Category Archives: Travel

Stitches Midwest: The People That You Meet

Everyone goes to fiber festivals because of the allure of the yarn (and fiber related goodies), but whether you intend for it to happen or not, the focus usually shifts to connections you’ve made and will make over the course of the event with all of the amazing people you meet there.Stitches Midwest Roomies[My Roomies: Susie, Sarah, Kristi, Danie, Sarah, Emily & Molly]

I can say without a doubt that my Stitches Midwest Experience was so much fun and will always be so memorable because of the people I met along the way.

That started from the very first moment that I met up with my roomies. We had been chatting and video chatting beforehand but I still thought it may take a few to get comfortable with each other. Nope. From the second we hugged hello it was as if we had known each other our whole lives! It’s amazing how having things in common will bond people like that.

Podcaster Meet UpFriday & Saturday at noon there was a podcaster meet up on the second floor near this beautiful fireplace. It was one of the best meet ups I’ve been to. Unlike the big open grassy area at Rhinebeck, this space had cozy little sections where folks could stop and really talk. It felt much more natural.

Cori & Jen[Cori aka irocknits & me]

Podcasters = Awesome

[Emily Straw of Knitting Butterflies Podcast, Lucia of Pearl of the Pacific PodcastSue & Lynne of Two Tangled Skeins Podcast & Megan of The Stockinette Zombies Podcast]

Of course for me, these meet ups are twice the fun. I look forward to meeting all of you and I get to meet the podcasters I watch and listen to as well.

Jen & MeganIt was a pleasure meeting Megan of Stockinette Zombies! I can tell you she’s just as sweet, fun and funny in person as she is on the podcast!

Danie, Megan, SusieSee? She’s making Prairie Girl Susie crack up!

Tan House BrookI also was really fortunate to meet many of my listeners. A few, like Charmaine and Carla asked to try on my Tan House Brook Shawl and of course I obliged. I think there are still many people out there who think a triangular shawl can’t look good on them and I enjoy proving that that’s simply untrue. It was also interesting to see just how great this color green looked on lots of different people!

Tan House Brook

Emily Straw PhotographyEmily, Me, JavaJennie of Kitchen Counter Crafter, Kristi & Jeanette of Sun Valley Fibers]

Photo credit: Emily Straw

I also met lots of lovely people out on the vendor market floor! I am always more interested to buy things from vendors who are personable, likable and helpful. There were so many people like that at Stitches!

Emily Straw PhotographyEmily with Jaala Spiro of Knit Circus Yarns

IMG_3311[Cary of Jelby, Becca and Sarah from Another Crafty Girl in their shared booth]

Jen, Benjamin & KristiAfter the market on Saturday, a few of us were really fortunate to run into Benjamin Levisay, CEO of XRX and of course the host of the Fiber Hooligan Podcast. He was so down to earth, interested to hear what we had to say about our Stitches experience, and wanting to talk shop about podcasting, which you don’t have to twist my arm to do!

Jen & PaulaOn Saturday night, we had a podcaster filled dinner! I’m so grateful to Paula of the Knitting Pipeline Podcast for reaching out in advance to ask about making plans to get together. It was great having the chance to get to know Paula. She is 100% delightful.

I hope if you went to Stitches Midwest you took advantage of the opportunity to meet some amazing people! It was great even just chatting with other shoppers and passersby. Knitters are awesome!

Stitches Midwest: The Yarn!

 

The haul!It goes without saying that one of the most exciting things about going to a fiber event is ALL THE YARN

Ironically, I usually only buy a few skeins of yarn (2-4 on average) and then a couple other small items when I go to fiber events. I really need to have some semblance of a project in mind or I just don’t have the desire to purchase something. Having purchased yarn without a plan too many times in the past and then spending hours on Ravelry trying to find a pattern to pair it with, I’ve learned my lesson. For me, it’s not worth it. I end up feeling stressed that I spent money on something I can’t find use for.

Stitches Midwest was another story. I warned my friends I’d likely be the “wild card” in terms of spending. I’d either stick to my conservative habits or completely lose my mind in the vast array of that market filled with vendors I’ve heard SO much about but have never seen in real life.

I’m happy to say I landed somewhere safely in the middle- far more than my usual 2-4 skeins but not in the eating-pb&j-for-6-months-to-come-because-of-my-spending territory.

Here’s my show & tell of things I purchased at Stitches Midwest

Another Crafty Girl[Another Crafty Girl; Strong Sock in Colorway Ponkie Brewster]

Ponkie Brewster: This had to come home with me. The jewel tones are perfect to fit in with my wardrobe, especially in cooler months. And the reference to Punky Brewster? Come on! My mom called me Punky Brewster for years, and deservedly so! I dressed just as insanely as proudly as she did as a kid. Can’t wait to knit this up.

