Posted on Posted in book reviews/events, projects

one of the reasons i was in san diego is that the winter TNNA trade show was held there this past weekend. many of you wrote and told me you wanted to hear all about it, so this is it—it’s a long one, though—better grab a nice drink.

TNNA is the national organization for needlework professionals—yarn companies, makers of various needlework supplies and distributors, publishers, designers, yarn shop owners and many, many more commercial participants in the needlework trade come together to see and show new products, order for the upcoming season, release new books, and talk shop (and so much more; it’s hard to make one or two sentences describe the total scope of business that takes place at an event like this).

so you have to be a registered professional to attend. it’s also not a cash and carry show; you can’t purchase yarn to take home. for affiliate members like myself, it’s a great way to connect with producers who might be interested in collaborating on projects, meet yarn shop owners in person who carry my patterns (or might want to), network with other designers to talk shop/get to know each other, and peruse the new trends within the industry. i could also have a booth to offer my patterns for sale to retailers if i was an exhibiting member (maybe some day; for now, it’s a little out of my league).

attendees are not allowed to use cameras on the show floor, so i can’t bring you lots of gorgeous photos of booths and celebrities (though they are there and i got to meet some of them, yay)—anything bloggable takes place after hours.

kim and david dropped me off friday afternoon and i headed first to the registration desk to get my badge. i had made plans to somehow meet up with romi at some point, and lo and behold, there she was—standing on line and just now calling my cell phone. while we waited our turn, abby strolled by so we grabbed her too. once we checked in we headed up to the “sample it” part of the show, where shop owners are given an opportunity to purchase samples of new products to show in their stores.

after that, romi and i headed off to find something to eat and ended up in a strange and really awful restaurant that dished up some bad food with a good dose of abuse from the waiter

and where most patrons were happily wearing funny hats made from paper (???. maybe they’d been drinking or whatever, but they really did sit through the whole meal wearing them).
we didn’t partake of the hat wearing, and maybe that was our first mistake, but still we were shocked at the way the waiter treated us.

fortunately we were invited to sit with two nice ladies from sitka, alaska who have a cute yarn shop there. so we had some like-minded people to share a table with at least.

we nibbled just enough to be polite, then headed back to the convention center for the fashion show, which was interesting. lots of new sweaters and wraps to show off a multitude of yarns. some pretty selections from nora gaughan, stephanie japel, christie gardiner, and others were included, to name just a few.

afterward, we found a great place—maryjanes coffee shop—to grab beverages and dessert. rosemary said a very wise thing when i waffled about eating a big dessert late at night:
“anne you can’t let that horrible meal be the last thing your mouth experienced today.”

smart lady, that romi; i ordered the pot brownies a la mode. yum, she was totally right.

the next day i started the convention by attending the teachers and designers meeting with rosemary and miriam. various points of business were covered concerning the status of teachers and designers, both in the industry and within TNNA.

then it was on to the show floor—a football-field-sized arena where just about anything and everything related to neeldework is displayed and talked about for three whole days. as an affiliate member, i can attend and roam the floor, talking to other professionals as they are available (i.e., not when they are doing business with others).

there is, of course lots of yarn to graze. another nice perk of the show is the book signings, where publishers promote their new releases by having authors sign copies for shops and professionals.

i ended up with a nice stack of books that i’ll introduce one by one as the next couple of weeks go by, including one by the absolutely lovely wendy bernard who it was my complete pleasure to meet and chat with.

round and round i walked—no matter how many times i went down the same aisles, there was something i hadn’t seen before.

a few companies had invited me beforehand to stop in and see their yarns, including leslie from the fabulous mountain colors company, whose yarns i have admired knit with for a long time

she showed me their merino/silk winter lace blend and sent me away with this beautiful sample skein in deep plums and blues. mmm, definitely shawl material.

one of the most exciting vendors i talked to was the fibre company whose soft touchable yarns are among the most beautiful i’ve seen recently. luxurious blends of camel, alpaca, cashmere, silk, and merino as well as organic cotton and bamboo beckoned to me from the aisle—i wasn’t disappointed; once i started touching, i couldn’t stop. and i might have gone back a few times, dragging friends along.

it was extremely nice to walk into this booth to be greeted by the very enthusiastic courtney and kate, who were familiar with my blog and excited to meet me, too. many vendors at TNNA don’t read blogs or know who the indie designers are, so often we have to start these conversations cold and get them to warm up to us. it’s always a warm feeling when a vendor is happy to see me and/or interested in collaborating . . .

believe me, everything they showed was a big temptation (it’s really a good thing i’m not a store and i can’t buy anything at TNNA . . . .), but i’ll introduce you to the two that i have samples for

this is road to china, a sport-weight blend of baby alpaca, cashmere, camel, and silk—all in one yarn—are you panting or what?? and believe me, it is all that. i’ve got 159 yards here and i’m thinking that’s just the right amount for a neckwarmer.

