Unravel 2016: show planning


Going to a yarn and fibre show is incredibly fun and exciting! There are so many amazing vendors to see and discover. It’s a great way for us to immerse ourselves in our craft.

It’s no secret that Unravel is one of my favourites but with so many amazing yarn dyers and independent makers it’s easy to get overwhelmed – even for the most experienced show-goer. With Unravel happening this weekend I thought I’d share some of my top tips.

Every time I get ready to attend a show do a little pre-planning to help me stay focused on my must-sees for the day, so I don’t get too distracted by nice-to-sees. Usually I’m also shopping for at least one project, so having that information written down also helps me to focus on my budget…instead of getting distracted by other equally beautiful yarns!


Time to make a yarn show plan!

Time to make a yarn show plan!

Show planning
I love lists and spreadsheets; anything to help keep me organized!

I need a shopping list for the yarns I’m specifically hoping to find. It includes notes such as the pattern name, needle or hook size needed, gauge, weight of yarn required and the amount, as well as any other notions such as buttons or beads. Chances are I’ve already been giving some thought to the pattern and the yarn that I want so I’ll also make a note about which vendors I’d like to visit to see their possible yarns for the project(s).

I also decide on my must-see list of vendors, which is really to do with impulse-buys. I might not have a specific project in mind, but I know I love their yarns and might be struck with an idea. Don’t get me wrong – I usually walk around the whole show! But sometimes time is limited so I feel better knowing I’ve seen what I need to right off the bat in case I need to rush off later. This also means that I’m more relaxed wandering around the show later! I often highlight the floor plan with colours depending on how vital the stand is for me to visit.

My pre-show notes include things that I’d specifically like to see or any specialties that a vendor might have (yarns of rare sheep breeds, naturally dyed yarns, etc). Basically, I’m trying to pull together all my scribbled notes into one handy place.

Lastly, I make a note of any non-yarn shopping I’m considering, such as gifts, tools, needles…and luxuries such as yarn bowls and shawl pins.

On the day

I make notes during the show. This is helpful for remembering to go back to a vendor at the end of the day if I have some of my budget leftover or if I don’t find something else on my list.

My notes also include a “for next time” section. Remember what I said about it being easy to get distracted at a yarn show? This is where I put reminders about lovely things I may have seen but were out of budget or not needed right away for my specific project: the name of the project I’m thinking of, price for the yarn and yardage/meterage.

It’s also helpful to note if the exhibitor will be at a future show that I’m planning on attending (meaning I can budget and save accordingly) or if they have a website with online shopping so that I can easily get the yarn in a sweater quantity when I’m ready, and calm! It’s also good for practical notes, like where to find toilets with the shortest queue, or how (in)edible was the food in the cafe!


Flash your stash
After a show I take photos of my purchases so that I can enter them into my stash on Ravelry (if it’s yarn – I’m working on this) or share them on social media like Instagram. If you like to use Instagram or Twitter, make a note of the show’s hashtags so you can tag your photos with the right ones. It’s fun to see what how others have enjoyed their time at the show and see what treasures they’ve found. This is also where I’m mostly likely to share my “catch of the day” – the best item I found or the best deal I got, be it a shawl pin or more delectable yarn!

Last-minute tips and hints checklist
Use the list below for a few final reminders before you head out to the show:

  • Is the floor plan or show guide available in advance? Print out a copy or download it to your phone.
  • Don’t forget your mobile device and a spare charging cable or battery if you’re taking lots of photos and sharing on social media.
  • Ask at the venue for a password if there’s free wifi and for the show’s social media hashtags so you can share photos throughout the day.
  • Wear a special FO or something handmade to make starting conversations easy. Take care whether it will be rubbed from the strap of your bag being on your shoulder or snagged in a crowd. I’ll be wearing my Maltings cowl at Unravel!
  • Dress in portable layers since venues often start cold but heat up. You don’t want to end up hot or carrying a heavy coat.
  • Pack snacks and water to stay hydrated, and avoid long cafe queues at busy times.
  • Bring an empty bag (or two!) for your purchases.
  • Don’t forget your wallet/cash/credit cards – or leave some at home to help manage impulse spends! Make sure you have enough cash for parking or lunch as not everywhere may accept cards and there may not be a cash machine on site. Vendors much prefer cash because of the charges made on cards.
  • Make sure to remember any materials that you might need for workshops (if you’re attending any).
  • Do I need to remind you to double-check you’ve got your ticket?! Probably not…

Whether Unravel or any other show you might be visiting wherever you are, I hope you have a fantastic show!

PS Coming to Unravel? I’ll be on Purlescence stand 2-3pm each day, where we’re kick-starting the Affinity KAL. I’ll be there to help you choose yarn colours, and generally have a lovely yarny chat!

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