TNNA, the Midwest, New York: A Triptych

Jun 21, 2006

In keeping with The Law of Conservation of Blog Verbiage, this post is long enough to make up for almost two weeks of no blogging. I broke it up into three parts in case you need to take a break as you go.

Part I: TNNA

Picture this: five yarn fanatics in a two-room hotel suite for three nights. It was half dorm room, half summer camp, half business retreat. Cosmetics, clothes, and yarn in every corner.

The trade show was terrific. Not as crazy as the other two I've attended, but I think that had much to do with my exhaustion and aggressive schedule. First up: the fashion show. Although it ran more smoothly than in the past and I really like the way they set up the room with the runway down the center, it was a major disappointment. It's not a juried show - any company that wants to pay the fee can have two garments featured. Crochet was painfully underrepresented, and aside from a Doris Chan design and one or two others, the crochet that was shown was boring and hardly new or fresh. The only upside was that - again, aside from a few exceptions - the knitting was just as dull. Drop shoulders were abundant, and the phrase “using every colourway in the yarn line” was used a few too many times. In the case of drop shoulders, I must proclaim to all the internets something we should already know: they are unflattering and should only be used when stitch/color patterns require them. End of story. And as for colour, I repeat my most oft-repeated design statement: Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

TNNA DinnerNext up: Dinner for 15 at a family-style Italian restaurant. I drank a lot of Pepsi in hopes of battling jet lag and staying awake to enjoy the company of such fabulous women as Andi, Robyn (I love meeting Crochet me designers in person!), Cecily, Johanna, Amy, Yahaira, Stefanie, Shannon, Tricia, Vickie, Suss, and Jill. If you've been reading up on the events of last weekend, you may have come across a reference to my rant. It's true, dear readers: I made a scene at the restaurant, among some of the most important up-and-comers in the industry. Thankfully, I blew my gasket over something I have no regrets about. Here's the gist of my rant (it, too, comes in three parts).

  1. In a small industry where there is much fear of business slowing down and bottom lines hurting, it baffles me that crocheters are turned away as often as they are (see the comments on this post). We've all heard the stories of yarn being taken out of a crocheter's hand at an LYS by a shop owner who snidely informs that “you can't crochet with that,” where “that” is cashmere, alpaca, silk, or any other luscious yarn you'd think the owner would be thrilled to sell. You'd think the owner would want to sell as much yarn as possible, considering the climate of constant fear of the market slowing down. You'd think. I hear tell of improvements, but I am still left slack-jawed by this phenomenon.
  2. On the same topic of alienating an enormous potential consumer base, why, I wondered aloud (this might be when I pounded the table), do book publishers package books that contain 50% crochet and 50% knitting under a title that only includes the word KNITS? Seriously. It could be that publishers think the dirty word “crochet” will make knitters not want to buy the book (as if said knitters wouldn't notice all the crochet when they flip through the pages). I really can't say. What I most certainly can say is that a book that's half crocheting but only highlights the knitting turns me off (it's possible that when caught up in the moment I spoke for all crocheters; please forgive me).
  3. And along the same lines (imagine the vein in my neck pulsating), if you're a publisher and you have a terrific knitting book to package but you want to maybe make it appeal to a larger audience so you think it would be a good idea to toss in a couple of crochet projects and then call the book something like Title: Great Stuff to Knit and Crochet, don't think we crocheters won't notice there isn't much in the book for us.

Suss Cousins, looking a little stunned, asked why crocheters have so much rage. Oh, dear. I did have enough presence of mind to infer that her naivete on the subject might mean that crocheters are warmly welcomed in her stores. As I had the pleasure of experiencing later in the week, they very much are.

Get Hooked book signingSo. That was the Friday night of the trade show. On Saturday morning I did my first-ever book signing, and I was giddy. Dancing around in my ribbony dress giddy. I love the book, and I love seeing the smiling faces of people when they look through it. The rest of the weekend is a blur of walking the show floor, meeting amazing people (like our editor for TYV Crocheting), and starting what would turn out to be five straight days of incredible brainstorming. Yes, the summer issue is about to come out, but already there are some fantabulous things on tap for fall.

