Despite the cold and snow, thousands of yarn lovers descended on the Four Points by Sheraton Pittsburgh North in Mars over the weekend for the annual Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival.
“Given the weather, it was outstanding,” said organizer Barbara Grossman of the show’s turnout. “I think the knitters and crocheters and the fiber people are more reliable than the post man. The snow and the sleet didn’t keep them away.”
Now in its eighth year, the three-day event took place Friday through Sunday and attracted about 2,500 knitting enthusiasts from around the nation and Canada.
Among the 59 vendors displaying a variety of wares were local companies such as Yarns by Design in Oakmont and the Highland Alpacas farm in Grove City, which sells yarn and other items made from alpaca fur. There also were businesses from across the nation, including the Buffalo Wool Company out of Fort Worth, Texas, along with exhibits and demonstrations in knitting, crochet, weaving, spinning, basketry and more.
A big hit with attendees was Steven Berg of Yarn Garage. Better known as StevenBe, the Minnesota-based knitter known for his rocking designs and over-the-top personality was emcee of Friday’s fashion show, which featured knit and crochet designs from the 1930s through today. Some of the most futuristic designs came from StevenBe himself, including a shawl made out of old eight-track tape and a vest that featured bungee chord and chain link details.
This is the second year in a row Berg has hosted the fashion show—which featured more than 100 garments—and he said he’ll be back for more next year.
“I like to adlib and add a little humor to the show, but I also like to educate people,” Berg said.
Another popular area was the needle felting area sponsored by Gloria Horn Sewing Studios. Attendees were invited to pick pieces of scraps of fabric and use one of several felting machines on display to stitch the pieces into a neck warmer.
“We got a lot of first timers and we got a lot of repeats, too,” said Sue Cook of the Gloria Horn Sewing Studio in Mt. Lebanon.
Attendees at the show also were given free supplies courtesy of craft retailer Pat Catan’s to make a square that will be donated to Warm-up America, a nonprofit that distributes afghans, caps and other items to people in need.
This was the first year the show featured a full three days of classes and exhibits. For next year, Grossman said she'll considering adding a fourth day in which knitting and crochet instructors develop their teaching methods.