About a month ago, Jill and I packed our energy bars, drove the length of Pennsylvania, made a left at Akron – more or less – and arrived in Columbus, Ohio for 48 hours at The National NeedleArts (TNNA) Summer Market. It may be called a “summer market,” but the focus is entirely on fall & winter yarns, as well as new notions, patterns, books – really just about anything and everything yarn-related.
This was our second time at this TNNA trade show. Last year the shop was still three months away from opening, and we didn’t buy a single ball of yarn. We walked from booth to booth, jaws locked in the “dropped” position, and made pages and pages of notes. This year was completely different. We had our lists ready and did some serious shopping. Here’s a peek at just some of what we saw and what we bought.
For months now we’ve been fielding requests for Berroco yarns. We thought, why not start with two of their most popular yarns, Ultra Alpaca and Blackstone Tweed? Ultra Alpaca (50% Super Fine Alpaca/50% Peruvian Highland Wool) is a worsted that is the best of both worlds; it gets structure and substance from its wool half and drape, softness, and halo from its alpaca. All at a great price, 215 yards for around $10. Blackstone Tweed has the rustic charm of a classic Donegal but none of the itchy-scratchy. The next-to-skin-softness is courtesy of its 65% Wool/25% Mohair/10% Angora blend. With Berroco yarns you get those fabulous Norah Gaughan patterns, too, above seen in a sample sweater display. The only problem with these two beauties? Choosing colors. Here’s Jill, looking a little fermisht (overwhelmed) by the number of choices.
Next, Wool Clasica from Manos del Uruguay. This yarn was hugely popular our first winter, when we had it in the space dyed colorways only. We’re getting more of those and a beautiful palette of semi-solids, too. It’s easy to choose Manos over some of its look-alike competitors, not least of all because they are 100% Fair Trade, the yarn coming from women’s cooperatives that provide a source of direct income, health insurance, retirement pensions, paid vacations, and paid maternity leave for their members. While today there are kindergartens and preschools throughout the country, the first kindergartens in Uruguay were begun by the Manos Cooperative, to provide childcare for the artisans. According to their website, Manos’s mission is to eradicate poverty through sustainable economic development, pioneering social and environmental policy and practice, and continual reinvestment in marginalized artisans, farmers and producer communities. All from gorgeous skeins of yarn! There’s not much that Wool Clasica can’t do: hats, mittens, scarves, accessories, sweaters, afghans – we’ve had the Four Seasons Throw pattern for awhile; now we’ll have plenty of colors for you to play with.
Shibui. Heichi. Maybe not household names, but once you see this worsted 100% silk yarn from Shibui Knits and its fashion-forward pattern collection (think Eileen Fisher), you’ll want to get to know it better. Here is Jill sharing a laugh with Kristin from Shibui Knits and Kristin modeling Echo, one of our favorite finds.
There are plenty of famous faces at TNNA. You can’t miss the pixie smile of Ysolda Teague of Ishbel fame. Here she is, below, with her cheery booth helpers, Rebecca and Sarah. (Yes, both the booth and the helpers were cheery!) Ysolda’s brand new book has just arrived in the shop. It’s called Little Red in the City, and it got a rave review from Clara Parkes in her Knitter’s Review, in the same column in which Sandra McIver’s Knit, Swirl! was written up, also with a thumbs up. We met Sandra, too, and ordered copies of her book immediately after seeing every one of her pattern models being worn on every conceivable female body type and looking great on each one. We chose even more irresistable patterns from Bonne Marie Burns of Chic Knits, Kim Dolce of Dolce Handknits, and Ilga Leja, whom we met at the Handmaiden/Fleece Artist booth where we snagged some Sea Silk.
On the last day of the show we made our way to Lorna’s Laces. We’ve always loved LL yarns, but we wanted to introduce them with something not found around every corner. So, it was love at first sight when we saw Grace, a worsted boucle mohair and Solemate, their newest sock yarn. Solemate contains Outlast®, an honest-to-goodness space-age technology that allows the yarn to keep you warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s hot, all from inside LL’s spectacular colors. I snapped the shot of Amanda, who may remember us as her last customers of the show, against a backdrop of just a few of LL’s many shades.
There was a sample of Miriam Felton’s Furrows Shawl in the LL booth, another design we now have in stock. Rumor has it that it’s a great travel project.
We headed to Artyarns after hitting Misti Alpaca and Crystal Palace. (There’s a whole lotta Misti Alpaca Chunky and Mochi Plus in our future, by the way.) One last picture shows Jill at the Artyarns booth. By the time it was taken our energy bars were long gone, our budget was all but forgotten, and “yarn” was almost a four-letter word. But it turned out we hadn’t forgotten how to fall in love with the stuff. Jill’s trying to make this look like hard work.