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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Stitches East

This morning we drove west to reach Baltimore and Stitches East. It's the reason we came over to the US this week, to visit the show, meet up with some friends, make some new ones and see if we can't find some goodies to bring back to London.

It's all been a bit of a quick day, but we got into Baltimore about 1pm, checked into the hotel and headed over to the show. It struck us immediately that it's the kind of show we aspire to in the UK. It's pretty much all centred around yarn, with a nice selection from all across the US. There's also a superb range of classes and workshops, exhaustive and worth it in their own right. We  spent the afternoon racing around the stalls which we will have more of a look at tomorrow. 

There was an abundance of beautiful lace shawls (Jane Sowerby is in attendance at the show) and a great mix of fibre. We met Jeri and Matthew from Flying Fibers who are committed to selling British yarns and it was a real surprise to see their stash of Wensleydale Longwool Sheepshop and their Garthenor. Ann and Ruth (from the Wensleydale Sheepshop) even made an appearance...in a photograph pinned up in their booth! We finally got to meet Nick and Kathleen, the faces behind Jelly Yarn, who we've been chatting to on the phone for some time. We are the UK distributor for the yarn and we were excited to report to them that it's being lapped up in London. They had a few new designs on their stand which are now winging their way over the Atlantic to us.

Purchases were few today (more to buy tomorrow I'm sure), but G did snap up some suri lace alpaca from Diane at Windy Valley Musk Ox - their range of laceweight yarns goes from the $90 a ball qiviut to the more modestly priced but just as gorgeous alpaca and cotton. I think we'll have some in our suitcase for on the way home. Some really beautiful stuff all round, and not just yarns either - Signature needles, some incredible resin and glass buttons, handmade needles cases, tote bags and other accessories and notions. 

After the main show we headed back to the hotel to freshen up before the fashion show and the dinner at the Hilton. The event is organised by XRX books, who publish Victorian Lace Today and Knitter's Magazine (amongst others). Their latest publication, Knit One Below by Elise Duvekot featured highly in the fashion show. The premise of the book is to use the k1b technique, combining yarns and using this simple instruction to form intriguing and interesting fabrics. The show also highlighted the work of many others designers and yarns all of whom had booths at the main event. Not all of it was to our taste but there were some glorious knits in there too. There was a penchant for wraps and shawls, and it was noted that on the catwalks this year there was the same...an indication that handknitting has influenced the high-end Italian designers this season and not the other way aorund...?

The dinner tonight ended the day on a surreal (but posh) note! We are here as guests of Cheryl and the gang at Cherry Tree Hill, but we didn't expect an on stage introduction in front of 1000 of people. And from Alexis Xenakis no less. Alexis is the photographer for most of XRX's publications, including VLT, and is  revered here at IKL. So when he got up on stage and apologised for not introducing us at the fasion show earlier, then asked us up on the stage for a short speech we were a bit gobsmacked and embarrassed! We said something about I Knit Day and invited everyone to visit us in London! Suddenly everything went in a direction we didn't expect. It's not false modesty to admit that we didn't expect anyone to know who we were...then we're ending the night the Marriott hotel bar with XRX CEO, Ben, Jane Sowerby and Eirwen, Tobias from Malabrigo, Jane Slicer-Smith, Susie from Kollage and, no doubt, looks of amazement on our faces.

We are off in the morning to have our photo taken by Alexis! Bizarre.


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