No, I haven't gone mad. It just so happened that an "Irish" step dancing competition was taking place in the Convention Center
at the same time as TNNA.
Prior to this point, I had no exposure to "Irish" step dancing. I am putting "Irish" in quotation marks, because after viewing the participants, I am confident that no one in Ireland looks anything like these little Jon-Benets. The girls ranged in age from about six to sixteen. What was particularly eerie was the way they all conformed to some kind of dress code: lots of makeup, extremely shiny dresses with poufy skirts in gaudy combinations of red and green, cheesy tiaras, and hairstyles that involved the placement of blonde (always blonde) Shirley-Temple-like ringlets on the top of the skull, just above the forehead, so the ringlets cascade onto the face. UK residents, back me up: have you ever seen anyone in Ireland dressed like this?
Photo from this purveyor of fine Irish step dancing wigs.
These girls were all over the hotel, the convention center and the adjoining mall. Some wore shower caps so as not to disturb their hairstyles. Some wore vinyl capes, the kind you wear at the beauty salon, so as not to mar their costumes. We were told that dresses for these events can cost as much as $1500 or more. We saw girls with customized zipper cases that provided extra room for the poufy skirts and zipped around them, suggesting that this is big business if custom-sized travel cases are being manufactured somewhere.
I don't mean to suggest that dance lessons, even some competitions, are a bad thing. I'm sure there are many girls who enjoy dance and who benefit greatly from the exercise, the grace, the discipline. What turned me off was a combination of the extremely bizarre, beauty-queen like stylizing of these girls, and what was obviously a pretty significant financial investment on the part of their parents -- the same kinds of things that bother me about pint-sized beauty pageants. I'm sure these talented girls would look just charming in their natural, youthful, unshellacked state doing these dances. But I digress. We were talking about the last day of TNNA.
By Sunday, my ass was dragging. The day broke bright and early -- well, rainy and early -- with an invitation-only fashion show sponsored by Westminster Fibers. You may recall that Westminster is the parent company of Rowan/RYC, Jaeger, Regia, Nashua Handknits, Schachenmayr, and Gedifra. We were given breakfast at a nearby hotel, then examined the most excellent goodie bags (much of which was in the swag photos from one of my previous posts). We then got to see a fashion show which showed, company by company, Westminster's designs for the fall.
Seeing this kind of fashion show -- which featured multiple garments from a single exhibitor (the TNNA fashion show limited entrants to 1 or 2 garments each) -- was much more instructive for me. I got a much clearer sense of what Westminster's vision of the fall was going to be, and since Rosie's stocks a lot of Westminster yarns, this is information which will be very helpful. (I'll do a separate post giving you some fall pictures and info about fall yarns.)
Then it was on to more exhibit-viewing, and some serious yarn-shopping. Desperation at the many things we hadn't covered but needed to energized us. We were reaching sensory overload, but still we pressed on. Random observations:
- The name "Hooker's Nook" might not be my first choice for a shop, even if I specialized in crochet.
- Regia is pronounced, let me put the issue to rest once and for all, "Ray-Gee-A" with a hard "G" as in "gallop."
- Kristin Nicholas, who designs for Nashua Handknits, has an interesting blog which you might want to check out.
- Lucy Neatby was carrying the most hilarious bag that looked like a chicken. She named it (Ernest maybe? but I could be wrong).
- I saw a grown woman dressed like a watermelon. Yep, a watermelon-themed sweater, fuschia with black seeds on it, ribbing in a stripe of white then green. (She was not in the Rowan fashion show, needless to say.)
- Overheard: "She was looking for 100 blue-and-white kazoos for a wedding reception."
- Did I tell you how much I loved meeting Véronik Avery? So much so that I spelled her name wrong in my last post. (sheesh)
I, once again, was feeling that perhaps my mom was right and I had overextended myself a bit, so I excused myself for another quick lie-down.
Laura and I headed to the airport together (Lisa stayed on another night). We shared a cab with a lovely woman who -- despite her relative youth, and I mean no disrespect by that -- owned her own shop in Ontario. We compared notes on some things and then she dashed off to try to make her plane. Laura and I were left to watch the rainclouds approach. Our plane was overbooked and we considered for a brief moment taking the free ticket vouchers and staying over, but then we figured that would only require us to fly another time, so what kind of prize was that?
Our plane was some kind of balsa-wood child's toy called an Embrauer, with a mere three seats across, one on one side of the aisle, two on the other (gulp). Ironically, we were seated in the emergency exit aisle. The stewardess came to ask me if I was physically and mentally ready, willing and able to help evacuate the plane in the event of a euphemistically-described "emergency." She seemed somewhat taken aback at my "Hell, yeah!" while Laura delicately asked if this would require us to stay on board for any length of time after said emergency or if we could just hurl the door open and leap out (into the gaping maw of empty space).
Having notched back on the Atavan for fear of a DUI conviction, I found the ride home to be much more ... bumpy and anxiety-provoking. I was charmed, however, to see the skyline of my adopted city once we circled the airport. It was a great trip, but it was good to be home.