Well! I certainly didn’t intend for so much time to slip by. But as we come up to our first anniversary I can only promise to be a better blogger this time around.
Last time I was talking about the Stitches East conference in Hartford CT. I still remember my first Stitches, back in 2007 when it was still in Baltimore. I signed up for all the events (starting on Thursday evening), took 3 classes over the next 3 days, spent hours in the Market, and by Sunday I was exhausted. We bought so much yarn we had to ship most of it home in a huge box and jam the rest into every inch of our suitcases. The Market was amazing and overwhelming, so many vendors, so much yarn, so many pretty colors…. Sensory overload to the max.
The first time is always special, and my next couple of Stitches experiences were more governed by common sense and a budget. I tried to remember — I live in New York! We have dozens of yarn stores. I have a full time job! Time to knit is limited, and there is no point collecting yarn just to let it sit in a stash. I work at FIT — and in the Library at that! I have access to wonderful books every day for free — books on technique, books to inspire, you name it. You get the idea.
So why go to Stitches? For me, it’s a chance to see and feel the yarns. Online shopping is great for price and convenience, but even a really great photo of a skein or swatch is no substitute for tactile experience. You can ask the vendor questions, see and feel sample garments, and sometimes get a decent price break on sale or discontinued yarns. The classes and workshops are frequently taught by the authors of those wonderful knitting books. It is a chance to learn a new technique or pursue an aspect of knitting on a deeper level. And, of course, all spare downtime is spent knitting, so you get to meet a variety of people who love it just as much as you do.
This year at Hartford I just went for the Market, and did manage to limit my purchases to fill one totebag. My vote for favorite vendor is Blue Moon Fiber Arts, source of the beautiful Socks That Rock yarns. Their booth was mobbed at all times, but the Blue Moon ladies could not have been nicer, more patient or more helpful. Every other person I saw in the Market was wearing the Stephen West Daybreak shawl — and those who weren’t (like me!) were lined up at Blue Moon to buy yarn to make one. It’s a fairly simple shawl, requiring 2 colorways and knit in stripes. Impossible to choose! One of the Blue Mooners was ready with advice. She had each one of us in turn select one colorway, and then she picked out one or two coordinating colorways for us. Great suggestions and unusual choices, tailored to our preferences. Now that’s customer service!