Canon hand dyed yarn on display at Stitches West.
Stitches West took place last weekend in Santa Clara, California. This annual yarn-focused event draws a big crowd for shopping, workshops, demonstrations, and more. Stacey Trock was there and brings us this report.
Disclaimer: Stacey works at Stitches events and therefore, receives compensation from XRX. All opinions expressed in this article are her own.
Stitches events are held five times a year in locations across the country. While each event has its own character, vendors, and atmosphere, many agree that Stitches West is the crown jewel of the annual schedule. California in February. Need I say more?
Stitches West is held in Santa Clara, CA and is the largest Stitches show with over 200 vendors. Vendors appear from across the entire range of the yarn industry: local yarn stores (such as The Knitting Tree LA and Yarnover Truck), Indie dyers (Anzula, Western Sky Knits, Black Trillium Fibre Studio), Internet-based companies (KnitPicks, Craftsy, LoveKnitting) and even small businesses not typically considered part of the industry, such as jewelry, pottery and bag companies. I attend numerous shows a year (including the two trade shows), and so I’m often rather jaded and feel like I’ve seen it all… but even I made a few purchases! Vendors brought their newest and greatest and many attendees spend a day or more just walking the aisles.
Creative With Clay displayed their yarn-themed ceramics.
Speaking of attendees, this year’s show was the largest in the number of attendees in Stitches history. The buzz and excitement were palpable, radiating through the market and all the way to the adjoining convention center seating areas and hotel lobby. Knitters, crocheters, and crafters congregated in the hotel bar, hotel lobby, and numerous seating areas, completely taking over the entire event space. Which gave the event an awesome atmosphere. That said, I heard some murmurs about there not being enough seating, in part caused by the (perhaps, unexpected?) immense success of the show and astronomical attendance numbers.
Neighborhood Fiber Co.’s booth
In addition to the marketplace, Stitches shows feature a number of events and activities. Attendees can sign up for either 1- hour classes (called ‘Market Sessions’) or 3 or 6-hour classes, which began on Thursday. A new activity area on the market floor is ‘The Playground’, a large space hosted by XRX (Stitches Event’s parent company) where demos, book signings, and events take place. Friday night brings a professional-quality fashion show and dinner (a paid event, sold-out this year), followed by a free ‘pj party’ sponsored by Craftsy and hosted by Marly Bird. I can’t tell you what happens there, because ‘what happens at the pj party stays at the pj party’, but fun definitely happened. And prizes. The highlight of the show for many people is the Saturday night Student Fashion Show & Banquet (also sold-out), where students and attendees show what they’ve made this past year. A half-circle bridal veil (measuring approximately 12 feet in diameter) received a standing ovation.
The Saturday Stitching Sisters.
Attendees certainly take the opportunity to sport their best handmade items and walking around the show floor and event space is crafter’s eye-candy. One group, the Saturday Stitching Sisters, who meet every Saturday to knit and crochet, make and wear matching outfits… each year more elaborate than the last. Inspiration and jaw-dropping workmanship are everywhere. It’s not uncommon to be stopped for a compliment or an inquiry about what pattern you used!
Marly Bird’s booth.
Other impromptu events drew large crowds, much excitement, and long lines. Both the Grocery Girls and the Knitmore Girls (podcasters) drew long lines of fans waiting to take a photo at their booth appearances. Numerous booths hosted book signings, such as The Yarn Guys hosting Carson Demers signing his new book, ‘Knitting Comfortably: The Ergonomics of Hand Knitting’. Other booths welcomed designers to display trunk shows or simply meet up with fans. A mainstay (unofficial event) is the Stitch Marker Swap that takes place in the lobby at 5 pm each evening: attendees make their own stitch markers in advance of the show and then gather to swap and collect them all.
The great thing about a Stitches show is that you can make it what you want it to be. You can come for an afternoon and shop in the market, turn it into a total friends-weekend or make it a full-on class-intensive. It’s up to you. And everyone has fun!
Stacey Trock has a sharp understanding of the motivations that underlie consumer purchases, and she specializes in connecting small businesses in the yarn industry with easy-to-implement and trendsetting marketing ideas. She travels across the country to provide live social media coverage for your company’s social media outlets. Stacey also provides marketing, social media and public relations consulting to select clients on a retainer basis and teaches knitting, crochet, and other fiber classes at shows in the US and internationally.