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Craft Shows, Just for Fun, Knitting

Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival: 2014

Last weekend (March 14 – 16th), I attended the 10th annual Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival in Cranberry, PA. I’d heard of the festival before, but was never in town to attend. The festival attracted over 70 different booths and some big name teachers. I talked to the coordinator, Barb, and she said there were well over 3,000 attendees. Not too shabby for a knitting festival!

Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival

From my perspective, the festival was largely geared towards knitters, but I didn’t mind – it seems to be the preferred craft among fiber artists (don’t worry, crochet, you’ll always be my first love). I’d say about 90% of the classes offered were knitting; only a few were crochet. Vendors also offered knitting patterns and had knitted samples of sweaters, blankets and accessories, but only a few crochet items.

I purchased a two day pass for Friday and Sunday and zipped up to the festival after work on Friday to check things out. I got there for the last two hours and spent the time looking at vendor booths and talking with other crafters.

Neutral Yarn

On Sunday, however, the real fun began.

I’d purposefully signed up for “Borderline Personalities: Knitting on the Edge” for the sole reason that it was taught by my all-time crochet hero, Lily Chin. While Lily is a master crocheter, she’s probably better known for her skills with knitting needles. Meeting her was a DREAM COME TRUE. She’s a feisty 5-foot tall woman who doesn’t take crap from anyone. She kept the class moving, called out students who were knitting the wrong thing, yet was personable and talked with me at the end.

An exclusive, inside look at what a knitting class looks like (I know you’ve wondered).

Lily doing what Lily does best - teachin' knittin' class.
Lily doing what Lily does best – teachin’ knittin’ class.

The class was 3 hours long and the best $50 I’ve spent in a while.

Lily Chin and Me. I know, RIGHT?! Lily the crochet master Chin.
Selfie with Lily Chin. I know, RIGHT?! Lily ‘the crochet master’ Chin.

I didn’t end up purchasing anything at the festival (I’m on a yarn sanction), though I did pick up a mannequin bust for $55. I envision using it to 1. display scarves rather than begging my roommate to model and 2. taking it to craft shows as part of my display.

The other notable part of the weekend was getting to see two Olympic sweaters from Sochi. One of the few things I love more than the Olympics is knitting, so to see both combined in the sweaters for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies was a dream come true. (I hope my true excitement is coming through – If not, maybe this picture will convey my love for the games.)


 Opening & Closing Ceremony Knit Sweaters from the 2014 Sochi Olympics

Opening & Closing Ceremony Knit Sweaters from the 2014 Sochi Olympics

Overall, great weekend, even though I didn’t spend much time at the festival. Next year, I’d like to go with other people who knit/crochet because you can only walk around a large hall filled with yarn so many times by yourself before you look creepy. If you get the chance and are in town for next year’s Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Fest, definitely make it a priority to go!

Craft Shows

Delmont Apple ‘n Arts Festival – Craft Show this Weekend (Oct 5th & 6th)

Currently, I’m crocheting. Well not right at this moment since I’m typing, but stitches will resume once this post is finished. If you’re a fellow crafter, you see the signs. The blowing off of friends, refusing to make plans, the few hours of sleep for the week before.


craft show season

noun \ˈkraft\ˈshō\sē-zən\ : an activity that involves making something in a skillful way by using your hands and selling to folks from the comfort of a 10 x 10 canopy tent. Rain and inclement weather is sometimes possible, but highly likely.

I’ve been doing craft shows for the past 9 or so years (maybe 10, but who can keep track). Ever since I was 14, I’ve frequented the fair grounds of the hand-made. During JJCrochet’s prime (high school and a little into college), I was churning out hats and was able to attend 4-5 fairs a year, but since working full time and developing a social life, I’ve resigned to attending one fair.

People jamming out to live music at the Delmont Apple ‘n Arts Festival.

It’s one of my favorite shows of the year since it takes place in my hometown of Delmont, PA: The Delmont Apple ‘n Arts Festival. After moving back to Pittsburgh, I was also invited to be on the Board of Directors and manage the website for the show (I’m not lying – my picture’s on the site… that I made: I keep the site up-to-date with fair info, highlight participating artisans, and attend monthly committee meetings. I’ve been planning this show for the past couple months and it’s been so neat being on the “inside” of things.

If you’re in Westmoreland County or in the Pittsburgh are this weekend, stop by the festival. They have fresh pressed apple cider, over 150 crafters, food vendors, and live entertainment that attracts over 50,000 people a year. Once again, that was FRESH PRESSED APPLE CIDER.

This year, the Delmont Apple ‘n Arts Festival is on Saturday, October 5th (10am – 6pm) and Sunday, October 6th (11am – 5pm). It’s the only show I’m doing this year and your only chancee to pick up a hand-crocheted original by JJCrochet. If you’re in the area – stop by and say hello!

