Stitches East 2009 in Hartford, CT

Welcome to Stitches East 2009

Stitches East is a mega knitters’ convention that combines a wide variety of classes across disciplines from the who’s who of knitting, yarn and knitting supply shopping and fashion show.  This year’s show was in Hartford, CT, a relatively short jaunt by public transportation from New York City.

My friend Amanda persuaded me to meet her in Hartford at Stitches. As a self taught knitter who is left handed, I tend to stay clear of knitting classes. (Let’s just say that I find classes focused on technical skills difficult since I grew up with people just saying do it the opposite way.) While I wasn’t enticed by the classes, I decided to check out the market and be in a knitting environment for a couple of days. Mind you that Stitches events cause the local hotels to sell out quickly so I was lucky to have a place to crash.

The Stitches market has pricey fee of $8.00 per day considering that is the cost of one skein of many brands of yarn and that your LYS is free to visit. The market had ten aisles of vendors, many of whom had specials for the show. In particular, there was the Discontinued Yarns where you could get premium brands like Cherry Hill for a song and XXX where a bag of 10 bags was half price.

Outside the market, knitters were scattered at tables and comfortable chairs yarn in hand and the environment wonderfully knitting-inviting.  I pulled up a seat at a table with a couple of knitters and struck up a conversation about lace knitting.

While I didn’t attend the fashion shows, watching the knitters was a show in itself. I suspect that many attendees brought large suitcases so that they could display different handmade creations each day. It was wonderful to see. Some wonderful pieces were inspirational.

There were demonstrations and book signings in the marketplace. I found the beading demo useful since it showed the difference between knitting the stitch where a bead  was placed and slipping it. The speaker showed how to use dental floss to bead very small beads (those with larger numbered holes.)

Since Stitches was the weekend after Rhinebeck where the New York Sheep and Wool Festival, many local knitters have depleted their yarn budgets and I was no exception. As a New Yorker with access to a wide range of stores, who visits yarn stores when out of town and who attends at least one sheep and wool festival annually, I was underwhelmed by the wares at the market. One exception was Tess Designer Yarns in Portland, ME. As readers of this blog know, I am a big fan of Tess Designer Yarns but I still have yarn in my stash from visits to her shop and to Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.

Having put myself on a yarn budget, I focused my purchases on a couple of special items. I bought a 160 gram ball of Kauni yarn in a brown variegated array which is about 700 yards of fiber.  Kanni is a Danish yarn that comes in a wide selection of colors that I haven’t seen in any of the shops or festivals that I’ve attended so far. Each ball contains two full cycles of color. From my perspective, the yarn is a bit rough and contains a lot of lanolin which may be an issue due to my allergies but the color changes made it attractive.

My other yarn purchase was a skein of Madeline Tosh Merino Laceweight in Oxblood, a purple and mauve colorway. The yarn feels absolutely delicious and I can’t wait to knit it. I haven’t seen this yarn before either and there was a sample knit up at another vendor. Ironically, I bought it from Webs, an amazing store in North Hampton, MA, which I visit at least once a year.

World's Biggest Sock in Progress!

One of the highlights of my Market adventure was knitting on the World’s Largest Sock Project. The sock consisted of a tube that took up a long table and multiple people worked on the project at the same time through the use of multiple circular needles. It was the only place that I could take a photo at the show.  Seeing the sock enabled me to envision how to use multiple circular needles to make a large lace piece.

XRX the show’s producers, don’t allow photography on the market floor. While I appreciate their support of their vendors, XRX doesn’t understand the power of user generated content. Without consumers’ talking about your product, it won’t sell that well. Further, knitters share their wool, patterns and modifications on Ravelry, Flickr and their blogs. If your pattern is easy to imitate, then people will find a way to do so.

Submitted by Knitted Yarns Editor-in-Chief

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