Two of Wands

New York "Yarn Week" 2018 Recap

Collaborations, Inspiration, Travels, EventsAlexandra Tavel2 Comments

I'm finally back from one of the most exhilarating trips to New York which included an entire week filled to the max with yarn - making, designing, collaborating, planning, talking, sharing, loving everything YARN. It all started when Lion Brand Yarn asked me to attend their first ever Blogger Bash. I cannot tell you how honored I was and still am to have been included in the group of seven of the most talented, driven, and kind women in the yarn biz. Smartly, the blogger event was planned for the week before Vogue Knitting Live - a time when yarnies of the world converge in New York City for an epic convention filled with yarn (duh), patterns, workshops, fashion shows, and more inspiration than you can take. Even after attending annually over the past five years, it's still one of the most overwhelming weekends of my year.

Between the LB experience and VKL, my days and nights were filled with meetings, knit nights, parties, and yarn store runs. It all went by so fast and I can't believe how much was jam packed into such a short amount of time. I didn't document as much as I would have liked (nor are my photos the prettiest), but I've given a tiny sneak peek into this incredible week below. The only thing that could have been improved was the lighting situation in all of the venues, haha. PS: for the most amazing re-cap, I highly recommend visiting Stephanie's post on her blog All About Ami. She really outdid herself with the documentation.

Bundled up on the streets of the East Village, sporting my new Mariner's Cap and upcoming Tundra Scarf.

Bag lady status, "Santa Clausing" around town with my French Market Bag.

Arriving in New York always gives me the most invigorating jolt of energy. The sights, smells, sounds, and super speed pace is intense but totally my jam. Having been in LA for what was one of the hottest summers of my existence, I was so excited to bundle up and face the snow and wind. I didn't even mind schlepping my bags around town because it meant I could pop into any and every cozy coffee shop for an English Breakfast tea and a few rows of work.

The lovely lady Lion Brand Bloggers (Tamara of Moogly Blog, me, Jess from Make and Do Crew, Ashleigh from Sewrella, Stephanie from All About Ami, ChiWei from One Dog Woof, and Jessica from Mama in a Stitch) casually hanging out in LB CEO and President David Blumenthal's office.

Amen.

Getting to work with Lion Brand over the past year and a half has been hands down the most wonderful experience of my yarn career. Their mission is to "create a more colorful, connected, and giving world," and as a fifth generation family-run business (and the oldest knitting and craft yarn producer in the US!), this is the kindest corporate company I've ever experienced. They treat each other, their customers, and their bloggers like we are family as well. From the store employees at the Lion Brand Studio and outlet, to the marketing and design teams, the production and customer service teams, to the top level members of the Blumenthal family, you will not find a person without a smile and a word of encouragement.

It's so refreshing to be surrounded by people who want everyone around them to thrive as much as they do. They care about giving back and consistently donate yarn to churches, temples, synagogues, community centers, etc. Through their Vanna's signature lines, they have donated over $1.7 million to the St Jude Children's Research Hospital. I couldn't ask for a more inspiring company to work alongside! This year they are celebrating their 140th anniversary and I've shared an amazing timeline full of their milestones and accomplishments at the bottom of this post - be sure to check it out!

Exploring the Lion Brand warehouse in New Jersey.

Yarn jungle at the Lion Brand Yarn Outlet.

My Alpine Cable Pullover next to the Greyscale Poncho by Make & Do Crew.

A Julian Schnabel original adaptation of the Lion Brand logo!

Over the course of the three-day blogger bash (Tuesday-Thursday), we were given tours of the Lion Brand offices and yarn studio in NYC and their offices, warehouse, and outlet in New Jersey. We got to meet several members of the Blumenthal family, film videos with Shira, brainstorm exciting new endeavors, preview upcoming yarns (!!!!), and share the ups and downs of designing and blogging with each other.

Working from home and for the most part communicating only via screens, it can be a very lonely and isolating life doing what we do. We also for the most part only share the shiny final product, and it often feels like everyone else is pumping out content with total ease and has somehow managed to fit 50 hrs of work into a 24 hr day on top of personal and family commitments. It was just incredible to share this experience with the other blogger ladies and connect with them in person. While each of us is unique and have different strengths, it was amazing how we all share the same struggles and frustrations.

The blogger ladies alongside Mark McCowan, our main LB dude, aka Director of Influencer Marketing.

