I just got back from the CGOA / TKGA Knit & Crochet Show in San Diego. This was my first show, and it was truly amazing. It was almost surreal to spend 4 whole days surrounded by such talent. Thanks to some good advice from some good friends, I was really able to make the most of it. I want to share that advice, from one newbie to another, along with a few tips of my own. If you’re going to the show next year for the first time:
1. Arrive Early.
The fun starts bright and early on the first day! I arrived near lunchtime and ended up missing some of it. If you can, come the day before and stay an extra night.
2. Reserve a room early.
You want to stay in the hotel where the conference is, otherwise you will miss some of the fun. This year, the first block of rooms sold out almost immediately. The 2nd block that opened up was further from the action, and not quite as nice. If you can get a roommate, that can be fun as well.
3. Register early.
Classes and events sell out quickly too, so be sure to register as soon as registration opens. It may be possible to buy, sell, or trade classes at the show, but the more popular classes will be harder to get. If you didn’t get the class you want, check the bulletin board and see if anyone is willing to sell or trade their spot.
4. Make yourself a show binder.
Gather all your documents together, either in a physical binder, a cloud based folder, or some other easily accessible format. This year they had a mobile app that was helpful, but it was nice to have my binder too. Include flight details, car reservations, hotel reservations, class details and fees, homework, etc.
5. Get a buddy.
I didn’t, and it was ok because I had friends there who were not newbies. If it wasn’t for them though, a buddy would have been a life saver. There’s a lot going on, all the time, and the real fun happens in the parts that are not on any schedule. Having someone there to make introductions and give you ideas is great.
6. Buy a name tag holder.
They’re really nice! This year, behind the clear slot where the name tag goes, was a large pouch with a velcro flap. This was a great space to stash a small notebook or folded up pieces of paper. There were also pen holders and a little pocket at the back, which was perfect for holding my room key and all the business cards I collected.
7. Speaking of business cards, bring them.
If you do anything fiber related, there is no better time to make those networking contacts. Even if you’re not in a fiber-related business, bring your cards. You will make friends, and you will want to share your contact information, and the easiest way is to pull out a business card and pass it on. Be sure to collect a whole bunch of them too.
8. Be prepared to be star struck.
Seriously. There are SO many talented people at the show. I felt like every time I turned around I saw someone else who I never thought I’d have a chance to meet. Just don’t do what I did 5 minutes after arriving, which was to stare stupidly at one of the first people I ran into, and then suddenly blurt out “Wow! You’re Marty Miller!” umm…yeah…who am I? Oh you don’t know me, it’s not important, I’m just the village idiot.
9. Wear something you made. Every day.
It’s a great time to show off your skill and marvel at others – some of the pieces were truly stunning. Keep the weather in mind though. This show is in the middle of summer. If you tend to be chilly, cardigans and shawls are great because the indoor spaces are air-conditioned. I’m always hot though, and a lot of the action was outdoors. Most of the time, for me, adding a shawl was just not going to happen. A purse or handbag would have been a good idea, but what really caught my eye were some of the lightweight, lacy dresses and tops that people were wearing, like this black and white one (yes, that’s Margaret Hubert with Andee Graves…see? I told you!)
10. Bring one dressy outfit for the banquet.
Everyone dresses up and looks so pretty!
11. Wear comfortable shoes.
To accommodate so many classes and events, the event space has to be large. You will be walking…a lot.
12. Be mindful of your health.
There’s so much going on that it’s easy to forget to eat enough, drink enough, sleep enough, etc. The last thing you need is to suddenly be unwell because your blood sugar drops or you are dehydrated and exhausted.
13. Take an extra day off after you get home.
Take a day just to sleep and unpack. You’ll need it. Besides, you’ll have new yarn to play with!
14. Leave extra room in your suitcase.
Unless you’re driving, you will need space for all the swag. I brought my binder as a carry on for the trip there, but I packed a larger carryon bag inside my suitcase. On the way back, I packed my binder and used the larger carry on. Even with that, I found my suitcase had gained 12 lbs between flights.
15. Be really really nice to the volunteers.
They are volunteers, they work ridiculously hard, and we need them. While you’re at it, make it a point to spend some money at the sponsors’ booths. We need them too!
From what I hear, the next Knit & Crochet show will be in Charleston, South Carolina. I really hope I’m able to go, and I hope to see you there too!