I didn’t think I’d ever go there, and factually I never really heard of this event before, but after going to Rhinebeck for 3 years in a row, my friend Nicki from D’NALI managed to convince me to give Stitches East a try this year in lieu of going to Rhinebeck.
It’s weeks later and I find myself on a 3 hour Amtrak ride along the Connecticut coastline, headed for it’s capital, Hartford. It’s interesting watching the landscape change from the predominant concrete & brick buildings of the city to upscale colonial homes of the suburbs to wooden houses in the countryside. I’m seated next to and have a brief conversation with a woman who teaches knitting and crochet classes at Fashion Institute of Technology, and is also traveling to Stitches East.
Only 1/2 hour after our train arrives we are already settled into our hotel room, which was just a short walk from the train. While relaxing from travel & contemplating our next move, we were greeted by demonstrators picketing outside our hotel in support of a local candidate running for governor along with counter demonstrators in support of it’s incumbent.
We finally decide to head over to the Marriott, where the Stitches East convention is being held. We didn’t get good walking directions, and it didn’t help that some of the locals we asked didn’t know where it was either. Another thing about downtown Hartford; it’s not the most pedestrian friendly city. Walking signals at times seemed nonexistent, you didn’t know whether to simply wait, or play chicken crossing the roads. As a New Yorker, my instinct is to simply jaywalk as soon as traffic clears, but with also right turns at red lights being permissible here, that also incurs risks.
But on to the knitting……
One of the major reasons for coming to Stitches East is for the knitting classes I signed up for. I wasn’t ready to commit to their 3 hour mega classes so I decided to do a few of their market sessions that were only 1 hour apiece. My thought was to get a taste of what classes were like, and frankly, 1 hour is about all my attention span was ready to handle, LOL
Of course, we did a little bit of shopping at their market place, and the first day of the vendors opening, Nicki and I scored this deal on stitch markers.
The vendor, Chappy’s fiber arts and crafts sold a variety of knitting & crocheting supplies. I’m a sucker for stitch markers since I do projects that use a lot of pattern repeats. The different designs will help to keep things interesting. I picked this particular bunch for the lipstick marker that was included.
The next morning while Nicki went off to a quilting class, I signed up for a seminar on tunisian crochet. I’ve done a bit of crocheting before, in fact I learned to crochet years before I picked up knitting. Tunisian crochet I always associated with making huge objects like blankets because of the long needles involved. It will be useful for making blankets & other objects that help use up yarn that would otherwise sit in my stash indefinitely. I didn’t have a problem picking up the stitch technique, but note to self: slippery yarn & metal needles do not work well together.
Later that afternoon, I took a second class on combining yarn colors. The instructor focused mainly on fair isle knitting, but went over basic techniques for combining colors of yarn. During the class, the instructor pointed out to me that I had been knitting “backwards”. I never took any formal knitting lessons, I am mostly self taught. But for all the time I’ve been knitting up to that point, I didn’t realize I’ve been doing all my knit stitches through the back loop instead of the front. I didn’t see any difference in my stitches when I made scarves or blankets for example, but that explained why I would occasionally notice when making hats or anything in the round for example, that my stockinette stitches looked a bit twisted. Thank God none of the folks that I made gifts for ever noticed, LOL
Later that day, I did a little more shopping with the vendors. I overheard two of them in conversation speaking about the relatively low number of vendors at this year’s event compared to the past. One attributed it to the number of yarn related events scheduled close together such as Rhinebeck coming up this weekend. I wasn’t seeing any yarn that specifically jumped out at me and didn’t want to really splurge, since I’m also planning to head for Rhinebeck as well. But I did find this clever creation of a yarn “abacus” from Knitting Abacus
The row counter, which also doubles as a bracelet can count up to 999 rows. The seller also makes 2 row bracelets that can count up to 100 rows, but the advantage of the 3 row bracelet is that you can also use the last row to count pattern repeats if they’re less than 100 rows. This will keep me from trying to keep track with multiple row counters.
I also bought these skeins of malabrigo yarn from Yarn Barn out of Kansas at around $11 each. Had the vendors been more willing to make a deal, I would’ve bought their entire bag of 10 skeins they had stored under their table. No matter, I’ll save my bargaining skills for Rhinebeck, LOL
I don’t know what I’ll make with it yet. More than likely some kind of fancy cowl or scarf or maybe a hat & scarf set, but I just fell in love with the color combo. And I’ve heard some good things about malabrigo yarn so I look forward to seeing how this knits up.
Saturday started out with 2 more classes. The first, on blocking your knitted work was informative and I got some tips on which techniques work best with which types of yarn. The second class called “knitting from the inside out” speaks for itself. How to knit in the round starting from the center. Again, I had problems with my slippery acrylic yarn & metal double pointed needles, but practicing the technique was ok.
I know a number of african americans who knit or crochet, but I didn’t know of any that owned a yarn shop until I came across the Neighborhood Fiber Co. booth. I loved their vibrant colors of yarn and would’ve been happy with any of their selections, but I picked out a worsted weight yarn to start with since I have more than enough sock and fingering weight yarn. The garments they had knitted up as samples with their yarn were enticing. Hope one day I can catch them on a sale and stock up.
I first fell in love with ombre yarn when I saw the Freia yarn booth back at Vogue Knitting Live in January. Bought this ball of silk/merino wool at the Apple Tree Knits booth. I’m thinking a lacy shawl or scarf will be created from this, haven’t decided yet.
It’s off to Rhinebeck next weekend to see what else I can add to my already overflowing stash.