New winner, Susmita M! And TNNA coming up.

No word from last week's winner of the free "Crochet Ripples Class" from Annie's, Pam W., so I have chosen a new winner at random. Susmita M., you're in luck! Please send me your email and I'll get you the code so you can access your class. (Pam, if you're still out there, send me your email, too, and I'll see what I can do for you.)

TNNA (The National NeedleArts Association) holds its conference in Washington, DC in less than two weeks. For the uninitiated, the conference is referred to as "TNNA," just like the name of the organization. 

So, where was I yesterday and today? Washington! Those of you who know my penchant for thorough planning may assume I was there on a reconnaissance mission so I know exactly where to go for the conference--and while that wouldn't be totally out of character, it would be a bit extreme, even for me. We were there to drop off our son for his summer job. I was reminded how much fun it is to walk around DC. Restaurants, museums, interesting architecture, history, every conceivable language being spoken, more restaurants...very lively. I was also reminded how little I like driving in DC. Streets at crazy angles, lots of one-way streets, traffic circles that require you to be in a certain lane that you don't know about until you miss your turnoff at least once...much better to be on foot or take the Metro (as long as your line isn't under construction). 

I've missed the past few TNNA conferences and am really looking forward to this one. With several books just finished, I'm ready to start some new projects so it's a great time to look at all of the fabulous yarn choices. I'll stop by booths of my perennial favorites, including Blue Heron, Tahki/Stacy Charles, Plymouth, Crystal Palace, Jojoland, Bijou Basin, Brown Sheep, Louet, plus ChiaoGoo Hooks and Denise Interchangeable Hooks; introduce myself to the Madelinetosh folks, since I used some of their yarn in my upcoming Crochet Cowls book; and will look at new products from yarn companies whose fibers I'd love to try out, including Malabrigo and Manos del Uruguay. I'll also stop by publishers' booths--you never know when an opportunity to collaborate could present itself.

Sunday morning I've agreed to participate in a focus group about the organization. One thing I have found maddening is the lack of transparency about the way classes are selected. Several years ago I taught "Beaded Crochet Wrap," a project class, at TNNA in California. Every student gave the class a top rating. One woman wrote in the comments that it was the best class she had ever attended in all her years coming to TNNA. For several years after that, I submitted class proposals...and not one was accepted. Go figure. There was never a reason given. I finally stopped trying. Clearly there is not a big focus on crochet--if I counted right, only four of the classes are crochet topics (and one of those is how to put a zipper into crocheted or knitted garments). So, TNNA, please tell me WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? Do you want business classes? Project classes? Only classes that will bring in a certain minimum number of students? If so, what is that number? Do teachers have to get a certain number of classes accepted for a single show in order to be considered at all? If I had some parameters, I could decide whether to submit a class proposal or not. Barring that, I'm not willing to waste my time. For years I went to the Designer/Teacher sessions, in which everyone complained about this, but nothing was ever done so I gave up on that, too.

I'm more hopeful this time for two reasons: (1) having a focus group implies that the current Board cares enough to pay someone to get this information and, presumably, make recommendations on it; and (2) Board President Dave van Stralen just announced that a new management company will be taking over the administration of future shows. I'm cautiously optimistic but not expecting too much. We'll see.

The best part of the show is always the people! I can't wait to see yarn reps, other designers, publishers, friends...and to meet people with whom I've corresponded but never had the pleasure to see face to face. I'm especially eager to see new books and projects from other designers. There is strong support and camaraderie. We want each other to succeed. 

The timing worked out well, too. My husband will go with me, and he and our son will take in the Phillies-Nationals game while I'm oohing and aahing over yarn. I'm sure we'll get some time for our whole family to be together for a meal or two.