Miss Babs[Miss Babs: 3 ply Babette in the Perfectly Wreckless Colorway]

Perfectly Wreckless: This skein got the most ooohs and ahhhhs when I brought it to show & tell at my local knitting group this week- and for good reason! The vibrance and variation in these colors is stunning.  I am planning to pair this with an off-white colored yarn I’ve been struggling to find a project for. I think the neutral & the pops of colors will pair nicely.

I didn’t realize it at the time but according to the Miss Babs website a “’Babette’ is our name for one-of-a-kind, unrepeatable* colorways. We have many colors that Babs dyes again and again, but Babettes are different every time. Babettes bring artistry, unpredictable color, and joy to your knitting, crochet, spinning, and weaving.” Pretty cool! Kinda makes it even more special!

Fiberystory[Fiberstory: Core DK in the Sweetly Colorway]

Sweetly: I purchased two of this colorway and one skein in a mulberry type color to coordinate for a hat & mitt or hat & cowl set. I cast on a hat while at Stitches because I couldn’t resist and am thoroughly enjoying this yarn. I can’t recommend it highly enough!

FiberstoryI couldn’t resist a skein of fingering weight yarn from Fiberstory too. Not sure yet if this will be used for fingerless mitts or a shawl. This may be my favorite color gray ever!

Apple Tree[Apple Tree Knits: Plush DK in the Cherry Blossom Colorway]

Cherry Blossom: I bought this yarn to make a sweater for one of my nieces for Christmas! Its 100% merino and quite possibly the softest squishiest thing I’ve ever squeezed.

It was so hard to pick from all of the beautiful colorways and gradients from Apple Tree Knits, and the proprietress, Liz, was delightful and sweet.

IMG_3347[Freia Handpaint Yarns: Ombre Fingering in the Lichen Colorway]

Lichen: I think these will be great colors for fall and already some jewelry in mind that I think will match well. These are both the same, just wound differently. Not exactly sure how I’ll use them yet, but likely in a shawl.

Kismet Fibers[Kismet Fiber Works: Sleek Fingering Weight in the Concord Colorway]

Concord: I’ve been looking for a purple and a red yarn to fulfill my goal to have a triangular shawl in each color in the rainbow. Still looking for red, but when I put this purple up near my face, my friend Emily told me it was perfect! I agree. Plus, its so ridiculously soft!!!!

Stephanie and Angie from Kismet Fiber Works were just the sweetest. We really enjoyed their booth! More photos to come.

IMG_3327[Dragonfly Fibers: Traveller DK Base in the District 12 Colorway]

District 12: This will be used to knit up a rhino!

Tee[Tshirt: from Knerd]

Isn’t this the greatest t-shirt ever?  I love it!! Enough said.

Kitchen Counter Crafter[Single Shot Small Project Bag from Kitchen Counter Crafter– JavaJennie]

I love this bag. I really enjoy the snap closure. It’s perfect for socks. I have already knit on these legwarmers while carrying the bag on my wrist. Perfection. I’ll definitely be ordering more from Jennie (who, in case you don’t know is just awesome!).

One Twisted Tree Bag[One Twisted Tree Bag: Poppy Series by Prairie Girl Danie]

Ok, technically I didn’t buy this at Stitches Midwest, but since I was staying with Danie, I asked her to bring it instead of shipping it. I am still in awe of the beauty that is the craftsmanship of this bag. Danie draws the design and then stitches it free-hand on the bag with her sewing machine. It’s even more stunning in real life. The construction is sturdy. There are pockets inside and this large wedge size can easily hold 2-3 skeins of yarn. It’s just special.

One Twisted Tree

I would tell you to go get one, but she’s completely sold out! Put her in your Etsy favorites and catch one on her next update. You won’t regret it.

So… that’s the scoop. Not terrible right? I’m really happy with each of my purchases and now I just have one problem. I want to cast on all the things!

Stitches Midwest: First Impressions + Marketplace

Plane bound for Stitches MidwestThe Trip

I left for Stitches Midwest on Friday August 8th on an early flight to Chicago. It was a beautiful, sunny morning in the Northeast, but I was a bit delayed due to a broken wheel on the plane. After that 30 minute delay I was on my way! I knit in the airport while listening to podcasts and then used the nearly 3 hour flight to catch up on some sleep.

