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Friday, May 29, 2015

Proper Woolly - How to survive a show!

This weekend the first Proper Woolly event will be held in Holsworthy, North Devon. I'm not having a stall at this weekend's event as I had already applied for Woolfest (in June) and I didn't want to do another show so close to Woolfest as the preparation is very intense. But I will be going to Proper Woolly on Sunday and I'm looking forward to going as a regular visitor. 

Most of the shows I attend I either have a stall or I teach so I rarely get to go to a big knitting event as a regular visitor so I'm really looking forward to it. I'm going with a friend and I've been looking at the exhibitors list to see who I want to check out.

So today I thought I'd go through a few tips on how to survive these big knitting events. I've also been to the Knitting & Stitch Show at Alexandra Palaca in London several times and I know that these events can be daunting.

Having stalls at shows like Woolfest and Yarndale (yes I'll be there in September), I get to speak to a lot of the visitors and one of the things first time visitors to knitting shows say is that they find it overwhelming. You can often tell who the first timers are as they tend to walk around in a daze. There is so much choice, so much pretty yarn, fibre and other things. How do you process it all or decide where to spend your money and on what? 

My stall at a previous show.

Here are my top tips:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. If there are specific things you know you want to buy, make a list so you don't forget.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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?
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

And from a stall holders point of view, we love to talk to you. We love to tell you about what we sell and to help you choose the appropriate yarns, patterns, tools etc but if you stop to chat with us but don't intend to buy anything please be aware of others waiting to talk to us to buy our wares. We are at shows to sell our products. And yes, it's lovely to catch up with old friends, online friends or someone who just want to know how you got started designing knitwear but it's hard if there are customers waiting. I don't like being rude but if you just want a chat and I've got people waiting to pay then I've got to turn my attention to them. 

Some stalls are very small and get crowded easily so if you know you won't be buying but you want to chat to the stall holder, keep an eye out for  other potential customers trying to come into the stall and excuse yourself. Come back when it's quiet. The last hour of the day is ALWAYS  quiet! Stall holders will have plenty of time to talk then.

Know when the show closes. Having a stall at shows is hard work. Stall holders are exhausted by the end of the day. At some shows organisers will walk around to announce that the show is now closed but not all shows do that. And it's hard if it's past closing time but you can't pack up or close up for the day, because someone is chatting to you or are still trying to decide what to buy. I'm happy to stay late if you want to buy but please be sensitive to stall holders needing a break or food! Or needing to pack up and start the long drive home (if it's the last day of the show).

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).

1 comment:

Liz said...

Set a budget and take it in cash is another tip, as it's very easy to get carried away and run up a large credit card bill!