Yarn shows, also called fiber festivals, are wonderful social events that span the course of a day or even a weekend. At a yarn show, you can visit the booths of many yarn companies and shops, see firsthand and purchase different types of yarn, take classes at a variety of skill levels to improve your crochet/knitting/yarn spinning/yarn dyeing knowledge, and interact with other likeminded attendees.
Whether you know many other crocheters (or knitters), or you feel like the only one in your community, attending a fiber festival can be a wonderful experience.
At the same time, going to a yarn show or fiber festival for the first time can be overwhelming. Here are four tips for planning your first trip (or your next trip) to a yarn show or fiber festival so that you have a great time.
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Find the Right Event for You
Many crocheters and knitters prefer to have their first festival experience close to home, while others want to combine travel with their love of yarn. The Knitter’s Review maintains one of the most comprehensive lists of fiber events throughout the world, organized by date. Although some of these events are knitting focused, more and more cater to crocheters, others are all about spinning, and some welcome a variety of yarn crafts.
Full Moon Farm booth at Vogue Knitting Live (New York) 2014.
Your local chapter of the Crochet Guild of America (or your local guild of The Knitting Guild Association) is another great source of information. Many chapters/guilds organize trips to local or regional festivals. If you want to spend several days away from home and meet enthusiastic crocheters from around the world, consider traveling to the annual Knit and Crochet Show, co-sponsored by the Crochet Guild of America and The Knitting Guild Association.
Plan Your Schedule
It’s very easy to become overwhelmed once you get on site, particularly at a large fiber festival. It helps to look through the agenda in advance and set up a tentative schedule.
Meeting the animals at the Finger Lakes Fiber Arts Festival is always fun.
If you’re on a budget, look for free events such as fashion shows, lectures, or book signings. You may want to ask local chapter or guild members, or friends from online forums like Crochetville or Ravelry, for suggestions about favorite activities. (If you are traveling for to an unfamiliar venue, don’t forget to ask about great food near the festival, too!)
Keep in mind that at events that are primarily knitting focused, crochet classes may be cancelled if enrollment minimums aren’t met, so registering early is important.
Although you may have planned out your schedule in advance, remember that flexibility is key. Your favorite speaker may be sick on the day of the event, or you may find that you would rather go to lunch with some new friends than shop.
Dress (and Pack) for the Festival
Your wardrobe and packing list should be customized for the festival you choose. Many attendees will showcase a special project by wearing it. Some crocheters or knitters spend the months before a large event working on show-stopping garments. A shawlette in a pretty yarn, crochet or knitted jewelry, or a fun hat are great last minute projects to wear.
Comfort is also important as fiber events typically involve a combination of walking, sitting for long periods, and carrying bags of yarn. For a large festival, comfortable footwear is critical. Dressing in layers can help at both indoor and outdoor festivals as temperatures may fluctuate.
Here’s a quick project I made to wear to Vogue Knitting Live (New York) in 2013.
Bring a small day bag or purse rather than a large bag or backpack as you may find the marketplace crowded with limited aisle space. Don’t forget to charge your camera or phone so you can take pictures. If you are attending classes, bring the required supplies and any homework listed on the registration form.
Budget for the Marketplace
It can be easy to go overboard on your first trip to a fiber festival, especially since most vendors now accept credit cards. You will be exposed to new yarn lines, fibers, brands, and colors that aren’t usually available in your local area, as well as delightful tools and accessories.
Before going to the festival, consider setting a budget. You can set your budget as a dollar amount, or as a limit to the number of yarn skeins or books you will buy. If your budget is strict, keep your charge cards at home (or in your hotel room) and bring only cash with you.
My yarn and roving haul from the North Jersey Fiber Arts Festival in 2012.
At a smaller festival, you may be able to walk through the marketplace once before purchasing anything. At a larger festival, that will be infeasible. If keeping to a budget is important, bring along a wish list so you can separate an impulse buy from a purchase you’ll feel good about later.
With a little planning, you can have a wonderful time at your first fiber festival. You may even find yourself hooked!
What tips do you have for yarn show/fiber festival newbies?