My Stitches West 2015 Highlights

As mentioned previously, I went to Stitches West this past weekend. All weekend long, my friends and I were commenting how fun and relaxing it is to spend time with “our people”, and that is the best description I can think of for how much fun I had over the weekend. It is the first time I’ve ever had the chance to attend a Stitches event, and I thought I’d share my highlights from it, in case any of you wonder whether or not it’s worth the money.

  • First, yes, it’s worth the money because it only costs $2o (or less, if you find a coupon) to get into the marketplace for the whole weekend! There are lots of familiar yarn companies, but also lots of indie people to explore. I’ve heard complaints that there are too many big names, but my thought on that is that if you have a particular company you really love, it’s a treat to be able to explore their full line of yarns and colors. Typically, yarn stores pick and choose which bases of yarn to carry, and then colors from within those. If you really want to see the full range, this is the place to do it!
  • Yoth (Yarn On the House) seemed to be the most popular booth in the entire place. Every time we passed by, they were selling out entire shelves of yarn, and the next morning, a new stock magically appeared. I had not heard of this company prior to the weekend, so it was a great discovery!
  • Being the color fanatic that I am, I was thrilled to see lots of gradient kits on sale in various booths. I don’t know if this is necessarily a trend, but I’m glad to see they’re still popular. Playing around with mixtures of colors is half the fun for me, and to walk past booths with lots of color-coordinated kits hanging on a wall is a visual rush. Neighborhood Fiber Company and Abstract Fiber were my favorite stops for these kits because of their extra-rich, saturated colors.
  • As far as designers go, is there any better a pair than Steven Be and Stephen West? “Dynamic Duo” is such a well-suited title for them. In a future post, I will share the photo I took with them, but suffice it to say, they make an entrance and there’s no mistaken identities with them! However, aside from their inclination to dress to be noticed, they have equally fun personalities and are the most pleasant people I’ve ever had the pleasure of asking for autographs. I was very honored they complimented one of my designs, and I will keep the photo forever.
  • Apple Tree Knits wins my award for prettiest yarn cakes. I had to revisit their booth a number of times before I could pick which cake of yarn I wanted because the truth is, I wanted them all! It’s on my list to learn how to dye and wind yarn into a cake to look like these!

My Favorite Knitwear Artists

Nothing gives me more excitement than finding a new designer to follow. Or learning about a well-established designer that I hadn’t heard of before! The best designers are the ones who constantly pursue creativity, and their dedication shows. They’re the ones you watch with anticipation to see what they will release next. Here is my personal list of favorites, but I would LOVE it if you share yours with me! I’m always on the lookout for someone else to follow. Enjoy!

IrinaShabayeva
Irina Shabayeva

Irina Shabayeva is a fashion designer whom most people probably know from Project Runway. She is a great fashion designer, but I love it when the fashion world takes a few minutes to appreciate the knitwear world. Knitters may remember her patterns being published in Vogue Knitting – her fabulous welted coat has been on my list to make for a very long time! The photo above is one of my first-ever knitting projects, made as a gift for a dear friend.

I have not yet knitted up a Galina Carroll design, but I think she is also an incredible artist with a good eye for fashion. When her autobiographical book was featured in Vogue Knitting, I ordered it and devoured it from cover to cover. She even wrote a very nice personal note to me when she shipped it.

Stephanie Steinhaus
Stephanie Steinhaus

Yes, this is my boss. However, she is also a designer who has an eye for things that will pop into your wardrobe and go with everything. I’ve knit alot of of her designs, and they always end up being go-to pieces that I end up throwing on at the last minute when I don’t know what else to wear. Plus, I have learned a great deal about writing patterns from her personally, but also just from working through her pattern instructions. I also appreciate her ability to create something practical with yarns that I might not even consider buying otherwise, such as this poncho I’m wearing above.

Lori Versaci
Lori Versaci

She caught my eye when this sweater pattern was published in Knitty. At the time this was published, I was just learning to knit, and this pattern seemed totally out of my league. It sat in my queue for a LONG time, but her design stayed in my head, and after I started feeling more confident, I knitted it. It is a complicated pattern, and I was very proud of myself when I finished it!

No list from a color fanatic like me would be complete without Kaffe Fassett! I did not realize until I started reading his biography that he is a local artist! He now lives in England, and it seems everyone thinks of him as English, but he was born and raised in California. He is a very long-established artist, but his knitwear in older books is still very striking and inspirational color-wise, even though many of the sweater silhouettes are now out of fashion. He is truly a master of color, as well as all different media. If there is one person in the universe who could make me want to abandon knitting and take up quilting, it would be him!

