TNNA Summer 2018: Cleveland

Did you ever wonder how your local yarn store owner finds the latest and greatest products for her store? Sets up trunk shows of the latest patterns from a designer or yarn company? Knows which national instructors are available to teach workshops in the store? The National Needlearts Association (TNNA) is the organization through which many local yarn and  needlework store owners connect with wholesalers, designers, and teachers. Twice a year (January and June) it holds a conference open to needle arts professionals in which they can discover new products, take business and craft skill classes, and network with others in the industry. I’ve been to most of them in the last few years, and this year was no exception. I spent most of the last six weeks preparing to go, attending, and following up. Here’s a little bit about what I saw and did (click on the photo grid to see them full size!).

Cleveland Rocks

I’ve been to Ohio before, but never to Cleveland. The sum total of what I knew was from watching The Drew Carey Show. Right off the bat at the airport I learned that Cleveland was ALSO the home of Duck Tape (check out a little history of duct tape), and the place where Superman was created, though of course not born (that being on Krypton, as we all know). The show was held downtown at the Huntington Convention Center, spitting distance from Lake Erie and walking distance to some charming and fun neighborhoods. It was a great place to “have to go” for work, and is now on the list of places I wouldn’t mind spending a few extra days exploring.

The Show Floor

In front of the event registration desk is an area where vendors can set up displays showcasing their newest offerings. Sometimes the products are used to entice you to the vendor’s booth. In others it is the creativity of the display that makes you want to know more!

The Yarn Guys

Jeffrey and Dennis, aka The Yarn Guys. See that wall of color behind them? They are the exclusive distributor in the US and Canada of Rauma, fine quality Norwegian wool.

The show floor can be overwhelming. Much like a STITCHES event, there are aisles of booths with wondrous things to see and touch, old friends to reconnect with, and new friends to be made. The best strategy can be to do a pass around the entire floor to get a feel f or where everyone is and make meeting plans for later.

I made my round with my friend and show roommate, Kara Gott Warner of Power Purls Podcast. Power Purls is a “yarn crafting podcast for fiber-loving biz makers.” For those in the industry, it’s a great source of information and inspiration; it’s too easy to get in your own head when working from home by yourself. Kara’s advice can help you work around problems and get past your own inner nay-saying voices (ask me how I know ;). Even if you’re not in the biz of fiber crafting, there are many words of wisdom to apply to the routine of running a life in the 21st century, from learning on the go to being consistent.

superwomen

The superwomen I’m lucky enough to have as friends (l. to r.): Sarah Peasley, Kara Gott Warner, Gwen Bortner

After a nice lunch with The Usual Suspects, I headed back to the show floor solo. I have a design project in mind, and I needed to consult with some of my favorite vendors on their latest yarns. TrendsetterUniversal Yarn, Skacel, Louet, Malabrigo Yarns, Claudia Hand Painted Yarns, Prism YarnsBerroco—the folks at these companies all make wonderful yarns, and are in addition wonderful people. They’ve given me a lot of support, yarn and otherwise, over the years. I always look forward to catching up with them as well as using their yarns when I design.

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Me and the Palisade Tank in the Blue Sky Fibers booth at TNNA. Photo credit: Sarah Peasley :-)

And speaking of designing, let’s talk about the Blue Sky Fibers booth. They were showing new colors for their existing yarn lines and introducing two new yarns, Eco-Cashmere and Woolstok Jumbo. Browse their 2018/19 Lookbook to see the new colors, yarns, and patterns, including a pattern I designed, the Palisade Tank. It’s worked up in Spud & Chloë Fine, a blend of superwash wool and silk available in twenty-three colors. It’s always a kick to see one of my designs published, but this may be the first time I’ve seen one hung up at a wholesale show. Super jazzed!

Education

Leann Pressly presentation

Leann Pressly of Stitchcraft Marketing presenting “Planning and Executing Your Content Marketing Strategy in Five Easy Steps.”`

TNNA offers several professional development opportunities to members, from online webinars to in-person classes at shows to informal networking gatherings. The “Education Theater” was a large area on the show floor set aside for product demos and presentations. Topics ranged from what to look for in a payment processor to needle ergonomics to color and trends. I opted in to Leann Pressly of Stitchcraft Marketing‘s presentation on content marketing. With so many things in a day that compete for time, and some changes coming to my work in the next few months, I wanted to find out if there were faster or more efficient ways to get things done.

She spent quite a bit of time on what are called “user profiles” in software, aka knowing your customer. If your customers are mostly newer crafters, the patterns you design or sell should be written with more detail and explanation in order to help them be successful. If your customers are mostly experienced crafters who quickly grasp instructions, patterns should be written succinctly so the crafter can get on with working their project. After talking about profile, Leann put a nice framework around the process of creating and distributing content. For those looking to really up their game, she let us know about a new online course Stitchcraft Marketing has out called “Magic Wand for Social Media.” Good stuff!

