As we are prepping madly for HomeSpun Yarn Party this weekend (March 22 in Savage MD) and the Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival next weekend (March 27-29 in Pittsburgh PA), I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how to make a yarn show or festival really spectacular — for us as vendors but also for you as an attendee. And while you might think that’s pretty straightforward — just walk around and look at all the lovely yarn, right? — there are actually some specific things you can do to get the most out of the yarn shows and festivals you attend this year. Here are six of the best:
Tip #1: First, GO!!!
This one is crazy, right? I mean, of course you go! But it’s surprising the number of knitters and crocheters I meet at trunk shows or other events who tell me they’ve never been to a yarn festival. And I totally get it — there are crowds and parking issues, and maybe a distance to drive (or… heh heh… maybe some self-control issues…?) — but the experience is totally worth it. This is your opportunity to not only take classes and meet other like-minded folks, but also to spot new design and colour trends, and to “meet” in person the yarns you would otherwise be able to see only online.
So take this opportunity to explore every booth and snorgle all that lovely yarn. At SpaceCadet, some of our most delicious yarns just don’t sell online. It makes me crazy that our customers can’t tell how incredibly soft that extra cashmere makes Aurora (at 20% cashmere, it is amazingly softer than yarns with just 10%!). They can’t see how subtle and beautiful Lucina’s sparkles are through a computer monitor. And though I’ve managed to capture the sheen of Maia in photographs, how can that also show its incredible softness and drape? As wonderful as these yarns are, their best qualities come alive only when you see them in person. If you’re looking online, you’re getting only half the story. So come to the show and meet in person the yarns you’ve been curious about — it’s a completely different experience!
Tip #2: Head to your Favourite Vendors’ Booths First
Though it may seem easiest to just wander around the festival and look at the booths as you come to them, there’s a real advantage to checking out the show map and head to the your favourite vendors’ booths first. We often debut fantastic new yarns and products at our shows, and they can sell out fast. This year, we have an amazing Show Exclusive Colourway that I think you’re going to love — it’s just wonderful, with layers and layers of colour that seem to reveal themselves afresh every time you look at it. We’ve dyed what we hope is plenty — but shows are so unpredictable that it’s always worth getting to our booth early so you’re not disappointed.
So take five minutes when you first arrive at a festival to sit down with the show map and quickly work out which booths you really want to see, and head for those first. Or, even better, look at the map online before you even get there — it makes the anticipation that much more fun and, I promise, you’ll be so glad when you snag the sell-out yarn of the show before anyone else even sees it!
Tip #3: Check Out the Show’s Special Events
Many shows have more than just classes and a market — giveaways, designer talks, and fashion shows all add to the fun. You don’t want to miss any of those — and some of them are last minute additions — so make sure you check not only the show’s programme, but also your favourite vendors’ websites.
At this year’s Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival, we’ll be hosting book signings by festival headliner Alasdair Post-Quinn, Craftsy instructor and author of Extreme Double-Knitting. It’s a collaboration directly between SpaceCadet and his publisher, Coop Press, so it’s not in the festival programme, but we’re so excited to have Alasdair on hand to chat with our customers about his designs and double-knitting — and you’ll only find out about that by keeping up with our blog. Yarn shows are full of wonderful surprises but to make sure you don’t miss the best stuff, check out the special events on both the show’s and the vendors’ websites.
Tip #4: Start at the Back of the Show
Ok, you’ve been waiting for the show to start, the doors have opened at last, and there, right in front of you, is a sea of amazing yarny goodness so beautiful that you want to dive into the first big pile you see. Resist that urge! Because right behind you is a sea of other knitters and crocheters who want to do the exact same thing, and those first booths are going to get crazy crowded really fast. But at the other end of the show — far away from the doors and all the other festival-goers — are a bunch of booths that are completely empty. And having been a vendor, in one of those booths, I can tell you that the other end of the show stays fairly quiet and empty for quite a while before the crowd finally makes it down there. That means that if you head there first, you can have 30 minutes of peaceful shopping (and first dibs on the best stuff!) before those booths get crowded.
Work your way from the back of the show to the front and you’ll still get to see everything, but you won’t be fighting the crowds every single step of the way. And you’ll get a whole different experience of the show!
Tip #5: Get the Class Schedule to Know When to Shop
Every show I’ve ever done has had times when the booth is a crush of people and other times when it’s completely quiet, and the two usually correspond to the class times. When all the classes are going on, the market floor is usually quiet — and a real pleasure to shop — but the minute classes let out (and they all seem to let out at the same time), it’s suddenly so crowded that you can’t even get into some booths. Take that time to go and find some lunch, or just knit and chill with some new friends you made in class. Then, if there’s a time when the classes start up again but you haven’t got one booked, that’s the time to head to the market. You’ll be able to shop in peace, to really look at what’s on offer, and chat to the dyers and vendors you’ve been wanting to meet. Shopping during class times rather than when they’re out is the difference between a festival that is fun and relaxed and one that is needlessly stressful. Check that schedule and then swim against the tide!
Tip #6: Remember that We’ve Come to Meet YOU!
This is probably the most important tip for making most of your festival or show. Crazy as it sounds (to me, at least), we’ve had long-time customers email after a show to say they were right there in front of our booth, but they never came up to say hello because they didn’t want to “bother” us. And that makes me so sad, because the very best part of going to a show is getting to meet our customers face to face!
We’re there to talk to you, so please do come and say hi to us. If you’ve got questions about our yarn, ask us (it’s one of our favourite subjects!). Or show us the pattern you want to make and let us help you choose a yarn. Now, you’ll get our best attention if you follow some of my earlier suggestions and visit the booth when things are a little quieter (such as when the show first opens or during class times). But no matter when you come and see us, just remember that we’re there to meet you, so please do come and say hi!
The Yarn Alliance is Open until March 29th
The InterStellar Yarn Alliance opened on Friday and subscriptions have just been flying! It’s so exciting to welcome all the new and returning members — because it’s a fantastic club and I know we’re going to have a great time together. Want to join in the fun? We’d love to have you aboard! Click here to find out more — but hurry, subscriptions are open only until March 29.