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6 things everyone should know before a yarn show

This year, we sent Mara from our NYC office to attend Vogue Knitting Live (VKL) in Times Square. Mara shares her top tips to remember when attending a knitting show and how to make sure you're ready for the best day of your life (well ok, month at least!)

Hi! I’m Mara, I’ve been knitting for a little over 3 years (I’m self taught from online tutorials). For VKL I wore a handknit sweater and my On the Spice Market shawl. This was my first time attending VKL and my second yarn event ever. What did I learn? Here’s my top 6 things every knitter should know before attending a knitting show.

1. Plan for an UNREAL amount of yarn!

When I first stepped out of the elevators to the VKL floor I couldn’t believe how much yarn there was! That’s why my first piece of advice is to check out the vendor list before you go and make a note of the brands you don’t want to miss. At VKL there was everything from small-batch hand-dyed yarns to some of the biggest names in the industry. For me,  I had to visit my favorite local indie dyer, Yarn Over New York. While it’s important to have a plan, it’s good to keep an open mind, so you can discover some new brands too. I loved discovering some new (to me!) dyers from around the country like Cat Sandwich Fibers whose bright, happy colors reeled me in as well as Koigu whose yarn is nothing short of art.

Hand dyed yarns

2. Be ready for anything

There's always something to surprise you at a knitting show, this time it was the Knit Ball Pit! This was an opportunity to really dive into yarn and swim around an astounding amount of hand-knit balls contributed to by attendees and yarnies around the world. The final count was an astounding 2,383 balls! Following the event, all of the balls will be distributed to kids in Congo, Uganda, Kenya, and Zimbabwe by the American Foundation for Children with AIDS. The takeaway here is that you should always arrive ready to jump into any experiences you may be presented with!

3. Go with a smile on your face ready to meet new people

The great thing at an event like this is that people are in a good mood and open to chatting! If you see someone you want to talk to, a good conversation starter is to ask them what patterns and yarns they’re wearing.

I went to VKL on my own but it ended up being such a social day! First I met Louis Boria of Brooklyn Boy Knits and his friend Randy Convery of who is a budding designer that I’m sure we’ll see a lot more of in the near future! I went on to meet and chat with people like Marlene, who is a homeschooling mother of two - she and her kids are avid knitters. VKL attracts an international crowd, and I was very excited to get to meet designers who I’ve long admired like Melanie Berg who came over from Germany - especially since I was wearing a shawl I had knitted from her design!

4. Set a budget

Let’s be honest, festivals are as much about shopping as anything else. The key to not breaking the bank is to be honest with yourself about your budget as well as how much and what type of yarn you’d like to go home with. For example, maybe you’re searching for that perfect hardy wool and you need a sweater-quantity. Or, maybe you’re aiming to make some hand-dyed socks. There’s no right or wrong way to shop, some people grab impulse skeins and some people know exactly the weight and yardage they’re after. Whether your budget is $20 or $200, the most important thing is to go with a defined spending target - even if it’s a flexible one.

5. Don’t forget the non-yarn goodies!

When you set your budget, don’t forget that a festival is a unique chance to snap up some non-yarn knitting flair! For example, my only purchase at VKL this year (because I already have five WIPs in progress!) was this awesome shirt by Nerd Bird Makery which I’m looking forward to wearing everywhere and especially at any warm-weather fiber festivals I’ll attend where my handknit sweaters may be over the top. Other items that caught my eye were project bags of every size and style, knitting needles and crochet hooks of all materials, and enamel pins galore!

6. Set yourself up to have a great time!

That last tip is a freebie, but an important one! Know yourself, your goals and your limits. If you suffer from hunger management (get angry when you’re hungry, like me!) be sure to pack a granola bar so you can fuel up and keep enjoying. If you do better with big crowds in small doses, set a realistic expectation for how long you can stay at the event and still be happy even if it means you don’t see every booth. Be honest about your own parameters and you’re guaranteed to have a fun-filled day.

If you noticed a theme through these tips, you’re right. The trick to having a great time at a yarn event is setting your intentions while staying open minded!. All in all, attending Vogue Knitting Live: NYC was a great experience for a knitter and yarn enthusiast like me, and I’m already looking forward to next year when I’ll be sure to put my own advice to the task!  

Try your hand at these indie patterns to wear to your next yarn event!