Every year I try to go to a yarn show – not just because of the amazing stash enhancement opportunities, but also because the energy at the events is just incredible. I always come home so excited about knitting and wanting to cast on at least twenty more projects!
This year I’m attending Stitches United in Atlanta, Georgia May 30 – June 2. This will be my third time attending a Stitches event – I attended Stitches South in Nashville, Tennessee in 2015 and 2016, and had SO MUCH FUN! I’m by no means an expert at attending yarn shows, but I thought I’d share some tips from my experiences that I’ve found helpful.
- Make a purchase plan – I’ve attended yarn shows with a plan for specific projects, as well as the “I’ll buy what speaks to me” attitude. I prefer a middle ground – I like to have a few projects in mind, but also be open to yarn that speaks to me, for that reason…
- Make a bundle on Ravelry – There is nothing worse than finding a yarn you love, but don’t know how much to purchase. Your internet is spotty in the marketplace while you are trying to find some kind of project that uses three colors of sport yarn on a tiny phone screen. I’ve been there before. I prefer making a bundle on Ravelry of projects in my queue that I’d like to shop for at the yarn show. For each project I list the yarn weight and the yardage (if available) for the size project I want to knit. For ideas, check out my Stitches United Shopping List. I like to start this a couple months in advance, then take a last edit to it before the festival. It’s also not a bad idea to write down each project and yardage on a notecard in case internet gets spotty or your phone battery dies.
- Wearing knits – Although I love the idea of wearing knits, I’ve found I can get too hot wearing a wool pullover or cardigan at a show. This time around I am planning to wear a lightweight layers – probably a knitting shirt with a purchased cardigan – topped with a shawl or cowl that I can put in my backpack if I get warm. However, there’s always the possibility that the AC is intense, in which case a cardigan would be good! If you go that route, make sure your bag is big enough to stash that and your stash enhancement. I haven’t been to this convention center yet, but the location of Stitches United was so large that it was quite a hike from the room to the marketplace, so I didn’t end up going back at all during the day to drop things off.
- Stitch marker swap – Usually Erin Lane Bags organizes a stitch marker swap – and according to the Stitches United Ravelry Group it looks like it will be happening again. I will definitely be participating and would love to swap with you if you are going!
- Winding yarn – Although I brought plenty of projects to work on during Stitches South, the group I was with decided to buy yarn to make matching socks. There was an organization that had a booth with yarn winders and swifts available for use for a donation. I’m not sure every festival has this option – if not, I have heard good things about Andrea Mowry’s hand winding yarn tutorial.
- A note about bags – Most vendors have bags for purchases, but I usually bring a large tote bag with a few empty ones in case I need more (and there are always vendors with cute bags if you need even more!). However, the issue I always have with tote bags is that the booths can be small and crowded, which makes it tough to maneuver and look at things with a giant tote bag (or two) on your shoulder! This year I am purchasing a Plystre Project Backpack from their US stockiest Black Mountain Yarn Shop (also one of my favorite yarn shops) – I’ve seen this bag in person and you can fit a TON in it. I am hoping that bringing a backpack will make it easier to maneuver around. I might bring a small crossbody for easy access to my wallet and phone.
Things to include in your packing list:
- Comfortable shoes – I’m opting for a pair of Sketchers.
- Reusable water bottle & extra water – I’ll be bringing my S’well bottle to keep my water cold. Last time the group I went with purchased packs of water for the hotel room.
- Ziplock travel space bags – Because why not make more room for stash in your suitcase?!?
- Small project – I’m bringing a pair of non-complicated socks to work on. There are usually tables set up for people to knit and chat.
- Larger project – Something not too complicated for working on in the evening, such as at the PJ party.
- Fun pajamas (knitting themed even better!) – Yes, people wear pjs to the PJ Party – last time I went there was a pj contest and lip syncing (with yarn prizes)! It’s a lot of fun!
- Small snacks – I’ve always forgotten this, but I think its a good idea to have something. The hotel has restaurants, but there’s bound to be a wait with so many people. I will probably bring a few fruit leathers or peanut butter protein bars to hold me over.
- Portable battery charger – I do not own a small portable battery charger, but I think I am going to pick one up before Stitches United – I feel like this will be good to have, especially if I decide to cast on a project and I need to view the pattern on my phone!
- Cash – As far as I know, all the vendors at yarn shows take credit cards. However, I’ve been in situations where the internet is spotty and the vendor can’t connect to their credit card processor. In this situation its good to have cash! I also had a friend purchase from so many vendors in a short period of time that the credit card company actually put a hold on her card (the vendors are from all over, so charges from a Minnesota-based vendor right after a Florida-based vendor does raise a red flag). She had to call the company and wait for them to remove the hold so she could continue purchasing.
I’d love to know your tips for attending yarn shows in the comments!