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  • TNNA Days 3 & 4

    The National Needlearts Association offers learning opportunities specifically for retailers of needlearts products. In my four days in Cleveland, I took six workshops for a total of 15 hours of instruction. Among other things, I learned new ways to enrich your shopping experience, to help you choose the right yarn for your project, to teach you new skills, and to improve my bottom line so I can keep the store going for a long, long time. I learned mathy, businessy things I wasn't confident I could learn, and I think I may even enjoy implementing some of them now. 

    On Friday the TNNA trade show opened. Before going in, I had just walked out of a workshop that started with the instructor saying, "I'll tell you right now: you all have one-third more product in your store than you should." Talk about a downer just before a big buying opportunity! Ha ha! But I hadn't planned to order a ton of new yarn anyway; my goal for the show portion was to see what else is out there that you might want access to through Yarn It! and items that could fill a few gaps in my inventory.   

    (Above: Ancient Arts, Malabrigo, Biscotte—all on order!)

    In total, I put in a conservative (in my opinion) seven orders: four from Canadian wholesalers (three for yarns, one for bags), one from a yarn company we already carry in the store (Malabrigo!), one for more buttons, and one for other knitting-themed items that I think will make great Christmas gifts. Not overdone at all! Phew!

    I also met a lot of great people, saw many beautiful hand-knitted garments, enjoyed knitting in public with others doing the same all around me (especially in the classes!), got inspired at every turn, and finished my summer silk top. It was a worthwhile trip, exhausting though it was!

    I now have a lot of work ahead of me to put some new things in place—most of which will be behind the scenes but some of which you'll see and will, I hope, reap the benefits of.

    Happy knitting, friends! Keep it going—there are many new yarns on the horizon!

  • TNNA Day 2

    Whew! It was a whirlwind!

    I started my day at 6:30 (which I virtually never do!). My first workshop was at 8, and I was plagued by a not-enough-sleep headache. I really enjoyed the class nevertheless. It was an intro to tapestry weaving, and three hours wasn't nearly long enough. I think weaving is something I could enjoy with nice yarn! This is what I made with some not-so-nice acrylic from my pre-store stash:

    A retailers' luncheon followed, but I snuck away for a much-needed nap. Fortunately, I awoke headache-free and refreshed for my afternoon class, which was all about making appropriate yarn substitutions. It reinforced several things I already was doing right (phew!) but also gave me some new tools to work with when you present me with special challenges. It was both mathy and incredibly informative, and I think you'll appreciate the new knowledge coming into the store! 

    The evening events kicked off with a fashion show. So fun! Several yarn manufacturers had garments in the show, and the emcees talked about the pattern and construction of each. I loved it! Here are a few of the pieces that called out to me:

    Then the true temptation began! Sample It! is an event where attendees can buy a small amount of a product (often kitted) to try it out before putting in an order. As you may know, retailers usually have to buy ten skeins/balls of each colour, so even an order for "one yarn" tends to be huge (and pricey!). A try-before-you-buy is a unique opportunity! I got a decent haul, but I was a lightweight by comparison to others leaving with a couple bags' worth.

    After Sample It!, I went to the bar for dinner and met more great people, including Cynthia and Barb from River City Yarns (LYS to the Grocery Girls and hosts of their own podcast!). They were so friendly! I had a great chat with them and hope to run into them again. 

    Knitters truly are the best. It's been a unique and wonderful experience seeing people knitting in public everywhere I turn. And the garments they are wearing—wow! My knitting to-do list is growing!

    And the trade show hadn't yet started....

  • TNNA Day 1

    I am blogging a day late because I had just no time yesterday!

    I met a fellow shop owner over breakfast: Mary Virginia from Dixie Knits in Pensacola, Florida. What a lovely woman! If you're a snowbird who travels to that area, be sure to check out her shop. It certainly sounds like it's worth the visit. She has been to the National Needlearts Association conference several times and shared with me the ins and outs of what to expect, as well as the location of the nearest Starbucks and a good local lunch spot—all the important stuff!

    After registering for the show, I had two classes: a business one in the morning and a knitting one in the afternoon. The business one was businessy and surely will be helpful once I put some things into practice, but, you know, it was boring by comparison to the knitting one. So on to it...

    The afternoon class—wow! It was taught by Patty Lyons. If you ever have the opportunity to take a workshop from Patty, you must! If I could get her into the store, I would do it in a heartbeat. She is a wealth of information and a kick-ass teacher. We learned to knit and purl backwards so that we never have to turn our work. In the three-hour class, we also covered backwards increases and decreases, picking up stitches, and a different wrap-and-turn technique. Plus, she offered several tips and tricks throughout the workshop. And look at her "swatchzilla"! Great teaching tool!

    I got out of the class at 6 p.m. and took advantage of my only free time here to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, my one must-see in Cleveland outside of TNNA. It was a warm, dry evening, and the walk was only about 10 minutes. I rushed through it somewhat because I didn't know how much time I really had (I'd been told to save lots of time for the gift shop), but I'm glad I got to see what I did, including a movie and whole room devoted to Elvis (yes, I'm an Elvis fan)!

    I got back in time for a quick bite to eat and for some crammed-in knitting time (during which I finished and blocked my Hint of Summer by Isabell Kraemer!).

    The first day was fantastic overall! So I just gotta say

    ...and knitting! 

  • A Love of Knitting Unites Us

    Hello, friends! I am blogging from Cleveland, Ohio, where I am attending my first National Needlearts Association (TNNA) conference. Exciting!

    My navigation system said the drive from Cobourg was only 5.75 hours without stops—not bad. And it was a good day for a drive, with sunshine and clear skies the whole way. Since I had the whole day, I used Ravelry's new Road Trip feature, which lists all yarn stores between a traveller's starting and ending points.