluid (i.e. if we skipped on a few drinks we could move that money from food to yarn). But this year the main goal was to save as much money as possible on all fronts and that included the yarn budget. I still have a lot of what I bought at Stitches last year so this year I was very selective on what I bought this year. I added up what I spent last year without hotel, airfare and classes (because those are out of my control) so I compared this year's money spent on yarn and food and I saved $400.00. That's right 400 HUNDRED dollars and I saved far more calories as well. Lesson three learned.
Lesson four get in line at the Market early. Last year we got in line early (we waited almost an hour) but the Market opened later in the day. This year the market opened at 5pm and we were the FIRST people in line (pretty cool actually). There were people who were sitting in the chairs close to the Market area but we were the first people at the door waiting. I think the combination of the market opening early, people in class till 4:30, and the slow economy "helped" I'm sure. Lesson learned.
Lesson five, know where the good deals are and go there first. Last year we missed the mill ends at Blue Moon Fiber Arts because we didn't get there soon enough and by the time we got there it was a mad house and all the good stuff was gone. This year we were in line first (see lesson 4) and we went straight to Blue Moon. We were the mad house, but it paid off. Normally a skein of lightweight Socks That Rock cost $20, we got the mill ends for $12 (yes 12 bucks). I wish I had a bunch more money to spend on mill ends but I was trying to be very good at not spending money (see lesson three). But I did get two skeins, one of which I have been seriously wanting for over 2 years, and boy did I get a deal on them.
So this year I think we did a very good job of applying lessons that we learned from last year (go us!).
I will post pictures of my (very few) purchases and what I learned in class in the next few days.
Stitches West Rocked.