Recently I had the opportunity to attend TNNA in San Diego. For those of you unfamiliar with it – TNNA stands for The National NeedleArts Association and it is an international trade organization representing the manufacturers, retailers, designers, teachers, and distributors of all things related to the fiber arts. TNNA hosts at least 2 trade shows a year where the people who make yarn and tools come to show the new lines to the people who sell yarn and tools. It can be loads of fun and in years past has been pretty exciting as well. I think my first TNNA show was in 2003 – during the knitting explosion and there was lots of new yarn and tools and so many people you could barely move in the aisles.
Each year since – there have still been new yarns, books, tools and companies and yet there has also been lower and lower attendance as the knitting market has slowed and some shops have closed. This year I heard from many that expectations were low but that sales had generally exceeded expectations. This is one of the few shows I go to each year where I get to be a shopper. This year was a bit different for me because I volunteered to help in the Wild Fibers/ Keep the Fleece booth. So I shopped less and talked more and got a slightly different vantage point than I sometimes do. What I saw that excited me most were the conversations and networking happening between fiber people at all levels. In some ways the slower pace seemed to allow and facilitate folks figuring out ways to work together to get thru the hard economic times we are facing. People met in the aisles and joined up to plan joint projects and ventures that usually there is not time for. I had the opportunity to talk to so many people about Keep the Fleece and the International Year of Natural Fibers. We generated lots of excitement and support for raising awareness about natural fibers. I will be writing more about Keep the Fleece events as information is available.
But I said I was going to talk about new tools…….. and I am. In my humble opinion – part of Spinning (or knitting or weaving/felting crocheting) for Peace is having tools that make things easier. (It helps if those tools are also beautiful!) Clara Parks reviewed the Knit Kit in Knitters Review and it is a fab find – it will be available in March at Carolina Homespun and hopefully at a LYS near you as well. I found 3 other great tools I think are also worthy of notice.
My personal favorite is a tool called Wanda. Why this you ask – well there is some history here. It is a long history that involves Jen Heverly (Spirit Trail Fiberworks) and Shelia January (letstalkstash) and the Golden Gate Fiber Institute and Myra Wood and a whole host of characters. But the short version is Susan Bates makes this marvelous little tool they call a replacement tool (it works with their French Knitter aka spool knitter). This is a most divine fiber artists tool about 3-4 inches in length, it has a crochet hook at one end and a knitting needle at the other and you can use it for almost anything. A must have tool. Fits in any bag and is always there when you need to catch a dropped stitch, pick up stitches or weave in an end. It doubles as a cable needle – once everyone has one I think we should have a what have you done with your Wanda contest. The Susan Bates version is metal and the new Lacis version will be available in 3 sizes and you can get it in Rosewood or Bone. TheBone should be out some time next week, soon to be followed by the rosewood.
Another tool I am very fond of is also from Lacis. It is called an In-Line Yarn Roller and it is the perfect portable ball winder. It winds the ball side ways, has a moving thread guide and is small enough to stick in your bag and take anywhere. All the gears are inside so you don’t have to worry about yarn getting stuck in the gears.
The third new tool is the new interchangeable needle set from HiyaHiya. There are now many interchangeable needle sets on the market and each has something to recommend it. The HiyaHiya set is actually 2 sets – the small set is sizes 2-8 and the large set is sizes 9-15. Each comes with 4 cables – 16”, 24”, 32” and 40”. An optional cable set is available that includes the cable to make a 60” circular. What I loved about these needles besides the absolutely fabulous brocade carry case is the fact that the needles screw tight and seamless and the cable swivels! The needles are a bit short but working with them was very easy. I can hardly wait until they get here in April.
One of the things I love about what I do – is finding new tools. Sometimes I even get to nudge them along or help in their creation – like the rosewood Wanda. I hope you will enjoy these as much as I do