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Thursday, 23 February 2012

On the road with Toft Part 1: Knitting and Craft Events 2012- the insiders guide to the best and worst places to stock up on yarn

Now by all accounts the Toft travelling circus got a bit too big for its boots in 2011. In total we clocked in at over 30 events in the UK and Europe including Scotland, Paris and Dublin. Now don't get us wrong- all these events were good for business- meeting new customers, making sales and converting people to the Toft way of knitting! some of you may well have noticed it was often the same face hawking the wares across the country- and come Christmas 2011 that face was done smiling!

So, a new year and a new game plan to strategically pick out the very best of the events, and begin a one year on one off approach to some of the smaller ones. Here is our guide to where we'll be this year and a few words on some of gaps in our calendar that have opened up...

We have had a leisurely start to 2012 (by this point last year we already had three under the belt) with our first event coming in the hand spun yarny shape of Unravel in Farnham, Surrey this weekend.

Carrie will be taking the show on tour this time as she heads down to Farnham Maltings- a former resident of this town she's looking forward to catching up with some old friends in between customers. This is a really nice fibre and yarn event with all the independents there. Split across many rooms and floors it can be a bit disorientating, but you won't be disappointed by the quality and range of traders. It is probably more for the hardened knitter than the Newbie dipping their toes into crafty water.

Then March brings flashbacks of the 2011 schedule!

We will be down in Olympia 15th- 18th for Stitch and Craft. Now we know that some people have been disappointed by this show in previous years (the glitter/bead count out waging yarn by three to one) but this is now our forth year at the event and it promises to be better for knitters than ever before. The growth in the popularity of knitting has caused a total reshuffle at the event and there is now an entire knitting floor (and not in the dungeon as last year). It really does look promising on the yarn front so fingers crossed this could become a much better knitting event. Bring your own lunch in with you though as catering is hit and miss- and the coffee is pretty awful!

Meanwhile...we will also be exhibiting our SS collection 2012 on the catwalk at The British Alpaca Futurity at the NEC.

A new one for us this year is Sewing for Pleasure at the NEC 22nd- 25th March. We will do a review of the event afterwards to let you know. Feeling is there will be very little yarn there so perhaps one for the multi-crafter's calendar!

Then off to Wales 28th & 29th April and this time with alpacas in tow!! We tested Wonderwool Wales for the first time in 2011 and found the atmosphere lovely, met plenty of new customers and had a lovely weekend away with the dog. This year we will have two dogs and two alpacas (cozy in the tent). There is an emphasis on remembering where your yarn comes from and this is highlighted by all the livestock. Here you will again find plenty of independent suppliers and makers that you can't get at the bigger city events. Well worth a visit if you fancy an excuse to stay overnight in a picturesque part of Wales.
May- tumble weed. Unless I am mistaken May seems to be lovely and clear at the moment!

In June we're heading North up to Woolfest again in Cumbria. Again last year was our first experience of this event and it left us crumpled in a heap. A casual day's trading this ain't! Despite awful weather in 2011 this place was rammed with every manner of fibre and yarn product. This is a very busy show and with that comes queues for catering and loos. We had a great show and are very pleased to be going back this year. It was great to meet so many Scottish customers who had come down to the event. Again a great excuse for a weekend in the lakes.

And that takes through half of 2012. A further review of the end of the year, including all the Knitting and Stitching events, coming up in a couple of weeks.

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