from the Trades Show Floor: by Shoshana Teitelman PDF  | Print |  E-mail

 This is a new feature: With the Creativ Festival happening in Toronto twice a year, and a number of Textile, Colour and Design fairs happening worldwide, artists have the chance to see the new and innovative. But only if they have the time, energy, "trade" credentials to attend some these events or can afford the expenses. After school access to equipment can become an issue and knowing what’s new, takes time and research.

Bella and Al Bourassa ergonomic crochet hook with interchangeable hooks 

Attending these events is like a kid in a candy store. These events are marketed to a wide range of consumers, professional craft artist and home based practitioner (non professional) but not specifically to educational institutions or the artists studying in them. With this first report form the Craft and Hobby Association Convention which happened in Anaheim California in February Shoshana Teitelman gives us a tour of what is in the market place.

What’s new from CHA…… 

The verdant green ground is whizzing by and, by the standards of this snow storm overloaded Torontonian, the temperature is balmy. There are palm trees bowing in the breezes by the side of the highway as I drive from the Los Angeles airport  to Anaheim. It’s a start of the rejuvenation process for my senses which will get more stimulation than they’ve had for months in the next 4 days.

 Arriving at the convention in a wonderful mood colours my response to the convention.

The Craft and Hobby Association Convention is home to over 3200 booths from over 1,000 companies with their products on display and many special exhibits in a complex the size of 4 football fields. Every craft/art genre is represented. There are companies here from all over the world. We’ve arrived in Creative Supply Heaven.

 I’ve planned to pace myself, determined not to experience sensory overload. That state of walking like a zombie with glazed eyes, brain no longer capable of registering anything. Beaming, I just can’t get the smile off my face, and the excitement is palable in the air as thousands decend on the convention. It’s impossible to see everything but here’s a selection of the highlights from the fibre side of the convention that made me ooooh and aaaaah.

 We started off with the New Exhibitors section. It’s on the lower floor, self contained and not too overwhelming. Many of the products were developed when a need was identified. The Knit Lite by Widget Products Inc. was developed for an avid knitter that wanted to be able to knit in movie theatres. That success lead to crochet hooks, seam rippers, scissors and more products are on the way. During a test knit I found them to be surprisingly light and wonderful for working with dark colours. 

 Rebecca Smith, a weaver and instructor, wanted a portable loom that would be suitable for taking to workshops or on vacation.  So she created the Loom in a Tube. It is adaptable to several types of weaving, compact in design it can be rolled up and stored in the tube even in the middle of a project. The Loom in a Tube provides tension control to keep your warp tight and is equipped with a shedding device to create 2 sheds when weaving with yarn.  It can also be adapted to weave with beads by simply leaving off the shedding device.  


Eleggant Hooks was on of my favourite booths. Bella and Al Bourassa have developed an ergonomic crochet hook that has interchangeable hook sizes. The handle is similar to a traditional rug hooking handle and the hooks fit in similar to an interchangeable screwdriver tool. It fits comfortably right into the palm of your hand, good for left or right handed crocheters, perfect for people with joint or muscle pain and easier for children to handle. The best part was discovering this is a Canadian innovation from Alberta.  

Good or bad, Fibre Arts are going main stream. (Your viewpoints on this one are welcome.) Museable Artsy Fiber Kits make it easy to become a creator of fibre art. Their kits contain beautiful colour co-ordinated fibres, thread, soluble film with easy to follow instructions to inspire the creation of a one of a kind wearable, accessory or home décor item.


Reo Company had exquisite silver Victorian styled sewing implements. Soho Publishing highlighted their Adorn publication in the booth and showcased their newest editions of Knit Simple, Knit.1, Vogue Knitting and Yarn Market News. YMN as a new one for me and subscriptions are free. They have a good online resource centre.



Poppy Hill Designs has software that transforms digital photos into a kaleidoscope image. A fun way to create customized fabric with your personal images. Lots of possibilities and their Garden Party Template is delightful.  This goes perfectly with the inkjet printable transfers from Transfer Paper Canada a supplier of quality heat transfers paper for inkjet, laser and copiers.  Their newest product is Sofstretch,  a printable transfer that is soft and stretchable on fabrics so perfect for knits. They also have heat transfer presses. One model is 9” x 12” and under $400. Very tempting.

Day two, the smiles are still there but with sore feet we’re not beaming so much. Spent quite a while learning about the innovations in yarn in the South West Trading Company booth. This company is mind boggling. They produce fibres from the usual source like silk, cotton and wool but also from renewable resources like corn, soy, milk, hemp and bamboo. Even more impressive is the fibre from shrimp and crab shells and Therapi, the newest blend of (50%) wool, (20%) silk and jade (30% crushed jadeite-based fibre-as in the gem stone) that was unveiled at the show.  Don’t imagine yarns with hard flicks in them. Incredibly soft and apparently very breathable because of the fibers unique honeycomb structure.  It comes in 16 jewel-tone colours and is machine washable. In fact every sample in the booth was luxuriously soft in vibrant colours and the hand and drape of the clothing made from these yarns was wonderful. There are variegated colours with complimentary solids, roving for spinning, fibres for weaving and yarns for knitting and crocheting. So much more information but it’s all available on their website.


Links to companies mentioned:












Part two with lots more products in the next edition of Fibre Quarterly.

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