Winning at Yarn Festivals
If you have never been to a yarn festival before, the very thought of it can be daunting. I have been to many over the last few years and here is my guide to not just surviving, but winning the yarn festival challenge:
1 - Pre-festival prep
Go online and find out what others have to say about the yarn show you want to go to. Is the food good? Is the ground uneven? What vendors are there? All of this information will help you to know what to expect and gear up for it accordingly.
2 – Be comfortable
It’s all about comfortable shoes and layers. Wear a crocheted shawl as a layer so that you can show it off and regulate your temperature. For instance, cattle mart type venues can be very cold in the morning, but soon heat up when all the bodies gert in there.
Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2019 was ridculously hot in the main room on the Thursday, so on the Saturday I wore a loose vest top, jeans, a pair of pumps (bare feet) and a crocheted shawl. I saw one poor lady that was absolutely dripping wet by the afternoon on the Thursday.
Remember to take foldable, reusable bags with you. If you need to drop things off, many festivals have 'bag creches' and they help to raise money for local charities.
3 - Food foraging
Food at yarn festival can range from amazing to completely bland. If you already know that soggy sandwiches are on offer, take your own or look for a nearby café/shop instead.
If you know that the festival food is good, get to the queue before 12pm, to make sure you don't spend most of your festival queueing for food.
It's also well worth consulting the festival maps because often there are side coffee bars that are quieter.
4 – Map it out
Most organisers put a map up on the website showing which exhibitors are where. Print one off and take with you for easy navigation. It will show where the entrances, toilets, cafes, and all the vendors are. This will save you a lot of time if you are desperate to see specific vendors.
5 – Get the goods
If you know your favourite seller is there with goodies you are desperate to get your hands on, make a bee-line for them. It doesn’t matter if you are initially zig-zagging all over the show, you can go back and fill in the blanks later.
I have even emailed vendors in advance before now and asked them to keep stock aside for me. If you do this, expect to make an upfront payment for the stock you are reserving.
6 – Shrinking violet?
Not a fan of big crowds? As a general rule, a weekend festival will be busiest on the Saturday. If it’s a Friday/Saturday festival, the Friday is usually quieter. Afternoons are quieter than mornings, so choose your day and time to visit wisely.
7 – Money, money, money
You can’t rely on stalls having card machines and even if they do, there is often a minimum vend - mine is £15 because I have to pay 2.7% to the card processing company.
Take cash with you. If you can, draw your cash out before you get anywhere near the venue. I remember that at one yarn festival, every cash machine in the town was emptied out by 1pm by festival goers. Remember, is very easy to get carried away when you get into a festival – I speak from experience…
8 – Be sociable
Strike up conversations with fellow visitors and vendors. I am always really nosey and ask what they have been buying in case I have missed out on something amazing.
Some of my best yarny friendships have been forged from me just starting conversations.
9 – Festival manners
A few things to remember when you are at a festival:
- Ask before taking photos of stands and products. Us vendors particularly love the polite people that ask.
- Be vigilant on behalf of the vendors and keep an eye on your own belongings too. Some visitors steal and yes, it is a disgrace!
- Please don’t say things like “I could make that for half the price”. Vendors take weeks to prepare for shows and none of the ones I know are rich and living in mansions with their feet up.
- Haggling isn't really on in my opinion. If you don't try to do it with the big supermarket chains when you do your weekly shop, then why do it to a small-scale vendor that is trying desperately to put food on their table?
10 – Have fun
Enter the festival with positivity, let the crowds wash by you and come out with an empty purse but yarn, notions and experience rich. There is nothing quite like the buzz and shared experience of a good yarn show!
Hopefully, my festival pearls of wisdom will help you to prepare for attending yarn festivals.
As I write this blog post, I have a further ten yarn festivals and pop ups to do within 2019. I am going to be everywhere this year! A full list of where I am vending can be found here.