Part II: The Midwest

Best Chili Dog Ever - Every Friday(Allow me to dispense a word of caution: If you live in a coastal town and are accustomed to eating much seafood, take pause before ordering shrimp in the midwest. Not that all midwestern seafood should cause trouble. Just take pause. Think of me.) So. Last Monday, Shannon, Cecily, and I embarked upon a road trip to New York. With me in the back seat, pumped full of Pepto-Bismol and still baffled by the bizarre rash I'd developed on my neck the night before. Needless to say, I've had more fun on the road. But the company was good, the back seat comfortable, and it wasn't till we'd been on the road for eleven hours that I suggested we just find a motel off the highway so we could get a good night's sleep before our meeting in New Jersey the next day. Hazleton, PA, here we come! Suffice it to say I slept like a baby, and the only glitch was the cockroach the size of my dog that scared the bejeezus out of me in the shower the next morning. I can still see its antennae moving menacingly behind my closed eyes. *Shudder.* Fortunately, the only casualty of the incident was the pile of toiletries I left in the shower after fleeing. Big thanks to Cecily for sharing after that.

Part III: New York

Cherry Tree Hill socksWe spent last Tuesday doing a photo shoot for a crochet book Shannon's editing. Wicked fun, that. And I had the pleasure of meeting Mary Beth and of uniting our Cherry Tree Hill Old Rose socks. Weird how hers are so much greener than mine, eh?

We spent Wednesday last with the fab women at Soho Publishing, where we got a sneak peak at some of the new Crochet Today mag that's launching in August, and otherwise chatted about all sorts of good stuff, including our book tour (and all the cool schwag we'll have to give away; nice).

That night I had dinner with my cousin in the East Village, one of my favourite parts of the city (if you're in the area, don't miss eating at the Itzocan Cafe). Not thinking it would lead to my first encounter with the NYPD, we walked over to a cafe I've been to several times over the years. While enjoying our tea and brownie, deep in conversation, a man I assumed worked there took a painting off the wall. Yeah. Only in New York. The owner was heartbroken that one of his prized paintings was stolen during peak hour by some dude who just walked in and took off with it. I didn't see the guy's face, but I stuck around to give a statement to the police. (I was ready for the Law & Order music to play when I was asked, “Mam, would you be able to identify him for certain in a court of law?”) My heart bleeds for the owner, man. I wish I could have helped more. No, I would not be able to identify him in a court of law, or anywhere else. Sigh.

Get Hooked, on a poster!Ok. Even I'm getting tired by how long this post is. Thursday was spent at Watson-Guptill's offices (publisher of Get Hooked). Check out the poster! So cool. So much fun planning the book tour. I can't wait till October! W00t. And to top it all off, I was organized enough to arrange to arrive at JFK airport exactly two hours before my flight was scheduled to leave. I felt like such a New Yorker. I miss New York. And then I got back in touch with my newfound Canadian identity when it became apparent that my flight was scheduled to depart from La Guardia. Wide-eyed and innocent I became, as I ran to the taxi stand, cash in hand, and climbed in breathless, announcing, “To La Guardia, as fast as you can!” The driver drove like the wind, I tell you, as much as you can drive like the wind through the streets of Queens during rush hour. I did arrive with time to spare, and in time to get bored by my flight's hourlong delay. An hourlong delay that led me to miss my connecting flight in Toronto, prolonging my trip by a night spent in an airport hotel. Gah!

And that, dear readers who must be drooling at this point, is (thankfully) all she wrote.

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kristi wrote
on Jun 21, 2006 6:16 AM

wow! quite a trip! sounds like great fun, though. so planning the tour... you going to manage to get out to southern california?

Michelle wrote
on Jun 21, 2006 6:51 AM

I can't wait 'til October either!

maryse wrote
on Jun 21, 2006 6:54 AM

i'm tired just reading that post.

as for your rant:

1. the lys that doesn't want to sell their yarn to a crocheter, shouldn't be in business. if i owned a yarn shop and someone wanted to buy cashmere and dip it in yogurt and pull it through his/her nose (love that image from the comments -- haha) i'd sell them the cashmere. the shop where i volunteer is going to have a crochet class next fall, i've been asked to help out. and they're going to stock up on some crochet books and supplies.
2. want to know what i have noticed? there aren't that many modern, nice looking crochet blogs. someone at the shop asked me for a list of nice crochet blogs and i could only come up with a couple. certainnly nothing like the knitting blogs out there. i know i get a lot of inspiration and ideas for projects from blogs. so crocheters. start blogging!

