5 tips to make your next yarn show the best yet!
Your tickets are book and prepaid, transport is arranged, and it’ll soon be time for the big yarn show that you’ve been waiting for…so exciting!
But hang on – when you get there, do you know what you’re actually going to be looking for? There can be so much choice at a yarn event that it’s easy to get overwhelmed and forget what you originally wanted to look for. As a show vendor I’ve seen it many times.
Whether it is your first or one hundredth yarn show visit, it is always worth keeping some key things in mind as you plan your trip and your budget. Today on the blog I’m going to talk you through the key things I think about when planning each of my buying trips.
Tip #1: Gather your notes
It’s useful to have a small document wallet or notepad that you can easily pop into your bag and take along to the show with you, to refer to as you go around on the day. You can either print out details for the following sections to add to the document wallet, or write notes in your notepad.
If you’re writing details in a notepad, use a fresh page for each project idea and give it a page heading, like ‘’Shawl for Lucy’ or ‘Summer top for me’. That way, it’s a lot easier to look through and find the notes you want when you’re actually at the show.
I’ve seen quite a few visitors who have done this, and they are often more confident in what they want from the day.
Tip #2: Plan your yarn show budget
A wool show is an absolute feast for any yarn lover, with so much temptation everywhere you look! But let’s be practical; as much as we’d like to buy all the things, most of us have a budget we need to stick to.
Whether you intend to take cash or use a card for your purchases, make sure you know how much you can afford to treat yourself with before you go.
Obviously if you’re sticking to cash you need to know how much to withdraw beforehand to take with you. Card payments are a very easy option with most vendors having mobile card readers now. But be careful – it can be easy to get carried away with enthusiasm if you’re not mindful of what you’re spending on the day.
It’s exciting to make the most of a show day, and enjoy choosing and buying lots of new stash. What you don’t want is to get home and worry about how you’re going to make it to the next pay day because of how much you’ve spent!
Who are you shopping for?
You may be shopping for projects to be gifted, for example at autumn shows with Christmas presents in mind. In this case, think about how much you would like to spend on each person’s gift. Make a list of the people you want to make gifts for and note how much you’d like to spend on each. Maybe you’d like to buy a knit or crochet kit for them to make themselves. If so, consider their skill level in the craft so you give something they can achieve.
Consider yourself too. Make a note of the ideal amount you’d like to spend for yourself on fabulous yarns and craft accessories at the show. It’s likely that there will be new dyers, new yarns, and new accessories there that you’ve not seen before, so think about how much you can invest for your own enjoyment.
After that, write down your absolute maximum amount that you really mustn’t go above. There will always be one last skein, kit, or project bag that you simply must take home with you!
Tip #3: Look at your stash
Most of us already have a decent amount of yarn stashed away at home, either bought with a project in mind or just because it was too beautiful to resist! Now is the ideal time to refresh your memory of what you have gathered so far.
Having your stash well-organised is a great bonus. When you’re thinking about that next project (like when you’re almost halfway on the current one? Yes, that’s me too!) it’s ideal to see if you’ve actually already got the yarn type, weight and colourway that you’re envisaging.
I admit that my own stash is not easy to sort through. It’s all carefully stored in plastic boxes so it stays clean and I know where it is, but the boxes are stacked in a pile and are quite heavy to move! Having your yarn stored in a way that you can easily get to it to sort through is a big help – if you have the space.
My yarn stash is rather like my button stash. I have a large jar and a couple of boxes full of all sorts of buttons, in different materials, sizes, shapes, and colours. However I invariably never have that perfect set of buttons when I’m looking for ones to match a project!
Time for some stashbusting?
You may already have some amazing yarn in your stash that you’ve not yet found the perfect project for. Or you may have bought the yarn intending to make a project that you’ve since changed your mind about. Make a note in your show notes of the yarn weight, metreage, fibre blend, colour, and the number of balls or skeins you have.
Think about what kind of project you might make with that yarn and note that down too. When you get to the show, have a look at the patterns available that may match your lovely yarn. A little stashbusting project is so satisfying – and makes room for new yarn!
Tip #4: Plan your next projects
Planning is key in every step here. Think about the season that’s coming up, and what kind of knitting or crochet you’d like to be working on.
If it’s currently Spring then you probably don’t want to embark on a big pure wool sweater to keep out winter chills, as that will soon become uncomfortable to work on as the days get warmer!
Think about your wardrobe and what you’d like to wear your next project with. Get a few outfits out of your wardrobe, compare colours, and think about what would look really special with them. Is there an accent colour that you could pick up on? Or a base colour that works with several of them? Make a note of your thoughts.
If you’re planning a project to gift, think about what kind of colours you often see the recipient wearing. Think about their fibre preferences – do they wear wool or do they stick to cotton and non-wool fibres? There are plenty of supersoft wools and non-wool yarns available, so it’s helpful to have an idea of what you’re looking for before the show day. Again… make a note!
Do you have an idea of the patterns you’d like to make next? You may have a list of favourite patterns on Ravelry for example. Have a look through and pick which ones you would like to make your next priority.
For each pattern, read through the yarn requirements and check if they match up to anything you already have in your stash. Make sure you have the right yarn weight (eg 4ply, DK etc), colour choice, quantity and fibre type. A fitted pattern requiring a wool blend yarn is not going to give you the same finished result if you make it using a drapey silk blend yarn that you absolutely fall in love with on the day!
If you don’t have suitable yarn already, make a note of the details. Print out the page of the pattern that details the yarn amount, weight, and fibre type and includes a picture so you remember easily which project it is. Write your colour choices on that page, and add it to your document wallet. If you’re using a notepad, write down those same details.
Don't forget the needles and hooks!
Back to the button jar… if your projects need buttons, note down the button sizes & colours on your project page, then you will have the right ones to hand when you need to sew them on.
If you already have yarn in your stash that you intend to use, snip a short length off and tape it to your project page to match the colour when you get to the button stand.
Tip #5: Research the vendors and plan your yarn show shopping list
Yarn shows usually make a list of stallholders available before the day, which you can look through on the show website.
You may have some favourite businesses that you like to buy from which will be attending the show. Make sure you note down which products you’d like to see or buy from them.
It’s also a great opportunity to find new vendors that may offer the kinds of yarns, patterns, and accessories that you have on your ‘wanted’ list. They may stock something entirely different that you’ve never heard of before.
For example I often find visitors to my stand have not seen or touched seacell blend yarn before, and are amazed that it’s derived from seaweed! A yarn show is the ideal opportunity to discover and learn about products that are new to you.
Set aside a while to browse through the stallholder list on the show website, and browse the websites or social media pages of any new vendors to see if you are interested in their products.
As you find possible products for your projects, note down the product and vendor names on your project pages, so you are sure not to miss them when you go around on the day.
When you get to show day, if there is a show guide available it will often contain a floor plan. It’s worth noting in the guide where the vendors are that you particularly want to visit – and ticking them off as you visit them if there are a lot!
Remember to have fun!
The whole event is about celebrating our joint passion for the yarns and crafts we do with them. Whether you make extensive notes about several projects or just turn up to see what you find, enjoy your fabulous day out!
Take a look at our Events page and come along to say Hi – I love to meet my online community in person!
Happy knitting and crocheting!