Showing our love for the LB Bonus Bundles currently exclusive to Michael's. 

It was also heartwarming to see that even though we are all in the same industry, we are not competitors. All I heard all week was advice, tips, positivity, and motivation from one chick to another. To say that I left with a full heart is an understatement! I'm so thankful to have met each of them and experience the special gifts they each have. Tamara (Moogly) is a total inspiration to all of us as one of the OG knitwear bloggers with a wealth of knowledge and inspiration, Jess (Make & Do Crew) just knocks me off my feet with her marketing skills from her advertising background and her modern take on crochet, ChiWei (One Dog Woof) constantly amazes me with her mathematical designs and the fact that she has a full time job (also fun fact: she once lived in my hometown, Loveland Ohio!), Stephanie (All About Ami) and her husband Ryan both have the most kind souls and positive energy I have every experienced and all the crochet and photography skills to boot, Ashley (Sewrella) and her husband CJ are a powerhouse of entrepreneurs who continue to inspire me with their go getter attitudes and ideas, and Jessica (Mama in a Stitch) blew me away with her relaxed and calming energy that she somehow maintains while creating an endless supply of knitwear hits faster than anyone I know!

Blogger life: gotta get the shot.

The shot.

We laughed over our shared love of neutrals (mostly grey) and silly things we do to "get the shot." We talked trends and favorite yarns. We shared resources and ideas. It was truly magical and I wish we all lived in the same place so we could have constant meet-ups. I am thankful that our time together was so full of events so we got to spend as much time together as possible while we were all in town.

Post daytime Lion Brand commitments, our first event was Tuesday Night where we gathered at Alan Cumming's East Village cabaret bar, Club Cumming where a weekly "Knit at Night" event is held. If this existed when I lived in NYC I would have been a regular! I can't tell you how special it was to enter this magical place full of people of every age, race, sexual identity and preference, color, and social status coming together over their love of yarn. Environments like this and the embracing of everything that makes us different and unique make my heart ache to be back in New York. There is truly nothing like it.

Club Cumming, 505 E 6th St in the East Village.

The colorful delights of Knit at Night inside Club Cumming.

The Queen herself doing what she does best.

This particular night at Club Cumming was hosted by Brini Maxwell and Josh Bennett as a kick-off to Vogue Knitting Live. The place was already packed by the time we got there but we snuggled into a corner and shared yarn stories over cocktails. My main yarn girl Katie from The Queen Stitch joined us and we all fangirled over meeting Josh.

The ladies with Josh Bennett.

On Wednesday night the LB bloggers and I held a "Cozy Sip 'n' Stitch" at Flatiron Hall, a place I recommended having held a knit night there with Katie in the past. It worked out perfectly, and 50 local knitters and crocheters made it out to craft with us on their long wooden tables. Special thanks to Lion Brand for providing us with Back to the Fuchsia and Swipe Right One & Done kits for our guests!

Back to the Fuchsia One & Done kit generously donated by Lion Brand. 

Knitting and cocktails go hand in hand.

This night was so special because I got to reconnect with old knit night pals like Katie and Niree Noel and meet some fellow knitters and crocheters who up to this point I had only connected with via social media. We all agreed it was like meeting a room full of celebrities, haha :)

My former knit night gals Katie from The Queen Stitch and Niree from @niree_knits, me, and Michele Costa from Stitch & Hustle

Me with the lovely Rose from @rose_knits.

Katie from The Queen Stitch and I fangirling next to Toni from TL Yarn Crafts.

LB Blogger ladies with Michele Costa from Stitch & Hustle at our Cozy Sip 'n' Stitch.

After our last Lion Brand meeting on Thursday (tears were shed), Jess from Make & Do Crew and I set off for lunch in the West Village with the lovely Helen and Ella from LoveCrafts. We have both done projects with them in the past and it was so refreshing to meet such kind and inspiring women. I'm so looking forward to working on more projects with them! That night they hosted the first ever US Flock Party where designers and enthusiasts came together over British-inspired treats and favors.

Me, Michele, and Katie indulging in the cutest British-themed cookies I've ever seen.

I'm so honored to have been invited to this special night. It gave us all a chance to really get to know each other better and run into friendly faces from throughout the week, and I also had the opportunity to meet one of my yarn girl crushes, Amy Small from KnitCollage. I've been drooling over her handspun yarns for years and it turns out she's one of the sweetest, most down to earth chicks ever. Getting to meet the new LoveCrafts US team and learn about their new yarn lines Willow & Lark and The Yarn Collective was definitely the highlight of the event. This was the last night in New York for many of the LB bloggers so saying goodbye to them at the end of the evening was especially sad.