Networking & Beyond

There are opportunities both formal and informal at the show. You run into people in aisles, getting coffee, and the hotel bar. You take breakfast meetings and set up lunches. And you meet new people at cocktail hours on the show floor or at receptions off-site. The Yarn Group held a reception at a local bar close to the convention center, with finger foods on offer and games to play. The magnetic Scrabble board soon displayed the words you’d expect, given the crowd (“fiber” “yarn” “sheep”).

A few snacks and Moscow Mules into the evening, the sound of karaoke filled the air, coming from one of the back rooms. I’m not normally one for singing along but there are just some songs I can’t resist. And this is the one I play over and over (turned up to *11* ;-) whenever a day is particularly difficult or circumstances particularly depressing. I went in, and I sang, with everyone else.

Because no matter what you do, you need to keep believing.

See you next time!

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New Local Project Classes!

Beth Whiteside Design +  ImagiKnit

I’m excited to announce that I’ve partnered with ImagiKnit to offer monthly project-based classes and workshops here in San Francisco. The Project of the Month  (PoM) classes are single-session two-hour classes designed to give you a jump start on making the selected project. Workshop classes are two or more sessions, and tackle larger projects with more moving parts. Both are designed to get you started on your project as well as give you the knowledge and skills necessary to successfully complete it.

More information on the classes we’re offering can be found on my website or on the ImagiKnit website. To reserve your spot in a class, call ImagiKnit: 415-621-6642. Got a project you’d like to see featured as a class? Get in touch! 

ImagiKnit Project of the Month, June: Taina Shawl

ImagiKnit Project of the Month, June: Taina Shawl

Workshop: The Linaza Shawl

Workshop: The Linaza Shawl

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Yarn Over Season: Feather Faggoting

Feather Faggoting post

If you are a systematic person you might expect yarn over season to conclude with a stitch pattern that combines a yarn over with a left-slanting purl decrease, aka SSP (slip, slip, purl two together through the back loop). Try a few stitches-worth of [yo, SSP] and you’ll understand why it is not listed in stitch dictionaries or used in patterns—it’s awkward, with a capital AWK! We’re going to conclude yarn over season with Feather Faggotting, a pattern showing how to use faggoting repeats in combination with other stitch patterns. In Feather Faggoting, 2-stitch columns of garter stitch are combined with 2-stitch columns of Purse Stitch.

Yarn Over Plus Purl Two Together Plus Garter Stitch

Looking at the stitch instructions below, note that this pattern requires no selvage stitches. The pattern repeat is written to place one of the garter stitch stitches at the beginning and one at the end, making them next to each other as you work the repeats. The maneuvers for “yo, p2tog” are the same as for Purse Stitch (for a refresher on it, go back one post).

Feather Faggoting (mult of 4 sts)

All rows *k1, yo, p2tog, k1; rep from * to end.

Cast on 20 or so stitches (some multiple of 4, that is). Work a couple of rows in stockinette  or garter stitch to give yourself a nice base. Then work the first row as written above.

When you get to the last few stitches, remember to end “p2tog, k1.” You shouldn’t have any more stitches.

When you turn the work the pattern begins as for Purse Stitch. You’ll see the stitches on the left needle are, from right to left: a purled final stitch (technically half of the garter pair), a right-slanting knit decrease stitch, and then the yarn over strand. After working half of the garter stitch pair, you begin with “yo, p2tog,” knit 1 to finish the repeat, and continue with the next repeat.

The fabric produced incorporates the characteristics of garter stitch you might expect: a more condensed row gauge and fewer stitches per inch than Purse Stitch. The yarn overs twist the same way over each other, but because the rows are more condensed they have less of a “herringbone” quality than in Purse Stitch. The columns of garter and faggoting create vertical textural design elements, making an intriguing fabric that lies flat.

Project

This week’s project is the same as last week’s, albeit with two more stitches in order to meet the repeat requirements of the stitch pattern. Note the gauge difference: more stitches per inch in pattern. Even with two more stitches cast on, this version is not quite as wide as the Purse Stitch version.

Finished measurements 15 inches around x 9 inches deep [38 x 23 cm]

Claudia Hand Painted Yarns Drama (100% linen; 270 yds/3.5 oz [247 m/100 g]): small amount of 1 skein (~40-45 g)
US 6 [3.75mm] needles or size to get gauge
Same size 24 inch [60 cm] circular needle for 3-needle join
F/3.75mm crochet hook
Tapestry needle

Gauge 15 sts and 34 rows = 4 inches [10 cm] in Feather Faggoting, before blocking

LOOSELY cast on 28 stitches. Work Feather Faggoting until piece measures 18 inches [45.5 cm]. Bind off: k2tog, *k1, slip sts back to right needle, k2tog tbl; rep from * to last 2 sts, one on each needle; bind off 1 st, fasten off.

