When I first heard of it, I was reluctant and frankly a bit confused about this event. First of all, it’s often referred to as “NETA SPA” or even just “SPA”, which doesn’t really clarify anything about it. NETA stands for New England Textile Arts, and while I initially thought SPA was an abbreviation as well, it turns out it’s just a reference to an actual spa, as in a place one goes to relax and get away from it all. The full name of this event is “NETA Spa, Knit, and Spin”. I was a little concerned that it would be an insiders-only kind of party where everyone knew each other. I was even a little concerned that I would show up and no one would be there, that I’d awkwardly wander around Freeport hunting for fiber people and looking like a lost waif. I think my misimpressions stemmed from the lack of an online presence that NETA Spa, Knit & Spin has. There’s the blog, which contains about two posts per year. And then there’s the Facebook page.
But I went this past weekend, and I’m back to tell you that NETA Spa, Knit & Spin is a wonderful, joyous and uplifting event worth checking out! It’s a loosely organized event – the only organized parts are the marketplace and the fashion show. Otherwise it’s just a big, sprawling knitting circle. I did a woefully poor job of capturing it in photographs, so you’ll have to let me paint a picture with words (and photographs I grabbed from the internet).
First, I decided to park at the Hilton Garden Inn, where the Fiber Marketplace was hosted. I noticed that Freeport was packed with people and many of them were wearing obviously hand-knit things. Mostly shawls. Non-knitters rarely wear shawls, but most knitters do. A shawl is like a beacon that screams “I’m a knitter!”. I love it.
Managed to snap these three photos of the marketplace.
I wandered in to the Hilton Garden Inn and there were knitters and spinners EVERYWHERE. They were in the lobby, in the cafe and in the halls, just chit chatting and doing their craft, having a grand old time. I wanted to find the marketplace though. It was down the hall or through the side door, in the banquet hall/event area. It was wildly colorful and beautiful. Not too large, but one could easily spend a half an hour or more wandering about. There was plenty of high quality hand-spun and hand-dyed yarn and fiber available. There were also hand-made fiber tools, ceramics, and buttons. There were so many people wandering through the marketplace that I could hardly squeeze my way into a few of the booths. My personal favorite was Ball & Skein. I picked up a few skeins of luscious stuff to feed my yarn stash. I almost missed the little side room that housed even more vendors.
Also in the event area was a table with greeters and people collecting fashion show tickets from people who wouldn’t be able to attend – because the fashion show on Saturday night at the Harrasekett Inn was completely sold out and other people were ready to swoop in and claim the returned tickets.
After I visited the marketplace I returned to the Hilton Garden Inn lobby and scanned the room for an empty chair. There were a few here and there. I picked a random one, walked up to a crowd of strangers and asked if I could join them. I didn’t feel uncomfortable because these were obviously my people! They were immediately friendly and welcoming. It turned out I had a contingent of New Hampshire ladies on my left and another contingent of Connecticut ladies on my right. I stayed for several hours, finishing up my Leftie Shawl and chatting with all of the people in my general vicinity. I got to see all kinds of works in progress and several AMAZING show-and-tell finished projects.
The Daybreak Shawl. I want to make one of these too. It drapes so nicely.
It turned out that New Hampshire ladies on my left had all knit the Daybreak Shawl by Stephen West, which they were planning on exhibiting in the fashion show, and the Connecticut ladies on my right had all knit the Lotus Crescent Shawl by Kieran Foley, which they were also planning on exhibiting in the fashion show. I’m not sure whether the fashion show typically includes individuals or groups, but I was really charmed by the idea of participating as a group. I sure wish I could have attended the fashion show, but I had to leave too soon.
The Lotus Crescent Shawl. Even more impressive in person.
P.S. The Lotus Crescent Shawl is the most impressive knitted thing I’ve ever seen. Those ladies said they sought to challenge themselves more and more each year, and they were not messing around! It’s a combination of lace, stranded colorwork and intarsia colorwork. Knitting it requires 24 bobbins (by my count). I want to make one.
Anyway, maybe I’ll see you at NETA Spa Knit & Spin next year! You should definitely go!