Posts Tagged ‘TNNA Columbus’

Tradeshow Warriors

Friday, June 19th, 2009
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I am beginning to think that maybe Steve and I should create our own reality show with the above title.  Just back from 9 days on the road with two back-to-back tradeshows.  Driving down our street late yesterday afternoon, I swear the theme music from “Rocky” was playing.

We had a great trip to TNNA.  Meetings, yarn, meetings, more yarn, food, yarn, meeting yarn. . .. .Columbus was a whirlwind.  As always, I did a lousy job taking pictures.  I do not have one yarny picture to share.  I know, I know, I disappoint you once again.  *Sigh*.  I can tell you about yarn though! 

Now, I must preface this by saying that Steve & I do the majority of our buying before TNNA.  We see all of the major lines and many of the mid-tier companies as well.  So just because I don’t mention them here is not a sign that I didn’t like their yarn or that they don’t have super cool stuff coming.  These are show treasures only. 

I have to say one of my personal faves was the new Spud & Chloe line debuted by Blue Sky Alpacas.  A collection of three lovely yarns that are machine wash & try.  Fashion meets function with this collection.  There are three weights – fine, sweater and outer and a limited, but succinct palette for each.  Terrific pattern support for each is a delight as well.  I think what I like most about this line is that it’s complete – yarn, design, packaging – everything is put together, integrated and ready to go.  I love this as a marketer who can appreciate what it takes to make this happen, but also as a shop owner who has been provided with everything I need to be excited about the brand.  The Blue Sky folks have created a wonderful story in Spud & Chloe and were smart enough to give the voice of the brand to the super-talented Susan Anderson.  It all rocks and we’ll have it in the store and on-line shortly.

Steve & I also got to meet the lovely Ron of Buffalo Gold.  We’ve never carried his yarns, but I got to *know* him in the on-line world over the past few months.  I was looking forward to meeting in person at TNNA and we had a great talk.  I’ve admired his yarns from afar for awhile, but my buddy Guido gave me the nudge I needed to really give the yarns serious consideration.  I thought this was one I was going to have to drag Steve through kicking and screaming and was pleasantly surprised when he willingly and with no pressure, not wifely glares that said “I”m buying this yarn with or without your support”.  We even brought in a brand new yarn he debuted at the show which has been hand-dyed by the fine folks at Lornas Laces.  If you click through to her blog and scroll down, you’ll see the lurvely colors.

We bought some cool new bags & accessories from Namaste, Della Q and Lantern Moon.

We hung with some old friends and made new ones.

We stayed up past our bedtime, ate too much good food but a great time.

We left Columbus and headed to Beantown for a conference of another nature.  We went from TNNA where “everyone knows your name” to an intense business conference where people wonder if anyone can actually  make a living selling yarn.  Even one of the speakers, who also spoke at the Yarn Market News Conference in March, mentioned her experience at the conference and found it rather unnerving to see an audience knitting rather than typing on their Blackberrys.  As always, we learned a lot, had some fun along the way but boy oh boy, did Dorothy get it right.  “There’s no place like home”.

Remember – our Berroco giveaway wraps up tonight at midnight.  Go to the previous blog post for the details, read all about the Berroco Fall line and get yourself in on a great giveaway!



Saturday, June 21st, 2008
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1. While at TNNA, I had the distinct pleasure to completely embarrass myself upon being introduced to Franklin. I think I actually jumped up and down and there’s no question my voice increased in pitch to something equivalent to pre-teen girl at the American Idols on Tour Concert. It was quite a thrill and I’m hoping to have a big party for him at WEBS when his new book debuts this fall 🙂


2. While in Chicago, Steve and I got to go to Wrigley Field to see a Cubs game. It was very exciting – we are both (all if you include J1 and J2) big sports fans, so any trip to one of this country’s iconic sports venues is always a treat. Unfortunately, in my effort to better manage my photos, I seemed to have deleted the shots I took. Bummer.


3. Speaking of iconic sports venues, I’ve been asked by several folks what I did for Steve’s 40th birthday besides (a) take him to a yarn show (b) dinner and (c) get him to the Hyatt for free beer and dry ice from SPM? Well, to say the least he is not an easy one to surprise, impress or buy for. I was DETERMINED to wow him. And I did 🙂 With the help of his parents, I was able to book a trip to next year’s Master’s Tournament in Augusta. For any of you who golf or know a golfer, Augusta National is legendary and very difficult to access. It will be a great trip.


