This weekend is the annual “big event” for yarn shop owners, “The Needle Arts Market.” Big it is. The entire convention hall at the Columbus Convention Center is full of companies that sell product to knitting and needlepoint shops. For first timers, it is incredible. It’s not like a consumer show. You don’t actually use money here or walk away with anything you’ve purchased. Rather, it is time to place orders, gather samples, see what trends are, meet up with friends from across the country and, generally, be a bit overwhelmed and a lot tired with the busy-ness and importance of it all.
We arrived late on Thursday, because I taught all day Friday, which was pretty cool in itself. I taught two sessions titled, “Spinning for Knitters.” In the morning I had 12 students and in the afternoon I had 20. Phew! Thank goodness I brought a helper — one of our instructors, Pat Kreiling. In addition to being a Master Knitter, Pat is an avid spindler so she was able to be an extra set of eyes and hands as students worked their way through making two balls of singles and then plying them. Virtually all left with a small skein of yarn, which is an accomplishment in only three hours. My session was sponsored by the Spinning & Weaving Association.
In order to get the most out of Market, it is important to have a plan. Once we registered, we poured over the event book – and it is a book. More than a quarter of an inch thick, it is packed with advertisements and overview of each of the exhibitors. The first step is to read and highlight those that I needed to see and those that I thought would be interesting to see. Next was to transfer these notes to the event map. We ended up with nearly 60 exhibitors noted as places that we wanted to see — from a list of nearly 500 exhibitors occupying about 900 booth spaces!
Next step was to start pounding the pavement! My plan of attack was to make very few purchases on Saturday and to simply gather information so I could make purchases with intelligence instead of emotion on Sunday. I was able (miraculously) to pretty much stick with that. Yesterday I did buy some notions – including the new and improved Bryspun circular needles, books, and, okay, I knuckled under – one significant yarn purchase.
I am a huge Jamieson’s fan – we’ve got nearly all the colors of their Spindrift yarn (two ply for
Fair Isle sweaters and other color work), Chunky Marl – used in knit jackets, and now . . . drum roll please . . . their “Simply Shetland Lambswool & Cashmere.” It is a DK weight yarn that comes in “the colors of Scotland” and is very, very nice. It retains the crispness of their traditional wool, but its softness factor is enhanced via the addition of cashmere. I’ve ordered enough of it (30 balls of every color) so that you will be able to have what you need when you need it to make some of the fabulous sweaters we previewed from the soon-to-be-released Simply Shetland 4 book.
After the Market closed yesterday, we joined the crew from “ . . . have you any wool?” in Berkley and compared notes. Trends that we agreed on were: wraps are hot, there was more color work than ever before, socks have arrived, and products for accessorizing your knitting are hot. Think leather handles, bags that are already made with pre-punched holes in the leather for attaching your own knit pieces, pre-made flowers for decorating felt bags . . . you get the idea. After hashing things out over dinner, we headed back to the room to debrief. Now, you’d think it would be time to “die in place.” Nope. I worked til nearly midnight organizing our findings, deciding what should and could be bought (there’s always that nasty budget to keep in mind!), and making painful decisions that we really don’t NEED fancy fibers like Yak ($32 a skein for less than 200 yards worsted weight) or buffalo down yarn (much more pricey) or qiviut (the most expensive).
So, now with decisions made, we are getting ready to return to the show floor and place our orders. A sneak preview: lots of new sock yarns; a new mohair from Australia that is, to quote Pat, “the nicest mohair I’ve ever seen”; a new Schaeffer yarn (just LOVE the owner, she is a dear), a handpainted worsted weight cotton that feels heavenly; a new alpaca yarn from Alpaca With a Twist, Punch – check out the colors on their website; premade bags for adding your knitting (perfect for freeform knitting).