3. and i think that crocheters should stop having that little chip ontheir shoulder about their craft and stop apologizing and get out there! crochet in public damn it! (i know, we aren't literally apologizing but you know what i mean)

jana wrote
on Jun 21, 2006 8:20 AM

whew, i need another coffee after reading that doozie of a post. i am trying to picture you on your a big table.....with suss cousins...........funny. it doesnt help crocheters either when a famous (not-going-to-mention-names) knitting book authour/blog phenom totally slams crochet in one of her very popular books. i dont get it, why must people slam things they no nothing about? surely, Ms.S.McP, you dont really think we all sit around crocheting santa claus toilet bowl covers! as a wise man once said (on wayne's world) "Live in the NOw!" ------------- kim, we need to meet for coffee soon!!!

on Jun 21, 2006 8:37 AM

I hope so!

on Jun 21, 2006 8:52 AM

I've been thinking about the blog factor a lot, too. Sure, there are bunches of crochet blogs. But here are the criteria that are not being met:

  1. Good writing. Well-planned, thoughtful, coherent writing. Proper use of punctuation (not from a grammarian's perspective, but from the perspective of a reader who really would like to know what on earth the writer is talking about). Informative posts about the craft. Entertaining anecdotes.
  2. Good photos. I can't express in words the ooey gooey feeling I get when I surf to a crafts blog and it's full of gorgeous photos. And as the editor here, I can say with no hesitation that even the most stellar crocheted object can be made to look unappealing in a terrible photo. I ask submitters to take better photos. Bloggers should ask it of themselves.
  3. Clean design. Just like it's no longer 1975 and fringed leather ponchos shouldn't abound, it's not 1998 anymore and blinking, awful-looking web sites should be a thing of the past. As often as I say it about crochet, I say it about web sites: Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

And as for your third point, YES! Crocheters, we must take back the crochet!

Debbie wrote
on Jun 21, 2006 9:56 AM

I was going to make a comment, then I noticed that someone actually asked me a question in a previous comment. What a weird coinkydink. So I'll answer before I post the comment I typed up. The question is "Surely, Ms.SMcP, you don't really think we all sit around crocheting santa claus toilet bowl covers"

Well, no, I don't. But if you did, I'd love to see them, I love that stuff!! I have a blog that pokes fun at all kinds of handcrafted stuff, crochet included. And as a handcrafter (I knit, crochet, embroider, glue stuff to other stuff, and recently started sewing!), I kid because I love. I understand what goes into making something, even if it comes out crazy or unexpected or just plain ugly. I don't slam crocheting, I make jokes about things that make me laugh. It's hard to explain, but I love the stuff in the MOKS as much as I love a really stylish cashmere 1950's cardigan.

OK, now for the comment I was going to add . . .

Sounds like a great trip! You know what’s funny? I don’t remember reading as much about TNNA last year, but this year, everyone’s talking about it. And then I realized why. So many bloggers have books now. So. Cool.

I think your points about the whole knitting vs. crochet are really interesting. I also think crochet is the new knitting for 2007. I posted a comment in your Sharks vs. Jets post that sums up my feeling about the whole thing, but I wanted to give you what I thought was a little bit of an insight into the use of the word “knits” when a book contains knits and crochet. And I’m only speaking for myself here. I have a book coming out that’s subtitled “A Gallery of Notorious Knits”. The book also contains a ton of crocheted stuff. I didn’t add the word “Crochet” mostly because I didn’t want to make the title too clunky. In my head, “knits” is sort of a general term that includes all stuff made of yarn using a stick or two. Part of that is because I knit and crochet. Another reason is that the publishers weren’t knitters or crocheters and sometimes it’s hard to convey the difference without getting bogged down. To them, it’s all the same thing, too.

Now, with a pattern book, it would seem like you'd want people to know right off what's in the book. But maybe if the designer does both, it sort of seems like the same thing to them, too. And yeah, the publishers know that knitting is huge, so maybe they want to try to capitalize on that. I haven't actually seen a lot of hybrid books like that.

I agree with Maryse when she says to just get out there and crochet! Forget everyone who turns their noses up at it. Knitters overcame the whole “that’s what old ladies do” thing, and crocheters can, too. But you have to get out there, get public, show the world what crochet hooks can do. Someone commented that there’s a way to make drapey clothes out of crochet, but that it takes some figuring out. Once it’s been figured out and there are lots of amazing patterns available, I think you’ll see a lot of people take up the hooks.

