Continuing in the Colorless vein of my last post, I want to tell you about my trip to the Marketplace at Stitches East last Saturday.
Stitches East, if you aren’t familiar with it, is one of several regional knitters gatherings. You might compare it to NEWS in the weaving world, but with some critical differences.
It’s run by some knitting magazine, rather than by a knitter’s organization, and that created a cold atmosphere in my opinion. Every little thing has a fee. I heard that the booth fees for vendors are outrageous. Even the demos were billed as Marketplace classes, with an attendant fee to be paid. There was one very generous weaver who gave free demos of the Ashford Knitter’s loom and invited people to give it a try. That was the spirit.
I don’t even have pictures to share with you. Yep. That was forbidden. In all the years of attending fiber festivals like Rhinebeck, picture taking is at the discretion of the booth holder. You ask if you can take a picture for your blog, and they say yes or no. End of story. I was too cold and stiff to take pictures at Rhinebeck, and was so looking forward to making up for it in the relative comfort of this indoor venue.
So, imagine if you will a convention center with nine rows of booths. There are black curtains dividing the booths, so the yarn displays are set in sharp contrast to the backdrops. Most booths are clever displays of ordinary commercial yarn, but here and there, there is some of the most beautiful artisan yarn that you ever saw. Or handmade buttons and shawl pins.
Gita Maria had the most beautiful scarves to knit, yarn sold with a coordinating enamel on silver shawl pin. They are a narrow crescent knitted from ribbon yarn, with long ribbon and glitz fringes. You’ll have to wait until I knit mine to see how pretty they are, because their web site only shows the larger shawls.
Kipuka Trading had sari silk ribbon, gorgeous bright strips sewn together to make yarn. I may cut it into narrower strips to weave, unless I use it as an accent in an otherwise light weight cloth. At the full width, beat firmly it would create an interesting fabric for placemats or tote bags.
One booth was called the Incredible Stash Wall. The big corporate sponsors of the event, yarn manufacturers, each showcased five of their yarns. There were piles of short snippets below, to take home, and a large sheet of paper printed with descriptions, to stick the samples onto. My snippets will go into my treasure basket, to be incorporated into some future weaving. Or not.
As pretty and glittery as it was, I felt lost without being able to use my camera. I have scribbled notes on the back of receipts, and some of the vendors didn’t have their names on the receipts, much to my chagrin when I got home and tried to put things together.
I also felt out of place in the crowd. A lot of the knitters have very different interests than mine. Urban colors. Methodical work, not very spirited though well executed. Smooth, tame textures. Frump city. It was an older crowd, even the young people, and that’s a funny thing for this fifty-something to be saying.
People just didn’t interact much with strangers like they do at Rhinebeck. It was just plain cold.
Was there anything there for weavers? Yes, if you like to incorporate knitting yarn into your work.
Will I go again next year? Probably not. I’d rather freeze my fingers at Rhinebeck, than freeze my spirit in this colorless crowd.