Fiber festival flavor: Barcelona Knits 2019 and Stitches West 2020

Crowds at fiber festivals.

One of the things I love most about traveling to fiber festivals around the world — and I’m privileged to consider this part of my work — is getting to experience joining the local fiber community, if only for a few days. I’m very lucky to be part of an active and vibrant knitting community in New York City, and while many events have become destinations in and of themselves (the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, the New York Sheep & Wool Festival and even Vogue Knitting Live NYC), they each have a feel that’s all their own.

Posing with Bellota magazine.

At Barcelona Knits this past November, many of the vendors were from Spain or elsewhere in Europe. Some of my favorite finds were El Robledal de la Santa, run by Jackson and David, who breed Angora goats in Extremadura, in Southwest Spain, Lanivendole, run by Stefania and Giula, who hand dye Italian fibers, and the Spain-based knitting magazine Bellota.

Rosa Pomar in the booth for Retrosaria Rosa Pomar.

I also finally got to meet Rosa Pomar of Lisbon, Portugal LYS Retrosaria Rosa Pomar and designer of several patterns, including the Arbusto sweater from Issue 6 of Laine magazine, and project bag maker and designer Sara Maternini La Cave à Laine.

Bright speckled yarn.

The venue, the WTC in Barcelona, was at the end of the famous Ramblas, a pedestrian mall lined with outdoor cafes and street performers. The night before the show, wristbands for attendees who had already bought tickets were handed out at Barcelona LYS Lalanalú, with another gathering at a nearby LYS, Miss Kits, which provided a window into the local yarn community. Miss Kits was jam packed with indie-dyed yarn, including local brands that were also at the show, such as Catalonia-based Sóc una troca (and it was a short tip to the most delicious ham at Reserva Ibérica).

Sparkly letters spell out Makery.

Stitches West, which I attended last week in Santa Clara, California, is a massive show spanning a huge convention floor, but still manages to retain that local flavor. This is most apparent in the {Among Friends} Neighborhood, which for the last few years has been comprised of vendors who have gotten to know each other at shows. This year, that included Indie Untangled vendors Sarah of The Dye Project, which specializes in non-Superwash yarns, and Thao of Nerd Bird Makery, which creates enamel pins, T-shirts and other accessories that represents our diverse crafting community.

Gold jewelry.

Although I would have traveled “off campus” if I’d had a car, I didn’t even have to leave the convention center to visit Northern California LYSes like Firebird Yarns, which brought a large selection of yarn from Virginia-based IU vendor Brooke of Fully Spun as well as new indie yarn discoveries. I also found beautiful jewelry from a Vallejo maker named Casey of Aquacherry.

And though the show was huge — I’ve told friends it was like Rhinebeck and VKL NYC rolled into one — you were still able to feel a sense of community by sitting in the bar of the Hilton attached to the convention center, which we yarn folks of course took over (plus, it’s down the street from the most incredible ramen). I also was excited to finally meet Jasmin and Gigi from the Knitmore Girls podcast, which was one of the first knitting podcasts I started listening to years ago!

Of course, the knitting community feels like “home” no matter where you are.

Rhinebeck Trunk Show 2.0

Trunk show photos courtesy of Wil Waldon.

Trunk show photos courtesy of Wil Waldon.

This year, I got a decent head start in preparing for Rhinebeck. Not only have I been diligently working on one of my Rhinebeck sweaters (Laura Aylor’s appropriately named Rhinecliff) but I’ve also been scheming on how to make that little trunk show even better…

I’m excited to announce that the second annual Indie Untangled Rhinebeck Trunk Show will take place on Friday, Oct. 16 from 5 to 9 p.m. — and it will have even more indie.

I’ve booked double the space at the Best Western Plus (where we were last year, when it was called the Garden Plaza Hotel) in Kingston, N.Y., which is right across the Hudson River from Rhinebeck, and I’ll be joined by more than two dozen indie artisans, including several new vendors, many of whom I’ve gotten to know over the last several months. They will be selling hand-dyed yarn and fiber and handmade project bags, stitch markers, lotion bars and other knitting-related gifts. There will even be a small UK contingent, with Patti Odinak, the owner of Yarn Culture, an LYS based just outside of Rochester, N.Y., bringing skeins from The Uncommon Thread and Eden Cottage Yarns.

