Eye Candy for Sweater Lovers

As I write this in late July 2020 and with the Covid-19 pandemic still present, it's no surprise that SpinExpo New York, usually held this month, has been postponed. The event usually has 3 locations at various times of the year. Though Shanghai SpinExpo is still scheduled for September, the Paris event is currently listed with "New dates coming later".

Last time I attended was July 2018 for the Fall/Winter 2019 season. These fabrics still inspire. Below was my report, originally published in August 2018. Added commentary is below the original post.

Knitted swatch

Last month I attended a yarn industry event called SpinExpo New York. According to their site, it’s “the leading international industry sourcing exhibition dedicated to innovation in yarns, fiber, and knitwear.” 93% of the exhibitors were from Asia, with the remainder divided evenly between Europe and the US.

Even though I use US yarns exclusively and have my fabrics knitted locally (New York City area), I like to attend the expo every now and then. While I like seeing the new yarns, I mostly enjoy the Trends area. It's full of interesting swatches knitted from the yarns on exhibit.

This year was particularly fun because I met up with friend, textile artist, and fiberart fabricator Sahara Briscoe. Her body of work is diverse. You can learn more about Sahara and her work on her website Super String Theory Design and in this essay on the Knitty City blog.

Blanket by Sahara Briscoe
Sahara Briscoe, Toddler Blanket, 47" x 49", wool

We met at the Brooklyn Expo Center in Greenpoint, Brooklyn on the last day of the event. My favorite fibers shone above all others… because they were metallic! These were the copper fibers of Meadowbrook Inventions (US)

Metallic fiber

and the metallic yarns of Kyototex (Japan).

Swatches and page from yarn catalog

And now my secret is out... I’ve had a love for metallic yarns ever since I first saw pieces knitted with stainless steel at Structure and Surface: Contemporary Japanese Textiles, way back in 1998 at the Museum of Modern Art!

But, back to SpinExpo. The name “Trends” implies some sort of fashion forecasting but many of the stitch patterns in these swatches will never make it to a garment. They are complex, expensive, and very slow to knit. But they are always pretty to see, touch, and analyze. Some swatches were nostalgic. They seemed to have emerged directly out of a stitch pattern book from the 80’s. A few were so innovative that neither Sahara nor I could confidently determine the knitting sequences or just how the swatches were knitted.

Here’s a taste of some of the swatches from Trends. Laura McPherson, I & S Fashion, CKRC Jinlong are credited as stylists for the featured swatches.

Knitted swatch

Knitted swatch

Knitted swatch

Knitted swatch


Most of the above swatches were knitted on Stoll or Shima Seiki knitting machines. As a new owner of a Kniterate knitting machine, I'm anxious to see just what I can do with it. I already know it's a whiz with jacquard. I've knitted textures from the sampler, and I'm looking forward to exploring textures more in the next months. 

Olgalyn Jolly in front of Kniterate knitting machine

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