SweetGeorgia dyer and spinner, Grace Verhagen, attends the TNNA trade show for the first time and gives you a recount of her experience!
This January I was given the opportunity to attend the National NeedleArts Association winter trade show for the first time. Since joining the SweetGeorgia Yarns team last spring, I had seen the preparations and results of this massive expo at the studio, but I had not had the chance before to travel with my co-workers to meet our customers, retailers and designers first hand.
Teresa, Ginny (TNNA veterans and my mentors for this trip!) and I traveled to San Diego the day before the show was scheduled to start. The weather was beautiful — a wonderful escape from the rain and drizzle of Vancouver. The trade show took place at the big convention center next to the ocean; we had the opportunity to sample some excellent seafood and explore the waterfront between events.
As a dyer here in the studio, it was a great pleasure and honor to finally get a chance to meet the faces behind our wholesale orders. I took pride in getting to show our retailers the new line of spring colours, the advances we have made in our bases, and the variety of patterns we have available to support our yarns. I have to admit, I was very much a “Nervous Nelly” before the show, but once we had the booth set up and I was actually answering questions and helping take orders, I felt much more comfortable. Everyone was so friendly and it was a pleasure to see new customers discover our work and help determine what products would be the best fit for their stores.
Unfortunately Felicia herself was not able to join us this trip due to the happy arrival of Russell, but many of our retailers and designers came to our booth to send their best wishes and congratulations to the new mother! However, we did have a ‘booth baby’ of our own in attendance — Teresa’s youngest son, the 11-month-old Matthew, was tugging at heart strings and crawling in boxes with great aplomb for the duration of the show.
Besides the actual trade show, TNNA hosts a variety of other events during this time. The Cascade Falls Cardigan, the Nest Cardigan, the Rivoli Shawl and Hadria Shawl were featured in the Sea, Surf, and See fashion show. The show itself had an excellent turnout, and many beautiful and unique designs were on display that evening. Our pieces looked fabulous on the models (if I might say so myself!) As an added perk to retailers, two kits that included a copy of a pattern and required materials were given away to attendees of the show. I hope the winners enjoy their prizes!
Ginny, Teresa and I split up to attend informative meetings to learn about the direction TNNA is planning on taking its yarn, spinning and design programs. I sat in on the Spinning and Weavers Group meeting and learned about the new developments to the Spinzilla event scheduled for this fall! Team SweetGeorgia members, please stay tuned for more details, but make sure you mark October 6th-12th on your calendars!
My newest design, the Buchanan Shawl, debuted at the show. This shawl is knit from side to side with a single skein of Merino Silk Fine in the spring 2014 colourway ‘Coral Rose’. I managed to finish my Jaywalker socks in “Spring Garden” on the airplane to San Diego — I could use them to demonstrate how one of our newest variegated colourways knits up! I finished a handspun sweater in time to wear as well; this project was spun from 16 ounces of Merino Bamboo Silk in the “Rogue” colourway on my Schacht Ladybug and knitting was completed over my Christmas break. Although it was a little warm for California, it was nice to be able to show customers what a finished product looks like created from one of our spinning fibres.
An amazing bunch of designers came past our booth as well. Interweave and Crafty Diversions showcased our yarns in projects at own their booths, and I got to chance with chat with some really talented individuals that I have contributed so much to the world of knitwear and design as we know it today. I hope to see their faces and hear updates about their latest projects at the next show in May!
The TNNA winter tradeshow was a very eye-opening experience for me. I got to see the products of other fibre and needlearts companies, learn about the concerns and aspirations of both designers and yarn store owners, and appreciate how connections are made within our industry. Fellow TNNA members, I hope to see you all at the another convention in the future!