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How to Shop Smart at a Fiber Festival

How to Shop Smart at a Fiber Festival

The energy at a fiber festival is second to none. No matter if you're in a hotel ball room or an outdoor tent, the excitement from the crowds of knitters and crocheters is palpable. They are there for the camaraderie, to discover the latest and greatest, or to take a class from a designer elite. But moreover they are there for a greater purpose: to buy all of the yarn.

If you have ever been to a fiber festival you know that when it comes to the market place, there is an undercurrent of FOMO - you know, the 'fear of missing out'. Whether it's an exclusive colorway or a limited edition project kit, it's easy to get swept away in the "must have" pandemonium. If you're not careful, you can quickly blow your budget on items that will take permanent residence in your stash.

Having been to too many festivals to count, I'm here with tips on how to shop smart at a fiber fest. I'll give you tips on how to buy with a purpose, ensuring that you arrive home with tools and supplies in line with your budget and will actually be used.

How to Shop Smart at a Fiber Festival

1. Take inventory of your supplies before you go. 

Grab a notebook and write down your current WIPs, projects on-deck, and some notes about the yarn you have. Count the number of single, fingering weight skeins you have, how many sweater-quantities of yarn you've stored away, and how many mini skeins that are still sitting pretty on your shelf. Bonus points if you include pictures in your notebook.

Refer back to these pages as you debate on purchasing this project or that skein. You may not need to add another speckled single skein to the 23 you already have at home. Instead, you might need to pick up a semi-tonal as a complement to your stash. 


2. Go with a working list of projects you want to make. 

It is much easier to find yarn for a project rather than find a project for yarn. Walk into the festival marketplace with a list of projects (and their supply lists!) you want to make. This will ensure that you buy exactly what you need for the project. Nothing worse than not buying the wrong weight of yarn or not enough of what you need. 


3. Do your vendor research.  

Visit the fiber fest's website a week or two before the show to get a preview of its vendors. Make a list of who you want to see, prioritizing the vendors you don't have in-person access to at home (no need to rush a booth if you can get that yarn at your LYS). 

Once you have the list of vendors, search their Instagram profiles to see if they are sharing behind the scenes snaps of their fest prep. Typically, they'll preview any show exclusives or special kits on Instagram ahead of time. This will ensure that you visit these booths early and get exactly what you want. 


4. Consider a yarn's purpose before you buy. 

If you find a yarn that you can't live without but don't already have a project picked out, take the time to consider what that yarn is best suited for. Fingering weight yarn is typically socks or a shawl, while worsted weight is typically a sweater or hat. Buy an appropriate amount of yarn for the project it's more suited for. Otherwise, that single skein of worsted weight yarn may never get used.


5. Bring your own needles or hook. 

The desire to instantly cast on a project during the festival weekend is real! In our experience, vendors at fiber festivals don't have needles for sale. And if they do, they're typically expensive, interchangable sets. If you're buying for a specific project, bring the needles the pattern calls for so you'll be prepared. Better yet, bring your own interchangable set so you'll be ready for any project you pick up. 


6. Be wary of mini skeins. 

Adorable mini skeins (and mini skein sets!) are plentiful at festivals. They naturally have a lower price point, making them super attractive purchases. You can scratch the shopping itch at a fraction of the price! But remember, you're also getting a fraction of the yardage. 

If you're tempted to buy a mini skein, consider how many you have at home: do you have a bunch sitting unused from your holiday advent? Will this be your only one? Consider if you'll use it or if it will find its forever home in your stash. Sometimes buying the full skein is more advantageous. 


Top 3 Most Memorable Fiber Fest Souvenirs


7. Carry a notebook and pen. 

Your instinct will be to snap a cellphone picture of every beautiful thing you want to cast on or cast on with. However, without the name of the project or the designer, a picture is no good. 

Keep a notebook and pen with you and write down the projects you see and love, making sure to take note which yarn was used. You can still snap a picture, but your written info will allow you to pull up a picture from Ravelry and jog your memory in no time. 

Pro tip: find a yarn, pattern, or designer that you love? Take notes and share with your LYS owner. They may just want to add it to their store offerings!


 8. You do not have to keep up with the Jones'

It's easy to assume your friend's enthusiasm over a skein of yarn and scoop one up for yourself. Or agree to a knit along with a pattern you both spied and fell in love with. You don't have to buy it just because your friend did. You have our permission to say no.


9. Take regular inventory of what you're buying. 

When you take a break from festing - whether it's in the hotel at the end of a day or during a stop for lunch - pull out what you have purchased. It's easy to ignore the amount you have bought when it's stuffed inside a shopping bag. Arrange your purchases by projects or by yarn weight. Perhaps you'll notice you purchased too many sweater projects and should spend the next day looking for sock yarn. 

Pro tip: don't forget that you have to carry everything you buy back home with you. Consider how it will fit in your bags!



Knitters and crocheters are so fortunate to have a robust festival circuit and the opportunity to connect personally with brands. The success of a festival should not be dependent on how much money you spend. Instead, focusing on the enhancement of your stash and shopping smart is where you will find the most benefit. 


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