For up-to-date details, check out the Delmont Apple ‘n Arts Festival Facebook Page.

The antique apple press from 1907 makes hundreds of gallons of fresh-pressed apple cider


Craft Shows

Craft Show Quotes

I was looking through some old pictures when I found these images.  They’re pics of my booth from a very muddy, very wet craft show last fall (as evidenced by the smudges on the glass). Seeing these again made me chuckle so I thought I’d share.  I remember making these quotes the night before the show and thinking that I was just soooo funny.

I don’t know about that, ha, but maybe you’ll enjoy them too.  Would these quotes have inspired you to buy a hat?

JJCrochet Crochet Hats

JJCrochet Crochet Hats

JJCrochet Crochet Hats

Craft Shows

Craft Show Season Has Arrived.

I worked 8 hours.  I drove 3 hours.  I tagged hats.  And now it’s time for a craft show!

Tomorrow, I’ll be at Delmont Apple ‘n Arts Festival from 10am – 6pm and then on Sunday, October 2nd from 11am – 5pm.  Even though it’s supposed to rain and be cold, we’re looking forward to a great weekend.  Stop by if you’re in the area!

This is the nitty-gritty side of craft shows – the pre-night calm before the storm.  Here’s what my family room currently looks like.

134 crocheted hats ready for their debut into society tomorrow.  I think they’re ready.

crochet hats

getting ready for a craft fair

It’s crazy to see a whole year’s worth of work laid out… and I’d still like to have about 100 hats more.  Oh well, until JJCrochet expands and hires another employee, this is all my work and I’m proud of it.  Graduating from college, moving to a new city, starting a new job, and working 40 hours a week while managing a business.  It’s a crochet business, but still – show a girl some love! 🙂

crochet hat

crochet hats

Craft Shows

How to Rock a Craft Show: The Art of Personality Mirroring

Why You Should Care About Mirroring

Craft shows are a big deal to the average crafter.  It’s a brief chance to share our designs with the world.  After 6 years of doing craft shows, I know I have about 3 minutes from the time a customer sees my products until they make a purchase.  In a normal sales cycle, a 3 minute closing time is insane!

When you only have a few critical seconds to make a first impression (and ultimately a sale), what do you do?

In the same way you aren’t friends with everyone you meet, you won’t instantly “click” with all your customers.  Because of this, your motto at craft shows should be: “Don’t be yourself”.

Let me explain.  I’m not telling you to hide your true self, I’m just suggesting you show people the you they want to see.  The you they can relate to.

At any given show, you’re going to interact with hundreds of different people from different walks of life with different personalities.  Key word: different.  Differences are great – they’re what make us human – but at craft shows, your goal should be to eliminate as many differences between you and your customers as you can.

This technique of meeting someone where they are is what I called personality mirroring.  It’s a surefire way to rock a craft show. If you’re not familiar with this concept, start taking notes because it’s important.

Personality mirroring, as the name suggests, is when you act in a similar manner to your customers in order to form instant rapport.  It’s being a mirror of their personality.

Example of Personality Mirroring

To illustrate this point, let’s use an example.  Suppose Laura is an outgoing crafter who is loud, creative, and proud of her work.  She prefers to engage with customers as soon as they come in her booth.  She feels like it’s her duty to share the story of how she creates each of her pieces.

Hannah is her potential customer.  She’s introverted and uncomfortable in large crowds.  When she sees Laura’s booth, she timidly enters and doesn’t make eye contact as she begins to look at the products, hands clasped tightly behind her back.

What should Laura do?

Shouting out a loud, “Hi!  How are you?  Is there anything I can help you with?  Who are you looking to buy for?  Are you enjoying the show?  I love the weather we’re having!” will have Hannah running out of her booth faster than she could say, “psycho crazy-crafter woman”.  Do you see how Laura’s approach doesn’t match Hannah’s personality?

Instead, Laura should have noticed Hannah’s body language when she first came into the booth.  The eyes down, the hands clasped behind her back.  Clearly, Hannah is an introvert who doesn’t want to be bothered while shopping.  Upon identifying Hannah’s more reserved personality, Laura should have instead offered a smile and a small, “Hello,” to acknowledge Hannah without making her feel harassed.

Becoming a Mirror-er

Take a few seconds when you first see a customer and size them up.  Do they have a loud or quiet personality?  Do they want to browse or chat?  Do they look like they want to talk to you?

Now, let’s flip the tables. It’s just as bad if you’re a quiet-crafter and don’t know what to do when you encounter an outgoing customer.

Maybe you’re a sensitive crafter who’s not your typical people-person.  You create, you craft, and think people should appreciate that.  A group of women come into your booth.  They’re laughing and joking and having a good time.

They strike up a conversation: “You made these?!  Incredible!  I love them!”

