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Expo brings knitting enthusiasts to Schaumburg
By Deborah Pankey | Daily Herald Staff

A woman browses the skeins of vibrant yarns at 2009's Stitches Midwest.


Courtesy of XDX, Inc.

Expert knitter Gayle Roehm teaches Japanese techniques to students at 2009's Stitches Midwest.


Courtesy of XDX, Inc.

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Published: 8/19/2010 12:01 AM

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Thousands of knitters from across the region will be spinning yarns this weekend at the Stitches Knitting Expo in Schaumburg.

Actually, they'll be doing more than simply spinning yarns. They learn techniques for creating lace and Japanese-style yarn work, glimpse handmade fashions from professional designers and hobbyists alike, meet authors and swap patterns with fellow yarn dogs.

"We have over 1,000 students signed up from all over the country," said Lisa Mannes, spokeswoman for XDX, Inc., publisher of Knitter's Magazine.

The four-day expo runs today, Aug. 19, through Sunday, Aug. 22 at the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel and Convention Center.

Knitters, from novice to expert, can register on-site for sessions that range from one-hour workshops to six-hour intensive classes.

And then there's the public marketplace, a frenzy of threads as some 100 vendors display yarns of every imaginable color and knitting-related paraphernalia from buttons to books to needles and automatic knitting machines. Mannes said the market attracts several thousand enthusiasts each day.

That's where you'll find Cathy Bayer and her friends from Gene Ann's, a Barrington yarn shop.

"It's fun seeing the different yarns and fashions that people knit," said Bayer, who will be making her third pilgrimage to Stitches Midwest.

"It's inspiring," she continued, "but in a way it can be overwhelming, too - to see all the patterns you could make if you knit 48 hours a day."

While Bayer is a traditional knitter, working through spools of yarn with two needles, and Pat Hendrix of Batavia works on an automated carriage, both see the marketplace as the main attraction.

"Oh, the yarn," Hendrix said. "That's the big pull. You see the yarn and a project comes into mind."

Hendrix and her group, the Interknit Machine Knit Guild, will be at the market acquainting attendees with the knitting machines and what they can do.

"Most commercial sweaters, even if they say handmade, are knit on a machine and assembled by hand," Hendrix said. She said the machines, which looks like a keyboard and a machine carriage, make quick work of a project after the operator has mastered the machine.

"It's not an instant skill," she said, but once people try it, they're usually hooked.

"We'll be bringing a couple of machines and showing items that can be made. People can try it out," she said. "Last year we gained a few new members. If we can catch a couple more, I'll be thrilled."

Stitches Midwest

When: Aug. 19 to 22

Where: Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel and Convention Center, 1551 Thoreau Drive, Schaumburg

Tickets: Onsite class registration $35 and up; market admission $8 a day