Knitting and crocheting fans celebrated their craft during the STITCHES Texas 2017 expo held Thursday, Sept. 14, through Sunday, Sept. 17, at the Irving Convention Center.
This marked the third year STITCHES has come to Texas. The national show featured a huge specialty yarn marketplace with over 50 different vendors from across the nation. While there were a few booths for sewing, quilting and other fabric crafts, Libby Butler-Gluck, marketing and public relations representative for STITCHES, said the primary focus of the show is yarn, and not the yarn you find in a typical craft store.
“Our show really does focus on fiber,” Butler-Gluck said. “The kind of yarn you find at a Michaels or JoAnn’s is typically acrylic yarn. But our yarn is really natural fibers, so you’ll see wool, angora, cashmere, and fine, natural fibers. It’s a totally different kind of yarn and a totally different kind of show.”
In addition to the market, STITCHES also featured a wide assortment of classes for all interests and skill levels. Attendees could participate in a short demo, an hour-long session on the marketplace floor, or a three to six hour class taught by professionals.
“Some of our attendees are amazing knitters, crocheters and people who sew and craft,” Butler-Gluck said. “We have the best teachers from all across the country who come out to our shows and teach these fantastic classes. It’s really part of the STITCHES experience to be able to come, learn something new, take a class from one of your favorite teachers, and then have the dinners and the fashion shows and the marketplace.”
Erin Loosbrock is the general manager of Steven Be, a fiber warehouse based in Minneapolis, Missouri. She and her crew have come to STITCHES Texas all three years.
“We’re all about being inspired and being creative, and that’s what we try to bring to STITCHES,” Loosbrock said. “We want to make people walk in, see our bags, and say ‘Hell yes!’ They’re excited to be here, they get inspired, and then they just want to create something. They can’t even wait. They want to wind [the yarn] in their hotel room because they’re so excited.”
Loosbrock keeps coming not just to inspire others, but to get some inspiration for herself as well.
“We get to meet new people and new customers, and we get to expand the amount of people we touch,” Loosbrock said. “It’s always fun to see the new creative trends that are going on and try to keep ahead of them. Our goal is to keep ahead of whatever’s going on and be the trendsetter. But we also find all sorts of new things and new discoveries here.”
Bryon and Abby Owens are co-owners of Twisted Owl Fibers in Longview, Texas. They both agreed STITCHES provides a sense of community with their customers and fellow yarn enthusiasts.
“Knitting is a community, yarn and fiber is a community, and we’re all small businesses together,” Abby said. “Whenever we band together like this, everybody wins. Of course, we’re going to all have a positive experience just because there’s so many great people here.”
“We build a lot of relationships here,” Byron added. “Sure, it’s about business, but we’ve made so many friends, they’re like family.”
The sense of community is more relevant than ever this year with many at the expo focusing on Hurricane Harvey and the relief efforts taking place in Houston. Many vendors at this year’s show will be donating 5 percent of their total sales, and STITCHES itself will be donating 50 percent of its marketplace ticket sales to the Houston Food Bank. In addition, STITCHES has teamed up with Warm Up America and The Bluebonnets Knitting Guild to create and donate blankets for hurricane victims all weekend long. Teachers of STITCHES are also banding together to create a blanket of their own which was auctioned off after the expo.
Sandy Kohler is the co-owner of Shaky K Fibers of California, one of the vendors who volunteered to donate a portion of their sales. Many of her customers come from the Houston area and Kohler is glad to do whatever she can to help in the relief efforts.
“We were absolutely devastated to see what happened in Houston,” Kohler said. “A lot of returning customers for us come from that area and we’re just heartsick for them. Being so far away, there’s not a lot we could do but we do what we can.”
Libby Butler-Gluck added it was very encouraging to see everyone working together at the show to help so many.
“It’s just been amazing how many of the vendors have really rallied behind and wanted to give [to the relief effort],” Butler-Gluck said. “Besides having this great show this weekend, we are really focusing on the hurricane relief efforts.”