Saturday, June 24, 2006

Picking out Yarns

The racetrack in the morning was fun, but Friday evening at the yarn market was time for more serious work—starting to think about yarns that we would order for fall. Friday night starts with a fashion show, where the yarn manufacturers and designers show off their latest yarns and garments. This is a "don't miss" event for the show. We stood in line for over an hour and were able to snag front-row seats.

The fashion show is a big deal for the manufacturers--it's a great opportunity to show shop owners the latest trends and fashions for fall. We wish we could show you pictures of all the beautiful garments—but photography was not allowed. Don't worry. You’ll see many of the designs in upcoming knitting and crochet magazines this fall.

The next day, we went to the market. Cameras were most definitely not allowed in the market, but we can, however, show you a map of the market floor:

As you can see, it is huge. Each square in the diagram on the right is a 10-foot booth. On the left is the list of exhibitors. (Granted, many of those booths are for needlework, which our store does not do. We did not have to think about every single booth. Just half of them.) As we calculate it, the square footage of the area was just shy of 200,000 square feet. That's a lot of walking.

Many people say that they would not be able to pick yarns with all the choices that are out there. “How do you choose what to stock?” they ask us.

The answer is, it’s as difficult as you imagine. We are both fairly efficient decision-makers, however, and we have developed a system over time.

We try to figure out what we need, and then we begin our search for the most luscious and decadent fibers we can find at the best prices. We start with categories of what we want to bring in, ask about those yarns at every booth we go to, and then make charts and lists to compare all the yarns in our categories. We work very, very hard at finding the most incredible yarn that will work for any project you want to knit or crochet. It’s like a treasure hunt. It takes one entire day, from 10 until 6, to walk the floor to see what’s new, what trends are coming, and get a sense of the market in general. That’s all we did on Saturday.

We made notes on our map, touched lots of yarn, picked up lots of brochures, talked to lots of salespeople, and chose preliminary colors. But the close of market at 6:00 wasn’t the end of our day. That night, over dinner and continuing straight until a late bedtime, we compared our wish list with what we found. By the time it was all done, we knew we needed to visit 28 companies on Sunday between 10 and 6 to make our final selections. For the fibers and colors we had nailed down, we wrote our preliminary orders for each company so that we could get through everything in a few minutes at each place.

And on Sunday, we went to every one of those 28 booths. We talked to all of them and ordered yarn or patterns from most.

At 5:30 that day, we were done, with thirty minutes to spare. We got some dinner and crashed for the rest of the evening.

We'll tell you a little more about what we bought soon--but for the next time: How we became famous!

No comments: