Thursday, October 29, 2009

Eye Candy: Fiber Vendors Show Off Confections

Indie film buffs have Sundance, graphic mag fans have ComicCon and fiber aficionados have Stitches — where all things knitted, woven, spun, crocheted or felted converge to entice crafters of all stripes.
Fine yarns by the truckload co-opted the Hartford Connecticut Convention Center last weekend for Stitches East 2009, a massive, vibrant showcase of fiber and accessories vendors, demonstrations, book signings and classes.

For those (like me) who list knitting among their Top Five Reasons for Living, Stitches events make you feel like a 6-year-old dropped smack in the middle of the world’s largest candy shop.
At the Kollage Yarns booth, Mark Moraca held out two yarns made from corn fiber. “Originally, we did a lot of market bags with this,” Moraca said, fingering Corntastic, because of the yarn’s elasticity.
It would be perfect for a sweater or tunic because when stretched, the yarn snaps neatly back into shape.

Moraca held up a harvest-inspired shawl, bands of coral, jasper, peridot, turquoise and citrine, alternating to form a wide-based triangle with swingy tassels.
At Universal Yarns, Michael del Vecchio slipped his hand inside a doggy sweater in pink ribbing edged in pink, white and lavender Rozetti Yarns “cocoons.”
“It’s been around for about nine months, but is getting popular now,” he explained, as his fingers made yapping motions. He then continued crocheting with the novelty yarn — skipping three cocoons, then chaining two. The resulting scarf was tendrils of tiny crescent-shaped lamb’s-wool clouds.
At Joe’s Fiber Tools booth, wood artisan Joe Hanes of Indiana pointed out his square knitting needles crafted from 100-percent reclaimed wood. Hanes, a self-professed Dumpster diver, salvages exotic wood scraps discarded by a custom woodworking business in his hometown.
He held up a pair of 14-inch Exotic Tinys, the square shaft carved from Osage orange wood, topped with bloodwood caps.
“If I didn’t take it, they would burn it,” Hanes says, referring to the shop’s precious discards, like tigerwood, ipe, cherry and mahogany. “I take the trash and embrace it.”
He finishes the needles with a rubbing of essential oils in lemon, orange or grapefruit, which Hanes says naturally cleans the wood.
His wife Kim calls her husband’s needles, which are not traditionally sized, but measured in widths — one-eighth, one-quarter, one-half inch — “knitting outside the gauge.”
The next Stitches event in Hartford is Oct. 28-31, 2010.
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