I must begin this post with a WARNING! If you are adverse to all kinds of shameless, gushing talk about yarn, knitting celebrities, self-flushing toilets and ice cream - then dear reader, look away now . . . but for those of you who are happy to live vicariously through others and have a yearning desire to find out all about the most amazing knitting trade show on earth - READ ON!!!!
For the past few years, I've read many blog posts and listened avidly to podcasts from TNNA attendees to try to get a handle on why this show is touted as THE most well-attended and highly respected of all the international knitting trade shows. I mean, I've been to CHSI in Birmingham and H&H in Cologne and they are both excellent shows with all the major yarn and knitting brands exhibiting and a plethora of eager knitters and yarn store owners walking the halls. But, do your research and you will find that TNNA Summer exhibition in Columbus Ohio is THE show to beat all other shows.
And now that I have actually been, I can tell you why.
Firstly, it isn't easy to get to for those of us across the water. Helena and I took a selection of trains, cabs and 2 flights (it isn't possible to get to Columbus directly from the UK) before finally reaching Columbus late on Thursday 20th. It was evening and the sun was still blazing down - something that neither of us had seen at all in the miserable beginning to our summer here in the UK. In fact, we were super lucky for the duration of our time in Columbus as the sun shone benevolently down on us from early in the day as we took our breakfast and swatched new colours at Cup O Joes until we left the convention centre late in the day.
Set up is always hard work and takes much longer than you think, but there is bustle and busyness everywhere around you, with stall holders working at making their own corner as beautiful and alluring as it is functional. We were located opposite our US distributors, Classic Elite Yarns this year, and it was a delight for me to finally put faces to the names I had heard so much about. Betsy Perry, owner/president and Heather, Meg, Susan, Don and Linda were all so incredibly kind and welcomed me into the CEY family from the get-go.
Our stand in aisle 800 just beginning to take shape, and Helena about to hang the posters
And finally all the samples are on the rails and the posters are up. We're ready for the Show!
The Show floor looked amazing filled with so many different brands - mostly from the US but with others, like us from across the globe, totalling 280 exhibitors. There are far too many to list here, but among the large international brands were Bergere De France, Manos Del Uruguay and Artesano, Malabrigo and Thomas B Ramsden - you can follow this link to see all of the exhibitors. For me, the most exciting stands were those with US yarn brands that I had read about in the UK but never been able to see - and as you knitters will know - there really is nothing like being able to gaze upon a beautiful display of coloured yarn and then actually touch it! I managed to walk a part of the floor on the last day and happened upon Shalimar Yarns, Sincere Sheep, The Fibre Company, Anzula, Swans Island, Madelinetosh, SweetGeorgia Yarns, Lorna's Laces and Knitwhits/Freia Yarn - all wonderful people and so passionate about their craft.
The vast floor filled with every imaginable fibre and yarn company!
Unusually for a trade show there is hugely anticipated opportunity to purchase yarn and samples at TNNA at an event called 'Sample It!' This is primarily a chance for anybody with a little (or lots of!) cash to buy samples of new products from a good selection of the exhibitors. I had taken the time to scan the list released before the Show to see what I would be interested in purchasing, only for me, making a list of what I would NOT be purchasing would take far less time.
The Sample It! event was, ahem, VERY well attended
The queue snaked through the main hall of the convention centre and was filled with supremely organised shoppers, printed and marked lists in hand. There was a buzz of excitement and anticipation, although I was more than a little worried that being near to the back I would arrive in the hall only to find everything snapped up by the yarn-hungry hoards in front of me. I needn't have worried though as the queue began to trot towards the hall at a goodly pace and we were all soon inside 'Sample It!' heaven armed with a TNNA branded carrier bag and a fistful of dollars.
It was hot and a little dark and utterly chaotic. If I'm honest I can't remember much except for the handing over of a lot of dollars and stuffing my bag with all manner of treasure. I do know however, that Helena is the most amazing shopping companion when one is on a yarn-bound mission and has incredibly pointy elbows in a crowd.
In Part 2 - knitting celebrities, new MillaMia products and Jeni's Ice Cream . . . . mmmmm!
(posted by Max)