It was an amazing experience to exhibit at The Knitting & Stitching Show. I met amazing knitters with fab stories, talked about yarn and knitting to my hearts desire, and I even got to meet some of my favourite designers so I was completely spoilt.
Louise Zass-Bangham (Inspiration Knits) ... designer of my favourite ever pattern book Knit Play Colour!
I was planning to write this on Monday of this week. That was, of course, a lie I told myself before the adrenaline wore off which happened on Sunday night, just after we had finished unpacking the van. Adrenaline decided that it had had enough of keeping me on my feet and went on vacation. Monday and Tuesday were therefore not quite with my usual bounce! These are some more things I learned while doing this show which may be useful to other folks who are embarking on their show journeys or for just those who are curious about some of the behind-the-scenes-goings-ons of yarn shows.
1. Give me strength
I am relatively fit but I realised that fitness and any kind of upper body strength are unrelated and it showed! By the end of the set up I couldn’t raise my arms above my shoulders and had to use one hand to raise the other when we were having a well deserved wine after we had set up (the shame! ; )). There will definitely be some strength training done before next year!
2. Driving a van is not as scary as it may seem
I had never driven a van before so I had a ‘Holy mother’ moment when I was given the key of the Vauxhall Vivaro. The great thing, however, of having to do something, is that you have to do it. I was reasonably sure I could manage J25 to J1 of the M1 but the M1 to the Ally Pally, well, there was hope. I stalled on the North Circular (so much encouaging horn beeping really helped me start it again of course!) but I felt I redeemed myself later with a hill start on Muswell Hill. The van did a great job but I was glad to give it back, with the relief of knowing that it will be a smaller van for Stitch Fest!
I was pretty proud of my first even van parking!
3. There were daunting moments
The whole experience went more smoothly than I could ever have hoped for but there were daunting moments. I was set up near Black Sheep wools who have great show presence and experience. I passed the Deramores stand which had all their new, very lush new branding. I was across from the Brother sewing machine stand which was a magnificent sea of advanced sewing technology. However, I had a chat with myself to remind myself that I might be small but I love yarn and knitting and that I didn’t start my business to compete, I went to be part of the yarn community and create a home within it. That was a steadying thought when faced with the behemoths of the yarn world.
4. You sold what now?
I love the yarns, patterns and accessories that I stock. I don’t have anything in the shop that I don’t believe in. However that might not be what everyone else likes so it was a relief when people liked what I had to offer. However, I couldn’t have predicted what sold, who it sold to, when it sold or in what colours. Every day we sold a completely different combination of things. Wednesday and Thursday particularly were like we were at two completely different shows. One thing I would have sold over and over though, that I didn’t have for sale, were my display sock blockers. My baby brother made them for me … he may need to make a few more!
Socks Yeah & LITLG didn't stay long on the stand of course!
5. Eat something
I'm not someone who is shy around food but it is easy to forget about it until it's a bit late and not available. Make sure you bring food for set-up. I saw experienced stall holders with sandwiches and flasks. I will be investing in a flask! Also for the days of the show, make sure you remember to eat or at least have someone with you to make you go and eat something. It's easy to forget amongst all the yarn-y goodness!
6. Samples samples samples
This speaks for itself. Oh and millions of times the wool in the colour of the sample.
I'm still a bit short but I'm getting there. Next up a sock in every WYS Bird yarn!
7. Courier services are a life saver
This is probably important only for new businesses who don't have the experience of knowing what will sell and in what quantity. I am really grateful to Rebecca at Ysolda Distribution & Richard at Designer Yarns without whom I could have run out of my best sellers. Not the most interesting thing but it helped keep my inexperience at bay.
8. You will not be able to please everyone
It was awesome to meet knitting folk but like all things, you cannot please everyone. It’s just something to remember for those moments when it becomes apparent that you can’t. When that fails, just think #nomeanies and remember all the lovely things that people say!
9. Don’t forget your step ladder
Newbie mistake! The backings are well over two and a half metres and if you haven't included 'Will substitute chair for ladder' on your risk assessment, you may struggle to hang things up.
10. It will be the most in love with yarn & knitting you'll ever be
Part of the reason I opened the shop is help people find more lovely things, to get the most out of their patterns and what was available to them. To spend 5 days talking about yarn and giving (hopefully useful) advice, hearing people's knitting stories, seeing beautiful knits in the wild has been a privilege. My favourite moment was when a very nice woman brought in a most gorgeous 3 ply sock yarn from the 1970s which she didn't have enough of to make socks and we discovered it was a perfect match for a Socks Yeah colour.
Banbh, as the Dovestone Smallholdings Salespig. Be careful, you may end up with more than one copy!
As with last time, there were things I knew that I was reminded of! My Mom is a superstar! I am hugely fortunate to have someone who is willing to drop everything to come and work only for yarn to help me with my business. My husband was very sweet about being abruptly abandoned, taking over all of the household things (we normally have an even spilt) so the place didn't come apart, including using the washing machine which is his natural nemisis. And so many lovely well wishers and supporters. Thank you to everyone who made it an awesome 5 days.
Now, the shop is all back together and lots of stock has been re-ordered and is arriving next week. Time to get on with Christmas knitting because I am way behind! One thing about the show was it was the least knitting I have done in years. So back to knitting and onwards to the next show - Stitch Fest November 5th & 6th in Totnes, Devon!