Sunday, March 06, 2011

Knitting Conferences - Why You Should Go!

In the  last week the blog-o-sphere and podcasts have been full of stories from people who attended the latest Stitches West 2011.  I am so jealous and depressed!  I did not attend the conference this year.  Boo Hoo.  I shouldn't be too upset as I have attended the conference 3 times in the past.  But that doesn't seem to make a difference!  I missed this year!  For those of you that have never attended a knitting conference let me fill you in.

There are a number of companies that put on knitting conferences every year including Vogue Knitting - with their new conference that happened for the first time in January, TKGA - The Knitting Guild of America and XRX Press publishers of Knitters Magazine that puts on Stitches.  There are others but these are the big boys.

Stitches is a conference that is held across the country throughout the year.  The one I attend is Stitches West which has been held for the last several years in Santa Clara California in February.  There are  also Stitches East, Mid-West and South held at different times of the year.

This is a big conference.  I mean BIG!  There are over a thousand people that attend.  The conference in Santa Clara is held at the Santa Clara Convention Center.  The entire hotel is booked as is the Hilton across the street, plus I am sure, several other hotels in the area.  I'll never forget the first time I attended.  I recall walking into the hotel and all I saw were knitters!  They were knitting in the lobby, knitting in the restaurant, and yes, knitting in the bar.  It was hilarious and wonderful all at the same time.

The conference runs for four days Thursday through Sunday and then the last couple of years they have added 2 more days Monday and Tuesday.  Believe me Thursday to Sunday is plenty.  However, the additional two days are generally on specific topics so you could forgo the first few days and attend just those two if you wish.   The conference has a fairly set schedule.  There is always an opening address, a welcome lunch, and then classes begin.  Classes for every level  run from Thursday noon until Sunday afternoon (plus the additional Monday, Tuesday classes).  Classes are taught by all the big name authors, Debbie Bliss, Barry Klein, Lilly Chin, to name just a few.  There are also fashion shows in the evening and meet and greets. Believe me, you are kept busy from early morning until late at night.  If that isn't enough anyone who is publishing a new book is there to sign it for you - so  you can meet some of the big names as well.

But wait!  The best part of all!  The Vendor Hall!  OK, this is a knitters dream!  This is a HUGE hall probably a least a football field - I don't know the square footage.  It is filled with vendors!  Everyone comes to this conference to sell their yarn, needle, accessories, books - you name it.  All the big names a there of course, Rowan, Plymouth, Tahki, Stacy Charles etc. as well as  many smaller companies that you may not be as familiar with from all over the country and beyond.  It is amazing!  Of course every company has beautiful models, yarns on special for the show and new things you may not have seen yet.  Oh, and don't think you can limit yourself by the amount of suitcase space you have available.  Oh no, they took care of that - there is a UPS store available right outside the vendor hall door to ship things for you.

Next time there is a knitting conference in your area - try to attend.  You wont be sorry!  Have you attended a knitting conference?  Tell me your experience.

Mary Glendinning


Jocelyn said...

It's funny that you put it this way. You make Stitches sound like TNNA. Those companies are there as promotional booths to drive traffic to the booths that are selling their yarns. Of course, they don't sell directly to consumer. Just sayin'.

Mary said...

Hi Jocelyn. I've attended a couple of TNNA conferences as well. The difference, as you probably know, is that TNNA is really for retailers not the general public. Retailers go there to check outnew lines for next year and place orders. It is fun to up and see whats new. They do have classes but again mostly directed at store owners . Stitches is fir anyone and the marketplace is there to sell yarn and accessories to the general knitting public. It is not often that a knitter can see so many yarn and accessory companies in one place. And, hey, who has enough yarn?
Thanks for your comment!