Thursday, 3 November 2016

Today is "Craft Fair" day

which means that I am spending the day at the show grounds not too far from here. I will  be, if anyone turns up, talking about knitting. 
In the past I have spent all four days at the show grounds helping a friend on her stall. In return for this I have raised some money for my late friend in Africa. 
This year P... is not coming to show. She came earlier in the year to another one. It should have been a better time to come. It was moving into winter. People tend to knit in winter rather than summer. It gets a little warm for knitting in summer in Downunder - unless, like me, you have things that "must" be knitted.  Even so  the takings were poor. My friend barely covered the costs of being there. It just isn't worth the effort any more. She won't be coming back. 
Other people are starting to drop out too. Occasionally someone new will pop up but I haven't known them to come more than once. I have only been multiple times to help - as I will today.
The advertising makes it sound like a marvellous event of course but really it is suffering the same fate as so many similar events in smaller places. It won't be too long before there won't be an event.
I buy yarn here but I buy specialist yarn over the internet. There is just one shop near me which sells good yarn. It will close in December. The building is being renovated and the owner, in her 70's, does not want to be bothered with the business of relocation. I don't blame her but I will miss her. I knew that if needed good quality plain vanilla yarn I could go to her - and that I might find a bit of "chocolate" on the side. She didn't go for the very fine yarn needed for some of the work I have done but she has had some good yarn. I like to touch it, hold it up to the light, squish and squash it before I buy it - and she expects that I will want to do that. 
It will leave just one shop selling good quality yarn in any great variety - and the owner of that is in her 80's. The rest are people who carry a little yarn on the side or they sell cheap acrylic or the rough and cheaper stuff from places like Turkey and China.
I don't want to knit with that sort of thing. If I am going to put the effort in then I want a lasting result, one of which I can be proud.
        "But people don't knit any more," non-knitters tell me.
Nonsense. People do knit. There is, once again, an increased interest in knitting. I want to knit. I know many other people who knit. I don't know many who knit the sort of thing I knit because knitting is an incredibly varied and creative craft - and that is one of the things which makes it so interesting. 
There is plenty of evidence that people do knit. I know where the yarn shops have gone though. They have gone off to the internet because renting a shop, stocking it, and staffing it have just become too expensive.
Yes, one of the reasons is that knitting tends to be slower than many other crafts because we are creating the fabric rather than decorating it. In that sense knitting is like writing. They both take time. 
I was telling a friend this  yesterday when she asked about whether I was going to the craft fair. She asked me, 
       "If you had to choose between knitting and writing, what would it be?"
I didn't hesitate over my answer. Words are free - but the cost of using them is the one for which I am prepared to pay even more.

1 comment:

Jodiebodie said...

I didn't go to the craft fair this year for a number of reasons:
a) no money to spend and plenty of yarn at home to use
b) busy with preparations for a competing event at the weekend
c) I saw no yarn promoted by the craft fair organisers
d) friends who visited in the first day confirmed that there was barely any yarn at all and the regular exhibitors were not there. I enjoy going to the fair and perusing your friend's lovely yarns. Like you, I want to see the colours with my own eyes and feel the textures and see your beautiful samples of what one can make with the yarn. I did not know that you were going to be there still.

The event that your friend attended earlier in the year was a flop because it was the first time at that time of year and the organisers had not done their homework about their audience. I feel for exhibitors like your friend who trusted the event organisers.

The organisers presented their 'new craft fair' a week after school holidays and shortly after the staging of a different, well-established and regular craft event (always occurs a few weekends before mother's day). Spending on crafty mums would have been planned for in advance with the well-established event in mind and not the new one. There wasn't a lot of notice for the 'new craft fair'.

A lot of country people plan their city trips around regular events so they would have been and gone well before the new event that your friend attended. I've met quite a few country attendees who plan all year for the craft fair and arrive with large shopping bags ready to fill with their annual craft shopping.

Many South Australians choose to spend their money on school holiday travel so they are either out of the state at the time of the 'new fair' or they return tired with empty wallets and are not wanting to go to a craft fair.

The week of the new craft fair coincided with other big events that were happening in the same week; e.g. major international concerts, major sporting fixtures etc. People can only spread themselves and their budgets so far. When there is only enough money for one event and the 'new craft fair' isn't offering anything particularly new or groundbreaking, it is understandable that people will be attracted to other one-of-a-kind/once-in-a-lifetime event instead of an event that repeatedly comes around.

I am sad that your friend will not be returning to our fair city. I did enjoy her products and her workshops and appreciated her expertise. Other knitting exhibitors (also from interstate) told me at the time of the 'new fair' that they would not be returning either.

If I know you and your friend are going to be there, I make a point of coming in to say hello if I can. The only thing to stop me is if I am sick on the day because I love meeting fellow yarncrafters.

I would like to know precisely which yarn shops are closing. What a big shame. I was at the Maker Faire and received quite a bit of interest from young people who are eager to learn handcrafts. I have been to two yarn shops in this city and the first one was inaccessible for my mobility equipment and non-child friendly. I hear from other shoppers that they went in there with their children only to have the owner of the shop being hostile towards the children. Another shop I went into was all about knitting and barely anything related to crochet - few hooks in limited sizes. I didn't feel like my craft of crochet was valued at all and I couldn't find yarn in the colours that I like unlike your friend whose stall is always full of the most stimulating and delectable colours in the world.

I hope that is useful feedback to you, your friend and other shop owners and event organisers. Know your audience and know your potential audience. Misunderstanding large segnents of the market is a big mistake. I live in hope that your friend will return one day.

All the best and keep knitting, Cat! xx