Like every good kickoff party, there will also be goody bags (which will of course be a crafty endeavor for me — I’ve got a stamp and ink pad all ready!) filled with fibery gifts and discounts from the show’s vendors and sponsors, available to the first 100 shoppers. Over the next few months, Maria from the Subway Knits podcast and blog will help you get to know many of the trunk show vendors through her Road to Rhinebeck series, and I’ll be profiling the event’s generous sponsors here on the blog.

So, go ahead and get started on your Rhinebeck knitting, and get ready to be enabled!

Fiber festival season

Felted pumpkins from Decadent Fibers at last year's Kings County Fiber Festival.

Felted pumpkins from Decadent Fibers at last year’s Kings County Fiber Festival.

If it were possible to overdose on yarn (but really, we all know that it isn’t) this time of year is when it would happen. Just like non-knitting folks see Pumpkin Spice Everything, there is so much going on in the fiber world.

Take this weekend, for example. Not only is it the NYC Yarn Crawl, but there’s also another fun event that you should really check out if you happen to be in the New York area. On Saturday, the Kings County Fiber Festival will be held at The Old Stone House in Park Slope, Brooklyn. The festival brings together a number of local and regional dyers and spinners — including Indie Untangled’s very own Queen Bee Fibers — who line the picturesque streets on a (hopefully) sunny and crisp fall day. Local group Spin City will also be practicing for the fleece-to-shawl competition that takes place at the NY Sheep and Wool Festival. So even if you are going to Rhinebeck, think of this as a low-key warm-up.

There are also a number of vendors selling all sorts of handmade items, from jewelry to candles (Artikal has some beautiful hats), so it’s a perfect thing to bring your non-fiber-obsessed friends to.

Hand-dyed fibery goodness from Queen Bee Fibers.

Hand-dyed fibery goodness from Queen Bee Fibers.

I caught up with KCFF organizer Maxcine DeGouttes, who ran Brooklyn’s Stitch Therapy yarn shop for many years and founded the festival in 2012:

Tell me about how you came up with the idea for the festival.

Well, the idea was brewing for a year and a half before it got off the ground. The opportunity to curate a larger fiber marketplace beyond the walls of Stitch Therapy had great appeal, and who doesn’t love a fun festival at the beginning of the fiber season in Brooklyn, NY? In the 10 years of Stitch Therapy, my customers came from far and wide and the one thing that they all had in common was their passion for the fiber. The other was the desire to learn and share something new. The city is filled with creativity and the Kings county Fiber Festival is a subway, bus or short walk away.

Photo via Stitch Therapy.

Photo via Stitch Therapy.

What would you say makes it different from other fiber festivals?

Three years is young for a festival. The size is intimate and open to a more inclusive growth to celebrate the handmade. The location at the Old Stone House takes up a full city block and in October the leaves are changing colors and the newly refurbished park is a beautiful place within Brooklyn. New York City is filled with locals and the Kings County Fiber Festival turns Brooklyn into a small town for eight hours.

Since it’s held outside in the middle of Brooklyn, have you met anyone who’s been inspired to start knitting, spinning or felting by coming to the festival?

Well, starting with the free finger knitting for kids and the spinning demos, there are always beginners on the day of the festival, but I would have to say the most exciting is when a kid holds up their strand of finger knitting and introduces me to the friend that she brought with her for a “play date” at the Kings County Fiber Festival.

A custom wheel at the festival. Photo via Stitch Therapy.

A custom wheel at the festival. Photo via Stitch Therapy.

Could you say if you have any plans for Stitch Therapy, or anything else in the works?

I’m in the middle of a Stitch Therapy design, a structural lace shawl sized for the opera in a jet black.

You can also check out the Stitch Therapy Pinterest boards and follow Maxcine on Facebook and Twitter.