Monday, November 5, 2018

Break Out the Pom Poms! Eye Candy from a (Mostly) Knitting Show

Stressed out by the upcoming election? Here's some eye candy from a fabulous yarn show, to distract you while waiting in line to vote, and/or awaiting election results. What could be more enticing than this?
From The Yarn Guys booth
Or these: 
Or this: (It's a wall of beads from Bead Biz, of Guilford, CT): 
The nice thing about beads sold at yarn shows, I discovered, is that the holes are relatively large - one could conceivably attach them to quilts by machine. 
Or this joyously geeky tableau at the Dizzy Blonde Studios booth (creative hair color was abundant):
Or Art, a lovely guy from Needlepoints West (an LA shop), who supervised a children's swimming pool full of luscious bargains: 
I resisted the urge to dive in and roll around: 
And that's just the beginning of the sensory overload that was Stitches SoCal, one of many Stitches shows that, I learned, that take place across the country. This one was in Pasadena, CA last weekend. (Other show sites include Northern California, Georgia, Illinois, Utah - complete list here.) 

I can barely knit; I love crochet, but my shoulder doesn't, so I don't do much of either. I might never have heard of Stitches if my friend Jeri Riggs (Ravelry name: Knitbird), who lives in Massachusetts, hadn't told me she was heading my way and among other things, planned to attend this show. Jeri is a master quilter, knitter and, for as long as I've known her, a mermaid of azure beauty: 
She knitted that incredible peacock shawl with gradated yarn. The vest? She knit it in white yarn, and then dyed it green and blue. Between the shawl and the vest, Jeri literally stopped traffic at the show as people admired them and asked her questions.

For your relaxation purposes, here are some more sights that astonished and/or taught me something related to quilting. This show was mostly knitting and crochet, with just a handful of quilt-related vendors, guilds, and mini-shows (including the Cherrywood Quilt Challenge honoring the singer Prince, as you'll see toward the end).

Lesson 1. I was in Color Heaven. I overheard a man saying, "So is this knitter's heaven?"  I had no idea that there are so many amazing artists out there whose art form is painting and dyeing stunning variegated yarns. Below, the skein on the left was inspired by Japanese wisteria; and the one in the middle was inspired by Harry Potter (The company with the inspiration is Forbidden Fibers).  Also note the project bag on the right made with Harry Potter fabric (more on bags later.)
This hefty hank, from Black Cat Fibers in Milwaukee, is about 3-feet high: 
Here's its massive, autumnal neighbor: 
Noti Yarns, LLC, from Texas (, also sells hand-painted yarns. Look the color combinations in their display shawls. (Their website is as delicious as their booth.) 
Lesson 2. Green is In. Not just the shawl on the upper right - there was a lot a green - would you call it chartreuse? - that, by itself, is remniscent of my middle school corridors. But combined with other colors...and sometimes, intricate becomes...sublime. Here's another green-and-purple confection: 
Next, from Stunning String Studio, this Interpolate kit shawl is to die (dye?) for:  
Lesson 3. The Inventiveness of Knitters is Boundless. Cindy of Alamitos Bay Yarn Company showed me this loop scarf that switches from woven to crochet, and back again. Cindy told us that in when she wears it in airports, fiber arts people stare at it for long periods before throwing up their hands and approaching her to ask how the heck she did it. (She did it by picking up yarns from a loom and knit them! That's all I understood.)
Speaking of green, Cindy's sweater/shrug was lovely too. 
Lesson 4.  Colorways Make All the Difference. There are fads in the knitting world, Jeri explained to me, just like the quilt world. Jeri told me about this popular Butterfly Papillon Shawl, designed by Marin Melchior. The first booth that we saw it in, it was knitted in psychedelic colors: 
Jeri showed me the yarns that could be used for a similar effect...
Then we saw it in another booth, with a gentler colorway.  It's no longer Peter Max....'s more Art Deco! And then we saw another one, made using the same technique, in black and gold:
 It's spectacular formal evening wear! 

Lesson 5: Knitters Love Bags, but Don't Make Them. Handbag-sewing patterns are popular at every quilt show I've visited (as are  zippers and other purse hardware). At this show, I saw zero bag-sewing patterns; and few patterns for knitted bags. But there were tons of ready-made fabric bags and backpacks, from tiny to vast, designed to hold knitting projects. Here's the booth of Atenti Bags, a family-owned business in La Crescenta CA, with an eye for delightful fabrics. 
Check out the kooky fur - the red-and-pink poofy bag, and the hairy yellow one above it on the far right, the white ones on the far left in the photo above. Atenti only sells wholesale online, but you can find shops that carry their bags on their website

