Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Stitches Midwest 2010 Fashion Show Part 1

When we were let into the banquet hall, we all found our seats and waited for the show to begin. Rick Mondragon came out and introduced Gwen Bortner, the featured designer.

Before we got to see the fashions we honored a long time knitter and supporter of the craft, Evie Rosen. My sister and I had actually taken a class with her at Stitches Midwest many years ago when it was still in Minneapolis.

Then it was time for the designs. The first piece was by Gwen Bortner called Top Downs. The woman's sweater was knit in Jojoland harmony and the man's in Brown Sheep yarn.


Gwen Bortner also designed theses entrelac hats and mittens made in Brown Sheep yarn.

The next piece was the Shawl collared Cardi and Myra Scarf designed by Trudi Van Stralen. The cardigan was made in Louet's Merlin Worsted and the scarf was done in Kidlin.

This was a cheerful combination. Polar Knits' presented a beret, bag and matching red ladybug slippers.

Maggie Jackson designed the Belmullet Coat, Enniscorthy and Beret below. They were knit from British Mohair and Mist Slub yarns.

The next ensemble was designed by Maggie Jackson. Removing the Castleconnell Cape revealed a waistcoat and matching purse made in Irish Tweed.


Irish Girlieknits' designed the lacy Bellingrath Shawlette below that had a matching sock set in Kollage Yarns' sock-a-licious.


There is marvelous cabling here on Kate Lemmers' Ins and Outs Cardigan. It was done in Kraemers yarns and the pattern will be available in the Fall 2010 issue of Knitters.

The next piece also will be found in the 100th Issue of Knitters. It was Kathy Zimmerman's What's Your Angle in Kollage yarns' solace.

Keeping with the entrelac theme, Plymouth Yarns presented an Entrelac coat done in their Kudo yarn.


One of the most unique pieces in the show was this Modular coat created by the Austermann Design Team. It was done In Austermann Step 6 ply.


Ellen Liguori's nextnpiece was a dressed up version of a hoodie. It was knit in Fiesta yarns' 32 Degrees, hence the name 32 Degrees Hoodie.

One of my favorite pieces in the show was this knitted Kimono.Lion Brands' calls it  the Textured Kimono Cardi and it was knit in their LB Collection.


Alison Williams' Eyelet Cardigan in Blue Sky Alpacas Dyed Cotton came next.


The structure of this piece is very interesting. It is called the Circle of Fantasy Jacket. It was designed by Nancy Bocuzzi in Luci Yarns' Melange.


The last  garment in this part is Sandi Rosner's Four Season Wrap done in Kolage Yarn's Glisten.

I'll close for now and continue with another section of the show at a later time.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Friday at Stitches Midwest 2010

This was to be our relaxed day. My sister and I had signed up for a morning class and then planned to cruise the market in the afternoon. Unfortunately we were running late, so we did not get our morning coffee and the class turned out to be a little bit complex - Patent Estonian Patterns with Merike Saarnit.  I had one of my first ever Stitches classes with Merike in Minneapolis when she taught me how to spin on a hand spindle.  It made me all nostalgic to get to see her again.

We learned that the Estonians did more useful kinds of knitting like the samples above and didn't really do fancy lacy stuff for themselves, but when the Tsar and his retinue visited they emulated the lacy things that the courtly followers wore and then used the patterns to make items to sell to those wealthy tourists.

The patterns we learned were beautiful and a bit more intricate than our morning benumbed brains wanted to deal with, but here is what my sampler ended up looking like.

Merike was a fun teacher. (You can tell by the impish expression on her face.)

After class we had lunch with Lois. You may remember her from my Craft Cruise descriptions. She is becoming quite a well-known designer these days with items in Vogue Knitting and this months issue of Knitters. I was so glad to see her that I forgot to take a picture - but we went out for a sadly mediocre Mexican meal, but it was great to learn from an experienced designer and to just rehash happy old times.

After lunch it was time to shop. Designers don't like pictures to be taken in the market, lest people try to copy the designs, so I tried to be discreet in my photographic undertakings. This gives some of the flavor of the market without revealing any design secrets.

My sister doesn't like to have her picture taken (despite the fact that she is quite lovely), but since she was distracted by shopping I was able to sneak a couple of shots - here she is shopping at the Yarn Barn in a teal/turquoise t-shirt.

And here is a better view of her, showing her beautiful smile.

The market is large and so the only real damage we did was to our own wallets.

I bought some cotton yarn for my crochet class with Myra Wood and couldn't resist getting a bit more Noro (Don't I have enough Japanese yarn from trip there this March?!)

I always enjoy the ambiance of the hotel. Upstairs there are coffee shops and a bar with seating areas and fire pits. It is very modern and pleasant.

We hung around the hotel a bit before getting in line for the upcoming event.

Of course one of the great things about knitters is that they aren't afraid to plop themselves down on the floor to knit while waiting in line. (And you see some lovely designs.) I just love the drape on this woman's top.

That evening was the Fashion show and dinner and I will soon do a longer series of posts to show some of the beautiful things that we got to see on the runway.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Thursday at Stitches Midwest 2010

At 10:00 AM we started off with a bang with a "Spotlight" panel that was addressing the design challenges of entrelac. Before we met the designers,we got our chance to  compete for door prizes and guess who got the very first copy of Gwen Bortner's book (and first prize for showing the most (i.e. loudest) enthusiasm! You can take the girl out of Texas but... Then the good stuff got started!

