For my birthday this year, my very generous mother paid for the full-works registration at Stitches South, the first fiber convention that XRX (the publishers of Knitter’s Magazine) has put on in the southeast U.S. It’s also the first time I’ve been to a big fiber event like this.
Mom and I had a fabulous time, as much because we could spend it together. Here’s what I learned:
- You can find all kinds of gorgeous yarns at fiber festivals that you cannot feel up anywhere else. If you are tempted to order Sanguine Gryphon or Creatively Dyed yarns because of what you have seen online, I can guarantee you that you won’t go wrong. Not only are their products unfailingly gorgeous, but the owners/dyers are lovely people as well.
- Beth Brown-Reinsel and Karen Alfke are the most charming, knowledgeable, patient knitting instructors imaginable. This was an especially delightful discovery for me, because in some ways they represent such different parts of the knitting community. Beth has done decades of research on traditional knitting, and in an utterly charming and unassuming way will teach you the precise, authentic techniques. Karen is a raucous, hilarious young woman (well, she’s the same age as me, so that’s young… shut up) who believes that knitters should bend the rules in order to make garments that most suit them. They are both treasures.
- Knitters really are a great culture. Several staff members at the convention hotel told us that the Stitches attendees were the nicest group they had ever hosted. “You knitters treat us like people,” said one waitress. Isn’t that pathetic that that’s what passes for good these days?
- Our economy really is in the crapper and it is affecting the craft industry, even if not as desperately as — say — the American automobile industry. When we asked Steve Elkins, one of the owners of the yarn megastore WEBS, how things were going at the market, he looked like he was about to tear up.
- Atlanta has the most physically beautiful yarn store that I have ever seen. Knitch is tucked down a little alleyway in a bohemian neighborhood. It’s interior is all exposed brick and simple shelving. There’s an enormous table in the center of the store where you can sit and peruse books and patterns. They stock not only beautiful yarns in virtually every color that exists (Rowan, Noro, Debbie Bliss, Socks that Rock, etc.) but also fabric, buttons, roving, needle felting kits, and other fiber-related goodies. The whole place is thoughtfully and beautifully laid out. They even gave us cupcakes, which admittedly does endear a store to one’s heart.
- If you thought that knitting and crochet were mostly white chick things, then you should go to Stitches South and re-educate yourself!