and this is canopy, a fingering weight blend of baby alpaca, merino, and bamboo—perfect for scarves, shawls, mitts, or neckwarmers. the drape of this yarn is amazing.

ok, i know by now you’re asking, where can i get mine?? well, here’s the link to a list of stockists that carry fibre company yarns.

rosemary and i talked to an artisan yarn vendor that we were really excited about

valerie and karen from mountain meadow wool work with the Basque sheep herders of wyoming to bring their beautiful merino products to the fiber community in the form of millspun yarns and spinning fiber. they are completely committed to showcasing the products of the community they work with so that their way of life is not lost. these skeins are at the same time hearty and soft—the kind of yarn i want to knit sweaters from. they promised to send samples and i’ll be awaiting mine with great excitement.

currently the yarn is spun in 2-ply worsted and sport weight, two very versatile choices for fall and winter knitting which are available for purchase on their website. they also offer custom fiber processing at their mill.

another interesting artisan producer that i spoke to was julie at colington angoras, who wholesales soft australian mohair and mohair/wool blend yarns and roving

all yarns are 2-ply millspun (not brushed) and are offered in a variety of weights from ultrafine lace to sport, in natural white—perfect for dyers.
and did i mention how soft it is? not the prickly mohair you might be used to. it’s simply lovely.
all their fiber is processed using unicorn fiber wash products, which probably contributes to the sleek finished look and feel.

speaking of which, of course i also ran into anna and pino who had a booth featuring their wonderful unicorn fibre products

and they immediately pressed another sample pack into my hands. they are always so excited to talk about the impact of the blogging community and the effect that word of mouth has on their business. and i’m equally happy to know that working together, well . . . works.

i think that kind of feedback is one of the biggest perks of being a blogger; it’s a great thing when small producers can help each other grow with just a small financial investment or “in kind” barter of time/products. i’m all over that—why not? i’m pleased and grateful to know that when i collaborate with dyers, yarn companies, metalsmiths, and publishers in whatever way i can, that we all benefit.

one of the nicest parts of the convention was running into shop owners who carry knitspot patterns and/or read my blog—sheri berger was there, as well as angela ho, and then there was susan miller from fairbanks, who was so excited that i had to hug her twice.

what a day, right? saturday was, indeed, long but invigorating (except maybe for my legs). we were very glad to step away at dinner time to chow down and discuss

rosemary, janel, and i headed back to maryjane’s for a wonderful dinner and ended up parked there for hours, talking over various concerns about our individual businesses and goals. it was fanTAStic. janel successfully self-published a sock book this year and is working on new projects, so rosemary and i were all ears to hear what she had to say. we talked long and hard about various aspects of the printing and publishing process (rosemary and i both have backgrounds in graphic design and book production as well), and our relationships with it.

our waiter was happy to have us stay, which was awfully generous of him (and we let him know, i think). later, janel and i saw rosemary off in a cab and headed back to our room to knit for awhile and conk out.

sunday morning we started with a big breakfast (again, maryjane’s; when you find a good place you gotta try everything on the menu, right?), then headed back to the convention center. i walked around some more and connected with a few people i hadn’t seen yet, then finished up my visit—i was so ready to see david and kim’s family again.

i gratefully watched a beautiful sunset with them and ate a grand meal—the best windup to a whirlwind weekend.

now we’re home again already—it was snowing last night when we landed and about 10 degrees. brrr, i’m gonna need this

i worked on my wiggle scarf all the way home and finished it, finally. i’ll block it later today and take some nice photos tomorrow.

right now i have a bunch of emails and print orders to attend to; thank you for sticking with me for a very long post.

32 thoughts on “convening

  1. oh so much great information. by the way, i adore those fibre company yarns. have made a couple of things for my grandchildren with them. i buy them at purlsoho in new york.

  2. sounds like soo much fun. one of these days i will make it to some kind of yarn convention. consider it a goal in life. one of many of course. glad you made it back safe and sound.

  3. OOF: in Boston, Dick’s Last Resort is the classic overpriced-and-awful place to go for a bachelorette party. X-rated paper hats, drinking shots from guys’ navels, etc. (Not to mention you have to pay for whatever extra drinks the staff talks you into taking!) My table’s waiter rubbed my shoulders and made a dirty comment about what I ordered. Talk about a last resort. I am never. Going. Again.

  4. Thanks so much for writing that up! It’s really interesting to get to hear about what happens at places like TNNA, and about the sorts of things that indie designers and shop owners need to think about. I’m totally interested in the book conversation — I hope it was inspirational 😉 Welcome home!

