There are several types of knitting events that happen throughout the states and around the world. Trips and camps that last a week or more may be no more attractive than local one day events. Many conferences last a weekend, bringing together thousands of knitters, crocheters, spinners, weavers, and dyers.
I’ve registered for a couple upcoming conferences – these aren’t the first ones I’ve attended. The registration and preparation is similar for all of the conferences. Here is what you need to know:
Knitting Conferences, Starting Small
If you haven’t attended a knitting conference or fiber event of any type, you may want to start small. Look for local, one day events. Ask the staff at your local yarn shop for recommendations. I’ve attended the local Fiber in the Boro in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, with my daughter a couple of times.
If you want to go a little bigger, but still aren’t ready for a full weekend away, you might be able to spend a day visiting the marketplace at a larger conference. Stitches Midwest is a conference in Chicago – about an hour and a half from where I live. I’ve always enjoyed the Stitches Marketplace. A one-day ticket for the market only is currently $12 at the door, although a discount is available if you purchase your ticket online before you arrive.
There are several Stitches events across the country. Check the website to see if there is one near where you live. Stitches events draw thousands of knitters to attend classes, view fashion shows, and visit the market. Sponsored by publisher, The Knitting Universe, they boast “25 years of excellence in consumer fiber events.”
Seven years ago, another publisher, Vogue Knitting, started Vogue Knitting LIVE, another conference which has grown to include several locations in its schedule. Similar to Stitches, this event also draws thousands to its weekend events. Vogue Knitting Magazine has been published for over 85 years – 35 in its current standard.
If you are a spinner, you might be more interested in a sheep and wool festival – a few popular ones are Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, New York State Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, New York, and Black Sheep Gathering in Albany, Oregon.
On their website, Knitter’s Review has an extensive listing of knitting and fiber events throughout the world. The list includes trips, cruises, and many large and small events.
Should I Take a Class?
After visiting the marketplace of an event, you may be tempted to take a class – I was. I took my first class at Stitches Midwest in August of 2017. The class was taught by Steven Berg, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Classes cost extra, and sometimes they can be expensive. I wondered if the class would be worth the cost. In my case it was, and I decided to try to take a class if I attend another conference.
The opportunity came sooner than I expected. I saw an advertisement for the next Vogue Knitting LIVE (VKL) conference, and I immediately knew I wanted to attend. I asked around to see if someone wanted to attend with me, and eventually registered with two of my daughters. A couple friends will also be there. We all looked at the list of classes available and chose ones that best suited our needs and skills. Between us, there was almost no overlap, so we will be able to share what we learned with each other and learn even more.
Ready, Set, Register
When I first thought about attending VKL, I looked at the registration options. There were only two options – each a different expensive package that included fashion shows and meals, in addition to classes and entrance to the marketplace. I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend that much, but I knew I wanted to participate.
After thinking about it for a week or so, I asked members of my knitting group if anyone was interested. One person responded right away, so I pulled up the website on my tablet. I was surprised to see that all the individual classes and some smaller packages were available at that time.
I learned that VKL opens the expensive packages first – knitters who want the best choice of classes pay more to register first and get a deluxe package. When all or most of these packages are sold, general registration is opened. I was more comfortable with the lower price, as were the others who decided to attend with me.
Unfortunately, since we did not register in the first wave, some of our choices for classes were sold out. We were all able to find other classes, though, and are looking forward to learning from the well-known knitting teachers.
Small knitting and fiber events might be held in a school, at fairgrounds, or in a conference center. If you plan to attend for more than one day and are looking for lodging, the event organizers usually include a list of possibilities. If not, you may have to search hotel, or other lodging and review sites to find a place to stay.
Large knitting conferences are held in hotel conference centers. As part of your registration, hotel rooms will be offered. Usually, a block of rooms has been reserved, but when those rooms have been claimed, you may have to look elsewhere. I’ve tried to find rooms in the chosen hotel on my own, but haven’t had much luck. Sometimes you may be able to book one night, but not more than that. Booking on your own might also be more expensive than the block rate.
When my daughter and I attended Stitches, we had a car and were able to stay at a nearby hotel. At VKL, we won’t have a car, so we’ve booked a room at the conference hotel. It is advantageous to stay at the conference center hotel if you plan to attend any evening events. If you are an avid shopper, being able to bring your purchases to your room is an added convenience.
What to Bring
Wear comfortable clothes and good walking shoes. The days can be long and even if you spend most of the day in classes, you will do a lot of walking and standing. A water bottle, lip gloss, and headache medicine will also help. You might want to bring granola bars or other snacks in case your mealtimes are off schedule.
Bring a list. Look through your stash at home. Do you need a particular yarn to complete a project? Is there a pattern you’ve been eyeing that you could purchase yarn for? If you find your stash is loaded with more worsted weight yarn than you can use in several years, make a point to avoid it at the show. Are there any tools you could use? Make your list at home, so you can shop wisely at the show.
Bring your current project – there will be some down time and everyone will be knitting (or it will seem that way). Bring shawls, scarves or sweaters to wear – almost everyone will be doing this, too. If you’ve knit any patterns designed by the teacher whose class you are taking, bring those – you’ll get an “A” in the class.
Prepare for Classes
Most classes will have a required list of materials – be sure to check. Often, a “kit” is recommended – a small scissors, yarn needles, stitch markers, and a couple sizes of knitting needles. A pen or pencil and paper, or a tablet will be handy for taking notes. Don’t rely on your memory – after the second class, everything will run together.
Some classes ask you to knit a swatch, or something similar, in preparation for the class. Do the homework ahead of time. If you aren’t prepared, you will not be able to join in the actual classwork and make the most of your time with the teacher. None of the classes I am taking asked for swatches, but did ask for particular types of yarn. I’ll need to have the yarn wound and ready to go. My daughters have been busy knitting swatches for their classes.
Plan to learn a lot – I’m sure my head will be swimming by the time the conference is finished. I’m excited, though, to increase my knowledge and skills.
More importantly, though, have fun! Meet other knitters, admire the teachers, and enjoy the displays of yarn and beautifully finished projects. Maybe I’ll see you there!