4. Knitting. So a funny thing happened on our Excellent Adventure, Part 1 – I did not take a single knitting or crochet project with me. The reaction to knitters at the show was pretty interesting. Most were immediately concerned “What do you mean you don’t have a project with you?” “Did you forget it?” “Was it confiscated at airport security?” “Did you lose it?”. Most then immediately started rummaging through their knitting bag, pulling out random projects to give to me. Everyone was HIGHLY stressed that I did not have yarn and needles in my possession. I appreciated the concern and the offers, but declined the projects politely. When asked what was wrong, I have to say, I didn’t really have a good answer. It’s not that I was feeling lazy or anything. I’ve been dragging yarn home at the normal pace as new, interesting things have been coming in, but for some reason, I guess I just haven’t been very inspired. I walked around the store for a good 20 minutes before heading ot the airport, fondling yarn, looking at patterns, etc., and just couldn’t make up my mind – nothing was REALLY speaking to me.


Now, I’m not exactly known to be a high-producing knitter. I start a lot of projects and finishing, well, finishing things is not my forte. Maybe that’s the problem. I have so many projects in process, it’s kind of ridiculous. I thought about pulling them all out and organizing them – forcing myself to finish one before starting something new or brining home more yarn, but then I decided that would just be an exercise in futility. Why create a situation in which I’m going to feel badly for all that I haven’t accomplished?


So, I spent 10 days away without any knitting. I did procure some yarn at the show, which I’ve previously documented. I have to say, I think it was the best thing I could have done for myself. This past week, I’ve been feeling so much more motivated. I’ve got 2+ projects in the works now and I’m psyched about them!


First, our next KAL on Ready, Set, Knit will be this:


It’s a new design done out of our Valley Yarns Northampton called the Staghorn Cabled Tunic. Isn’t it adorable? It looks good on so many body shapes and the design itself is ingenious in it’s simplicity, as well as it’s style. I’ve already swatched and I’m ready to cast on and get going. I’m sure Pixie is already 1/2 way done with the project, but that’ s okay. (Note to Pixie – I really don’t want to know how far along you are, okay?).


Next up, we have a brand new yarn that is about to debut and I’m working on a shawl design for it. More about “Hadley” in a future post 🙂


Lastly, Gail, the Kangaroo Dyer has done it once again. There is rarely a yarn that comes into the store that doesn’t some how make its way to her dye studio. The new Sterling Silk and Silver is her lastest endeavor. She showed me a hank just before I left and it took my breath away, even in the midsts of my funk. I finally broke down and emailed her that I HAD to have a skein. She brought me three and here is the one I chose:


It’s unbelievalbly gorgeous. I have the one skein and will do a very simple scarf for myself and I will love it and wear it and be happy and sparkle-y. Thanks Gail!


So, have any of you run into a similar situation, where your knitting or crochet just isn’t doing it for you? Have you ever taken a vacation from your projects? I’d love to hear your experiences.



Kathy & Steve’s Excellent Adventure Part 1

Thursday, June 19th, 2008
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Many of you have probably read on other blogs all about TNNA – our semi-annual industry tradeshow, where shop owners can take classes and meet with all of the yarn & accessory companies under one roof. I love TNNA, in fact, I love tradeshows in general. I know, I’m weird.


Now, in true blogger fashion, I brought along my camera. But alas, I have failed you all. I really didn’t take any pictures. I’m not sure why this is, although I’m sure it is related to the reason I did not bring a single project with me. I know – you are all gasping and starting to sweat. Many of my fellow shop owners did the same as they fumbled through their knitting bags, pulling out projects to give to me. I gracefully declined. More on this topic later.


Two of the most fabulous summaries of the show that was can be found on Stephanie’s blog and on Franklin’s blog.


We celebrated Steve’s 40th birthday on Friday evening with our friends from Fiesta yarns, Jeannie and Brad, who happened to be celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary! We had a grand time. Steve’s special day was on Saturday and after a long day at the show, attending a reception thrown by the folks at Interweave to celebrate Knitting Daily TV and then dinner, we reconvened at the Hyatt where there were simply an amazing array of knitterati gathered. Again, cameraless, but again SPM’s blog provides a much better summary than I could have written anyway.


