Friday, October 16, 2015

Preparing for a Fiber Festival

Happy Friday, dear readers!

It's fall, and everyone knows that fall means fiber festivals.  In point of fact, Rhinebeck is happening RIGHT VERY NOW (without me, alas.  Perhaps one day I will make my pilgrimage).  That said, we have our very own local Fiber in the Boro next weekend, and then SAFF the weekend after that.

Fiber in the Boro is a small, low-key fest, but I enjoy it.  I appreciate the opportunity to support our local fiber economy, and it's nice to see some old friends.  Plus it's like, three miles from my house.  WIN.

SAFF on the other hand, is another thing altogether.  Koren and I went for the first time last year and it was huge, delightful, overwhelming, and generally awesome.  (And speaking of local fiber economy I didn't realize that Erin Lane - not her real name - of Erin Lane Bags is actually from Murfreesboro.  Had to go alla way to South Carolina to find that out.)

Anyway, the point of all of this is that fiber festivals are fantastic opportunities to learn new skills (if you're into that) and to BUY ALL THE THINGS ... I mean ,.. to do some judicious shopping, in person, of fibers and yarns that may not be easily or locally available.    And the sheer abundance of options, choices, and hell, yarn fumes, that are available can make it really easy to get overwhelmed.

So, this is not a "pick out your workshops, find your map, make a hotel reservation" post.  Y'all can figure that part out on your own.  This is a how to shop post.  (Not that I am by any means an expert.  I should qualify this as a "this is how I shop" post, but that has less of a ring to it.)

So, first things first.  Budget.  Know how much you can comfortably spend without having to serve Kraft dinner or ramen to the family for a month.  Be reasonable, be real, and take cash.  It is way harder to overspend cash when it is gone.  Also, not all vendors are going to be set up to take credit or debit cards.  But unless you are carrying knuts and galleons, everybody will take your cash.  (I am actually fairly confident that some of the vendors would take knuts and galleons too, but I'm not at liberty to discuss which ones.)

Next, give a good hard think to what you actually love to knit.  Not what kind of yarn you love to buy, mind you, but what you actually love to knit.   Variegated fingering weight yarn sure is pretty.  But how many Hitchhikers does one girl need?  (Okay, yes, I know there are a lot more options for variegated yarns.  And arguably one girl needs "all of them" in regards to Hitchhikers, but you take my point.)

So, say you really enjoy knitting with tonal colors.  You love to make cabled hats.  Flat colors make you wrinkle your nose.  Variegateds give you heartburn when you try to knit them.   If you know this going in you aren't going to come home with two skeins of a solid lace-weight and half a dozen wild and funky sock yarns.  Instead, you'll come home with a skein of gorgeous, tonal DK or Worsted for that cabled hat you love.  

My point is:  know what you knit. And remember that what you like to buy is not always the same thing as what you like to knit.

Gosh this is already running long, and I'm not even to the pictures yet.   Still with me?

Because next stop is Ravelry.  What's in your queue?  Your favorites? What are you excited about knitting that you don't have yarn for yet?

There is a free program called Trello (it's a productivity software based on a kanban approach for project or production management).  And because I am me, and this is how I do, I use it to gather my knitting inspiration and wish lists.

My Actual SAFF Trello Board
You could do this any number of ways, but the key factors here are: visual reminders of what you are interested in (before the wool fumes get to you and you completely lose your mind), along with yarn weight, pattern name, yardage requirements (this part is really important) and recommended gauge.

Armed with this information you can come home from your festival with yarn that you are more likely to actually use, and (again this is key) in sufficient quantities.   

If you guys would like more information about how I actually set up the Trello board, just let me know and I can go into more detail around the mechanics of it.

One last thing to consider -- cell reception and data can be really spotty at some festivals.  Which means that you might get out to the Barn of Wonders where all of the vendors are waiting to entice you with their wares, and have no access to your carefully constructed plan.

The solution to this dilemma was stolen wholesale from Aimee Beth of The Fat Squirrel Speaks (who in turn stole it from someone else.)   Save a picture in your phone.  It requires no data to access, so you won't get stuck.

Trello has an app, so I just pulled up my board and took a screen shot.  Bob's yer uncle.

Lastly, but not leastly, check out the vendor list from the Festival's website.  Are there any vendors that you are either dying to check out, or that you know you adore from previous years?  If so, make a note so you can be sure to get over to them.  Ideally you'll get to see all of the vendors, but at the bigger festivals you may run out of time and oomph before you run out of places to shop.  A good problem to have, but let's make sure we hit the Must Sees first.

There's so much more that I could say about this  -- and maybe I should have even approached this as a two or three part series, but I hope that this little taste of my process is helpful.


Carry Cash
Know what you want to knit
Know your vendors

Happy Shopping!  
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