How do yarn industry professionals get education and networking opportunities for our businesses? We actually have our very own trade show! The National Needlearts Association (TNNA) hosts needlearts wholesale trade shows, and I just got back from my trip over the past weekend to Columbus, OH. TNNA is an international trade organization representing retailers, manufacturers, distributors, designers, technical editors, photographers, marketers, publishers, and wholesalers of products and supplies for the specialty needlearts market (knitting, crochet, embroidery, cross stitching, etc.).
This trade show is held twice per year, in June in the Midwest and January in a warm western location. I usually attend the June show, as this show is more focused on yarn than thread, and provides more networking opportunities for me with local yarn stores on the East Coast.
When I go to TNNA as a teacher and designer, I have the opportunity to take classes such as Hands-On Workshop for Mobile Photography and Writing, How to Optimize YouTube for Content Creation, and How to Create Content Using Metrics and Analytics. In these classes, I learn about all kinds of great new technology tools and how to better create and deliver content for my students. I also chat with other class participants, many of whom own a yarn store, and we often exchange business cards so that I can follow-up with them about teaching at their location (at this TNNA, I was asked if I wanted to teach at a store in Florida in February. Uh, yeah!).
I also attend organized networking parties, such as the “Business and Creative Services Group” dinner on Friday night, where I met other people in the industry who aren’t yarn manufacturers or yarn store owners. These are my peers, who are also designers and teachers, and also people I work with to create my patterns, such as photographers and technical editors.
There’s also always a Fashion Show on Friday night. This year, one of my designer friends, Varian Brandon, showcased her spectacular new fair-isle coat. This pattern hasn’t even been published yet, but if you’re interested in getting it when she launches it in the fall, make sure you sign up for her newsletter here.
The rest of the weekend is spent perusing the trade show floor, looking at all of the new yarn and related products that vendors are showcasing. It’s like being in a candy shop, but not being allowed to eat candy! Actually, that’s not completely accurate. One thing I am able to do (even though I don’t own a yarn store and therefore can’t place orders for yarn) is look for yarns that I think will work for specific designs I have planned. So this year, I started looking for yarns to use in my new Sedona Shawl series, which I will be developing while I’m at the Sedona Artists’ Colony in July.
Rhonda from The Yarn Attic in Hillsborough, NJ, introduced me to Molly Girl Yarn (pictured at left). Since the owner, Angela, is in New Jersey also, I plan to collaborate with both of them on a new pattern that I design and promote and teach there. Molly Girl Yarns are hip and colorful, and each yarn base and colorway are named after songs (Rhonda asked her to develop a custom colorway called “Help me Rhonda.” So clever!).
I found some lovely light fingering weight yarn from Anzula called “Cloud” which is a luscious blend of merino, cashmere, and nylon. I plan to use three colors to develop a Sedona landscape shawl, in a similar technique to the Sedona Sweater Coat which I designed for my Turtlebacks dog sweater line.
Fiber Seed has some really cool yarn which has a solid color on one half and a variegated on the other half, which when knit up, creates some really unique effects. The photo on the right is from the “Depth Cowl” which was designed specifically for this yarn. I’ve never seen anything quite like it!
Tools & Accessories
For other products, I talked to Hannah of Hannah’s Ideas in Wood. She makes laser-cut wood buttons and boxes to hold your markers and tools and a REALLY cool combination box which functions as a needle gauge and yarn “bowl.” (You can find her fiber arts tools here.)
Speaking of yarn bowls, I also spoke to the gang at Pawley Studios, who make beautiful glazed ceramic yarn bowls. They also make custom bowls for other yarn manufacturers and brands. What do you think, should I have them make custom LMB Designs bowls for us in purple and green with our new logo?
Katrinkles also makes wood products, such as buttons, stitch markers, needle gauges, etc. They also make custom items.
And speaking of handmade wood items, I spoke to one of the owners of Brittany Needles. I always thought they were a huge company, but nope! It’s a family owned business in CA, and since I really love wood needles, I interviewed him on video so you could learn more about these wonderful products:
And, of course, I spent time with friends, such as Ann Tudor, who had a booth for the first time for her glass stitch markers. And I ran into MJ Packer, who some of you met on our 2016 Spring Fiber Adventure Tour to her yarn mill in Saratoga, NY.
I also chatted with the folks from Knitted Knockers. I told them that we had made a bunch of knockers for them last year at the Hoboken Public Library. She mentioned that they have a new (easier) knit bottom-up pattern in the round, if any of you would like to make more and try that pattern instead.
All in all, I had a wonderful time networking, learning new things, fondling fiber, and building even more excitement for my plans for next year!