Steve was pretty pumped that Steph bought him a birthday beer – if only we could have been in Toronto this past weekend to return the favor. For me, I got to see some old friends and make new ones. I got to meet Abby – who I knew of, but had never met. She was walking around, talking and spinning on her drop spindle all at the same time. We were talking about yarn (surprise) and somehow the conversation turned to cashmere and sparkle. Steve mentioned that this is the “perfect” Kathy yarn – as I love cashmere and nearly all things sparkly. Abby’s eyes bug out of her head and she gets all excited and runs off to get something out of her bag. She explains that before coming to the show, she worked up some beautiful cashmere-blend fiber and added a bit of angelina to it. After the fact she thought she had ruined perfectly good cashmere by adding the glitz – she wondered who in the world would want cashmere batts with sparkle? She packed it and figured maybe it would find a home. And it did:

The picture doesn’t do it justice. I was floored that she gave me this. I hugged it and cuddled it for the rest of the evening. I bragged about it to everyone who happened by our group. “Look, it’s cashmere-y and sparkle-y and Abby made it and she gave it to me, ME!!”


On the way back to the hotel that night, I was still on cloud 9 with my little bundle of fiber, babbling to Steve about it. Then, he burst my bubble. How? He reminded me I don’t know how to spin. Minor detail, my dear, minor detail.


The rest of the show was great. I scored a copy of Nancy Thomas’ new book Tweed:

We have it in the store as well, it’s got some great patterns and a wonderful history of of the origins of tweed.


One of our priorities at the show was catching up with Tobias and Antonio from Malabrigo. As many of you know, there was a fire at their mill at the beginning of the month, just before the show. Everyone was alright, but it looks like everything was a complete loss. They emphasized that they will be dyeing yarn again soon and the most important thing is that nobody was hurt. Tobias always comes to the show with something new to share with us and despite the fire, he was able to bring along this:

It’s Malabrigo Sock Yarn. Given the circumstances, we probably won’t see it in the store for quite awhile, but that’s okay – we can be patient!


Instead of heading for home after TNNA, we went onto Chicago for another conference. This one was non-yarn related, but still very good in it’s own right. Our timing was perfect. The conference ended and we stayed two additional days to celebrate this:


This is my nephew Daniel, my sister’s only son. He graduated from the University of Chicago with a Master’s Degree in Philosophy and will be entering their PhD program this fall. Way to go Daniel!


After graduation, Steve and I headed to the airport to finally come home. We had been gone for a long time and were really missing the boys. Unfortunately, United Airlines had other plans for us. Our flight was cancelled. After a small meltdown, we gathered ourselves, weighed our options and decided to try again the next morning. We headed over to Rosemont and our hotel room. Does Rosemont ring a bell to anyone? It should. How about this:

Guesses anyone?


It was a terrific trip, but it’s really good to be home.



TNNA and The Big Ooops!

Sunday, June 10th, 2007
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The day after the Yarn Harlot event, Steve and I left for Columbus, OH for the fall TNNA Show. TNNA (The National Needlearts Association) is an organization for wholesalers and retailers within our industry. It’s not just knitting, but also includes needlepoint and counted thread. Now, you have to understand something about me (read: here comes another abnormal quality about Kathy) I LOVE tradeshows. Yup. Most people sort of dread them, wrestle with them, etc. Not me. I’ve done a lot of tradeshows in my day. I’ve been on the wholesale side showing, the retail side buying and the retail side selling. Done it all. Before kids and WEBS, I worked in the shoe industry and did a HUGE show in Vegas twice a year. My favorite was the one in August because (here comes another factoid about me that will reveal a little more of my weirdness) I LOVE Vegas in August. I love the heat. I love that at 10pm it’s still, oh, 94 degrees. I’m the one who is grabbing a barely edible sandwich from the show concession area and stepping outside at 1:00 in the afternoon to enjoy the heat.

