trade show swagReport from the 2006 National NeedleArts Association Summer Trade Show
Indianapolis, Indiana
June 10-12, 2006

Twice a year, people who work in the needlearts industry gather to network and do business at the National NeedleArts Association show, or TNNA. It's a tightly controlled event—you need several credentials to qualify for attendance.

The summer show took place in Indianapolis, Indiana, last weekend. The summer TNNA highlights products for the upcoming winter season. And since winter is the prime season for knitting, the summer show normally tends to be the more influential show of the year.

The first thing I need to note is that photography on the show floor is strictly forbidden. Vendors are exhibiting products and design ideas that may not enter production for several more weeks, and the goal is to keep competition from "borrowing" these same ideas and bringing them to market faster. But it does make reporting to you on the show a little tricky.

Here's a high-level overview of what happened at the show. In the coming weeks I'll give you more in-depth reviews (with lots of pictures!) of the best items from the show so you'll be fully prepared when they show up in your LYS.

A Fan Affair
More than in previous shows, this TNNA seemed to be as much about the people in our industry as it was about the products. You couldn't swing a skein of Fun Fur without hitting a knitting celebrity. By the end of the show I was beyond starstruck.

There was Teva Durham (Loop-D-Loop), Norah Gaughan (Knitting Nature), Leigh Radford (One Skein and Alterknits), Suzan Mischer (Greetings from Knit Café), Kristin Nicholas (Colorful Stitchery), Tara Jon Manning (the felted angel in the photo at the top of this page was in honor of her upcoming book Nature Babies), Ann Shayne and Kay Gardiner (Mason-Dixon Knitting), Amy Singer (Big Girl Knits), Joelle Hoverson (Last-Minute Knitted Gifts), Cat Bordhi (Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles and the two Magical Knitting treasuries), Nicky Epstein (most recently Nicky Epstein's Knitted Flowers)...I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

Magazine editors were equally in attendance. Everyone from Rick Mondragon (Knitter's) and Pam Allen (Interweave Knits) to Trisha Malcolm (Vogue Knitting), Adina Klein (knit.1), Karin Strom (Yarn Market News), and Amy Singer (Knitty) was there. All the publishers were equally in attendance—even Melanie Falick and her Stewart, Tabori & Chang imprint made their first TNNA appearance. On Sunday, we gathered for cupcakes in the Interweave booth to celebrate the launch of the second issue of Knitscene (they gave away festive felted flowers, seen in the picture at the top of this page).

Why does this matter? First, because it shows a renewed industry interest in more than just yarn—which is good. And second, these designers and editors ultimately shape what we knit, and yarn store owners are the often-overlooked conduit. This was their chance to have a little fun for themselves, meeting these people and in many cases getting free signed copies of their books.

The Yarn Scene
A few yarn celebrities were on hand too. Perhaps the most notable was Jo Sharp, who traveled all the way from Australia this year to show her gorgeous new design collections and two new yarns. She is now distributed by JCA in the United States, so you can expect far better availability and support. She was even more gracious and warm than her books convey, and she greeted me with a genuine "g'day."

The yarns themselves seemed to follow a path established in previous shows. I was hard pressed to come up with any truly unusual innovators, which is fine. We don't need each show to knock the socks off our feet.

Fibers seemed to be the name of the game this time around. More yarn manufacturers are starting to experiment with linen, hemp, Tencel, soy, and other such materials, often putting them in unexpected blends with angora, wool, and silk. You'll have fun playing with them when they reach your LYS.

Cornucopia of Colors
As the number of low-end novelty importers appears to dwindle ever so slightly, the number of hand-dyed yarn vendors continues to grow. The quality and consistency of their product gets better and better. The Koigu booth was especially breathtaking this time around, as was Alchemy Yarns.

Longtime "color explosionist" Great Adirondack Yarn Co. made its TNNA debut at this show with booth walls so packed with color I got butterflies just looking at them. I was also happy to see newcomers Farmhouse Yarns (which includes the Hopyard Spinnery line) and Honey Pot Yarns.

Dyeing itself was of greater interest as well. Kraemer Yarns promoted several different types of undyed yarns for dyers. Louet Sales also offered many undyed yarns as well as a cute hand-dyeing kit.

Gadgets and Stuff
There was no shortage of "stuff" at the show. Clover was aglow with its Knit Lite lighted knitting needles. Truth be told, only the tips on these single-pointed straight needles are illuminated. They come in sizes 6 through 15, each with its own distinct color. I know they're a gimmick, but I also know they may come in handy when I have a hankering to knit and it's too dark to see on my own—for example during a nighttime car trip. So I may give these a try.

In terms of accessories, the story centered on stitch markers. Goose Pond made their debut at this TNNA with simple beaded sterling stitch markers, a sheep-shaped needle and stitch gauge, and handcrafted wooden store display furniture.

Also making a TNNA debut was Debra Richlin, whose Debra's Garden stitch markers come in seemingly endless variations of decorative beads, cultured pearls, Czech polished crystals, faceted amethysts, you name it. They're a little bit pricey ($29.99 for a set of five) but beautiful.

I was surprised at how many new vendors were selling girly-styled T-shirts with knitterly sayings in cute fonts with sequins, glitter, and other adornments. A few had low-end bags (also sporting sayings), but nothing really grabbed me.

Instead, my heart went out to the colorful silks of della Q, the whimsically sophisticated Lexie Barnes, and—with even more stunning bags and baskets than ever—Lantern Moon.

Ultimately the good news is that you'll have no shortage of stuff for your fluff this winter!

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