As soon as you enter the doors to the convention center, you can feel the excitement of Stitches Midwest. Everyone you see is wearing a wonderful knit shawl, funky knit socks, bright colored sweaters and carrying giant tote bags ready to tackle the marketplace sales with. A few of the editors from AllFreeKnitting and StitchandUnwind spent the weekend experiencing all the sights, lessons, and fun that STITCHES Midwest had to offer. We learned so much while were there, and met so many great people, talked about yarn until we lost our voices and shopped the marketplace until our arms could hold no more!
There is something for everyone at STITCHES Midwest. Whether you are a beginning knitter, an indie yarn dyer or even a crocheter– there is something here you’ll enjoy. The classes are varied and offered throughout the day, there are talks hosted by popular yarn celebrities and noted authors, and even a late night pajama party!
Market Classes and Sessions:
We attended a variety of classes this year to sample what STITCHES Midwest had to offer. There were classes for everyone, even those who do not know how to knit at all. We chose to take a beginning weaving class, an almost-instant scarf class, a class on color theory, one teaching us how to properly block our finished projects, and finally a class on finger crochet.
Beginner’s Weaving was fun class that introduced us to the fundamentals of table-top weaving. We were able to try a variety of different weaving looms while learning to thread the loom, beat our designs and more. We had a great deal of fun with the instructor Deborah Jarchow. She was able to explain all the ins-and-outs of the weaving process in a way that the beginning student would understand and quickly grasp. As a result, we now have table top looms on our Christmas lists.
Finger crochet is an excellent hobby for the kids. It’s easy to learn and even more fun to do. We had a blast learning how to make a basic scarf in almost no time at all. Marty explained finger crochet in a fun and light-spirited way. One of the editors attending had never done it before, and walked out with the most beautiful handmade scarf. When she got home, she immediately taught her youngest sister and they’ve been finger crocheting together in the evenings, making Christmas presents for friends (shhhh!).
Similarly, we had a great time learning to make “Almost-Instant Crochet Scarves” with instructor Kelli Nuss. This fun class was taught in the marketplace and was a fun way to use up leftovers and special yarns you just can’t bear to part with. Kelli made the class fun and instructional, and even people who did not know how to crochet were able to churn out scarves during the one-hour sessions, and they all looked amazing!
Our final marketplace session featured a talk about the basics and importance of blocking. As knitters, we were excited to learn all the methods for properly blocking our finished products, the importance of blocking our gauge swatch (another reason to swatch!) and how different methods give us different results. Not all blocking is the same! As soon as one of the editors got home that night, she pulled out two ill-fitting knit sweaters she had completed last year, and with methods learned in this class reblocked her work. Those sweaters now look amazing and fit properly, the stitch patterns was brought to life and the knitter is happy she didn’t waste countless hours afterall!
Handdyed ombre, yarns named after pop culture references (Dr Who, Big Bang Theory, Mean Girls and Sherlock for example). We also found a great company called Destination Yarn, who dyes yarn inspired by their travel photography. Metallics worked into the yarn as it is spun, such as silver and stainless steel, was seen at quite a few booths as well. We thought that this type of yarn might make wonderful gloves, because the fingers would be technology touch sensitive. And, finally, a popular colorway that we found in many booths was something reminiscent of Funfetti cake mix. The basic base color of the yarn speckled with bright dots of color was so delicious looking we could hardly resist buying a hank or two. Check out our little collage below for our favorite sights around the marketplace.
Fashion Show: At the Stitches Midwest Fashion Show, vendors submit their best designs and models show them off down the catwalk with music and lights. It’s a sight to see, and you’ll see the best what is to come for coming seasons ahead. This year, the trend was clearly on ponchos and drapes and lightweight sweaters with exotic fibers. There were also a few beautiful knit skirts for those brave enough to wear them. Colorwise, the trend on the runway was bold colors paired with neutral grey and lots of muted purple. Everything featured fun textures and plenty of exotic fibers for the adventurous knitter to enjoy.