In Which I Sum Up the Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival

It’s been a fairly quiet winter, with constant snow dragging on and lots of socks on the needles.  We’ve had some stuff going on that has taken our attention, so we’ve really just hunkered down and focused on family the past few months. That and sock knitting. 🙂 

That said, I did come out from under the rock I’ve been hiding under and get out at least once!  On the weekend before Valentine’s Day, I attended the Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival for the first time.  I have to say, I was quite impressed.  I think I was expecting some little podunk thing, which really does a disservice to Pittsburgh and the organizers, because IT.  WAS.  AWESOME!!!

The PK&C Fest is in its 7th year, and was huge.  I don’t mean MDS&W-huge or Rhinebeck-huge, but still, really a lot bigger than I’d ever imagined.  This was the first year, I believe, that they extended it to be Friday through Sunday (instead of just Saturday and Sunday).  Well-known guests included Nicky Epstein and her traveling Barbie fashion display (really fascinating stuff – I was quite impressed with the thought and creativity that went into the handmade little outfits – they were worthy of any fashion designer!), and StephenBe, who I hear MC’d the Friday night fashion show. (I did not attend, but I might next year.)  I didn’t get a chance to talk to either of them, but I did watch their interactions with folks as I was near their booths and they both seemed like neat people.  (There were swarms, though, and I dislike crowds, which is why I hung back instead of diving into the fray.)

The amount of freebies handed out was astounding.  Between the yarn we received in classes, the yarn & pattern we received from sponsor Cascade for pre-registering, and the free classes on offer (“Learn to Knit” and “Learn to Crochet – I took the latter – sponsored by Coats & Clark) and Margo Duke’s free fancy pin machine felting class (really fun!), you really get into the spirit of the thing.  There was a lot of goodwill going around, though you did run into the occasional whiner who would complain that her free yarn was not the color she wanted, or who wouldn’t listen to a teacher’s instructions at all and then pitch a fit, throwing yarn and all. *eyeroll*  Thank goodness those incidents were few and far between.  (Honestly I think people get overstimulated sometimes and that can explain these outbursts.)

I think one of my favorite freebies was the button made by the Pittsburgh Craft Collective: we were invited to cut out a picture from a magazine in a particular size (they provided a template), and they made the button with it.  I got an adorable bee button!

The classes I took that really grabbed me were the Two Toe-Up Socks on a Needle class with Pam Kelly (and I am totally going to do that for my next pair of socks) and the lecture on the Leicester Longwool Sheep given by John Kirkwood (did you know this breed of sheep almost disappeared?  I hadn’t!)   I also took some of the sampler classes and solidified my understanding of traveling stitches and dropping stitches on purpose.

The marketplace was overwhelming the first time I walked into the Grand Ballroom – I had to go back in several times throughout the weekend, take a little bit in, then escape to a quiet area for awhile, then dip back in for more.  I ended up not spending too much money (I bought some Soak wash, a yarn bowl, and some highlighter tape — oooh, big spender there!).  I had resolved to not buy any yarn after last year’s Rhinebeck, but then I saw SpaceCadet Creations’ yarns and a gorgeous color of Estelle sock yarn, called Nightshade, just sang to me, so I bought it.  I enjoyed talking with owner Stephanie, too.

The hotel – Sheraton Four Points – was a nice facility.  I liked the open, five-story atrium, with the nice fountains and trees and big comfy chairs, which often provided an escape from the crowds for me.  The room my friend and I stayed in was comfy enough, the toiletries were cute, and the room service breakfast for 10 bucks a pop was really good.  I always have this idea in my head that room service is an extravagance, but honestly, 10 bucks a person for eggs, meat, potatoes, bread, coffee, juice and water is a REALLY good deal, and that included the tip.  Started my Sunday off on the right foot and I sailed through that day’s classes with nary a hunger pang.

I got home on Sunday evening in a haze of happy, and nattered on to Fred for hours about all the wonderful experiences I had.  🙂

In sum, while I didn’t see everything there was to see, or meet everyone there was to meet (and therefore apologize if I left out any guests of note or teachers that most people would be interested in hearing about), I would definitely attend the Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival again!  Barb Grossman and team should be commended for an excellent event!  It’s nice to have something so high quality so close to home.

Published by Beth

I currently reside in Pittsburgh, having moved here in May 2008. I live with my husband Fred and life is really awesome. In the past few years I have completely changed my life (and I couldn't do it without support from family and friends). I now work as a writer and editor, and my favorite topics to write about are how to live a more positive life, book reviews, and sharing my crafts. Welcome!

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