Oct. 11-14, Connecticut Convention Center, 100 Columbus Blvd., Hartford, (860) 249-6000. Classes Thu.-Sun., prices and times vary. Market open to the public Fri.-Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-4 p.m. One-day pass, $10; two-day pass, $15; three-day pass, $20. See knittinguniverse.com/east for a full schedule.
Do you or a loved one suffer from an intense love of knitting or crochet? Do people often give you a dumbfounded look when you explain you enjoy using this old-fashioned skill, and wonder why more people don't learn it? Is a trip to a yarn shop for you like a child's trip to a candy store? If this sounds like you or someone you know, may we suggest heading to Hartford this weekend for the annual Stitches East knitting and crochet convention. Even those of you with a budding interest in fiber arts, or just plain curiosity, are welcome to check it out.
Stitches East made its home in a handful of East Coast cities, including Philadelphia and Baltimore, before hunkering down in Hartford the last few years. This year's convention takes place Oct. 11-14 at the Connecticut Convention Center. The event features more than 150 classes, lasting three to six hours, in addition to a smattering of shorter hour-long workshops open to the public. The Stitches Market will host more than 200 booths overflowing with the latest yarns, books, supplies, patterns and more.
When asked what kinds of things participants should expect to see classes on, marketing coordinator Lisa Mannes hesitated before answering with "Everything," and a laugh. "There's just such a wide variety, I don't know where to start," she says. The intensive workshops cover a wide range of topics, including stitch techniques, spinning, weaving, seaming, fixing mistakes and specific projects. "Every technique you can think of," says Mannes. The instructors come from all over the world for these Stitches expos, which also take place in Australia, the U.K., and elswhere.
The Market is open to the public Friday through Sunday, and you don't have to be signed up for any classes in order to go take a look. And if you decide you want to freshen up your knit or crochet skills, one-hour workshops are available in the Market for $40. Or you could learn from the beginning for free. Vendors will be giving free demonstrations in their booths, or signing books, or showing off new fashions. "It's full of energy and color," Mannes says of the Market. "It's essentially an overload."
Stitches East also has a charity element, this year supporting Halos of Hope, which brings together knitters and crocheters to make and donate hats for cancer patients.
If you can't make it this year, Mannes assures us Stitches will be back in Hartford next fall. She says the Hartford expo is the second largest Stitches event, following the one on the West Coast. "We love Hartford," she says. If the people putting on the show love Hartford so much, let's make sure not to disappoint them and go participate and touch everything and maybe learn some new tricks, too. Fiber crafters, unite and come together in Hartford.