Hello! I’m back to my blog after what seems like (and actually is) ages. I’ve been pretty quiet on social media as I got ill in July then busy with preparations for Fibre East 2017. My first yarn show as a seller! I’m back now, its a new month so I hope to get some balance back in my crafty and my real life.
It will be nice to get back to some things that I really enjoy but haven’t had time to do – blogging, crochet and my Etsy shop, which was closed for a week while I was away. I also need desperately to do some ‘domestics’ but to be honest, after the yarn fair I am absolutely knackered so that can wait until tomorrow.
How come I was at Fibre East 2017?
I wasn’t supposed to be there as a seller and I hadn’t even intended to go as a visitor to be honest. It was a series of events that provided the opportunity to have part of a stand, shared with Halifax Spinning Mill, who spin my woollen spun yarn. The mill had paid for the stand and were going to sell some of the wool for Black Bat, a company hit by illness earlier in the year. I was invited to share the stand and sell and display some of the yarn that the mill spins and that I have been dyeing over the last year.
It is normal for exhibitions like this to charge a fee per stallholder and also to charge an entry fee to the public.
This is the Mill’s stand, which took up most of the space and I had my yarn across the side. It all went very well together…
OK, I thought, Fibre East will be good practice for Yarndale 2017… but it turned into a major event in itself. I am glad that I’ve done it though as I have learned a lot and, come September, I will be a lot better prepared.
At Yarndale, my son is helping me and the major advantage will be that we will have two cars to transport all of the ‘stuff’. I can see why people hire a van! My Kia hatchback was crammed to bursting for the trip down and a friend had taken some of the bigger things – table tops, shelves and display boxes – in his van the day before.
I set off on Friday morning but the traffic down the A1 to Bedford was very slow for about 40 miles so it took me about three hours. My preferred option when staying away is Airbnb, and I went and left my small case of clothes etc (all I could squeeze in between the yarn) there before heading over to Redbourne School in Ampthill where Fibre East is held.
Set up was until 6pm on the Friday and the weather wasn’t that brilliant. We had several spells of heavy rain and Friday and Saturday night were very wet with a howling gale and horizontal rain. So much for July summer weather.
As my stand at Fibre East was in a marquee, that did make me a bit worried but everything seemed OK and pretty watertight so there were no major disasters.
This was my first time setting up and by just before 6pm when I had to stop, it was looking OK. The sign worked well, I’d taken my wool blanket and some shawls to hang up and some charity shop finds of a crochet tablecloth and some vintage doilies to show off the yarn. And, of course, nearly every possible Ikea box and wine rack in their Leeds store…
Helen Kurtz, AKA @josiekitten on instagram and on her blog gave me loads of help with the set up and showed me where tea and coffee for the exhibitors was available and generally offered a lot of moral support too. We are both Stylecraft bloggers and share an interest in wool, fibre and spinning and Helen helps out as a volunteer at Fibre East. It was lovely to have a friendly face on hand and once the stand was done, we headed over to a nearby village to have a meal in the pub there as its the ‘local’ of Sandra of the Cherry Heart blog. We were all driving so it wasn’t a raucous evening by any means but it was really good to chat together, have a nice pub meal and relax after all the hectic preparations, driving and setting up.
The big day! Fibre East 2017 opens
The next morning I was up early and over to the school first thing, at about 7.30am. Mostly to check on the rain but also to fuss and faff on the stall a bit more before it opened to visitors at 10am. Everything had survived, including the sign and although my card signs were just a bit damp due to the condensation rather than being rained on, the weather on the day was dry and clear and it soon got quite busy.
As this was my first event, I did have a few panic moments. Getting my card reader to work with my phone was a challenge, even though the signal was good. I might need to have words with the company that supplied it…
But apart from that, everything went smoothly and it was lovely that so many people who have seen my blog or podcast came to say hello and stayed to chat and even came back for a few extra visits later on to see how I was doing. One lovely lady even went and got me a coffee!
I was pleased that the singles of the new Fabulous Four base went down particularly well with lots of lovely feedback and comments. I must admit, even I am in love with the yarn and the colours…
My packs of stitch markers also went well and I sold quite a few of the stitch marker charm bracelets that I’d made. These will definitely be going to Yarndale and I’ll be making some for the Etsy shop too.
The other thing that sold well were the “I’m a basket case” kit that I put together with the help of Nicola and Carinne from my local Crochet and Chat group. I’d lost a lot of time through getting ill and they came over and spent an entire afternoon getting those kits together. I found the basket very useful at the show and while I was away and it held my yarn perfectly. I’ve started a shawl using one of the laceweight singles skeins – but I’ll talk about the baskets and the shawl in a blog post later in the month.
It rained again, very heavily on the Saturday night and I was glad I was in a dry studio flat, not camping on site like a lot of the vendors… But Sunday was bright and dry for the entire time the show was open and it was again a busy day with lots of visitors and lovely people to chat to.
I had a big visit from some fellow podcasters… Sam of Betsy Makes, Sandra of Cherry Heart, Chrissie of Chrissie Crafts and Emma from Potter and Bloom. They were all very kind and bought some of my yarn and then came back later to choose more yarn as a swap/giveaway. They will supply me with something for a giveaway in return, which will be really exciting.
Fibre East 2017… until next year… perhaps
At 4.30pm, it was time to pack up and that was full-on! Everyone wanted to get away quickly but the rain decided to come back with a vengeance and it poured down. We all got soaked to the skin and I loaded everything in the car as fast as I could, and then dismantled what needed to go in the van. I’m so glad I decided to book an additional night and once that was done all I needed to do was drive 5 miles to a hot shower and bed! I really couldn’t have faced a 3 hour drive at that stage.
Now I’m home and have more-or-less unpacked I’m reflecting on how it went. To be honest, I failed to break even and actually made a loss when I take into account the accommodation costs (which weren’t expensive at £45 a night), the petrol, the stock, the display equipment and the food I ate when I was away (one pub meal and two supermarket ready meals!). I am absolutely in awe of the crafters who do this many weekends of the year to make a living and I understand very well why they choose to camp in the rain rather than book a B&B or budget hotel. I think it must be incredibly hard to make a profit at a yarn show, even a big one and you really have to love these events and treat them as a weekend away.
It was physically tiring, with all the packing up, loading up, driving, unloading and setting up and then taking everything down and unpacking once home. But it was mentally and emotionally draining as well as there was a lot of worry about the weather, the stock, what people thought and if any of what I had made was good enough… This was less intense on the second day as so many visitors had been so nice on Day 1 but will I do shows regularly? I’ll need to think on that some more and maybe decide after Yarndale.
I’ll be back with a podcast maybe next week but I’ve more blog posts planned this month to make up for me going awol last month 🙂 xxx Kathryn