Finishing

Picking up stitches

Picking up stitches

With RS facing and circular needle, pick up and knit 1 st for every 2 rows along side edge to an even number of stitches.

With WS together, fold work at halfway point and pull out cable so needle tips face in same direction. Holding needles parallel,* knit 1 st through both front and back needle; knit second st through front and back; bind off 1 st; repeat from * until all sts have been bound off. Leaving tail, cut and fasten off. Repeat for other side. Weave in ends.

Joining the side edges

With yarn held double and crochet hook make a chain 30 inches [145 cm] long. Working about 1½ inch [4 cm] from top and beginning at side edge, thread drawstring through mesh, overlapping ends at side. Tie ends together.


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Yarn Over Season: Purse Stitch

Purse Stitch post

We’ve looked at the faggoting fabrics produced by the two knit decreases. Now it’s time to try a purl decrease: purl two together (p2tog). The yarn will always begin at the front of the work and go completely around the right needle to get where it needs to be to work the decrease. The resulting fabric is open, with much the same character as Basic Faggoting, and is known in most stitch dictionaries as Purse Stitch.

Yarn Over Plus Purl Two Together

Make a k2tog, turn the work, and what do you see? A p2tog, a right-slanting decrease made with purl stitches. As when a k2tog follows a yarn over, it makes a smooth eyelet, one in which the stitch in the yarn over column of stitches is hidden behind the decrease column stitch.

Purse Stitch (mult of 2 sts +2)

All rows k1, *yo, p2tog; rep from * to last st, k1.

Cast on 20 or so stitches again, and work a couple of rows in stockinette stitch as a base. Then work the first row as written above. I find this stitch pattern to be the easiest of the three to work: the right needle is inserted into the open right side of the first stitch on the left needle and simply continues through to the second. No fuss, no muss, no need to pull the fabric down to expose the holes in the center of the stitches.

Remember to end “p2tog, k1!”

After the first row, when you turn the work you’ll see the stitches on the left needle are, from right to left: a purled selvage, a right-slanting knit decrease stitch, and then the yarn over strand. After working the selvage stitch, you begin the “yo, p2tog” repeat again. In Purse Stitch you insert the right needle into the decrease stitch first, then continue through the yarn over. Because p2tog is a right-slanting decrease the yarn over ends up on top. Continue across the row, again remembering to end with p2tog, k1.

If you’ve been working swatches, you’ll notice the Purse Stitch swatch bears a striking resemblance to the Basic Faggoting swatch. Look at them up close. The structures are reflections of each other, yarn over strands and backbone decreases slanting  in opposite directions. Something to ponder as you make this week’s project!

Difference between basic faggoting and purse stitch

Project

Given its name, it seems like what one should make with Purse stitch is just that: a purse. Or at least a little project bag. I chose to use a bit of sport weight linen left over from a top I designed for Claudia Hand Painted Yarns. Leftover cotton or other firm fiber would work well too.

Finished measurements 16 around x 9 inches deep [40.5 x 23 cm]

Claudia Hand Painted Yarns Drama (100% linen; 270 yds/3.5 oz [247 m/100 g]): small amount of 1 skein (~40-45 g)
US 6 [3.75mm] needles or size to get gauge
Same size 24 inch [60 cm] circular needle for 3-needle join
F/3.75mm crochet hook
Tapestry needle

Gauge 12 sts and 30 rows = 4 inches [10 cm] in Purse Stitch, before blocking

LOOSELY cast on 26 stitches. Work in Purse Stitch until piece measures 18 inches [45.5 cm]. Bind off: k2tog, *k1, slip sts back to right needle, k2tog tbl; rep from * to last 2 sts, one on each needle; bind off 1 st, fasten off.

Finishing

Picking up stitches

Picking up stitches

With RS facing and circular needle, pick up and knit 1 st for every 2 rows along side edge to an even number of stitches.

With WS together, fold work at halfway point and pull out cable so needle tips face in same direction. Holding needles parallel,* knit 1 st through both front and back needle; knit second st through front and back; bind off 1 st; repeat from * until all sts have been bound off. Leaving tail, cut and fasten off. Repeat for other side. Weave in ends.

Joining the side edges

With yarn held double and crochet hook make a chain 30 inches [145 cm] long. Working about 1½ inch [4 cm] from top and beginning at side edge, thread drawstring through mesh, overlapping ends at side. Tie ends together.


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