Yarn tasting

Vogue Knitting Live took place in Chicago March 9-11. This nationally known knitting show is a place to shop for yarn and yarn-related products, learn new skills, and meet up with friends. Susie Dippel was there and she brings us this report.

It’s always fun to tell family and friends that you are going to a knitting show.  They have no concept of what it is. Well, it is all things related to fiber – classes, art, shopping, but most of all it’s being with your people!

My business, Chiagu Patterns and Yarns has vended at the last four Vogue Knitting Live New York shows. I carry Koigu yarns, create knitting patterns and I sew project bags.  The New York show attracts vendors, teachers, and customers from across the US and around the world and its Marketplace takes up two floors.

Vogue Knitting Live Chicago was held at the Hilton Chicago. In my conversations with customers and vendors, the word that popped up the most was “small” and some even described it as  “intimate”. This show was put together rather quickly and by the time it was announced some Midwest knitters had already made plans to go the New York which was in January. That short lead time plus additional unions fees may have dissuaded some vendors from attending.

Yarn made in Rwanda from Handspun Hope.

Yarn made in Rwanda from Handspun Hope.

But small does not mean that money was not spent. Knitters may have wanted more selection and choice at the Marketplace but I would say that there was a good mix of product and price point.  StevenBe provided color, bling and fun notions (I found my Addi Flex Flip needles here)  while Long Island Yarn & Fiber and Shenandoah Fiber Mill brought beautiful down to earth yarns and products. Videnonvich Farms showed an eye-catching knitted skirt (pattern coming).  KnittenJen’s Beads carried kits as well as finished jewelry pieces. Northern Bee Studio had truly large hanks of yarn a la Jill Draper Empire yarn.

Handspun Hope and True Vineyard Ministries caused a bit of buzz with their Rwanda yarn and other handmade products, including lovely girls dresses. The felt giraffes charmed me, so much so that one of them is sitting in my living room.

Adorable girls dresses from True Vineyard Ministries

Adorable girls dresses from True Vineyard Ministries.

I shared my booth with Malojos Jewelry and we had a double booth right in front of the special events stage. I almost never leave my booth while I’m working a show so I was a real treat to be able to watch and hear all the events that took place. Attendees flocked to the fashions shows. Canadian Indie Dyer Julie Asselin gave two insightful talks about color and fiber choices, Vogue Knitting editor Trisha Malcolm conducted interviews with designers Deborah Newton, industry expert Clara Parkes, and menswear designer Josh Bennett.  On Sunday morning we had a Yoga for Knitters class with Marcie Leek. and there was a panel discussion on the design process Andrea Rangel, Julia Farwell-Clay, Mary Jane Mucklestone and Josh Bennett.

And the Reader’s on the Runway competition – knitters model the garments they have made from a Vogue Knitting pattern.  The Chicago competition ended with the garment’s pattern designer, Brooke Nico, running up to the stage and giving the winner a high five.

Huge yarn skeins from Northern Bee Studios

Huge yarn skeins from Northern Bee Studios.

Some of the mainstays at these shows are the Beginner’s Table where volunteers help you learn knitting, the Winding Station to get that skein of yarn ready for your needles, and the Yarn Tasting table which was stocked with Koigu yarns. The local fiber guilds all had a presence and there were also free upper body massages.

In terms of taking my business on the road, VKL Chicago was a great learning experience for me. Yes, it was small, yes it was intimate.  These shows always give the attendees the opportunity to immerse themselves in the craft and find inspiration.


Susie Dippel spent decades providing technology and marketing communications solutions for the corporate world. In 2014 she made finally switched to yarn. She owns Chiagu.com, an online business that sells yarn, patterns, and handmade project bags. Follow Chiagu Etsy, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

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