Pondering attending one
of the many fiber and yarn festivals this
fall? I've recently returned from Stitches
Midwest 2004, in St. Charles, Illinois (my
home town!), with a few tips to share.
- Register as
soon as you can
Unfortunately, I missed out on some great
classes because I only planned the trip
a week before attending. Many of the in-demand
courses at these festivals sell out weeks
or months in advance. As fun as it is
to be spontaneous, planning ahead really
helps if you have your heart set on a
- Pack light
-- leave room for stash
like to travel with a carry-on sized suitcase.
After piling in the clothes for the weekend,
this leaves me with little -- if any --
room for stash enhancing souvenirs. My
solution? Lightweight expandable bags.
My favorite is the
Eagle Creek model [left] that expands
to 3600 cubic inches (nearly the size
of a rolling carry-on) but only weighs
11oz -- slightly more than 3 skeins of
Cascade 220. Even better, when compressed,
it takes up less room in your bag than
a skein of Noro Kureyon.
While I wouldn't recommend checking your
newly found stash (or anything precious)
in one of these bags, it makes a great
carry-on and fits almost as much gear
as one of those little rolling suitcases.
Travelling with limited stash space also
has the added benefit for those of us
on yarn budgets; impulse buys are restricted
when you know you have only a certain
amount of space. (Of course, if you really
MUST have that hand-dyed silk/wool boucle,
you can ship something home or wear it
around your neck like a scarf. I won't
- What to wear
Let the weather dictate this to a certain
extent, but consider wearing a hand-knit
or crocheted garment. Aside from showing
off your hard work, it'll make it easier
to meet new friends. I wore my Koigu Charlotte's
Web on my first day at the Market, and
it proved to be a fantastic conversation-opener.
- Take notes
On the way to the Stitches Market, I picked
up a nifty green leather notebook, measuring
3" x 5" and it came with a tiny
silver pen. The notebook was handy for
jotting down yarn I wanted to ponder before
buying, notes about good stores to visit
online, and e-mail addresses of new friends.
As much as you think you'll remember the
yardage and gauge of that fantastic handspun,
you'll be lucky to remember the company's
name by the time you unpack!
- Shopping strategies
It's my dream to be able to walk into
any yarn store and buy whatever my knitting
basket desires. But in reality, I have
a budget to stick to, even at an event
like Stitches. As mentioned earlier, knowing
I have a space limitation helps restrict
my buying to the absolute must-haves.
But even then, I sometimes have to make
some tough choices!
At Stitches this year, I am proud to admit
I went overbudget. Why? I set two rules
for myself prior to attending. First,
I could only buy yarns I couldn't get
locally in Calgary. Second, I could only
buy yarns that were better purchased in
person than online, due to color or fiber
selection. Other than that, I had a general
dollar amount in mind.
I ended up blowing my budget on precious
Koigu in some fantastic colors that just
wouldn't represent correctly over the
internet. I also picked up a few new yarns
that haven't made their way north yet.
Even though I was tempted by new shades
of Kureyon, I know I can buy them at any
time, online or in person. I wanted to
spent my Market Money on once-only opportunities.
And by following these rules, I was able
to carry my purchases home on the plane.
Of course, if you're heading to a sheep
and wool festival, where most of the yarns
are hand-dyed and hand-spun, your rules
may need altering.
- Making connections
As noted in last issue's column, one of
my biggest joys as a traveling knitter
is connecting with other knitters! As
soon as I had my travel plans, I wrote
to some knitting buddies in the area to
see if they'd be attending. I was able
to meet up with two good friends and make
a few new ones!
If you have a blog, one easy way to be
"spotted" is by wearing a t-shirt
with your blog design printed on the front.
CafePress can help you set up a "store",
even if you are your only customer.
TSA Rule Update
As announced in last issue's
column, the Transportation Security Administration
released a knitting
and needlework factsheet that recommends
using bamboo or plastic circular needles,
less than 31 inches in length, carrying
a SASE, and using only blunt-pointed scissors.
Please remember that the TSA is only responsible
for airport operations within the United
States. When flying through the rest of
the world, the rules will vary. When in
doubt, look online or call ahead.
tips on in-flight knitting, see my Winter
tips do you have for the knitter on the go?
with your tips and feedback.
she's not on the road as a Business Analyst, Amy Swenson
hangs her hat in Calgary, with her two cats, Cleo
and Maddy. Since her last column at Knitty, Amy has
officially immigrated to Canada.
She documents her quest for the
ultimate yarn bargain and cheap airfares at Indigirl.
More information on her original knitting patterns
can be found at IndiKnits.
| © 2004 Amy Swenson.