Remember that tip of being well rested before you jump into the stimulation overload that is a knitting convention? Yeah, I neglected to follow that good advice. Dan and I spent Thursday night watching Season 3 of the Killing and got fully absorbed! Oops. That’s where napping comes into play.  I felt like myself again when I landed in Chicago.

Jen & Michele

 

A very kind listener and new friend, Michele, picked me up at O’Hare and we enjoyed the drive to Schaumburg. We had such a lovely chat the whole way there (and then some)… between some GPS issues, my inability to troubleshoot a Droid navigation system and getting lost in conversation, we overshot the convention center by about 20 minutes and had to backtrack! Ooops. At least we were enjoying each other’s company! Thank you again Michele! I really appreciate it!

The Arrival

Stitches This Way!I purchased my ticket for the Market upon arriving.

Tip: I got a coupon from Webs which saved me a good bit of money. I think they do this for each Stitches Event so check their website if you’re planning to attend. I pulled this up on my phone and showed it to them. No printing necessary.

 

Welcome to StitchesWhile the allure of the Market was strong, it was nearly noon when I arrived, bags still in hand, so I headed through the convention center up to the second floor for the podcaster meet up.

RenaissanceThe Renaissance hotel and convention center is beautiful, isn’t it? I’m not sure when it was built but everything felt so fresh and clean as if it was just built for this event. And they had some fun touches to welcome all the crazy knitters.

Yarn at the Hotel
Fireplace AreaThe podcaster meet up (both Friday & Saturday) was held here, on the second floor of the lobby near that really cool fire pit. Friday’s meet up was a bit quieter than Saturday’s but both were so much fun and a great opportunity to meet new people! I had a blast and it was a great way to ease into the event on Friday. {More on all of the great people I met later this week}

The Market

From there I headed down into the Market. The showroom floor is huge, which makes it really hard to capture on camera. This is a view from the back, right corner of the space (where the concession stand is– I had to grab a snack to act as lunch on Friday so I’d have enough energy for all the shopping).

Stitches Midwest Market FloorI was thoroughly impressed with the quality and variety of the vendors at Stitches Midwest!

I have been to NY Sheep & Wool (Rhinebeck), NH Sheep & Wool and Fiber Revival in MA which are all wonderful events that I would recommend to any of you, and while I enjoyed shopping at those markets, they pale in comparison to the selection at Stitches Midwest.

Kismet Fiber Works[Kismet Fiber Works Booth: Stephanie & Angie]

I’ll tell you more about my purchases and some other fun antics from the event in upcoming posts, but in the meantime I wanted to share some sights from the Market itself. I’m always fascinated to hear about events others have been to, even if realistically I’ve never get to them myself, but then I’m usually left wondering what it looks and feels like there so I hope you enjoy this little virtual tour of the Market.

Gnome Acres[Molly, Susie & Danie shopping in the GnomeAcres Booth]

Lost City Knits[Lost City Knits]

IMG_3228[ Sara demonstrating her Sirka Counter in the Grellow Gray Booth]

IMG_3311[Cary of Jelby, Becca and Sarah from Another Crafty Girl in their shared booth]

Market Tips

  • If possible, allow plenty of time to look around. There is a lot to see and its really easy to be overwhelmed by all of the sights, sounds and temptations. If you’re anything like me, you’ll need a break. It was great to go sit and enjoy lunch or just relax and knit in one of the sitting areas and enjoy some down time.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. I know, I’m a broken record, but this concrete floor is completely unforgiving.
  • Bring a water bottle with you. You can purchase water but the lines are often long and the cost is high. If you bring your own you can refill periodically (there are water fountains, or as we call them, bubblers, at the end of every couple aisles) so you don’t have to carry around a full, heavy bottle all day.
  • Shop with friends! Why, you may ask?
    • You may be drawn to a particular color only to get it home and look in a mirror to realize its a terrible color for your skin tone. Shopping with a friend can help you avoid this costly mistake.
    • Even if you don’t specifically ask them to, your friends will likely keep an eye out for things they know you’re looking for. It’s so easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of beautiful yarn + fiber that you may miss something (gasp!).
    • You’ll have more eyes on the crowd! Looking to spot Franklin Habit, Stephen West, Amy Herzog? Four eyes are better than two. Six or eight are even better than that!
    • It’s just MORE fun to shop with friends… to have someone to show your best finds to! Someone to laugh at how ridiculously excited you are! Someone to tell you you’re getting cranky and need to go get some food. Someone to knit with when you need a break.

I stayed with 7 great girls and met so many more! More tales about that in upcoming posts, but here’s a sneak peek at the damage 8 girls can do in 2 days at Stitches Midwest!

The haul!until next time…