So despite being exhausted, I was quite happy to get on the plane and head to Columbus. Turns out that a major PGA event was also happening in Columbus last weekend. Guess who was REALLY excited? It was very sweet watching him come to the realization that The Memorial was happening and he was in the same town at the same time. For those of you who don’t know, Steve is a major, major golfer. He has golfed since he was 7 or 8 years old. The man cannot ride a bike and he’s not much of a swimmer, but give him a ball and a few clubs and he is in his element. He was an All-American in college and although his handicap isn’t what it used to be back in the day, it’s still in the mid single digits. Opportunities like seeing a major PGA event do not present themselves everyday, so with a few conversations with the staff at the hotel, he had a rental car, directions and determination to get a ticket for the second round.

Steve headed off early Friday morning and although I love golf as much as he does, opted to let him have some time to himself. We’ve been pretty much joined at the hip, even more so than usual, these past few weeks. I think we were both happy for some alone time. There was a meeting late Friday morning for all of the retailers who belong to TNNA, which I attended, then I handled a phone interview about our business with a non-industry publication. I think the writer who interviewed me ended up with more of a story than she thought she would get – that whole “represent” mentality. I think I represented pretty well. We’ll see when the article comes out. I’ll keep you posted. Oh and Steve had an awesome day. It took a little effort, but he managed to score a ticket. At one point he was 5 feet from Tiger Woods. The best news of all is the tournament and TNNA overlap again next year.

Friday night was the opening reception and fashion show. It’s great to see all of our friends in the industry and do some catching up. We stayed for most of the fashion show, which is always inspiring.

Saturday morning, Tahki Stacy Charles (TSC) traditionally holds a breakfast for their retailers prior to the show floor opening. They always put on a wonderful event and usually include editors from the major magazines who present fall trends and what we’ll see in the fall magazines for TSC. Plus, they provide a complete overview of their new products and designs. We’ve always already made our buys with them, but it’s always good to take a second look and make sure we didn’t miss anything.

Then it was off to the show. We had three packed days of meetings, appointments and some free time to walk the show floor. Again, all of our major buying is done before the show, but since we often see our reps so early, it’s good to go back and make sure we didn’t miss anything or pass on something that has turned out to be a big hit. We also look for smaller vendors that maybe don’t have reps yet and we especially focus on accessories. We found a couple of lovely new yarn vendors, one in particular that tickled us was from Portland called ShiBui. The yarns are hand-dyed and to-die-for. Gorgeous fiber blends and really lovely colors. Plus they have super patterns. We won’t be seeing the yarn until August or so, but I cannot wait for it to come!

We added some new bags and needle cases from Offhand Designs, a few new items from our friends at Lantern Moon and scored a fair amount of schwag. I was beside myself to discover a company called Walker was showing. They are a mesh bag/tote company out of San Francisco. Their products are extremely high quality and are made domestically. I actually own a backpack that I bought in San Francisco at least 12 years ago. I have used this backpack more than I can even tell you – it’s been jam-packed with kids junk, my junk, sippy cups, cameras, videocameras – the works! It has held up beautifully. So, I ordered a few bags and totes for the store. I am hoping they do well as I love selling items from companies I love and that produce such lovely items. Keep your eyes out in the store and on the website!

We also had the opportunity to attend Vogue Knitting’s 25th Anniversary party which was held on Saturday evening. Talk about a who’s who of the knitting industry. It was really incredible. I had the chance to meet the new editor of Interweave Knits, Eunny Jang. Unfortunately, I had been talking to Debbie Bliss and although Eunny was gracious, she was waaay more interested in meeting Debbie Bliss than me. Can’t blame her for that!

All in all the show was awesome, invigorating and exhausting all at the same time. Stay tuned to see some of the new finds start to arrive.

We came home just in time for the end of year festivities at the boys’ school. They have a lovely tradition of a baccalaureate service the night before graduation and then graduation itself the next morning. The school is K-9, so the festivities are truly for the 9th graders, but the whole school takes part. Both events involve processionals of all of the students and they are lined up in order of grade and height. Guess who got to lead the way for the entire school? The cutiest-patootiest (IMHO):

Don’t they both look handsome:

So now for my Big Ooops. This week was Steve’s birthday. We had a yummy cake at work for him (thanks Malea):

The kids made cards and I eeked out gifts at the 11th hour, but I neither posted on the actual day (which was this past Thursday 6/7) nor did I mention it when we recorded this week’s radio show/podcast. So, be it a bit belated: Happy Birthday Honey!