the big top

Posted on Posted in book reviews/events

every year in the month of june, the yarn world descends on columbus, ohio for our winter trade show. many, many, many vendors—yarn companies, publishers, producers, designers, accessory companies, gadget makers, and the like—set up booths to show off their wares and even more attendees—including shop owners, designers, teachers, reporters, etc—walk the aisles in search of the newest, latest, and greatest to items to bring to the attention of their respective audiences.

whew, that was quite a sentence.
but hopefully, one that properly imparts the magnitude of the event and how much walking is involved in seeing all of it. according to my fitbit tracker, between three and four (indoor) miles in each of two days to cover what we needed to see of the show. and that was mostly just the yarn part; we did not venture into deep needlepoint or cross stitch territories.

here we are in the ewe ewe booth; she’s wearing the baby knitspot shirt my brother joe printed up at her request. it was a big hit and we had many requests to carry those in our own shop, so we’ll probably stock a few soon to see how they go (joe is an excellent printer; he and his family specialize in small run and specialty orders, perfect for our kind of business). we are also considering a non-maternity shirt that says something like, “olive my knitspot”—waddaya think?

anyway, back to business . . . one of the first people i saw was jill (AKA kniterella); someone i’ve been looking forward to meeting; i love her design work.

the cool thing about TNNA is that we get to see not just new products and producers, but friends, too—the yarn world is fairly small and we are a social bunch. despite that fact that so many of us work independently in our own studios, we avidly make use of the tools of social media to make connections, share tips, tricks, and contacts, create liaisons, and familiarize ourselves with our markets and our competitors.

(beverly from angel fire studios, angela, and kirsten kapur at dinner sunday evening)

by the time we get to the trade shows, we are eager to meet in person and have much to discuss, both on the floor and off. even though we’ve all had a very full day of looking at new fiber products, talking through potential partnerships, signing books, or shopping for yarns, we look forward to evening gatherings to share meals, discuss the industry, and, possibly best of all, participate in the most star-crossed knit nights of the year.

oh and of course, there are the very smallest members of our community to welcome into the fold—haha, and no, erica did not give birth at the show! that is six-week-old oliver, the tot toppers baby, at TNNA with his mom kate; they are somewhat attached at the hip for the time being.

we also saw and cuddled with the ravelery babies—sadly, no photos of the family as we were so busy chatting them up. i was really happy to spend time with them again for just a little bit; it’s always so much fun talking with mary heather, jess, and sarah.

we made sure to stop for breaks throughout the day so erica could rest and baby knitspot could snack, making sure that dad was updated frequently. this was most likely their last foray from home until the kid is born—next time i see them will be at their place.

technically, photography is not allowed on the show floor—it’s a fair policy as we are getting a glimpse at the very newest products, not yet on the market; a photo-free environment ensures that each vendor can freely share their newest and most innovative ideas ahead of the market, without risk. we are very careful to take photos only in public mingling areas and when a vendor invites us to take a shot inside their booth.

however, we can photograph as much as we want at home of the new and notable things that come away from the show with us, so i have a nice parade of goodies to share from people who want you to see what’s new.

above, a selection  of new stonewash colors in shalimar yarns haven, a new merino/silk 5-ply DK that kristy introduced at the show. from left to right, silver sage, sea glass, and mole (my personal favorite).

one of my very favorite accessory vendors, perl grey, was at the show for the first time, ensconced in a beautiful booth featuring pewter and wood brooches, sticks, and buttons, all in a new, matte-silver patina finish. and boy, has adrienne been busy—she has some great new shapes as well, including some really innovative hook closures that can be removed for washing.

fellow canadian felicia lo was also there with her breathtaking sweetgeorgia yarns and handed me a skein of her newest offering, a kid mohair and silk lace yarn. i love mohair; in fact, i go off on a mohair binge every once in a while for which i’m long overdue (the last one culminated in the first pattern i sold on the internet, wing-o-the-moth). this colorway couldn’t be more well-suited to my taste either (it’s woodland; it must be new, i don’t see it on her site, but i know it will be popular). i may just have to put it to work soon (haha, janel was making designs on it all saturday night but i made sure it came home in my tote bag). felicia’s yarns will do that to a person—turn them mean.

at the kollage yarns booth, susie and mark were showing off their new and improved square® needles, now made in the USA, still with two options for cable softness.

anzula yarns was in the house as well, with beautiful hand dyed yarns on display. she works with an awesome array of bases, many of which are out of the ordinary. here i have a skein of milky way, a milk/wool fingering yarn blend in the color violet, i believe. you know how i love the milk blends—and this one has generous yardage, enough to knit a petite size shawl such as budding apple or LOVe.

even though i tried very hard not to bring too much home (i need to work on weeding out my stash), at the dream in color booth, i succumbed to having a couple of skeins pressed into my hands. one was this merino/silk laceweight blend called wisp, in the most beautiful variegated colorway (fortune) that reminds me of iris in my favorite odd shades.

i couldn’t help glomming on to this gorgeous vivid blue mix called nebula, dyed on the calm yarn base, a soft single-ply yarn spun form 100% american wool.

i couldn’t help being arrested by the indian lake artisans booth, where handcrafted hexagonal knitting needles were on display in maple, cherry, and walnut woods, from our neighbor state of michigan. the company also produces cable needles and shawl pins and we were told that circulars are on the way. we accepted an invitation to try them out and i must say, i do like them. when the circa make a debut, i will be all over those. the points are great for lace and socks, while the hex shape allows for standard stitch gauge. they feel lovely to hold.