There was a smattering of African fabric, yardage and products made from it. Below, some fabulous purses from Handspun Hope, a Christian charity that produces knitting wares in Rwanda. ( Loved the large round zippered bags; 
A missionary project in Uganda, Project Lydia, was also selling finished bags, including this tote. (The round embellishments aren't shells - they're rolled-paper beads.) 
Other booths had racks of bags sewn from novelty fabrics - everything from Star Trek to Sailor Moon was featured in this booth by Seven Sisters Arts of Maine. ( 
The shawl on the lower left is from a knitting pattern called "Prime Directive" by Sara Wilcox, inspired by a Star Trek Bird of Prey.
More novelty fabric bags in a different booth:
Next, project bags sewn from faux knitting fabric (looks like knitting, but it's fabric.)
And the bags below, in the Knit Picks booth, feature clever sayings - I especially like the top one that says, "I'm working on my PhD - Project Half Done." (Also, "Socks To Be You," and below that, "Alpaca my bag.")
Lesson 6. Cherrywood is Rich. Cherrywood ( makes glorious, sueded hand-dyed cottons. The only problem with Cherrywood is the same problem I have with chocolate truffles - I can't just eat one piece. I have to buy all of it. I am not worthy. But I'm getting there. It was impossible not to stroke the wares.
Lesson 7: Like Quilters, Knitters Grapple with the Grandma Stereotype How many articles about contemporary quilts and quilters have you read that begin with the words, "These are not  your grandmother's quilts!"?  The knitting community is fighting the same battle. Except the Twisted Skein in Bakersfield CA, a shop that decided to embrace the stereotype. Here's one of their tee shirts:
Lesson 8. "The Fade" is Big, Jeri explained this to me and then I saw it everywhere, colors fading to light or dark, or fading into other colors. In the quilt world, we call it gradation. Here's a gorgeous knitted skirt that I wish I could just buy....
And here's a mind-boggling op art scarf by Alasdair Post-Quinn of Falling Blox Designs. How did he do it? Jeri explained that the gold-to-grey effect is from one color-gradated skein of yarn, while the other skein is black. 
Lesson 9: English Paper Piecing is a Crowd Pleaser In the midst of all the knitting and crocheting, there was an EPP  experimentation station. The Glendale Quilt Guild sponsored some EPP activities in the show's "Playground" area. Everyone can learn to love EPP!
Lesson 10. Quilters and Knitters are Cat Crazy.  Awwww. This cute pattern was in the booth of Knit Picks, from Vancouver, Washington. 
Lesson 11. We're All Button Lovers. Knitters love buttons, even more than quilters - after all, most sweaters require buttons, whereas quilts don't (except mine). This show had only one button booth, a company called (believe it or not) Buttons! from Calistoga, CA (website at Good buttons, good prices. 
Lesson 12. Pom Poms. That is all. There were lots of them. These faux fur pom poms were from Knit Picks. Now I'm wondering whether judicious pom-pom placement on my quilts would make them less washable, let alone less respected.
Lesson 13: We Have Technical Challenges in Common. Check out the star sweater below, in L'Atelier Art Yarns booth. For quilters, joining 12 seams in the middle of a six-pointed star is hard enough; I can't even imagine what it involves in knitting. 
Lesson 14:  Knitters Think About Socks a Lot More Than Quilters Many quilters make Christmas stockings, but that's about all in the way of quilted footwear. But knitters, omg, the gorgeous yarns and designs knocked me out. Like this, from 
The Purrfectly Catchy Designs booth, below, offered charming carved wooden sock blockers, each with a different cut-out - cats, dachsunds, dragons, dots, lobster, squirrels, you name it. (They sell knitting wares from their ebay store.)
Lesson 15: Who Doesn't Love Hooked Rugs? Occasionally at quilt shows I've seen rug hooking vendors. At this show, Wooly Walkers offered wonderful punch needle embroidery projects. 
They even worked it into a collar of a felted garment:
 Artist Page Wood, of Sherman Oaks CA, displayed both prints and his machine appliqued quilts. This one's stitched: 
 And this one's a print: 
Perhaps the most exciting part of the show for a quilter was the 75 pieces from the Cherrywood Challenge 2018, themed "Prince." It was a sea of purple. 

 ...each so heartfelt...
The next one is by Sherry Watkins....
Below was one of the prizewinners. The workmanship in this little quilt by Robin Gausebeck was perfection. 
Karen Collins made the stunner below, "Purple Reign," which won a judges' choice ribbon.
The Glendale (California) Quilt Guild had a fun exhibit that included this beautiful Australian-themed quilt: 
It's called "There's an Emu on my Quilt," by Terry Simon. Awesome detail:
Next, I loved the fabric embellishments and vintage pieces in "Fiesta" by Cindy Caldera: 
There was also a small but powerful show of quilts by Lynn Carson Harris. She writes, "My most recent work is a series of small-scale abstract designs inspired by the experiences of someone I love and care about who is in an abusive relationship. My wish is that these pieces of art can help to prevent domestic abuse by increasing understanding an awareness...." The first piece is a large black expanse (most of what you're seeing below  is the quilt, not the black curtain).

 The next quilt she calls "Crepuscular."
This set of 11 small quilts represent different aspects of abuse. 
 The sign on the middle right breaks it down: 

The show that most quilters are thinking about this week isn't Stitches - it's Houston. Stitches was the next best thing. I recommend a Stitches show to needleworkers of all kinds. They also offer classes (including several quilting classes.) Learn more at their website, here.

NOTE: I have no financial affiliation of any kind with any of the organizations, artists, vendors or products in this article. 

UPDATE: For even more images from StitchesSoCal 2018, enter the term in Instagram. 

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