Stitches '06: What I Learned
Stitches '06: What I Brought Home

Stitches '06: Who I Saw

I want to preface this post with some history. I'm not a gusher. If I see someone famous (as I did quite often when I worked for a big hotel and some popular restaurants) I tend to look the other way after I see who they are. I like space and privacy and expect that everyone else does too. And I want to admit that until I went to Stitches I never paid attention to the names of the designers of the patterns that I like or the books that I have. I read them, but I wouldn't know a Nancy Bush sock or a Beth Brown-Reinsel mitten on sight. So when someone would say, "I have a class with Sally Melville" or something like that, I was more interested in what the class was about than who was teaching. When I registered for classes I didn't even pay attention to the names of the teachers.

Then I did it. It was Friday evening and the market preview was going on and I'd taken my first class and suddenly I was poking November in the shoulder and saying, "Oooh! There's Nancy Bush!" (And typing that it suddenly occurs to me that non-knitters think that's a totally different person than the one I mean. Really. I just got that.) Anyway, so there I was, doing the gushing thing. I had become a knitting groupie.

Franklin, like everyone who meets him says, is absolutely charming. He’s as kind and gracious as he seems in his blog. I had really, really hoped to meet him this weekend, and when I saw him in the market I had to do the groupie thing and tell him how much I enjoy The Panopticon. Unjaded, he talked with me for a few moments, even asking which classes I was taking. What a nice guy.

I also met Sean, who I later had “Estonian Lace” with, and Lars was in my “Norwegian Mittens” class. Poor Lars. Maybe he didn’t mind, but he was surrounded by women who felt the need to talk constantly about the most inane things for the whole 6 hour class. Why can’t women just shut up sometimes? Not all women, but there is a type, and you know what I mean. Talk talk talk talk talk. Nonstop. I hope he could concentrate on his pattern.

Lily Chin
Dscn3389In the market on Friday evening, November pointed out a woman to me who was sitting in a chair and crocheting outside one of the booths. She said, “She’s the fastest crocheter in the world.” And that’s all she said. It wasn’t until we sat with her at the Student Banquet that it was revealed that she is Lily Chin. I don’t have cable, and her yarns aren’t in our LYS, so I’d heard her name but that was about all. Lily is a trip. She was wearing a kimono that she’s crocheted herself, and had even purchased and wore grey-blue contact lenses to perfect her “Memoirs of a Geisha” guise. She was energetic and fun, but I can’t say how much of it is really her and how much is a persona. I’m not sure about the whole working-in-sweatshops-at-13 part, but I admire her drive to get American designers on the knitting map. I would have liked to talk more with her about the knitting industry, but she and a couple others at the table thought talking about Project Runway was more relevant. Again, a show I’ve never seen.

Merike Saarniit
Merike was also at our table during the Student Banquet, but as she was on the other side of Lily I didn’t get to talk to her other than a few words of goodbye. She seemed the sweet and patient type, so I’ll look for classes with her when I go again.

Jane Sowerby
Dscn3355When I grow up I want to be Jane Sowerby. I took this (very blurry) picture of her, not knowing who she was, because I admired the shawl she was wearing. Turns out she’s the author of “Victorian Lace Today,” which will be the highlight of my November when it comes out. She researched and translated and modernized over 40 patterns of Victorian lace for this book, using tiny 150+ year old pattern books for her sources. These patterns may never have been brought to light if she hadn’t spent years doing this work. And she knitted all of the shawls and scarves herself. They were everywhere during the convention – in the booth, on the models, on Jane and the XRX staff during the banquets. I could have tried them on myself but it didn’t occur to me at the time.

These pictures are from the Opening Day Luncheon, after Jane’s presentation, where the models roamed among the tables, letting everyone get a closer look.

Dscn3358This is Ping wearing the Baby Cap shawl. The original was done on needles as fine as wire and would be the size of a ... baby cap. Done on larger needles, with a few modifications and in KSH, you get this. Wow.

Dscn3373Dscn3376This is Rasa, who was so into the knitting thing that she even made a point of wearing lace-knit sweaters to and from her gig. She's wearing a hexagonal shawl that can be done as a large one, like this, or just half of it. Stunning.

Dscn3370Ping and Kristen wearing some of the smaller shawls. There are lots of small ones and scarves in the book too. They were really great about letting people touch the shawls, (which would totally creep me out to be touched so much by strangers) and posing for pictures so that the shawls and not themselves were the center of attention.

Dscn3367Lastly, the sampler shawl, in it's smaller version, backlit too much by another flash. I wish I had a picture of the big one to show you - it's stunning. Jane advised me that it's complicated because the border and the center panel have different row counts in the charts. (One is done only on the RS, purling back every other row, while the other has patterning stitches on both sides. And she says she's not an accomplished knitter. Yeah.)

One of the fun things about Stitches is that people are so accessible. You can talk to any member of the XRX staff if you want to, especially if they’re in one of the XRX booths, and the teachers are usually signing their books somewhere too. I spoke with Jane a few times and I am so enamored. On the last day I asked Jane when we could all come to her house and sleep over and play with lace knitting. And she thought I was serious. She took me literally. She responded, in her glorious British accent, “Well, we do have 4 bedrooms….” And I said, “Oh, I wasn’t serious about the sleeping over part!” But she was already thinking about it. “Of course I couldn’t cook for everyone…. But the workshops would work out at the house just fine…. How many people do you want to bring?” I was a little in the headlights by that point. “Uhm, just me so far.” “Well, we’ll e-mail. But not for a fortnight at least, because I’ve got to edit the book.” So, who wants to go to England???? I spoke with the book editor who told me that XRX is getting away from doing tours because they are so labor intensive, so we may have to cook one up ourselves. I’ll keep you posted if she actually writes to me. She’s a person that you just have to experience, and you’d be so glad you did.



Sounds like you had an absolute BLAST in Chicago - I love to visit there! Maybe I'll have to plan on going next year!

Siow Chin

Thanks for pointing out the Vitoria Lace Today book, it looks like a must-have.


i'm so jealous! it looks like you had a very fun and busy weekend! i can't wait to see all those finished swatches :)


I'm jealous! I am obsessed with Lily Chin. Must go next year. Sounds like you had a blast.

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