This is shaping up to be my year for fiber events across the US. I attended Vogue Knitting Live (VKL) in New York in January, then VKL in Chicago in March. I’m registered for upcoming VKL events in San Francisco and Minneapolis.
This past weekend, though, was one of my favorite fiber shows, Stitches Midwest. Several details make this a superb show- one that I will return to every year.
What is Stitches Midwest?
Stitches is not connected to Vogue Knitting Live, but is a similar type event. There are several Stitches events across the US each year, including a couple of Camp options. Camps are more intimate, and at the same time the education is more intense. I haven’t been to camp yet, but hope to try it sometime.
The Stitches events I have attended include classes, a large marketplace, and a fun pajama party. This year there was an extra event – a lunch-time presentation – that I really enjoyed.
Stitches is different from VKL in that it caters to knitters, crocheters, spinners, weavers, and quilters. There was even a selection of quilts on display at the show.
Location and Hotel
Stitches Midwest has been held in the Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center in Schaumburg, Illinois, for the last couple of years – I hope they continue to use this venue. The hotel is elegant, yet not outrageously expensive. The event rate was $159 per night for two doubles. My daughter and I shared a room, so we split the cost.
One evening, we noticed the Woodfield Trolley parked by the hotel. The free trolley runs Friday through Sunday, making a visit to Woodfield Mall very convenient. If you drive to the hotel, you could drive to the mall, but parking at the mall might be difficult. Parking at the hotel is free.
The hotel has a nice restaurant and there are concessions in the vendor area, but for dinner, we chose to walk to a nearby restaurant. Although there are several choices within a ten minute walk, Moretti’s Ristorante and Pizzeria seemed perfect. My daughter and I had delicious pasta dishes, but the pizza looked good, too.
We were able to visit all of our favorite vendors and meet some new ones. Since the event is not held in Chicago’s downtown area, the cost is lower for the vendors and they are more eager to participate.
I had a specific (short) list of items I was looking for and I found everything. I wanted a skein of a specific gray color to go with some yarn I had previously purchased from Destination Yarn. The owner, Jeanne, had brought some tonal yarns to the show, so I was able to find a tonal gray in the same type of yarn as my earlier purchase. It was the perfect color for my project.
I was excited to see that Erin Lane Bags is now experimenting with using clear panels in their bags -great for seeing which project is inside. A couple of my friends were working at the Stunning String booth, so we stopped by to see them. There, I found a couple skeins of yarn for another specific project.
There were also some new vendors. We met Canadian dyer, Rhichard Devrieze and were able to talk with him about our shared Dutch heritage. I love his fun-colored yarns.
We met Karla from Cherrywood Hand Dyed Fabrics. She dyes and sells beautiful fabric, but I was most impressed by her unique approach to marketing (more on that later).
I recently finished a project designed by Cynthia Cushing of Lakeside Yarn in Minnesota. I wore the shawl/cowl at Stitches and received many compliments. Lakeside (Cynthia) was a vendor this year and I was excited to show her my project.
There were over 100 classes held at Stitches this year. Classes were held Thursday through Sunday, and even though I love taking classes at fiber events, this time I choose only one. I had just returned from an international trip, so I didn’t want to overdo it.
Classes are offered by several well-known designers in various fiber related fields. I took a class about knitting sweaters, something I hope to add to my knitting repertoire.
One of the events my daughter and I looked forward to this year was the Pajama Party. We went last year and had a blast. We missed having our friends with us this year, but still had fun. Hosts Lindsay and Marlybird know how to entertain. There were games, food, and door prizes. I can’t say more – it’s a secret – but come check it out for yourself.
New this year was a lunch-time lecture by Karla from Cherrywood Fabrics. I was intrigued because the subject was Vincent Van Gogh – one of my favorite artists.
In order to market her beautiful fabrics, Karla created a contest. The first year, the theme was the Broadway show, Wicked. It was a hit, so she followed up with a Lion King contest. The next year she wanted to go a different direction so she chose “Van Gogh.” Her “Prince” themed contest just closed, while a new one will be introduced in November.
The main part of the presentation was about the Van Gogh contest. Karla had slides showing several of the entries. She told us how the number of contest entries has grown every year. With Van Gogh she had so many entries that she was able to put together two collections. The quilts travel to different quilt shows or other venues for a year.
One of the Van Gogh collections will be displayed in France. Karla has contracted with a tour company to trace Van Gogh’s life in France. Unfortunately the tour is full – I missed it. I haven’t quilted in a few years but I’m interested in starting again by entering the next contest.
I always find a show like Stitches to be inspiring. It’s so much fun to walk through the hotel lobby to see groups of knitters working on their projects. Many attendees wear their creations around the show.
Have you been to Stitches? What is your favorite part about the event? Share your experiences below.