Group shot during the LoveCrafts Flock Party.

The culmination of the whole week was of course Vogue Knitting Live. Two giant floors filled with walls of yarn, hordes of humans, every color of the rainbow, sensory overload, and terrible, terrible, lighting. Ok, I know I mentioned the lighting before but for real it is the worst. Actually it's competing with the carpet (see above, the Flock party was held at the same venue). It is impossible to take a good photo under this yellow fluorescent sickening glow and it's really a shame because the experience deserves to be showcased in much better light (pun intended). And of course it's held in the center of the universe, aka Times Square, none the less. It's the most exhausting but rewarding explosion of fun. Thank goodness for the LoveKnitting photo booth so we could get at least one shot where we look decently human. 

Love Crafts

This year I attended with my two best yarn buds, Katie from The Queen Stitch and my dear friend Paige Haynes (who you probably recognize from most of my instagram photos - she doubles as a damn good model). Each year I attend I run into more and more friends and get introduced to people who are true inspirations. This year I left with more opportunities than ever before and I am so excited for what will unfold this year because of this weekend.

Paige and me with creative genius London Kaye.

Me with the lovely Alberto from We Are Knitters.

Me with self-proclaimed "yarn ho" Gaye Glasspie of GGMadeIt.

It's always a pleasure to run into friendly faces like London Kaye, Alberto from WAK, and Gaye Glasspie. London was part of my NYC Knit Night crew and seeing her cheerful and insanely creative colorful additions to the city always put a smile on my face. I'm so excited she's currently in LA as well and I can spot her art around town here too. She has also done a lot of work with Lion Brand and is about to launch a series of exclusive yarn bombing kits with them! In the meantime you can already shop her new LKYC yarn line that will be featured in the kits.

I met Alberto at the first Our Maker Life conference in 2016. I couldn't believe how kind he was and it's such a joy to run into him at yarn events. I'm hoping to work on a project with them at some point! GG and I have been following each other on social media for a few years and I finally got to meet her in person last year at VKL. She is such a bright shining soul and gives so much love to the whole community, constantly promoting other designers and makers. 

Me with Helen and Ella of LoveKnitting and LoveCrochet.

Me with Amy Small of Knit Collage.

It was wonderful to have a second chance to chat with some new friends I had made throughout the week, like Helen and Ella of LoveCrafts and Amy of Knit Collage. I'm so inspired by all of them and can't wait to forge ongoing relationships. 

Paige and me laughing with Gabi Blumberg of Maison Dene over our new love of speckled yarn.

Kristy Glass and I forced to take a prom style photo because we both have the same "good side," haha.

There are never a lack of technicolor shawls at VKL and I must admit they have never really been something I'm into. But one of the funniest moments of the show came while running into Gabi of Maison Dene at the Fuse Fiber Studio booth after we both overheard each other marveling at her gorgeous hand-dyed yarns and asking ourselves out loud "am I a shawl person now?" I gotta say, coming across beautiful yarns like this does have me questioning my no technicolor shawl policy. 

Running into Kristy Glass is always a blast, but we can never seem to find a good pose to show off our mutual good side. I think this one above is our best attempt yet though :)

Other fun run-ins included Vanessa from Vanessa Knits, Casey from Prem Knits, Jen Geigley, and Hannah from True Stitches Brand. Both Hannah and Vanessa showed up in their Hanks Pockets, which just made me so happy as it's my all-time favorite accessory and it's produced by one of Paige's and my dear friends Hannah King. 

  Hannah from True Stitches Brand, Paige, and me shakin' our pockets.

Hannah from True Stitches Brand, Paige, and me shakin' our pockets.

This was definitely my favorite VKL yet and I left feeling more inspired and motivated than ever before. I cannot wait to dive into new projects and share them with all of you!

Favorite sign of the event.

I wanted to end my post with a HUGE thank you to Lion Brand Yarn for bringing me to NYC for this incredible week. It's going to be a hard one to top and we still have the entire year left! I could go on and on about LB and how grateful I am for my relationship with them, but I'll leave you with this timeline that showcases so many of their important contributions to the yarn world. Congratulations to them on an ongoing successful business based around family and making people feel good!