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#Crochet #TipsTuesday: How to make the most out of your first (or next) yarn show or fiber festival

#HowTo make the most out of your first (or next) #yarn show or fiber festival | #Crochet #TipsTuesday on Underground CrafterYarn 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.

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.

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.

CraftsyDress (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.

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.

Expand Your Knitting SkillsBudget 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.

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?

3 Tips for Making the Biggest Impact with Your Charity Crochet or Knitting, plus a free pattern roundup!

Today is International Day of Charity. This annual event was first established by the United Nations in 2012. The date was selected in honor of the passing of Noble Peace Prize winner, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who devoted her life to helping others.

3 Tips for Making the Biggest Impact with Your Charity Crochet or Knitting, with a roundup of 10+ free #crochet patterns for charity on Underground CrafterThe UN invites everyone to commemorate the day by encouraging charity and raising awareness of charity. As a longtime charity crocheter, I thought the best way I could share this day with the Underground Crafter community was to share how you can use your knitting and crochet skills to support charities, and to do a roundup of 10+ free crochet charity patterns.

This post contains affiliate links.

3 Tips for Making the Biggest Impact with Your Charity Crochet or Knitting

Most crocheters and knitters can create something more valuable with their hands than any financial contribution they can donate, so crocheting and knitting for charity is really appealing. On the other hand, the purpose of a donation is to support the final recipient and the charity, so here are my suggestions for making the most out of charity crochet or knitting.

1) Donate locally when possible.

Save on postage, minimize the environmental impact of shipping, and improve your community by donating locally when possible.

If you decide to contribute to a charity outside of your local area, consider organizing or participating in a drive in your community.

Craftsy2) Always follow instructions from the charity or organizer.

As crocheters and knitters, we love to be creative. However, when a charity or a charity drive organizer shares guidelines or deadlines, they should be followed to the letter.

  • Check the charity’s website, or contact the organizer, before starting a project. Many charities maintain a list of current needs on their website. If a list isn’t posted, contact an organizer to make sure your donation is still needed and will be accepted.
  • Use the recommended fiber content. Charities may recommend different types of fibers for reasons as diverse as making washing easier or avoiding allergies.
  • Use the recommended colors. Charities may request specific colors for a variety of reasons including making a statement or avoiding culturally offensive colors.
  • Use recommended measurements. Many organizations have specific size recommendations for practical reasons of fit, or due to storage restrictions or ease of joining pieces from multiple donors.
  • Follow the finishing instructions. Organizers may ask you to leave long yarn tails for joining blankets, or to weave ends in securely with a yarn needle to avoid choking hazards for pets.
  • Meet the deadline. When a charity only accepts donations seasonally, or when an organizer is planning a drive, be sure to meet any deadlines.

If you follow these guidelines, your project will be put to use by the organization and won’t end up being thrown out or kept in storage at the charity’s expense.

Save 50% at Interweave during the Labor of Love Sale

3) Join up with other crocheters and knitters

Not only will you have fun meeting like-minded people, but you’ll also be able to contribute so much more with a group!

In your community, local crochet and knitting guilds often have charity drives. You may also find that a local house of worship has a charity crafting group.

There are many options for teaming up with other crafters online, too.

  • Crochet Mitten Drive is a crochet-a-long featuring 15 designers and 15 new patterns for crochet mittens. This even starts on September 11 and runs through December 18, 2015. You can find more information in the Facebook group.

Crochet Mitten Drive 2015. For more details, visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/mittendrive/

You may also want to consider starting your own Facebook or Ravelry group if you are organizing a charity drive.

2015 Leisure Arts Labor Day SitewideRoundup of 10+ Free Crochet Patterns for Charity

3 Tips for Making the Biggest Impact with Your Charity Crochet or Knitting, with a roundup of 10+ free #crochet patterns for charity on Underground Crafter

I designed 6 free crochet patterns for charity projects.

Many of these patterns were originally designed as part of a monthly charity spotlight I write on Oombawka Design Crochet. You can read all of my Oombawka contributor posts here.