I think another interesting question is whether you consider crocheting to be a craft. I know the word “craft” brings to mind macaroni stuck to a paper plate for some people, so what about people who consider themselves “crafters”? It seems like they’re kind of looked down on, too. But in the end, isn’t anyone who makes something out of something else in the same category? It’s surprising how semantics can really play a part in making people feel left out or looked down on. I think we need a new word altogether for people who make stuff, whether it’s knitting, crocheting, sewing, scrapbooking, or gluing googley eyes to random things around the house.

Shannon wrote
on Jun 21, 2006 1:18 PM

Uh-huh. I think that is when you pounded the table. But you meant well! And in telling the story on my site, I didn't mean to imply anything otherwise... I was quite taken with the whole thing.

Heck, if any yarn store employee ANYWHERE tried to pull yarn I intended to BUY out of my hand...well, let's just say they might need a glass of water to get it down their throat after I shoved it to the bottom. The only time a LYS employee should be pulling yarn out of your hand is if you are heading to the bathroom after hearing someone call out there's no tp left...

By the way, Dear Readers, you should know that in the wide world of Cute Things, there can only be one top three, and here it is:

1. Kittens. Especially kittens with yarn.
2. That hamster from

3. Kim dancing around a hotel room in her ribbon dress. I could've eaten her up with a spoon, it was that cute. I don't think any of the photos of her mid-air turned out, though.

MBT wrote
on Jun 21, 2006 1:45 PM

Hey Kim - my sock is famous! It is also finished now, although sadly banished to the cedar chest until the mercury dips below a zillion.

I also fixed the bonehead mistake I made by calling your wonderful, utterly fabulous and completely enthralling new book by the wrong name on my blog entry - mea culpa and so sorry - all better now.

And after spending the afternoon with you (and others in the crochet posse) I ran home and got out my hook - just like I said I would. You guys are contagious (in a good way...)

on Jun 21, 2006 1:55 PM

That's what we do, MBT: we spread the disease of crochet. :)

MBT wrote
on Jun 21, 2006 3:38 PM

Can that be the new CrochetMe T shirt? "Spreading the disease of crochet" - I would totally buy one!

on Jun 21, 2006 3:47 PM

Oh, dear. Duly filed!

jana wrote
on Jun 21, 2006 11:59 PM

hi debbie, that was in my comment:) but...i was talking about a diffrent authour with the initials ( s. McP ) who writes about how much she detests crochet in one of her very popular books on knitting. that's where the sarcastic comment came from. she mentions in her book something about people crocheting santa claus toilet bowl covers. sorry for the mixup:)

Debbie wrote
on Jun 22, 2006 9:00 AM

OMG, I'm so embarassed. I knew who you were talking about when you mentioned an author in the first part. I just never thought of her initials before and thought . . . oh, never mind, I'll go hide now. But for the record, I do love toilet covers of all sorts. And I think that author does know how to crochet, she just doesn't really like it and teases it for comedic effect. Don't let 'er get you down!

jana wrote
on Jun 22, 2006 11:59 PM

debbie, i love your blog! and i totally get the teasing part, i just think some knitting snobs would take it to heart. ie: my sister in law. dont even get me started:P, lol!

Sheryl wrote
on Jun 23, 2006 3:09 PM

As a LYS co-owner we are currently seeing more new crocheting customers than knitting ones. I have heard tell of those lys snobs who poo-poo crocheting, but believe me we are very pro-crochet and proud of it. Those goofy shop owners should realize what a vital segment of the population crocheters are. I am on a personal campaign to raise the standards of crochet design, materials and image, even if it is just in our little corner of the world.

on Jun 23, 2006 3:33 PM

Right on, Sheryl!

Dee Stanziano wrote
on Jun 26, 2006 9:55 AM

It sure sounds like you had a lot of fun, Kim! I'm hoping your book tour could start a few weeks prior to October ... and in NYC at the annual Craft Yarn Council of America's "Knit Out & Crochet Too!" event that is absolutely HUGE!! (it will be held on Sept 17th)

on Jun 26, 2006 12:22 PM

Hi Dee - I know! If only it weren't so exhausting and expensive to fly back east twice in two weeks...

Cira wrote
on Jun 27, 2006 9:04 AM

We need good pattern books, and most of all, no more "how to crochet" sections before the patterns. Im sick of buying a book with half of the pages teaching me to crochet, when I already know how to. I just want the PATTERNS!