Your response:  “Thanks,” and go back to folding your bags.

WRONG!  WRONG! WRONG!  Can’t you just hear the excitement of the ladies?  They want to know more – tell them!

A better response: “Yes, I did.  Thank you! I learned to crochet when I was 8 and love playing around with different yarn and styles.  It’s just so fun! Which hats do you like?”

By matching their up-beat personality, you’ve opened up the dialogue and are one step closer to making a sale.

Trying it!

Sounds simple, right, but most people don’t do it.  I’ve seen crafters lose out on big sales because they weren’t comfortable interacting with a particular type of customer.  It’s time to hide your quiet self or tone down the volume when you’re a seller and play the “everyone’s my friend” game.

If personality mirroring sounds too intimidating to try at a craft fair, practice on some friends.  Don’t get along with your loud coworker?  Try being equally as loud and watch the chemistry.  If you have a softer-talking friend, instead of shouting at them, the next time you call them use a slow, calm voice.  Matching someone’s personality doesn’t just work at craft shows.  Adjusting how you interact with people makes them feel more at ease.  People love themselves and are comfortable talking, interacting, and being around people who are most like them.

If you can mirror a customer’s personality to the point where you make her feel like she’s talking with herself then congratulations, you’ve mastered the art of personality mirroring and are on your way to mastering craft shows!  Use this simple trick and watch the results that follow.

Have you ever used personality mirroring?  What were your experiences – both positive and negative?

Craft Shows, Uncategorized

Hand-Spun Merino Yarn

Read the title of this post.  I’ll give you 3 guesses as to what I bought at an Arts Festival this weekend.  If you guessed a skein of hand-spun merino yarn, you’re right!  Woo!

Hand-spun Merino Wool Yarn

My mom and I spent this hot Saturday afternoon browsing at a local Arts Festival.  It was a pleasant few hours and certainly nice to be on the other side of the booths for a change.

One of the tents caught my attention:  It was a booth with hand-spun yarn!  Although the yarn was lovely, the lady working the booth was not.  She was a little distracted and not very helpful, but I thought the yarn was worth it despite her poor customer service.  See pictures below, I hope you’ll agree.

Hand-spun Merino Wool Yarn

I ended up purchasing 104 yards (1.4oz) of hand-spun, hand-dyed Merino wool yarn.  Yum.  It was a special treat (from myself to myself).  I think it’ll be just enough yarn to make a hat.

Hand-spun Merino Wool Yarn

Hand-spun Merino Wool Yarn

One of these days, I’d love to learn how to spin.  I have some roving I purchased a while ago, but never got around to learning how to do it.  Anyone know how to spin and want to team me? I’ll make you a haaaat. 🙂

Hand-spun Merino Wool Yarn

Craft Shows, Projects

The Advent of “Craft Show Season”

Every year without fail, Craft Show Season arrives.  These few weeks in September and October are affectionately known as “CSS”.

“Want to go shopping this weekend?” my friends will ask innocently.

“No, sorry… it’s CSS.”  I respond.  They shrug knowingly, sometimes followed by a head nod or affirming pat on the back.

Anyone who’s not a crafter might glaze over the gravity of CSS and how it shapes your life.  I have an upcoming show this weekend, Harmony Grange Festival, and it will mark the opening of my 3-week CSS.  I’ve been prepping for months: crocheting hats to have a decent inventory, screwing dowel rods into bases to make hat stands, painting wooden letters to fashion a sign, saving $1 and $5 bills for months so I have change for big spenders.

You can’t underestimate the power of CSS; those unprepared will not survive.

Especially in college, CSS is an interesting time of year.  I have done two-day shows where I’ll get 3 hours of sleep because I chose to stay up and crochet more hats.  I have driven 50 minutes in the wrong direction before realizing it and arrived late to shows.  I have endured 35 degree weather with nothing but the shelter of a blue EZ-up tent to protect me from the ranging winds.  I have done homework in McDonald’s restaurants.  I have tried to sell warm crochet hats to people eating snow-cones in August.  It has rained, it has been warm.  I have worked 28 hours and driven 6 hours in one weekend.  During CSS, I’ve done it all.

That being said, I wouldn’t trade CSS for anything.

I love it.  Absolutely love it. The people, the selling, the relationships, the experiences.  Some people remember my booth from previous years and when I hear, “Ohhh – there’s the hat lady!”  it makes all those sleepless nights worth it. I’m like the dependable friend who shows up each year.

Three craft shows in Western Pennsylvania will culminate my 2010 CSS:

If you’re in the area, stop by and see my new booth setup or ever better, pick up your very own JJCrochet hand-crocheted hat!    And please, if I look tired, don’t tell me.

For those who can totally relate to CSS, here’re two good articles to make your CSS seamless:

All the Best and Happy Craft Show Season!