If you enjoyed this post, you may want to follow my Crochet for Charity board on Pinterest.

Follow Underground Crafter’s board Crochet for Charity on Pinterest.

Have you crocheted or knit a project for charity?

#Crochet #TipsTuesday: 5 easy ways to reduce your yarn stash… perhaps so you can get more!

5 easy ways to reduce your yarn stash so you can get more on #crochet #TipsTuesday on Underground Crafter

As crocheters (and knitters), we’re always on the hunt for amazing yarns that inspire us. But let’s face it – most of us have far more yarn then we can actually use in our lifetime. You may have heard (or used) the acronym, SABLE (Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy) to describe this phenomenon.

As a New York City apartment dweller, I definitely have to prune out my stash periodically, or there’d be no room left for me, MC, and the cats.

Whether you’re reducing your stash as part of a move towards a minimalist lifestyle, to prepare for a move, or because you just want more space for the yarn you want to own RIGHT NOW, here are 5 easy ways to reduce your yarn stash.

This post contains affiliate links.

Share it with your local crochet or knitting guild chapter

Many local guilds offer yarn swaps and related activities. If you aren’t already a member, you can find a list of Crochet Guild of America local chapters here and The Knitting Guild Association affiliated guilds here.

Drop it off with an organization that crochets or knits for charity

Groups that crochet or knit for charity are often looking for yarn. These organizations may have specific requirements based on the type of charity projects they work on regularly. For example, some organizations that make children’s projects prohibit the use of black yarn and other organizations may have a ban on wools due to allergies.

You can find a searchable list of these organizations through Lion Brand’s Charity Connection. Always check with the contact person about updated requirements before dropping off or shipping yarn.

Bring it to a local school, hospital, or retirement community

Many local schools, hospitals, and retirement communities include yarn crafts in their recreational and educational activities.

  • If you don’t have a relationship with a local school, check out DonorsChoose.org. This search for the keyword “yarn” brings up some really interesting projects seeking yarn donations!
  • Contact your local hospital and ask to speak with the “Child Life Specialist,” a person who helps promote coping for hospitalized children through play and other activities.
  • Your local government may have a department of aging that can refer you to retirement communities, government centers, and non-profit organizations that provide recreational activities for retirees.

Always check with the local organization to see if there are any restrictions (for example, by fiber content) on the yarn you can donate.

Bring it to textile recycling or a local thrift shop

Another way to keep your yarn out of the landfill is to bring it to your local textile recycling drop off. In New York City, we are lucky enough to have several weekly options for textile recycling.

If your local area hasn’t yet instituted a textile recycling program, most local thrift shops (also known as secondhand stores, charity shops, or opportunity shops) will accept yarn donations.

Post a listing on your local Freecycle message board

Freecycle is “a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own” communities. Membership is free and most local groups have an online message board where you can post offers.

I have listed yarn on Freecycle many times and it is always claimed quickly. (In contrast, I’ve also listed brand new appliances, furniture, and other items that might take weeks to get picked up.) While sharing yarn on Freecycle allows you to meet some great crafters, for safety reasons you may not want to arrange to meet in your own home. I usually set up a meeting a few blocks from my apartment.

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But what about…?

You may have noticed that I haven’t listed any ways to sell yarn. In my opinion, that isn’t as easy as you would think. In fact, selling yarn is often very time consuming – especially if you are actually trying to recoup your initial purchase cost or something close to it – and, it can even be more costly (in terms of your time, sellers fees, and storage space) than donating or giving away yarn.

I also didn’t recommend tossing large amounts of yarn into the trash. It isn’t very environmentally friendly, and, in some local areas, it’s also illegal.

Here’s one more tip (a freebie)

Yarn makes great packing material! If you have something fragile to ship or are moving, consider using some of your unloved yarns as cushioning!

What are your favorite yarn de-stashing tips?

If you enjoyed these tips, follow my Yarn Tips and Tutorials Pinterest board!

Follow Underground Crafter’s board Yarn Tips and Tutorials on Pinterest.