I think my jet-lag lagged right on top of me all week...
My own AAR: SPLENDID with multiple exclamation points pretty much sums it up!
The physical details that go into a large Conference like this one are prodigious, and it was honestly just smooth and seamless. It took me under 2 minutes to register and pick up my packets/notebook, all my pre-session classes were smooth as butter. Extensive handouts are a big thing in my book, and getting to take home the resource lists from the different speakers and workshops was a huge help for future learning.
I was fortunate to get to help out a bit (in company with two other PacNWesters) in Carolann's pre-session workshop on bonnet veils, and that experience tells me a lot about how the whole Conference process runs so smoothly... to see the easy system in place that allows everyone many textile choices *with* first-hand examination, and *without* chaos and long waits? Fantastic.
I heard similar excellent feedback from those who took other pre-session workshops, too.
Irony: the opposite of wrinkly. And thanks to Maggie and Brian Koenig, I was irony. Even starchy!
Thursday's Sociable: I was able to work on my wrapper during the afternoon, and got to dress up for the Thursday sociable; thoroughly delightful to see so many comfortably dressed folks, and the talents on display were a treat! Our own Bevin brought along a tidy contingent from the Village, as well as her own musical skills... even operating on less than 3 hours of sleep in the previous 36 hours, my attention was captured by the performances. And I got to hear Colleen Formby sing! In person! It was cool.
My ankle prevented me actually dancing during my dance workshop, but the quality of instruction was such that I felt entirely refreshed on the mechanics of the dance to have a fantastic time in a waltz with the Very Tall (and very elegant!) Michael Mescher. Another first-hand thing to note: my dress is a LONG 40s style; even when I add the corded petticoats that belong under it, and a nice hip-length frill of crinoline, it will still be one of the longer 40s styles--it fully touches the ground in front, and trails a bit in back, and will do even with more skirt support. *However*--a vigorous waltz was more than possible, and I had zero need of holding any portion of my skirts up. Good posture, and eye-contact with one's partner, and NO slouching or looking at the ground meant that a longer dress was not a hindrance in any way. And that's *without* a hoop!
I do get the award for officially finishing my Conference dress LAST... for the presentations, I was accurately PINNED into the bodice, and needed to reset my sleeves in quite a desperate fashion (grateful thanks to Carolann for the kind loan of a gorgeous shawl, which hid the armscye issues brilliantly, and let me revel in the shirred 40s fanfront instead.) Let this be a lesson to us all: Never Not Test Your New Sleeve Shape.
Loved the fit in the wrist. T-Rex arms proved and proved again.
But I also reinforced my own belief in the utility of handwork. Because the sleeves were handsewn in, removing them and re-setting them was the work of an hour, with zero uncharitable thought or speech!
So, after the Conference Dress Presentation (in which I thoroughly unsettled Mr Hughes with talk of my Artificial Rump, poor man!), I slipped *back* into my wrapper, and enjoyed our own K Krewer's presentation on accessories while I added the hooks and eyes, and re-set my sleeves on the Conference dress, basted in my neck and wrist frills, and donned the whole thing again for the rest of the day, and dancing that night.
Merchants: excellent mix, and good bargains to be had. The fact that each merchant and their wares are juried and vetted was lovely; it made shopping a breeze! Dittos on Brian Merrick's leather stuff. HOLY CROW it's gorgeous. There was quite literally something for everyone in the marketplace, including chocolate, ribbons, jewelry, BOOKS, and a myriad of souvenirs to choose among.
I picked up a whole new set of bones and the first new busk I've purchased in FIFTEEN years, plus coutil, and the newly-shaped Non-Frankensteined Corset that had its debut at Conference will be cut in the good fabric and done up with new hardware entirely... I'm set for another 15 years.
The Meschers had Emily's whole collection on display, too, so that combined with the original dolls on display, and the competition dolls? Well, I was a bit in dolly heaven.
Fan-Girl Moments: I had 'em. There was some squeeing. There may or may not have been a bit of hand-fanning myself, and there was certainly a goodly amount of "OH MY GOSH HOW COOL TO MEET YOU" going on... I immediately lose all my grown-up decorum when I get to meet people I've known on-line for years, so I said "OH MY GOSH" quite a lot, I'm afraid. Just consider me a very eager Labrador puppy when it comes to such things. YOU GUYS, I GOT TO MEET SUSAN HUGHES IN PERSON. Just... awesome. She's so lovely!! I've been a fan-girl of hers since... gosh. Forever. Since I got into the hobby and saw my first issue of The Citizen's Companion.
Also, as so many Sewing Academy members found out: I'm a hugger. BIG hugger. Sorry if I invaded anyone's bubble--it was such a treat to meet digital friends!
I do find it highly interesting how very many digital friends become real-life extended family... For a hermit like me to be out and about for five whole days, and enjoy every second of it? That takes the support of that extended family, and I'm highly grateful for every one of you!!
Synergy & Convergence: I'll not say a word until further details are officially released, BUT: in the very near future, two separate, but definitely "from delightfully similar founts and desires" projects are going to show up, and the benefits to the history-based living history community can only be described as STELLAR. So. There's that. Now you all get to join me in anticipation of great delights.
Presentations: Huge props to Carolann's husband Don, who runs the functionally smoothest AV set-up I have ever had the pleasure to encounter.
One thing I love about conferences is that individual speakers tend to be pretty passionate about their topics, which means that even if it's a topic that wouldn't necessarily spark me offhand, their own passion makes the topic very interesting to me, very quickly! I love seeing the variety of passions others bring to living history, and I came away feeling like I've learned a lot, and have a broader context to use in approaching my own pet topics in the future. I had a great time sharing a few of my favorite topics, and definitely feel inspired to keep on with my own research, and sharing it. That kind of energy and support is amazing, and a HUGE part of why these gatherings are so helpful.
Hotel was comfortable, staff was *fantastic*--I don't know that I've seen such well-organized convention center staff! Good food, plenty of it, prompt everything. The snacks brought out for breaks were well-planned, too... hot pretzels on Saturday afternoon? Yes, please! Never-ending water (IN GLASSES--I am inordinately fond of both water, and glasses), great coffee, well-stocked meal buffets, loads of options to suit my own preferences... really well done details. My room's AC was designed for people who get a lot colder than I do, but the front desk was able to send someone up to turn off the heat, and once things cooled down to about 60, I was set for the whole stay. (Gosh--I hope they turned it back ON... most people are not so polar as me!)
So, ummm.... I think my overall after-action report is generally positive. Just a little.