Last weekend I had the opportunity to go to the STITCHES Midwest show and boy did I have a ball! As a crocheter myself, I couldn’t wait to get in. As the doors opened, everyone started yelling with excitement and stampeding to their favorite yarn companies. It was amazing to see so many knitters and crocheters get so excited about something they’re so passionate about. If you haven’t heard of these awesome shows, let me tell you a little bit about them.
The STITCHES show is hosted in four locations each year with approximately 28,000 passionate consumers attending: California (STITCHES West), Illinois (STITCHES Midwest), Connecticut (STITCHES East), and Georgia (STITCHES South). So if you’re in any of these areas, or planning a getaway with your friends or family, I suggest you make plans to go and check it out. Perhaps a slogan should be “Learn. Shop. Share.” This little slogan really is the essence of the show. Active knitters and crocheters go to learn about new yarns and new trends, share their designs and stories with others, and shop for the best yarn for three days. It’s really neat to see people walk around, while touching and feeling each other’s finished products, while they’re wearing it! They don’t even know each other, but in this tight community, it’s perfectly acceptable and is probably the nicest compliment to receive. “It’s like a childlike wonder; these ladies are so excited to see something they’re so passionate about”, Ben Levisay said, the owner of XRX and show sponsor.
To give you some background, XRX, the STITCHES show sponsor, is a 28-year-old family-owned company run by second generation Ben Levisay. Today the company has about 20 employees, which makes the company a close “knit” company (pun intended, I had to). Ben grew up in the family-run yarn store making fiber forever a part of his life, his passion. It was a pleasure meeting Ben and his colleague/partner in crime, Lisa Mannes. As we got to talking, it was fun to see what a great team they are, with a great community. Just having met Ben, he was easily likeable and someone I felt you can really trust. The company follows their intuition when making decisions and their goal for their employees and even the shows is to teach and to motivate. Never afraid to try new things, they are always learning.
The show itself is like a roller coaster of emotions. You get so excited to be there and see all the amazing yarns and fibers, to meet the celebrities of the yarn world and to see all the fabulous trends – but you get so sad when you have to leave the party. It’s a great place to see products you wouldn’t normally find anywhere else and an even better place to meet designers! Drew Emborsky aka The Crochet Dude, Kristin Omdahl, Julie Weisenberger and a plethora of other knit and crochet designers are at your fingertips waiting to meet with you! I also took a class taught by Drew Emborsky and it was really neat to get to know him on a personal level as well as learn from a celeb! I was like a little kid in a candy store. There are tons of other classes to choose from if you’re a beginner knitter or crocheter, or if you’ve obtained the skill years ago. Marly Bird, Lily Chin and Melissa Leapman are just a few of the teachers who hosted classes at the show. I wish I could have taken every single one of the classes. Trust me, there’s a class for everyone!
And as for the shopping, aka “market”? It was really funny because as I walked the show floor I noticed all the different vendors and how it seemed as if I was at a “zoo”. There was the Buffalo Wool Company, The Hen House, Black Sheep and Ewe, Bijou Basin Ranch (Yak Yarn), Windy Valley Muskox, I laughed to myself and thought these really are clever names for this industry. When fiber-lovers are searching for new products they are searching for the best fibers that their yarn stores don’t carry. They can search all over the area and not find what they are looking for (or they may have passed it right up in their local store), but once at STITCHES as the gates open, the screams of joy overwhelm the room as overzealous ladies search for their favorites. The trends that I noticed while walking the floor are fitted, less boxy fashions and larger sizes that can really fit all body types. I saw affordable prices, beautiful color ways and gorgeous hand dyed fibers from Fiesta Yarns, Claudia Hand Painted Yarns, Trendsetter Yarns and so many others. I also saw a lot of super fine yarns that would look amazing in knit patterns or crochet patterns. And don’t get me started on how awesome the fashion show was! Just to see all the beautiful designs come to life and shown in the spotlight just got me all kinds of giddy!
Want a great experience? Come check out a show for yourself. Make it a mini-getaway, complete with a nice hotel, lounge areas to knit and crochet, a fashion show, food and plenty of shopping. Check out the full list of upcoming shows, XRX Books, Knitter’s Magazine and more!
Have you ever been to a STITCHES show or plan on going to one now?