Thursday, I flew into Columbus, Ohio for my annual pilgrimage to TNNA–The National Needlearts Association. This is a show for the needle arts industry where manufacturers come together to show their wares to retailers (yarn shop owners). In addition, there are the designer and teacher contingencies, of which I am apart. We wander around on the immense show floor, showing our wares or teaching classes to yarn shop owners, and reaffirming friendships and acquaintences. It is a giant schmooze party in the best sense, because at the heart of it all, human connection is what makes it all work. I met up with friends for dinner on Thursday night, and talked about my slide presentation for the next day. As much as I have taught rooms full of students, I was pretty nervous about presenting my KAL program in front of yarn shop owners. For those of you who read my blog but not my newsletter, I have developed a series of workshops for yarn shop owners to teach, based on several of my gansey patterns, aided by my DVD. These classes span 10 to 12 weeks and I will Skype in to the class twice during the period. In its inaugural debut at Cornall Yarn Shop in Cornwall, NY, it met with great success and some of the knitters who completed their first gansey had never knitted sweaters before! Anyway, I digress!
The Columbus Convention Center is enormous and is thankfully surrounded by all sorts of wonderful restaurants. So while I walked my tail off during the day, losing weight and gaining muscle, I gained it all back at night tasting all sorts of wonderful things. If you ever come to Columbus, don't miss Jenny's ice cream in the North Market! Friday morning at the ungodly hour of 8am (you know I am a tried and true night owl) I gave my slide presentation to my class of LYS owners. They were very interested and receptive and I felt really good about it! (I was so glad I had, as an afterthought a few days before, created a slide show by downloading KeyNote, learning the software, and making up a slide show, rather than just relying on my speaking.) My friend Gail who owns Cornwall Yarn Shop was there as well to give her perspective and give credence to the effectiveness of my program. After that, I helped set up the Up North Fiber Art Supply booth with Barb Catani who owns that business and distributes my DVD, book, and patterns. It is a lot of hard work, unpacking, arranging, hanging, re-arranging all the things that go into a booth. Before I started vending at Stitches in the '90s, I had no idea that people had to plan for and bring and set up FIXTURES, the stuff that displays everything. They can be very costly themselves, besides the cost of the booth, which can be exceed $1,000, the airfare, the hotel and meals (another $1,000). It is a huge risk to commit to a show, and success depends on garnering enough sales to cover all the costs and your time and the wholesale money you put out for your products, plus making MORE! If you don't make a profit you are not in business for long. It takes courage in an economy like this one to put out that money and effort. I registered and got my badge that would let me into the show, along with a map of the show floor. I spent the rest of the evening pouring over the map, planning who I would see and talk to and which booths I would investigate the following days.