This weekend, happy knitters and crocheters will head to Cranberry for the seventh annual Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival.
Organized by Barbara Grossman, the festival has become a popular event for regional yarn lovers, some coming as far away as Ohio and New York for the yearly event.
“Last year, we had over 2,000 attend and that was the weekend after the snow storm,” Grossman said.
This year, the festival moves to a three-day format that will kick off Friday night with a sneak preview of the marketplace followed by a fashion show.
Much to Grossman's excitement, Steven Berg, a well-known fashion designer and yarn shop owner from Minneapolis, will appear in the show.
“We just had the rock star of knitting say that he will emcee our show. StevenBe, as he is known, is very well known in our circle and will be coming,” she said.
The fashion show will have more than 60 garments made by designers of yarn apparel and yarn manufacturers.
“Students from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh will be modeling the clothing. It should be great fun,” Grossman said.
Guests will be able to purchase patterns of the garments to create for themselves.
The festival also features more than 50 yarn shops and vendors from around the world, according to Grossman. Vendors will sell yarn, of course, but supplies such as needles, hooks, books and patterns, and even completed projects also will be available.
Grossman noted that the classes and demonstrations held by the knitting experts are a favorite of attendees at the event.
Boy, are they in luck this year.
There are more than 40 classes slated for the festival, include knitting and crocheting classes at all skill levels, tri-loom weaving, spinning and other topics.
“We have classes for beginners -- including free Learn-2-Knit and Learn-2-Crochet -- as well as classes for those with years of experience,” Grossman said.
She said several local Girl Scout troops also will be heading to the show to learn how to knit and crochet.
“It is so important for our younger people to learn the fiber arts so the traditions don’t die,” Grossman said. “I am so happy they are coming.”
Nicky Epstein, a well-known knitter and author, will teach four classes this weekend, including Happy Hat Knitting, Edging Magic & Flower Power Class, Designing Embroider on Knitting and Nicky Epstein’s Knitting Block Party.
Epstein is the author of more than 25 knit and crochet books, and she teaches across the country and internationally.
An beloved fashion icon also will make an appearance at the event. Get ready for Barbie-mania.
“One of the things that we have really been looking forward to is our 'A Barbie Fashion Retrospective,' featuring Barbie,” Grossman said.
Dozens of Barbies dressed in Epstein’s creations from her books, “Knitting for Barbie,” “Crochet for Barbie” and “Barbie and Me” will be on display.
“We are going to have a contest too, so everyone can bring their own favorite Barbie and Ken fashions that they have created,” Grossman said with a laugh.
Festival-goers also can make a free button courtesy of the Pittsburgh Craft Collective, an organization for hand-crafters in Pittsburgh, and a free machine-felted fancy pin lead by Margo Duke.
Charity events have a place at the festival as well.
Crafters will be given free supplies to make a square that will be donated to Warm-up America, a nonprofit that distributes afghans, caps and other items donated by knitters and crocheters to people in need.
The festival also will serve as an official drop-off site for yarns and fabrics that will be donated to the Salvation Army’s 22nd Annual Fabric Fair. Donations may be given to the folks at the festival's registration desk.
Lest people think the event is geared solely for women, Grossman pointed to her own husband, Randy Grossman, a former player with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who also is an avid knitter.
“We hope all fiber artists come. This isn’t geared for knitters or crocheters, men or women, but everyone,” she said, “If a big, former Steeler can knit, anyone can.”
The festival will be held at the Four Point Sheraton North from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. More information and advance tickets are available at www.pghknitandcrochet.com.