Here are my top tips:
- Look at the exhibitors list a few days before and make plans. Make a note of who you'd like to seek out. Any new exhibitors that you haven't heard of but sound interesting.
- Look through your pattern queue on Ravelry and decide if you want yarn for any specific patterns. Make a note of any yarn requirements and pattern details such as tension, needle size, suggested yarn details etc. Keep this list electronically on your phone or tablet or in a note book. But remember if you rely on electronic devices, that some of these shows are in rural locations and may not have Wi-Fi or very good 3G signal.
- Look through your stash and see if there is something you need or particular yarns you have too much of. Have you got several boxes full of sock yarns but you are really into knitting fine lace weight shawls at the moment and only have two skeins of heavy lace weight yarn? Focus your search on lace weight yarns and don't buy any more sock yarns.
- If there are specific things you know you want to buy, make a list so you don't forget.
- When you get to the show, do one round of all the stalls to get an overview of what's on offer then go back for a more detailed look. That way, you avoid spending all your money by aisle no 2.
- Wear comfy shoes and clothes. You'll be on your feet all day. Some of these shows are in agricultural buildings like cattle markets. The flooring may be uneven, it may be cold. Dress accordingly.
- If you need to sit down regularly or have limited mobility, check out in advance what the facilities are. Is access going to be a problem?
- If you have mobility problems and you struggle getting into a particular stall or to reach certain items, don't be afraid to ask stall holders for help. They're there to help you and they want you to be able to see everything they sell.
- The first hour and last hour are usually quiet. Take a break in the middle of the day when it's busy. Catch up with a few friends, do some knitting, get lunch. Then walk around the stalls when others are starting to go home.
- Seating may be in short supply. The most common complaint I hear at shows is that people struggle to find places to sit or there are long queues for toilets and food/drink suppliers. Take your own lunch and a bottle of water. Eat lunch earlier or later than everybody else. Join somebody else's table if there are spaces. You may make new friends. Most knitters are very friendly.
Will you be at Proper Woolly this weekend? Do stop by and say hello if you see me. I'll be there on Sunday and I'm not working so I'll have time for a chat (and to tell you about my new book, clubs or YarnAddict Retreat).