Reporting back after day two of the show. Sunday was a lot quieter than Saturday, although I still had a lot of interest in my patterns. In the quiet periods, I managed to sneak away to wander around the show for a while, and pick up some new toys – some quilling paper, a bias tape maker, and a new light-up crochet hook, so now I have my three favourite sizes: E, G and H.
Best of all, the owner of Bears and Bedtime gave me a quick demo in needlefelting, which I’ve been wanting to try for months, and I found that, despite my wool sensitivity, my hands seemed okay with it – yay! So I bought some felting needles and a bag of mixed colours of wool roving (and aren’t these colours perfect for my animals?). Now I just have to find some time to try out all my new craft purchases…
To the eagle-eyed commenters on my last post, yes, you’ve spotted my hidden projects:
1) Looks like the cat is out of the bag with my ice cream bear! He is going to appear in the Summer issue of A Needle Pulling Thread magazine, together with an article about my crocheting. ANPT is a wonderful magazine featuring Canadian designers and artists and it covers the full spectrum of needle arts in every issue, with each artist contributing an article and a project. My ice cream bear is the reason I got to set up my display at their booth and work on my crochet throughout the show – thank you, Carla and John, for sharing your space with me!
2) I chose to finally make a start on my crocheted orang utan (I bought the yarn for it way back last August). As a break from pattern designing, I’m doing this one freeform. This gives me more freedom to experiment and figure out some new techniques, which may then find their way into future pattern designs!
So far, I’ve just made the arms. Each finger is individually wired, so the hands are completely poseable. A lot of people wanted to look at them, although one girl let out a little shriek when she saw the disembodied arm!
Now on to the subject you’ll be most interested in if you are a crafter thinking about doing a show: the festival itself…
This was my first real offline experience of putting myself out there as a crochet designer, and it was amazing! Watching people’s reactions to my designs, hearing them call their friends over to come and see, and being able to interact face to face with the public are things you really miss out on as an online seller. I think people appreciated being able to actually pick up my work and take a closer look – no matter how good your photography is, it’s never quite the same as letting people actually touch your work. And getting to see small things, like the little girl who picked up and cuddled every animal I’d brought, and then refused to move on until she had kissed every single one goodbye… there’s no way you can get that kind of feedback through e-mail.
Another thing that was interesting was seeing the kind of people who were interested in my work – I never usually get to find out that kind of demographic information. I met people ranging from 8 year olds who were just learning to crochet and teenagers who wanted to know how to get started, right through to 80 year olds with decades of experience, and women of just about every age in between. I met lots of amazing creative people, made some new friends (hi Rose!), and even met a few people who already knew me from the online world or were previous customers, which was surreal but very cool!
I can’t tell you about how the financial side of it worked out, since I didn’t have my own booth, and I wasn’t actually selling anything at the show… I displayed some finished pieces, worked on my orang utan, and answered people’s questions, but I also brought a portfolio with the cover pages of all my patterns for people to flip through, and I gave out over 200 PlanetJune business cards and postcards, so I hope a lot of the people I met will be visiting my site once they get back home.
Oh, and my PlanetJune t-shirt was a hit – several people even asked where I got it printed! Maybe I should start up a side business 😉
Overall, the show experience was fantastic. It’s a bit daunting to jump in without the protection and anonymity of the internet, and by the end of the weekend I was totally exhausted, but I’m so pleased to have had this experience. I would definitely encourage other online-only crafty businesspeople to consider getting out there and introducing people to your craft in person once in a while!