TNNA Redux

The show as fucking HUGE, I’d say at least as as big as a Super Target, maybe even double that, but strangely quiet & low key, I guess because nothing was actually for sale. So the hoards who would normally be knocking over their own mothers for the new Koigu colors weren’t, you know, knocking over anyone. Yarn store owners were marching around, dragging their stashes of bribes and goodies, the veterans puffing up their chests so you could see all their commemorative pins from past shows. I had a red tag, so one was climbing over themselves to load me up with swag. And whenever a vendor did so much as looked my way, I bleated “I’m not a yarn store,” so they wouldn’t waste a pitch on me. On Sunday, I mostly felt overwhelmed & like an interloper, just milling about a little and lurking at the Potter Craft booth like an orphan. But I did get to meet a lot of delightful people, including some knitting superstars. I don’t want to want to be a knitting star-fucker, but it was pretty inspiring. The Potter cocktail party (which I missed almost all of, thanks to the fucking Hyatt, which blew off my wake-up call. My new name for the Hyatt is the Moldy Tomato, but that’s a separate gripe) had a very dense stable of knitting superstars, and knitting-themed girly cocktails. The combination was kind of giddy-making. I wish I’d been earlier & not so hazy & tired from 2 almost-sleepless nights, as the little I did catch was kind of a blur.

It’s been really interesting to read what everyone saw as the big “trends” at TNNA. It was my first time, so it beats me. Yarn wise, it seemed to be mainly about classic yarns, but I can’t say I saw a dominant fiber. I’m not really a trend-spotter by nature though. I just drift from touchy to touchy & block out anything I don’t like. I did see a lot of elegant, feminine cables and very artful, girly applications of bulky yarns. Case in point: I was very excited to see the French Girl stuff in real life. The garments are actually even more scrumptious in person.

The best part of the show is that everyone has long, open hanks of yarn hanging from their booths, so you can walk around and feel it all up, and get a better idea of the nature of the yarn than you do when it’s all twisted into hanks. There are huge yarn companies with extravagant 12-stall booths and dozens of mannequins, all rich and overdone like middle-aged Hollywood divorcees, and tiny yarn companies with their proud, compact little no-nonsense displays. You’re not allowed to take pictures, to minimize ripoffs, I guess. But it’s a pain in the ass, because you end up with fistfuls of cards and brochures & without pictures, it’s really hard to remember who was who.

One of the nicest things–and something I should’ve photographed, because the sign just said no cameras in the exhibit hall & this was outside–was the Great Wall of Yarn, where there are hundreds of hanging hanks to fondle, as well as corresponding snips for you to tape into your little yarny memory book. Totally fun for a yarn nerd, and a nice, concentrated, unintimidating way to check out the yarn. I think a lot of people recorded every single yarn, but I just took the ones I liked in both looks and touch. I missed out on a few I wanted, because I didn’t realize what was going on until the end.

 

Tool-wise, Clover had a brilliant pompom maker. I really liked the handmade wooden circular needles from Stitch Diva, and Colonial’s new rosewood circulars were pretty darn nice, too, but much pricier. There was a small company with completely one of a kind hand-carved knitting needles & crochet hooks (Dodo’s Design).

See how the two are different? The left one has a little ring rattle near the base of the end, while the right has a ring at the tip of the end. They’re weightless. 

Both sides of my exotic birdie hook. Is it a heron, maybe? I don’t know. They also had a weird airbrushed pink & blue rabbit I really liked, but it was bigger than what I would typically use.

As far as yarns, I tried to mainly explore companies I didn’t know or that aren’t carried at my LYSes, so I could expand my horizons a little. Ozark Handspun had defiant, mouth-watering, glubby melted-candy yarns. That’s always my favorite stuff, although wild yarns are challenging to actually use. You just want to put them in shadow boxes. But I’ve got an embryonic pattern bobbing around in my brain. I wish they had more crazy art yarn at the show, but I guess that would just be maddening, since you couldn’t buy it. Ooh, and speaking of, I got to look at the Pluckyfluff Handspun Revolution book at Unicorn (which had every single craft book you’d ever want to browse). It’s expensive for its size (littlish), but lovely and very interesting, and it’s definitely on my splurgy to-buy list. With the fiber workshop coming up, it should be a snap to rationalize. I was psyched about O-wool (certified organic, soft, richly colored classic wool yarn); the delightfully economical Kraemer, with plenty of undyed selections and a great cotton blend tweed; the new Lana Grossa and Nashua stuff; some of the Universal natural/synthetic blends; and a couple of small importers: Latin Collection’s buttery alpaca from Peru and Rio de la Plata’s marled hand-dyed from Uruguay. Plus the Dancing Fibers Diamohair & Serendipity; gorgeous Twinkle bulky, especially the stormy ice blue stuff, which was practically liquid (the hand varied a good deal by color, though it was all labeled simply “pure wool” or “virgin wool” or something similarly generic); the candyish and feel-good Be Sweet pretties; muted Hand Jive bulkies; and the luxury Classic Elite. I could soak in a tub of that. There was nothing for sale at the show, but afterwards, they were allowed to do some modest cash & carry, so I got the Denise companion set I’ve been needing, the handcarved tools above, and some Ozark roving, which is really meant for knitting, but I think I’ll try to spin tufts of it into my spindle practice.

I really wish I hadn’t been so bashful about talking to yarn companies & publishers–I didn’t really relax until Monday afternoon & by then it was almost over. But I did introduce myself to a few yarn people and get some great samples of new yarns, and I have a couple possibilities for pattern design. Next year, I’d really like to have a book proposal in hand so I can figure out just what yarns I’d like to use with what pattern.

I wish they had a little 1-page orientation/overview/don’t-miss notice for first timers. I missed all the book signings & gimmees, and didn’t realize what was up with the Yarn Wall until the very end. And I didn’t know about the silent auction until after the fact. It would have been very exciting to win a garment you’ve admired in your favorite book or magazine. Plus it would have been a nice shopping release in a no-shop-em weekend. And I should map out everything I want to see so I don’t get lost and miss anyone (like Karabella & Blue Sky Alpacas & Louet, boo hoo). And there were goodie bags at the Potter party, so I reckon there were goodie bags to be had elsewhere. I’m nothing if not a goodie whore.

But there’s always next year! By then, I’ll have a real book and not just a pretend one! (All the publishers make pretend versions of upcoming books that aren’t out yet. They have a shiny, authentic-looking jacket, and a few pages of patterns, and then the rest is blank. It’s quite a fake out. There were a couple books I picked up again and again. They could have put one of those rat buzzers inside and made an experiment out of me.)

I have to say I’m really pleased to be part of the Potter Craft catalog, both because of all the impressive books (See? Look how fancy!) they’ve already published & because their crew is so lively & friendly & clever. At the end of the show, I got a huge haul of Potter books, almost doubling my craft library in one fell swoop (there’s also a couple of magazines in there, and one book, Modular Knits, from a different publisher). I’ve only started Mason Dixon Knitting so far, and it totally deserves every drop of hype it’s gotten.

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