What a great weekend at The National NeedleArts Association trade show! Here's my recap. (I apologize for having so few photos. I'm still getting used to my iPhone.)
Friday after registration I attended the Yarn Group fashion show. There were almost 100 pieces and most of them were quite lovely. A lot of shawls and scarves, the usual assortment of sweaters and tops, and also some dresses and skirts. I took notes on the yarns that were especially appealing to me.
"Sample It" was next. I've missed a few shows, and this was different from what it used to be. Formerly there were a lot of products displayed in a hallway, and you could take little pieces of yarn. Nothing was for sale. The new Sample It is a small (but intense!) cash-and-carry area. Folks were selling kits, bags, books, and other items. It was a bit of a madhouse but nice to see that business was brisk.
I caught up with designers Karen McKenna (website here) and Dora Ohrenstein (website here) in the reception area. Karen gave me a copy of her new book, which I'll review in a subsequent blog. Dora is also working on a new book. Nice to catch up with them, if only for a short time.
After a late dinner with my husband at a Korean restaurant a few blocks from the hotel, I sat down to map out my strategy for Saturday. I wanted to make sure I got to all of the manufacturers whose yarn I used in my upcoming "Crochet Cowls" book so I could show them the finished projects and some sample pages. I also wanted to talk to some publishers, check out the yarn that really appealed to me at the fashion show, and chat with some smaller yarn companies to find out if they would be receptive either to purchasing independent designs or offering yarn support for designs published in books or by the designer.
(An aside--D.C. drivers are crazy! In the span of a few minutes we saw a driver in the right lane turn left by crossing over two other lanes that were going in his direction, and another driver who completely blew through a stop sign to make a right turn. Not to mention the constant sirens. Washington is a wonderfully walkable city as long as you watch out for nutcases behind the wheel, but isn't for drivers who are faint of heart.)
Saturday was the big day for me. I had my finished samples, some books, and promotional postcards in a rolling suitcase, and the show directory and a notebook in a lightweight tote bag. ("Stuff management" is key to surviving these shows without exhaustion!)
I was very pleased that some of the small manufacturers and/or those who are relatively new to TNNA were enthusiastic about the idea of crochet and Tunisian crochet design. It's nice to feel like there are opportunities out there for designers. It was also wonderful to see folks whose products I use regularly, including Plymouth, Blue Heron, Brown Sheep, and Louet North America. I'm delighted to have finally met Stephanie from Space Cadet Creations. The people at Madelinetosh could not have been nicer! I had purchased their yarn for one of the cowls in my book, and they seemed thrilled with the sample and eager to provide yarn for my future projects. I saw designer/author/instructor Mary Beth Temple only for about two minutes but it was better than nothing!
Some absences were felt as well. I missed Crystal Palace and Abuelita. I learned from the Westminster Fibers rep that they will no longer be distributing Rowan yarns; I hope the new distributor works out well. All of the designers were working hard, so there wasn't much time to sit and chat. Apparently we are part of "Business and Creative Services" now. There was a BCS meeting from 3-5 p.m., but since I had signed up for a focus group meeting the next morning, I didn't want to sit in yet another meeting so I skipped it. I hope the group will publish a summary of what was discussed.
It was a long but productive day. I've learned to take good notes so it's easier for me to follow up once I'm home. When I emerged at 4 p.m. it was over 90 degrees! Glad I only had to walk a block to get back to the hotel. My husband and son had been at the Nationals-Phillies baseball game. After cooling off and cleaning up, we walked to Chinatown for dinner. My son is in D.C. for the summer, working at a company in Arlington. It was a lucky coincidence that TNNA was in Washington so we could see him.
Sunday morning I participated in a cross-disciplinary focus group. You may have heard that the company that has been managing TNNA's trade shows is no longer going to be doing it. As part of the decision process for picking a new management company, TNNA is trying to get a feel for how the shows and the organization can best serve its members. It was interesting to hear the perspective from people in manufacturing, wholesale, and retail, especially because not all of them are in the yarn group. I was able to express my exasperation and that of other designers about the lack of transparency in selecting classes. We would like to know exactly what TNNA is looking for so we don't waste our time writing proposals that have no chance of acceptance. The photo below shows comments from a class I taught at TNNA in January 2008. None of my class proposals have been accepted since then--and nobody has ever given me a reason why. Go figure.
All in all, a successful show and a good way to get energized for some new designs and projects. Now it's time to do the necessary follow up and start working with some of the luscious fibers I saw on display.