Cat’s Corner: My First Trip to Stitches East

Hello Craftsy Folks!

I recently attended Stitches East in Hartford, CT (you may have seen the  Craftsy blog post by Rebecca). It’s an event that I have always wanted to attend and was thrilled at the opportunity! My co-workers Emma, Rebecca and Karleen were also in attendance. We had a great time meeting our customers and hearing about their experiences with Craftsy. As a special treat, we also visited with the instructors and vendors that we don’t see on a day-to-day basis. I met some wonderful and super-crafty people. It was an experience I won’t soon forget.

Cat's Corner at Stitches East

One thing that I love so much about crochet and other crafts is that it connects me to the past in a unique way. Knowing that I am working with hooks (or needles, for you knitters!) and yarn in a way that people have been doing for thousands of years is profound. It connects all of us. I heard some great stories at Stitches, but there were three women whose stories really touched me.

Noelle is a native New Yorker who is a life-long knitter and crocheter. She sat down in the Craftsy booth to watch Ragga Eiriksdottir’s Lopi Sweater demo and we began to chat. She told me that she taught herself to crochet when she was nine years old. Her mother would give her a dime to buy ice cream and she would buy a pickle instead because it cost a few cents less. She would then save those pennies until she had enough to purchase a crochet hook, which sold for ten cents at the time. Noelle would then visit the local baker who gave her baker’s twine and she would crochet doilies with it. Her mother was non-to-pleased with her new found hobby. She felt Noelle was too skinny and the extra pennies for the ice cream were worth it. I love how determined and disciplined she was as a young girl to pursue her passion!

Linda is a lovely woman I met while chatting with Laurel and John Murphy in the booth. Linda is also a life-long knitter who prides herself on being able to catch mistakes in difficult knitting patterns. She has personally corrected several well-known designer’s patterns. She also owns a company called “Hand-Knit With Love” that makes baby blankets, afghans, shawls and more. Look her up if you need a beautiful hand-knit item or a tech editor.

At the Student Banquet, I was fortunate to be seated next to Diana Baber who runs the registration desk at XRX. What a charming, brilliant and sweet woman! When she was a girl she saved her babysitting money to buy enough Red Heart Yarn to make her first knitting project- a sweater! What a brave soul. It’s no wonder she later became the president of the Atlanta Knitting Guild. Diana isn’t the only person in her family that knits, either. Her grandmother knit socks for soldiers in WWI and received a certificate of thanks from the US Government, which Diana still has. Thank you ladies for sharing your great stories with me. You were one of the highlights of my trip.

Stitches East Student Banquet

They very best part of Stitches for me was getting to take my first crochet class ever! Like a lot of crocheters and knitters, I am self-taught. I had a bit of help from several wonderful and patient women when I was beginning, but I’ve never taken a formal class. I was so thrilled to see that Ragga was teaching a few Tunisian Crochet classes. I’ve been completely obsessed with Tunisian Crochet for a couple of years now, but again, I taught myself. It was wonderful to get some great tips and tricks from one of the world’s greatest Tunisian crocheters (and knitters, of course). Not only is she knowledgeable, but she is a very sweet and funny woman. I posted a photo of the wrist warmer we made in a photo at the end of the blog. I am so grateful to have met her and sat in on her class (thanks Benjamin Levisay!). If you ever have the chance, I would encourage you to take a class from her. I think there may be one on Craftsy. If you can imagine. *wink wink*

Below are some snapshots from the show. It would take me a very long time to thank and mention all of the neat people I met at Stitches, but hopefully you can tell what a fun time we all had from the photos:

Craftsy Stitches East Highlights

(Clockwise from top left) Me and the Craftsy Girls wishing everyone a happy Yarn Day (photo taken by Jamie from the Craft Yarn Council), Craftsy Instructors Marly Bird and Gwen Bortner, Benjamin Levisay and Jeannie Randolph of Fiesta yarns, Ragga’s top-down Lopi Sweater demo.

Craftsy Stitches East Highlights

Michelle and Marcy from Skacel, Erlinda from Cascade, Katie (my super-fab sales rep) and Mary Catherine from Universal Yarns, Amy from Fiesta Yarns with famed author, crocheter, knitter and Craftsy instructor, Kristen Omdahl.

Craftsy Stitches East Highlights

The Kollage booth, The ladies from Jimmy Beans Wool, the Louet booth with the gorgeous jacket and dress featured in the fashion show (they let me wear the jacket on Saturday- thanks, Louet!!!), The Fiesta booth.

Craftsy Stitches East Highlights

The Isager booth, The Craftsy booth, lovely Emma talking to one of our booth’s visitors, our table at the Student Banquet, we were seated with Malbrigo, Twisted Sisters and Diana Baber.

Craftsy Stitches East Highlights

Here’s me with Tobias from Malabrigo (I’m wearing another sweater from Louet), Angela and The Crochet Dude- Drew Emborsky, Benjamin Levisay and Lily Chin in her amazing Tunisian crocheted referee’s outfit, The Crochet Dude’s new and fantastic Decades Collection Yarn.

Stitches East Fodder

I found some great stuff at the show, too: Jojoland Harmony Lace Yarn, a cute calendar and Christmas cards from Thomas Joseph (I can’t remember which booth I got this from, sorry!), a wonderful project bag from Jessica Dekker Designs, and there’s the wrist warmer from Ragga’s class  made with Blue Sky Alpaca’s Organic Cotton and Lopi yarns. I immediately started a cowl with the Noro Silk Garden I scored, and I couldn’t resist the hot Breast Cancer Awareness colorway in Fiesta Yarns’ Ballerina lace. Next time I’m bringing a bigger suitcase!

Thanks again to Benjamin Levisay and his team at XRX Books/Knitting Universe for putting together such a great show! I wish I was able to tell you about every second of it. We had a wonderful time. I would encourage all of you to get to a Stitches near you soon! Thanks for reading!




MaryBeth Hatter

Congratulations Cat on Living your dream! You are such an inspiration!

Cat Stolzenbach

Thank you, Marybeth! You are the one who is inspirational! You helped set me on my path. I am forever grateful to you and your patient instruction and encouragement. I think about you all of the time and miss hanging out with you. Big love!


i haven’t been to Stitches in a couple of years. Your post *really* makes me want to go again! Thanks for the great recap. :)

Cat Stolzenbach

You are so welcome! I hope you get to go again soon. I had so much fun. Thanks for reading!

Diana Baber

Cat, it was great meeting you and thanks for getting me started learning how to Tunisian crochet. (Like I needed another obsession!)

Hope to see you at another event soon–you and the other girls did a great job representing Craftsy and you were a great dinner companion.

Cat Stolzenbach

Thank you for the kind words, Diana. It was lovely to meet you, as well. Good luck with Tunisian. It’s the best! I hope to see you again soon!


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