CHSI Stitches 2020
Hi! How are you doing?
It’s a blustery Wednesday here in Winwick – not so different, really, from two weekends ago when I drove down to Birmingham to meet up with the West Yorkshire Spinners team for the CHSI Stitches trade show. I can’t believe that it’s been a year since I was last there – that was the official launch of the Winwick Mum Collection of Signature 4ply yarn which means that it’s been nearly a year since it’s been out in the world! Wow, that year has gone quickly – and it’s been an amazing one too as I’ve seen my yarn knitted up into so many projects.
This year’s trade show was a good opportunity for me to see what’s coming up from West Yorkshire Spinners (oh, I’m so nosey!) and now you can have a sneak peek too! Do you want to come and have a look around?
If you’ve never been to the NEC (National Exhibition Centre) in Birmingham, it’s a huge place (you could easily get lost just walking from the many car parks) with lots and lots of exhibition halls. The car park that I ended up in was full of men and boys in wellies, outdoor jackets and carrying various bits of equipment that looked like they were there for some kind of backwoodsman event. I think Bear Gryllsmight have been there and I got some funny looks, clearly standing out as someone who wouldn’t be attending that event!
Once I had found my hall and collected my badge, it was time to find my way around inside. The show looked a bit like one of the yarn shows that you might have been to at somewhere like Alexandra Palace or Harrogate rather than Yarndale or Woolfest. There were lots and lots of stands laid out in a grid formation – yarn companies, fabric companies, felting, papercraft, gadgets – pretty much any kind craft that you can think of. I didn’t take any pictures because this is a showcase for the exhibitors’ new stock, a chance for their stockists to see things first and I didn’t want to upset anybody by spoiling any secrets!
I’m OK to show you this place, though … 😀
I was there to chat to stockists about socks, and it was also a good chance for me to spend some time with the WYS team. I am very proud to be part of what is happening with this company, and I love that they include me in events like this.
There’s something really exciting about being a trade show as an exhibitor – I guess this applies to any show, really – and what I really like is that it feels like you’re on a stage set. Everything is set up to be shown off to its best advantage, and it all just feels a bit special to me.
This year’s Signature display was the Cocktails and Country Birds range with contrasting colours, much in the way that my yarn was displayed last year. There are so many solid colours in the Signature range now that there’s a fabulous choice if you want to make contrast socks – or, of course, anything else – with your 4ply yarn. (I must remember it’s not just for socks! 😀)
The colours in this display were fabulous in real life – so bright and vibrant. Bo Peep, Colour Lab and my Winwick Mum collection in the Signature 4ply were all new last year so it was lovely to see the ranges all together again. A bit like a friends’ reunion!
There are some brand new blanket kits coming out in the Bo Peep yarn this year – they’re just lovely so do look out for them. The boxes are there in the corner, small ones stacked on top of each other. I did intend to take a photo of the blanket pictures but every time I got my camera out, they were in the hands of someone else who was admiring them – you’ll just have to take my word for it and look out for them in the shops!
And look who I spotted hiding under the clothes rail …
It’s Bo Bear! Yes, both of them are called Bo, and the pattern was designed by Emma Varnam for the Great Big Adventure collection. Bo 1 and Bo 2 are still looking very fetching in their crocheted clothes and there might have been a bit of surreptitious snuggling going on during the day. Emma talks about how her toys have to have the “pillow factor” which means that she designs toys that children (and adults!) want to snuggle in bed. There really is something about all of her toys, but particularly these bears that make you forget to put them down once you pick them up!
Also on display was the Emmeline blanket designed in Re:treat yarn by my friend Lynne Rowe.
Lynne designed the blanket as a series of squares which use repetitive stitches to focus your mind on your knitting and encourage you to slow down and focus on what you are creating. There’s a new range of garment patterns to knit in the chunky roving as well.
The Re:treat was right next to The Croft yarn, a very special yarn which supports the Shetland crofting communities that help to supply it. It’s been very popular and is now available in a range of solid and tweed shades. You can read more about the Shetland sheep and the other breeds that WYS use here.
On this back wall is something else rather special … WYS stockists and customers have been asking for a 4ply version of their Exquisite yarn and it’s here! These are the first colours that have been dyed, and it’s such gorgeous yarn. It’s a blend of Falkland Merino wool and Mulberry silk and oh my life, it feels amazing!
There’s a range of garments designed in this yarn too by Chloe Birch and they are beautiful; I think that Chloe’s designs are really accessible and have a timeless quality to them that will appeal to a broad range of people. I particularly love this deep red top which can be made either as a jumper or a cardigan in a rather clever way. If I had more time, this one would be on my needles! As it was, I have been wondering how this yarn would work for socks (what? You’ve only just noticed I’m completely obsessed?!) and I think they would feel incredible on your feet, but I’m not sure how they would wear. One to think about another day, perhaps!
What I liked very much about the collection this year is that WYS are focussing on their roots, on the yarns that the company was founded on such as these Fleece yarns – traditional British breeds of Blueface Leicester, Wensleydale and Jacobs.
Their newest yarn, Bo Peep Pure, is a pure Falkland Islands wool which is very VERY squishable. Their first range is designed for babies and this yarn would be amazing knitted up as baby clothes – but I think it would also be amazing for colourwork jumpers for grown ups too! Another one that I’d love to get on my needles but it might just have to wait!
Can you see how beautifully these yarns are lined up? The Exquisite is on the left and the Pure is on the right. I decided that my most important job for the day was to keep lining up the skeins – because that meant I got to squish them every time I did! Oh my, they feel incredible and I am sure that WYS have a hit on their hands with both of them!
I did wonder whether anybody would notice if I disappeared with them under my arm when I left but as there were still two more days of the show left, I thought that might not be a good idea. I do strongly encourage you to look out for them if your local yarn shop sells them, though! The Pure is an untreated sustainable wool too, so if that’s your thing then you definitely need to check it out.
It never feels like such a long journey home after something like this because I’m always buzzing with ideas and excitement! It was lovely to spend the day with the folks from my favourite yarn mill and also to see so many customers as well, as the weather was truly awful and I am sure that it would have been easy to have stayed indoors instead.
I’ve got another trade show visit lined up for later this year so I’ll be sure to tell you all about that one too, and see how it might be different to this one. I must say, I didn’t think that I’d ever be going to yarn trade shows, never mind being able to tell you all about them as well, so that’s definitely something that I’m very grateful for!
Thanks for coming with me! 😀