In April, here in SoCal we will have the LA County Yarn Crawl. Yarn crawls and fiber festivals are great ways to find new products and have fun with your fellow fiber obsessed friends.
Last year, I participated in three such events – the LA County Yarn Crawl, Vogue Knitting Live in Pasadena, and the San Diego Yarn Crawl. I’m excited to see what each of these events look like in 2016, and I know I will be better prepared to participate in them because I learned some lessons last year. Here are my tips for attending any of these types of events:
- Research, research, research. Use the resources available to you to scope out a plan of attack before you go. Since these are typically multiple day events, you need to plan your routes or participation in advance unless you plan to just wing it. I found that when I wing it, though, I didn’t have as much fun. This is particularly important if you can’t attend all days in the event, and have to pick and choose your destinations or classes. I use the participating websites and also the yelp review of the shops to pick out the stores I can either skip or must go to.
- Invite a friend or two! I did both yarn crawls with a friend and attended Vogue Knitting Live alone. It is definitely more fun with friends. If you are going to go more than one day, you can even go with different friends each day if your friend isn’t down for multiple days. Make a day or weekend of it, find some great places to eat around your destination, and enjoy the road trip aspect of the trip.
- Look for the sales and classes. Each shop that participates in a yarn crawl typically has a special along with a free pattern, or special events. A lot of the shops will publish their specials on their websites in advance of the date. If one of them has a sale that interests you, make sure you hit that particular store unless you are planning on trying to hit all of them. In the case of Vogue Knitting Live, sign up for your classes early before they sell out.
- Order the tote bag in advance. When I did LA, I didn’t think the tote bag was that big of a deal and didn’t order one. Once on the crawl, though, it was fun to see everyone’s buttons they were collecting as they came into the shops. When I decided I wanted one, all the stores were sold out, though. I did not make the same mistake again for San Diego, and did my pre-order in time to snag one.
- Plan a budget. I did a pretty good job staying within budget each time, but it is easy to see things unique to a shop, and then spend out of control quickly. So bring enough to have fun, but know your limit and quit when you need to. I usually try to budget a few hundred dollars, which will get me a nice selection of yarn and some accessories. For a show like Vogue Knitting Live, I like to walk the marketplace floor before I buy anything. You don’t want to spend your entire budget on the first row of booths only to find the yarn you have been dreaming about in the last row. So do a quick walk through and then go back to the booths that excited you.
- Plan for traffic. SoCal traffic is horrendous, even on weekends. Make sure you plan enough time in your route that you can actually get to all of the places on your list. In a crawl like LA’s, where it is spread over four days and covers many, many miles, you may want to be strategic and hit certain areas of town each day. Or you may want to just pick the stores that excite you most and zig zag across town to hit only specific stores. Regardless of which method you choose, add in time for traffic and breaks to grab food or stretch your legs. While it is ambitious to hit all of the stores, it isn’t fun if it stresses you out.
The most important thing is to have fun!