Sunday, January 8, 2012

show roundup: Distaff, OFFF, Rhinebeck

Yesterday was NWRSA's St. Distaff's Day spin-in. No icy roads this year, so there were nearly twice as many spinners as in 2011--a guild member told me that there were 275 people who signed in this year, versus last year's 150. As usual with the small events where I've got an hour to set up, I forgot to take photos till pretty late in the day, so I'm afraid I didn't bother at that point. I was cleaned out of Polwarth/silk and silk hankies. I've come to the conclusion that how you display hankies makes a huge difference in how they sell. When I have an outdoor booth, I can't put them out because they fly away, and consequently they just sit there. But lay them out on a table, where people can see the brilliance of the colors, and they all find homes. I'll have to work on that for the outdoor shows.

Mr. Pocket Wheel was there doing tune-ups, so I brought mine and he was able to identify and fix the problem instantly. A very lovely bonus to the show!

It also occurs to me that I never did recaps of Rhinebeck or OFFF, lo these many moons ago. OFFF was so much fun. It has that wonderful atmosphere of camaraderie and fiber cheerfulness that a great show has. Lovely customers, as usual, many of whom came on the recommendations of their friends, which is just so nice.

One of the things I've most enjoyed about being on the show circuit is meeting other vendors, who I usually think of as my co-workers. I find most of them feel the same way--we help one another, share tips, commiserate and celebrate together. At OFFF, I connected with several old vendor friends as well as meeting some new ones, chief among them Bruce of Alana Marketing, my booth neighbor. Bruce used to be one of the co-owners of Lantern Moon, and then recently sold his interest and opened his own import/distribution business. We had a lot of conversations about retailing, working with LYSs, and the administrative/marketing side of running a business. We come at this industry from different angles with interesting intersections. Great stuff--I loved talking with him.

Rhinebeck was fun to attend, and it was great to go to a festival where I wasn't vending so I could actually take classes and see the animals and vendors. I met Ysolda Teague--I didn't realize she'd be there, so it was a happy chance that I was wearing my Vine Yoke cardigan when I walked by her book-signing table.

Vine Yoke detail

We chatted a little while about the pattern--she said that while the results are deceptively simple, it was quite a challenge to write the pattern for various sizes because the garter and lace sections have different gauges. She admired the buttons on the cardigan, which were a lucky find--I think the leafy branches really add the perfect accent. Later on, I found a copy of Little Red in the City (the bookstore hosting her had sold out) and she was able to sign it. Word to the wise, the sticker in the back of the book with the code to download the PDF is a scratch-off, not peel-off sticker. Keep scratching and it will come off--don't just dig at it with a tentative fingernail, peel off the sticker instead, and then have to humbly email Ysolda's assistant with a plea for help.

Rhinebeck was a little overwhelming. I don't mind crowds, but when you can't even get to a booth because you're trapped in the middle of the aisle by a sea of humanity, then it's not my optimal festival experience. I have to think shoplifting would be a huge problem there. One of the reasons I wanted to go was to see if I'd want to vend there in the future. While the exposure would be incredible, and I could cope with the logistics of shipping and the amount of prep work it would take, the sheer number of shoppers would be overwhelming. The vendors who I'd consider comparable to myself looked frenetic--like the overcaffeinated and underslept state that I usually find myself in on the first day of a show, but amped up a million times.

I also paid a visit to the Bosworth booth and picked up a lovely Bosworth Mini spindle. That was really the only place where I got the sense of connection with other knitters/spinners that I usually associate with fiber festivals.
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