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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Episode 7: To The Trade Show We Go

After a 6-week hiatus (from recording and blogging, not working!), we finally have a chance to post again.

In this podcast episode:
1) we get ready for the TNNA show
2) I cram to get 2 projects done to wear at the show
3) check out the cabling-with-no-cable-needle method video

The National Needle Arts Association is a trade organization that most people involved in making/wholesaling/retailing yarn belong to. There are many designers, teachers, and publishers who are also members. The organization hosts 2 large shows, with a couple of smaller ones, every year. We exhibit at the 2 larger shows. The June show is where we showcase our fall/winter yarns, along with any new designs and accessories.

We begin the packing process in early May, with me coming up with last minute display ideas, and with Joyce pulling her hair out and gritting her teeth to accommodate these requests --- she is in charge of making sure everything is included in our crates, and I am in charge of making sure I drive her crazy. We have the perfect relationship.

So, that is our excuses for going 6 weeks without a podcast. I really enjoy the recording process (and Joyce does too) and wish we could do it once a week, but unfortunately, it will continue to be on an as-we-can basis. Hopefully you will see it as a nice surprise, sort of like getting flowers here and there, just because :-)

Back to the trade show process. Our crates got picked up about 1 1/2 weeks before we arrived and were waiting for us in the booth space the morning of set-up. I heard of a small company that came from South America and because of an erupting volcano (how dare it) that disrupted flying, their display items only made their appearance on Saturday morning, mere hours before the show was to officially open. THAT is my recurring nightmare! I am just glad it wasn't us dealing with that. I would have surely required a few slaps from Joyce to make me snap out of it!

Here are a few photos of us setting up the booth. I took them using my iPad2 and I have to say that the on-board camera stinks the big one. See how grainy they look? And while I was taking them, they looked really nice on the screen. Not so now. So, sorry for that snafu. I think you can see the process well enough, though, from the very beginning where we started hanging our black curtains (first photo), to the finished look (last 2 photos). We had help from Jennifer who lives near Columbus and knits samples for us (beautifully), and Liz, our sales rep for Minnesota. We started at 8:30 am and were done by noon (woohoo, a record for us, thank you very much ladies). The infamous crates (much discussed on the podcast) are featured in the 2nd photo. Oh, and it's Joyce in the 3rd photo making a cameo appearance.
The show went well. Those markets have been slow the last few years, but this one showed a definite upswing. Attending shows is a pricey proposition, both for exhibitors, and for buyers. The shop owners that came were there to buy. Not too many tire kickers this time around. That gave the show a nice upbeat atmosphere, and folks went home feeling recharged with optimism and inspiration.

We are introducing 2 new yarns for the fall: Meadow Silk and Ty-Dy Superkid. We already have the Meadow Silk in stock (70% highland wool/30% silk), ready to ship to a store near you. The 6 accompanying patterns are being completed right now and will be available by the end of June (next week).

The yarn has a nice twist especially designed to prevent PILLING! Don't you just hate to spend $$ on a nice yarn, and hours knitting a sweater only to have the fabric pill after one or two wearings? So do we! So instead of designing a single ply yarn that looks real nice in the ball but will pill the first time you wear your sweater, we came up with this yarn. It feels a bit crispy in the hank, but it softens up nicely with steam blocking (apply a wet dishtowel to your work, and place a hot iron on the towel --- you should hear some hissing sound). It works wonders with this yarn. And that is a perfect example why you should not always judge a yarn by the feel before it's knitted and blocked. Ask your yarn shop owner if they have a blocked swatch or finished garment for you to fondle.

See what nice twist it has? And the sheen is from the 30% silk content. The close up makes it look quite hairy, but it really isn't. It's pretty smooth, actually.
Ty-Dy Superkid is a laceweight blend of superkid mohair, wool and nylon. We selected the 7 favorite Ty-Dy Wool and Ty-Dy Socks colors and applied them to this new yarn. One ball makes the Kurly Kid Scarf.
Cute, isn't it?
Just look at those beautiful colors...yum! This yarn will begin shipping to shops at the end of July.

The word for fall and winter is "Accessories." So I came up with lots of new shawl, capelet, and hat patterns. Here's a sampling of some of those:
From left to right, the Crayon Shawlette, the Linus Capelet and Hat, and the Bowties Scarf. All of these patterns are available now (got those done at least...still have more to go!)

Joyce fessed up to having an ongoing allover Alice Starmore cable sweater on the needles for 2 years! Every stitch is twisted both on the right and wrong sides, and it's been taking her one hour to work 1" of fabric. After I showed her my no-cable-needle-cable method, she says she's picked up considerable speed. And as promised in the last podcast, here's the how-to video where I demonstrate the technique:

I think it works pretty well and I doubt I'll be using a cable or double pointed needle to work my cables ever again!

Oh, and one more thing. The Knit One, Crochet Too Facebook page is up to 886 followers. If we reach 1000 people by July 4th, I will randomly select someone out of those 1000 people to win a kit of the Bowties Scarf (see above, right image)! So be sure to join and get your friends to join, too, so we can reach that milestone in time!