Stitches United took place this past weekend, April 27-30 2017, at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford. This event is a a new version of the Stitches show combining knitting and crochet with other crafts including quilting, sewing, weaving, rug hooking, and cross stitch. Stitches is a consumer show owned and run by XRX, Inc., the company that publishes XRX Books and published Knitter’s Magazine until the publication folded last year.
I walked the show in Friday, joined by crochet instructor Stacey Trock and Libby Butler-Gluck who were managing social media and public relations for the show. I also sat down with XRC CEO, Benjamin Levisay, to record an hour-long podcast conversation which will air in the early summer.
The Connecticut Convention Center has some definite advantages as a venue for this show. It’s on the East Coast, but is more affordable than Boston or New York while still within driving distance of these larger cities. There’s plenty of adjacent parking and a Marriott hotel next door.
It was nice to see some local craft businesses had booths at the show incuding The Hartford Artisans Weaving Center had several looms set up including one which attendees could sit at to try their hand at weaving. A mobile yarn truck, Yarn to the People, was parked inside the convention center and open for tours. Byrdcall Studio attracted a good sized crowd of attendees who wanted to learn to hook rugs in their booth.
There were booths showcasing accessories such as buttons and beads as well as handmade wooden tools including crochet hooks and knitting needles. Other booths showcased things that attendees might enjoy alongside their crafting including hand lotions, woven baskets, and jewelry.
Down the center of the show floor was an area called “The Playground” with tables set up for demonstrations scheduled throughout each day.
A variety of classes were available at the event Thursday-Sunday on topics including knitting, crochet, needle felting, indigo dyeing, garment sewing, quilting, and applique. There were also some business-related classes including one on making money from your craft hobby and another on photographing fiber crafts.
XRX, Inc. announced their new website, Stitches.Studio, over the weekend and showed off its features during a demonstartion on Saturday afternoon.
Friday evening attendees were treated to a fashion show of hand knits and crocheted garments at 6:00 pm and a dinner at 8:00 pm. Later in the evening, at 10:00 pm, there was a pajama party where attendees were invited to “slip into jammies and knit, crochet, weave, spin, or just hang out.”
According to Levisay, Stitches United will remain a multi-craft show even if the event moves away from Hartford at some point in the future. He feels strongly that including a variety of different crafts in a single show will attract a new audience and further engage longtime visitors.