Tag Archives: Stitches East

Back from Stitches!

Pumpkin couple in lobby


October, and another outing to Stitches East.  Last year I kind of blitzed through it, allowing myself only one afternoon and the following morning at the market.  This year, it was a treat to spend a couple of days there.  I actually took a couple of classes, strolled the vendor market at a more leisurely pace, and actually didn’t break the budget overdosing on yarn.  It was a win all-around, plus some terrific views of the fall foliage on the train to and from Hartford.

This year Stitches was October 11-14, which coincided with Lidlady’s birthday on the 11th and Restaurant Week in Hartford.  Shoutout to Trumbull’s Kitchen for a fine dinner!  And kudos to the city of Hartford for the free shuttle service that runs from the train station to major hotels, restaurants, and the convention center.

Decided to take it easy this time, and not sign up for workshops or classes at 8am.  That left the morning for the Market, schmoosing with the vendors, a bit of lunch, and then an afternoon workshop before getting back to the hotel and collapsing from exhaustion.  Shop till you drop indeed!

Saturday afternoon’s workshop was “Beyond Basic Crochet,” with the Crochet Dude himself, Drew Emborsky.  To be honest, it didn’t get all that much beyond the basics, but the Dude helped us get our stitches right and get our rows straight.  (Yes, yes, I have crocheted a few unintentional parallelograms in my time).  He taught us how to change colors correctly and carry yarns almost invisibly.  Best of all, he showed us how to weave in those pesky yarn ends (and that, my friends, was worth the whole workshop for me!)

headless display in lobby
He had enough time to make and model a sampler!

Everybody was dragging by Sunday afternoon, so that might not have been the best time to take a workshop involving knitting wristers with seed beads and fingering weight yarn,  but “Off the Cuff” with Susanna Hansson was a lot of fun.  She had a great sense of humor and kept up the encouragement (“Don’t worry, it’s a piece of cake!”), even as many of us had brought the wrong kind of yarn, or the wrong size needles, or the wrong size beads for the project.  Can’t imagine what I was thinking when I went through the old bead stash and selected beads that were at least 3 times the size I would need!  Live and learn.  But I did figure out a workaround that got my bead rows to line up more or less correctly, and for that I was dubbed “clever” and “creative.”  (See?  I told you she was encouraging.)  Don’t know that I will be making tons of these beaded cuffs, as knitsters of a certain age with fading eyes and a house full of felines have to exercise some caution.  But they are kind of neat, and now that I am home with a full bead stash at my disposal, I do intend to complete at least one pair.

Will be posting more about my yarn purchases anon, as I begin new projects!

Summer Stash Down Redux

OK, Memorial Day has been and gone, tomorrow is Flag Day — and it’s time for another attempt at Summer Stash Down.  Having already registered for Stitches East in mid-October, I don’t have a lot of time to make room for any fiber goodness I expect to bring home.  I am out of plastic bins and room to store them!  As a reality check, I dragged them all out and spread them on a queen-sized bed.  Result was too large to fit in a single photo.   Even standing on a chair.  Sigh….

bins of yarn
Sock yarn... and lots more

We’re Baaaaack…. and Speaking of Conferences

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!