Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Get Your Needles (And Wallets!) Ready ...

Can you hear the steady click, click, click of knitting needles metronoming in anticipation?
Stitches East, inspiring the annual pilgrimage of yarn addicts, avid knitters, crocheters and fiber enthusiasts to Hartford, is set to begin, running Oct. 28-31 at the Connecticut Convention Center.

If you don’t know how to knit or are a little rusty on the old needles, you too can participate because this year they‘re offering free learn-to-knit workshops Friday at 2 p.m., Saturday, 12:30 and 2 p.m. and Sunday at 11:30 a.m. Learn to cast on, knit, purl, bind off, and go home with a pair of needles and yarn.
Dozens of classes are being offered ($30 per hour, $75 for three hours, $150 for six), such as Socks Without Sticks (knitting socks with two circular needles — easier than it sounds!), Entrelac Intro (the characteristic basket weave that surprisingly requires only basic skills) and Double Knit in Color (reversible knit technique — two sweaters for the price of one!).
And of course the true draw of the weekend — the marketplace, where you can peruse hundreds of yarns, notions, buttons and needles in a kaleidoscopic scene not unlike an Indian street bazaar (sorry, there’s no haggling allowed!).
The yarn vendors are more than happy to demonstrate the fine points of their products and you’ll be introduced to the cutting-edge tools of the trade, like the increasing popularity and ease of square knitting needles and the latest cult fibers such as shrimp and crab shells, milk proteins and seaweed. All of which are friendly to those knitters (like me) who are allergic to most wools.
Last year, there were even a couple of booths with “last season’s” floor model/demo baskets, where you can pick up a hand-knit vest, sweater or scarf at a deep discount.  
The market (complete vendor list at is open Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $8 (there is a $2 coupon online).
There you’ll find the familiar names of Connecticut fiber sellers, like Marji's Yarncrafts of Granby; barn-based Country Yarns in Wallingford; New England Yarn & Spindle of Bristol; Creative Fibers in Windsor; the terrific Sit 'N Knit of Bloomfield; Hither & Yarn based out of Torrington; and Meriden’s fabulous Yarn Garden.
Friday night is the key note event, the fashion show hosted by Knitter's Magazine editor Rick Mondragon and professional models donning handmade knitted items on the catwalk (6:30-8 p.m., $50; $90 with dinner), where you’ll see sweaters like these two featured at last year’s Stitches West.

If you go: Oct. 28-31, Stitches East 2010, Connecticut Convention Center, 100 Columbus Boulevard, Hartford.

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