Designers Gwen Bortner, Laura Bryant and Anna Walden each presented a design they had done for the challenge and explained the intricacies and details of their decisions. 

Laura, Gwen and Anna with their designs

Personally I've always done more mosaic knitting than entrelac, so I stood to learn quite a bit from the panel. Each designer had interesting ideas about ways to use entrelac in a more interesting way. Laura Bryant (who is famous for Prism's beautifully colored yarns) started us off with some ways to think more daringly about entrelac and color.

Laura Bryant uses wild stuff to add color to entrelac

I want to give readers a chance to see the kinds of things that were talked about without revealing too much of the designers' intellectual property, although the above photo should make everybody eager to go out and buy some of that gorgeous Prism yarn!

Laura based her design for the Spotlight on an idea of outlining some of the entrelac squares with a zigzag border (as seen above.)

Anna Walden also used a daring and dramatic color palette for her Spotlight entry. Here you can see how she combined entrelac in different directions with stripes and brashly pigmented yarns.

A close up slide shows her asymmetrical sweater front and varied choices in yarn.

Next Gwen Bortner (who wrote the featured book of the Conference) showed us some of her wonderful designs from Entree to Entrelac

Gwen also used bias in a variety of ways (sub-titling her work a "guide from a biased knitter".

By carrying two yarns together and switching gradually, she was able to produce a very nuanced look. This is her submission for the Entrelac Spotlight panel.

After the presentation and question session finished..., 

...we were able to go up and look more closely at each of the three designs. Below you can see how Anna Walden combined mired squares with entrelac.

Here are Gwen's and Laura's final designs.

Next we had a luncheon and got to "speed date" some of the teachers who are featured at the conference. Every few minutes the teachers would rotate to a new table (and while I liked the chance to meet some of the teachers, it was a tiny bit rushed.) I think it would have been nicer to have 20 minutes to just get to know a few of them instead of seeing them rush around madly. I think we got to meet about 6 different teachers.

I believe this might be Candace Eisner-Strick. She is showing us socks and planning a book called Strickly Socks.

Maureen Mason-Jamieson showed us some Dorset buttons she had made. She looks like a really fun teacher!

And Myra Wood popped by to show us some of her new stuff.

I already took this class on lace knitting, but the shawl is just so beautiful that I have to show it!

Nearby I caught a glimpse of Lily Chin too in her signature chartreuse!

Look at that beautiful serpentine image. The woman has style from every angle! 

Below is a shot of the room and you can see the various tables with their teachers.

Laura Farson popped by to show us twined knitting, as did Christine Bylsma and oour last visitor was Leslye Solomon the owner of Woolstock Yarn Shop. She is very stylish and I always enjoy looking at what she is wearing. She had a gorgeous lined jacket that was to die for.

Lily came by and visited too after the session. It was great to see her again. What a powerhouse!

Of course one fun thing about Stitches is getting to mingle with the Knitterati and pass the famous in the halls. Here are Rick Mondragon, Candace Eisner-Strick and Judy Pascale having a chat in the foyer.

Then it was time for my first class.  I was doing Columns of Colors with Elise Duvekot. She had been featured in an earlier Stitches conference and I decided to see what I could learn about Knit One Below and cables.

She turned out to be a warm and enthusiastic Dutch woman with some great advice on ways to use multiple colors without having to carry yarns on the backside.

Here is what we were supposed to do in class and 

here is what I ended up with (not exactly identical unfortunately!)

Here is a nice shot of Elise Duvekot as she shows us how to fix our mistakes. Somehow it conveys some of her warm and friendly character.

Here is another example of using Knit one Below for nice color effects.

Before I knew it class was over and it was time to go get my sister at the airport.  Th night before I had gotten in and after a meal at the Greek Tavern near my hotel, I went swimming and relaxed for a while in the hot tub. What a wonderful life!

Thursday evening was a little more stressful. I had to pick up my sister at the airport (and not the close airport but Midway (bom, bom, bom, bom, bom , bom!! (2001 a Space Odyssey noises!) It didn't help that there were two accidents on the highway within the first two miles, so after sitting a while I had to get off the highway and just take city streets.It was actually a nice (but very long timewise) drive on Cermak road over to Cicero. I got to see the old neighborhoods and got just to the edge of Berwin where my father grew up. I didn't have time to stop and take pictures, but it felt like home. 

Check out A Chicago Soujourn's Blog for more pictures like the one above of the kinds of things I got to see.

It took two hours and several phone calls to get to the airport, but eventually I did and then the way back was much quicker and easier. After that it was off for Indian food at a great Indian restaurant that we eventually found after driving around most of southern Schaumburg. This place had great atmosphere!

I also loved that there were glass chandeliers in a modernist place. Simplicity and kitsch. i sure couldn't pull it off, but they did marvelously!

There were banquet facilities for weddings and celebrations down the sumptuous hall- all red and glittery and lined with pearlescent Ganesh statues!

It was another night of pampering and pleasure!