I’m very grateful to the friend who introduced me to Kieran Foley. I just finished knitting one of his designs for a friend’s birthday. She is celebrating a milestone birthday, so I wanted to do something extra special for her, and his Camino Bubbles fit the bill. It takes a special skill as a designer to design a pattern that looks way more sophisticated and complicated than it actually is to knit.

Stephen West
Stephen West

What can I say about Stephen West except that I love him! His patterns are some of the best written out there – very clear and easy to follow. I met him and had him sign books for me at an event our shop held a few years ago. He was extremely polite and so nice. And I am always amazed when he releases new patterns how creative he gets with just simple Stockinette and garter stitch. He is a designer who truly understands how to take the basic elements of design and turn them into something innovative! Even though I have a good eye for color and usually pick my own, I think it’s very generous of him to take the time to put together color palettes for other knitters when he releases designs. But then again, if you have the chance to meet him, I think you’ll agree it’s not surprising!

Crocheters, lest you think I’ve ignored you, no worries! I am saving my list of favorite crochet designers for a separate post!

My Summer of FO’s

For you non-crafters, FO stands for Finished Object. Today is the first day of school, and in recognition of the end of summer, I would like to share all the projects I finished over the course of summer vacation. This finishing of projects I’d lost interest in required way more self-discipline than I am usually capable of, so I think it deserves recognition. And celebration, because I can finally see my coffee table again. 🙂

Since every crocheter and knitter I know has this problem from time to time, let me encourage you to finish up some of those things laying around! I recommend picking a set amount of time (for me it was the summer), and for that amount of time, work on only one project at a time. Focus on the one closest to completion, then move on to the next. Cut yourself off from buying yarn. Don’t start anything new. This last piece of advice was really hard for me because summer is usually a time I like to start new projects. However, it was also a good length of time to finish things because it’s long enough to see progress, but short enough I knew I could tough it out for the three months! If you set yourself up to a similar challenge, try to strike that happy balance between allowing yourself enough time to see a stack of projects through, but not such a long time you just get sick of it and give up. And when you do meet your goals, reward yourself! I hope you enjoy browsing mine!

As simple as this pattern was to knit and design, the truth is it sat around for a few years because I was intimidated by the fringe.
As simple as this pattern was to knit and design, the truth is it sat around for a few years because I was intimidated by the fringe.

Don’t let yourself be intimidated by something simple. 🙂

My go-to outfit for work, the airport, chilly late summer nights...
My go-to outfit for work, the airport, chilly late summer nights…

This pattern is one I plan to make many times over! This one did not actually sit around for a long time, but I included it because it was something I finished early in the summer.

Bobble hats from a Noro magazine - shown with the bobbles and inside out because I liked the look of both sides!
Bobble hats from a Noro magazine – shown with the bobbles and inside out because I liked the look of both sides!

Gifts for my nieces. I don’t have a good explanation for why I started these and then took 2 years to finish them. But the fact that I went to see my family and had a deadline helped me get motivated to finish. 🙂

Inspired by an orchid, this shawl unfurls color as you knit it. This baby goat mohair is as close to the softness of flower petals as I could get!
Inspired by an orchid, this shawl unfurls color as you knit it. This baby goat mohair is as close to the softness of flower petals as I could get!

The only bit of design work I’ve done this summer. I started it back in March or April, and decided to push to get it done so I could give my brain a rest. 🙂

Stephen West's safety cowl, which was designed by the master himself for our shop as an exclusive offering in the Yarn Crawl a few years ago.
Stephen West’s safety cowl, designed by the master himself for our shop as an exclusive offering in the Yarn Crawl a few years ago.

The only reason I can think of that I let this one sit around was that other items took more priority until I decided to give this as a gift to my sister. Note to self: having a firm idea of what you want to do with an item when it’s done helps you get it done! 🙂

First time ever doing Tunisian crochet.
First time ever doing Tunisian crochet.

I knew from the start that I wanted to give these to my sister. She likes to decorate her kitchen seasonally, and I thought she’d enjoy these Easter egg colors during spring. I wanted to try Tunisian crochet, and decided this would be a good project because they were just flat rectangles. The problem is, to have a set, you must do FOUR.

A shawl from the Ysolda Follow Your Arrow mystery KAL.
A shawl from the Ysolda Follow Your Arrow mystery KAL.

IMAG2554

This was not really languishing that long, but um, I didn’t get it done by the end of the mystery KAL. I was in the middle of alot of design work at the time and so it went on the back burner. But it’s a whole lot of camel, silk, and merino to wrap myself up in when the weather gets cold. Which, to be honest, was THE best motivator to get it done before I started anything else!