As I mentioned in my last exploits post, August was a great month for getting out and about in the Stitchiverse. After the thrill of the workshop at Vintage at Goodwood, a few days later I found myself boarding a transatlantic heading for Chicago!
Chicago, for those who don’t know, is Beefranck country and having worked with her building the Mr X Stitch empire, I decided it was about time I went to visit her. I arrived on the 16th August, got my lips around a classic Italian Beef Sandwich, and spent a few days relaxing, observing Americans in their natural environment and being mostly confused by interesting American foods.
On Thursday we made out way to Wicker Park to meet up with our good friends Joe and Kelly (and Baby Seth). We visited the Renegade Handmade store, buying lots of groovy craft items and ended up getting a mention on their blog. We visited a trendy burger joint called Hot Chocolate, where Joe enjoyed an accidental penis artisan milkshake and ate some extremely fine burgers. This was followed by a trip to Quimby’s Comics, a store with a fantastic array of zines, graphic novels and erotic comics!
I bought myself a couple of cool zines with embroidered covers and hope to write about those in more detail at some point.
On the Friday of my visit (the 20th) we spent a day at WizardWorld Chicago, searching for comics, gawping at the cosplayers and getting some groovy sketches from people. I was pleased to discover the Little Brass Bird Collective in amongst all the comic people and spent a surprising amount of time talking about stitching to anyone who stood still for long enough…
On Saturday we hit the town! At Millenium Park we met up with Benjibot, Adam and Emily Moe, Vegkat (and her awesome family), Shane and Lia (Omaha posse!), Giggly Mama and Giddy Girlie. After a light lunch at the Institute of Modern Art, we ventured to Navy Pier and took a collective photo around the giant Macaroni — of course!
A quick whistle stop tour of the Pier, including some cheeseburger action, and some well received Slushies at a nearby 7-11, and we were off to our final destination, the Signature Lounge.
96 floors up the Hancock Tower we spent a fantastic couple of hours drinking expensive cocktails, laughing our heads off and as the sun went down and the town lit up beneath us, I felt extremely honoured to be there. It was great fun being with all these people who are not only amazing stitchy artists, but are brilliant people and firm friends from this point forward. It was truly the high spot of the visit.
The following day we ventured to Geneva, a suburb of Chicago, to celebrate Beefranck’s birthday! We ate good food, Beefranck was showered with gifts and love, Shane got the accidental penis this time and to celebrate the occasion we discovered that the town had hosted a concourse car show. Which was nice.
We also visited the Designers’ Desk, a truly fantastic stitchery shop with three floors of all manner of embroidered marvellousness. As the posse descended on the store it was great to wander around and talk stitchy stuff with each of them, particularly Vegkat’s kids, Bridget and Graham, who helped me choose some threads from the overwhelming array of choice. More about the store later…
After a great day looking at threads and cars, and drinking iced coffees, it was time to say goodbye to the GGs, and I want to thank them for taking the trouble to come from California to hang out with us. You guys are the best!
The next few days were spent recovering from the weekend, and relaxing. We returned to the Designers’ Desk on Tuesday and spent more time looking at the wide variety of threads — something like 40 different brands — and being truly inspired by the amount of stitchy supplies available. The store has an online presence and they ship worldwide, so if you get the chance to visit it, take it! It’s the way a stitchy shop should be!
It really was an amazing visit and fantastic to spend time with so many great people. I have to thank Beefranck and Yimster (and Shampoo the cat) for their hospitality, as well as everyone who came out to play with us. As I boarded the plane back to the UK, I felt inspired and honoured to have had such an experience, and committed to having many many more…
But wait! That’s not the end!
I sat on the plane, exhausted and exhilarated, and got chatting to my neighbour, a Greek guy called Sakis. After a while we got talking about stitching and he explained that his father had cross stitched some large pieces that hung in his family home. As the journey progressed and I continued stitching, eventually he asked if he could have a go. Before long all he asked me about was untying knots…
All in all it was a tremendous trip and I can’t wait until the next time I can pop over the pond for more exploits!