General show impressions
This one is a lot smaller, with a smaller market (and less crowded—at several points during my shopping I could actually get near most of the booths, which was not the case at Stitches, even during the "members-only market preview"), and not as many of the "knitting rock star" instructors or authors like Lily Chin and Cat Bordhi, but plenty of classes, and I was impressed by the expertise of the instructors I took classes from. The class sizes were smaller, which I considered a huge benefit. A lot of people seemed to know each other. Also it was nice that knitting and crochet were both included. (Although the knitters and crocheters seemed kind of wary of each other.)
I enjoyed the following vendors at the market (among many others):
Adela's Yarns. The woman running this booth was fun and kind of a ham (the ham part showed up mostly during the fashion show, in which she was a model). I was initially drawn in because they had some really nice sample sweaters on display. (I guess you can buy them as kits.) They had a lot of beautiful hand-dyed yarns by a company called Schaeffer. They also had yarn with beads already built in. However, it was over $100 a hank.
Americas Yarn. This seems to be a new incarnation of Newton's Yarn Country, or at least they had a lot of Newton's yarns, mostly hanks. They were having a sale "5 skeins for $4 ea. or $6 ea. for cashmere blend" throughout the show. I was tempted by the cashmere but didn't buy any because I didn't know where it came from, and I don't particularly want to buy made in china cashmere.
Argosy Luxury Yarns. They had a lot of hand-dyed cashmere, silk, and blends, and some beautiful sweaters to pet, made out of same.
Fiber Elements. They had Sea Silk (which I bought) and several eco-friendly yarns such as O-Wool.
Habu Textiles. I sense a new obsession coming on. If you have any interest in fiber you must go to their web site (http://www.habutextiles.com/) and/or see them at a show. They make yarn out of the usual materials such as wool, silk (dozens of different varieties), cotton, bamboo, and so on, but also out of paper, stainless steel, pineapple, recycled fishnet. (Not all of these are suitable for knitted garments, needless to say.) They also had bags of unprocessed silk cocoons for sale. I bought two tiny balls of cobweb weight silk mohair. I have no idea what I am going to do with them, but I couldn't pass them up.
Redfish Dyeworks. "Over 300 colors of hand-dyed silk" pretty much says it all. I bought two skeins. Again with the "don't know what I'm going to do with." Also, they had roving that made me really tempted to learn to spin. (But I'm still resisting. One can only have so many hobbies before one explodes.)
I enhanced my stash. This year I seemed particularly drawn to silk blends and lace weight stuff.
Clockwise from top left:
- Zephyr laceweight wool/silk
- DK weight wool/tencel hand-dyed from Sheep City USA
- Habu silk/mohair
- Sea Silk "Great Big Sea"
- a mystery ball of purple wool fingering
- Yarn Place Leggero wool/bamboo fingering
- Redfish Dyworks hand-dyed laceweight silk
Even more gory details and photos of the yarn are on my Flickr and Ravelry accounts.
I took two classes.
Design Your Own Socks (http://jcbriar.home.comcast.net/classes/Socks.html)
JC Briar (http://jcbriar.home.comcast.net/)
This class had less design practice and more sock construction practice than I was expecting, but that was OK because I hadn't actually knit a cuff-down sock before (I'd only done toe-up), and the class had us knitting a sample one with a flap and gusset heel. Then there was lots of discussion of how to do the math to determine sizing, and plenty of hints and tips about designing to fit and how self-striping yarns work and so on. I took the class mainly because I prefer heavy socks to light ones, but most sock designs are for lightweight yarns, so I wanted some ideas about how to convert them. The most appealing idea I came away with was to use two or three sockweight yarns held together to knit a heavyweight sock. (Also a good way to use up stash of extra partial sock yarn balls.)
JC Briar is a good, flexible teacher, and the class only had six people so we all got plenty of individual attention to the issues we wanted to discuss. She brought loads of sample socks, some of which are patterns she wrote for Blue Moon Fiber Arts sock club.
Give It Up for Freeform
I absolutely loved this class. I've seen some really ugly (too busy) freeform garments, but this method can be used to produce subtle results. It teaches a method of freeform knitting (could also use it with crochet) that produces undulating lines of color.
You can use any number of different yarns as long as the colors go together.
The class included a detailed handout for producing a cardigan. In class we started work on the front panel of the cardigan, which served as a sample swatch.
This technique is perfect for me because I simply cannot stop myself from buying one or two balls of yarn wherever I go...and I tend to buy the same colors (blues/purples). And I don't really care for the look of "modular" stash busting garments made out of a bunch of triangles and/or squares. So if I can get this technique down, I'll have options other than producing endless multiple-yarn scarves or triangular shawls out of my stash.
She also explained how to incorporate fabric into the garments, so I could even use the technique to make inroads on my fabric stash.
The instructor brought a huge suitcase full of sample sweaters made from this and her other freeform styles (Personally I didn't like the other styles as well, but they were certainly impressive). She was clear, non-patronizing, no-nonsense, helpful, and confident. Also she gave us fun tidbits of gossip on why there is a "knitting magazine vs. designer" conflict.