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.