There’s a thread on Ravelry which asks: have we reached a saturation point for fibre events in the UK?
Currently there are 6 events with dates confirmed in the UK and Fibre events group on Ravelry. I am having trouble finding a record, but it looks like there was double that in 2014. Correction! @TravelKnitter lists 22 events on her site! So more events are likely confirming plans and haven’t announced dates yet.
Shouldn’t this be a good thing?
On the one hand, the community has been craving access to more events, and local events. I’d love similar events in Ireland, and it seems there are plans-a-foot. I am jealous of people in England, Wales and Scotland who have such great options and not far away.
On the other hand, it puts a strain on the organizers and stall holders who need a certain SCALE to make it economical. Most of the events are labours of love, done with minimum budgets and lots of elbow grease and volunteer effort. The stall holders output an enormous expense. The booth rental being one part, but moving the inventory, set up, staffing, lost work time, etc. Holding an event is costly.
I think it was insightful on the thread that newer stall holders said it was great to see more events. It meant that they didn’t have to wait on loooong waiting lists to get into exclusive shows. It improved access to new vendors as well. It makes it more interesting then, for people to visit multiple events. Which hopefully people are doing!
I think the greater risks are for the brave souls who put on the events. So it’s bears some thought: could they be more mindful of when they schedule their events?
An equal share of the yarn cake
I went to my first two fibre events last year, in the UK. I was able to swing two events in a short space of time thanks to first of all planning to go to Fibre East, and then a work trip not long after which meant I could justify Unwind Brighton. So really I have nothing whatsoever to compare my experience too.
Both seemed to me, busy and chock full of great stalls. I found Fibre East a bit more absorbing since I’m interested in spinning and knitting. Also, I found the Unwind Brighton venue really too hot and stuffy. But what can you say? It was a hot summer. I saw very different stall holders at each. And there were many stall holders who didn’t even sell online so that was eye opening. There are many things you actually CAN’T get online. I would say it was very much worth going to the events. Given different circumstances though, would I have attended two in that short a time? No.
This blog post From the Millamia Blog sort of summed up some conversations I had heard people having:
“I wondered to myself on the way home if we are now experiencing too much of a good thing. It feels like the knitting/crafting community has been craving some really good quality shows for a good long time, and now we almost have a glut! Perhaps a shuffle of the calendar for 2015 will help to ensure that all the shows receive an equal share of the (yarn) cake.”
This would mean organizers could be more considerate of what is going on regionally, what has been established, and then try fit with that is happening in their community already. It could be their catchment areas overlap or are larger than they think.
Someone on the Ravelry thread mentions there were organizers struggling last year to get enough stall holders. This meant they couldn’t publish their market lists until later… which meant less time in promotion which put further challenges to a larger attendance.
It depends on the capacity within the population for fibre events. Everything will sort itself out in the market… but I hate to think of the individuals involved. I think the Fibre community has good will, enthusiasm and optimism. But this should be tempered somewhat before these creative souls get burnout and stop.
Otherwise, there’s a risk. It could be that a few large highly commercial events will dominate and we will miss out on the regionality of the current schedule of events.
However with people coming from all over Europe… are we thinking too small? The UK and Irish knitting and Fibre scene, and in turn the wool industry, is well organized.
I’m likely going to make it over to England for a show for sure this summer. And I hope to attend one in Ireland. Just waiting to see more schedules pop up!