our friend janel laidman (left, above) was with us for the weekend, to represent her publications in the visionary authors booth. janel has two new magazines on they fire, BTW—the first one, the sock report, made its debut this month and the second one, skein report is due out in late summer. the cool thing about these magazines is that they are available both in digital and print format; when you buy into either one, you get everything from that issue in your package.

the show went on and on; we saw many, many more people who are familiar to you through this blog—we had a nice visit with stephanie and steve from ecobutterfly organics, suppliers of the gorgeous pakucho cotton lace yarn in the wandering thyme scarf i wore at the show all weekend. we also saw our dear friend clara parkes, though not as often as we’d like. as if she didn’t have enough on her plate, with her first booth at TNNA, laura nelkin organized a dinner on sunday night that included all the designer friends you see around the table in various photos above.

after ordering, we all took out our knitting and set to work sharing gossip making conversation. the food took forever to get to the table, but that was probably a good thing; it gave us time to wind down and catch up with each other. i worked on my lace weight cotton fingerless mitt, which i’ve decided to name “sweet tea”, a suggestion by anne marie that i just love.

after dinner we all headed back to the hotel for knitting in the lobby—a TNNA tradition. each night’s knit circle is a bit different as people come and go. i worked on a secret project both friday and saturday nights, but finding that required a little too much concentration for public knitting, i decided on sunday to grab my caïssa sweater sleeve and work on that.

good choice—i made excellent headway on it for a couple of hours while i chatted with my friends from shall we knit? whom i haven’t seen since last fall. luckily, they were traveling with kim o’brien of indigodragonfly, supplier of luscious hand-dyed yarns and sassy buttons. see the one in the upper right corner? that’s the one erica’s wearing until the baby is born. we’ve decided i should be her dula.

HEY, stop that laughing; i’m very calm in emergencies, trust me. really, who else in the world would ask her to just wait a sec when her water breaks, so i can finish my row?? not to mention that i live three and a half hours away . . . but that what the button is for.

and with that, i am leaving you for today. i’ve spent far too much time on this post and i must get some actual work done now.

25 thoughts on “the big top

  1. TNNA looks like fun, but that aside, the important item is this: I WANT an olive knitspot tee shirt. Please print some.

  2. Hello! Looks like you’re having a wonderful time. I’d like to put my pre-order in for an “Olive” sweatshirt! What a great way to show support for olives (not to mention Knitspot) LOL YEAH

  3. Definitely olive tees and sweatshirts! Erica looks adorable!

    You’d be great as a cooking dula!

    Thanks for sharing all the show highlights. What a never-ending stream of yarny fun!

  4. It was great to see you and Erica! Im still chucking after reading the dula bit. Is it time to start a pool for when the baby is going to arrive?

  5. LOVE Erica’s Baby Knitspot shirt…soooo cute! Yes, please. Olive KS shirts would be fun to wear and great advertisement for you!

    What type of wood do you prefer for the hexagon needles? I, too, am interested in their upcoming circulars. Can’t wait to hear what you think of them.

  6. This was a great post! I’m so envious as always wanted to go to TNNA. My sister owned a needlepoint shop and went every year.

  7. Fantastic post! I’m not a great t-shirt wearer, but perhaps an Olive Knitspot tote? Ooh-new Perl Grey! I will have to look. I haven’t checked out her things in awhile, and I love the pieces that I have.

  8. TNNA has always looked like a blast, and this post just makes me wish I could go sometime!

    And I love the Olive Knitspot shirts-please print some!

  9. Great post, Anne. Lovely yarn porn, too. Sounds like y’all had a great time.

  10. Always a double treat – to get to hang out with you, and then to read your reportage afterwards. You find things at the show that I missed because I’m focussed on our orders. Next time I’ll follow you around. 🙂

    Can’t wait to have you come back.

  11. Hi Anne,
    It was lovely to meet you and have dinner at Lemon Grass. It was too bad that the restaurant was so loud that we couldn’t all have a conversation. Hope to see at Rhinebeck this year.

  12. Olive Knitspot, too! Too cute. And I’d like to point out that I love/hate these types of posts. So many pretty shiny things, and a less shiny yarn budget. (sigh)

  13. love the post anne! i had so much fun with you at the show. i was sad to leave you. i am so jazzed about all the things we saw and all the upcoming surprises for club members. i wore my baby knitspot tee to my check up this week. the nurses loved it!

  14. I forgot to ask you in my previous comment, how does it feel knitting on those square needles? Are they comfortable? Is the knitting any different than when knit on ordinary needles?

  15. Thanks for such a fun recap – looks like an amazing weekend, how i would love to be there! and i really love the look of those indian lake needles. can’t wait to hear more about them as you use them.

  16. Anne, Great job describing the indescribable event that is TNNA. I’m still recovering! Put me down for an Olive Knitspot T-shirt! And I love Jody’s idea for a bag. I am bookmarking brother joe’s screenprinting page, too; the shirt was fantastic.

  17. As soon as I read your post’s title, circus music started playing in my mind. . .

  18. It looks like you had a great time! The knitting world is indeed small — Angela, in your photo above started the Knitting Group I joined when I first moved to Brooklyn, and was my first formal teacher. She blogs at if you want to link to her. 🙂

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