  5. LOVE the ‘got bob’ pin! That’s awesome. 🙂

    Thanks for the peek into TNNA; I must say that I’m rather jealous that you got to spend some time in San Diego. One of my favorite cities, and I really could use the sun after all of the fog we’ve been having up here. I’m sure it was an all-around enjoyable trip!

    Glad you two made it home safe and sound!

  6. Wow! What a great post and so full of information. That Road to China yarn really popped off the screen at me. It’s gorgeous! There are a lot of links that I will have to spend some time checking out…when I don’t have to worry about my boss walking up to my desk! I’m glad you found a decent place to eat–that first one sounded NASTY.

  7. looks like you had a blast, definetely some yarns I will be checking out. Oh, and that restaurant is awful beyond words. I was there with my family when I was about 13 and got my behind grabbed and skirt flipped up on the way to the restroom.

  8. Oh, someone should have warned you that Dick’s Last Resort is known for their “abusive” wait staff. That’s their gimmick. Some gimmick! I went once the entire 8 years I lived in San Diego.

    Glad you had fun though!

  9. Certainly looks like you had a wonderful time!!! Glad you got home safely!! 🙂 Loved the pictures!

  10. Sounds like a fun time, I guess it’s good you can’t buy anything though, a place like that could clean me out lol.

  11. Oh! I’m so glad you’ve discovered my wonderful Portland, Maine company, Fibre Company! There yarn is fabulous–all of it, I tell you. It’s expensive with little yardage, but the yarn is just superb, and the colors fabulous. Can you tell how much I love this company? The patterns are great too.
    I’m glad you had a great time! Love the scarf!

  12. I just bought several skeins of The Fiber Company Organik (worsted weight merino alpaca silk) as my souvenir yarn from a trip to New York. I knew it was more expensive in NYC than it would have been online but I just had to have it RIGHT THEN. It’s already becoming the softest most beautiful scarf ever. I can’t wait to see what you can make with their other yarn!

  13. welcome back to the cold and snow…at least you missed the worst of the cold! all those fibers sound lovely. it’s a good thing i’m feeling particularly project monogamous/committed to the stash at the moment, or i’d be doing more online shopping that is good for me…

  14. Okay, Anne. ‘Fess up. How do you remember all this stuff? I completely put the name of that restaurant out of my mind! And I didn’t see you taking notes. You’re amazing! Oh, and I am totally coveting your stack of books. :sigh: Next time! xo!

  15. sounds like a lot of fun! are there needle-arts conventions that are open to the public?

    i recently completed my orchid lace mitts (they are up on ravelry now), and decided on your elm row pattern to use up the leftover yarn. i took it to my meditation retreat and worked on it on breaks between sitting sessions– it was perfect, because it’s the most complicated lace project i’ve tackled so far & so it benefited from my increased powers of concentration!

  16. I really hated eating at Dick’s. I was about seven months pregnant with a group of friends. One of the waitresses made a comment to the entire restaurant along the lines of “who’s the daddy”. ugh. Romi is right about never ending the day with a horrid meal.

  17. The TNNA part of the trip sounds exhausting and invigorating simultaneously. You needed beach time just to process and decompress! And I bet you’ll need some alone time too, now, after all that: again time to process and transmute.

    I appreciate the yarn leads and *so* look forward to hearing more about them and the books (those that I don’t have already, I love knitting books).

  18. Thanks for the virtual tour! Mim said the samples this year were wonderful – there were several she came home with that I’m not sure she’s gonna part with either.

  19. I wondered what TNNA was all about, thank you for the guided tour. Your scarf/wrap near the bottom is very pretty. The restaurant sounds like my idea of a nightmare. Crowds, noise, rude people… they all make me shudder.

  20. I knew this was why you were in San Diego… but now that I see all this wonderful stuff, I must say I’m quite green with envy. LOVE the first picture. It’s utterly to-die-for. Congrats and thanks a million for the sneak preview.

  21. Great post, gorgeous pictures! I recently bought some Road to China in Garnet – seriously yummy.

  22. Thanks for the great update on TNNA; I wish they had an “avid knitter” pass! I’m excited to hear you’re even thinking idly about a book (Wendy Bernard’s book is definitely my surprise favorite of 08). Based on how inspiring I find your current designs, yours would be on my “to read” list in a heartbeat.

  23. It was great fun reading your experiences at TNNA. Bird’s eye view for sure.

    I’m not sure I needed to hear about those luscious yarns. Yes and no, y’know?

  24. Wiggle is beautiful!
    Yummy yarn, thanks for sharing!
    Wendy Bernard is awesome 😉 I don’t own that book, yet!
    That Angora is luscious!

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