It’s craft show tip time! It’s been almost two years since I last went to a craft show, and I’m beyond excited to be heading to Wonderwool Wales tomorrow. Because of living in relative isolation in Devon from September 2015, then moving to Bristol and getting back into the world of full time work, I haven’t been able to attend any for ages. I’ve missed my regular forays into the fibre world. This post may come a little late, but here are my top ten tips for visiting Wonderwool Wales. They do require a bit of preparation beforehand, hence why the post may be slightly late!
Ten Tips for Wonderwool Wales
Tip One: Research the vendors a little before you go
There are loads of them (219 this year!), and some are super popular. If you don’t know who is going, check out the exhibitor list and read up on those that you like the sound of. Once you’ve done this, don’t exclude the others. Part of the joy of craft shows is discovering new people you’ve never heard of before, or thought you had no interest in! I only started needle-felting because I discovered someone new at a craft show…
Tip Two: Print a floor plan and get acquainted with the rough layout of the show
You can get a printed plan when you get your ticket, but a bit of preparation goes a long way. I’d recommend downloading and printing these before you go and acquainting yourself with them! The show is spread out over three halls and there’s a lot to see and do. There will be loads of people, plenty of fibre and even some animals to coo over. Making sure you know where you’re going is a great way to ensure you’ve taken everything in.
Tip Three: Do a first sweep
If there’s a vendor who has something in particular you’re desperate to get your hands on, head over to them first, buy whatever it is you’re absolutely dying to get your hands on. Once you’ve bought whatever you are burning to purchase, walk around the halls. If you’ve got your most desired purchase out the way, you won’t be distracted by looking for that. You’ll be able to absorb the atmosphere, figure out what is out there, and make a note of what you want to go back to. This helps prevent a lot of spur of the moment purchases as well. I have in the past bought a sack of fibre, then walked two stalls down and seen a better sack for a better price in a better colour that I would have preferred.
Tip Four: Prepare to do a lot of walking
With your first sweep, walking back to stalls to buy what you’ve spotted, visiting the loo and getting food, you won’t find it hard to hit your 10,000 steps. Comfy shoes are a must.
Tip Five: Dress warm
The show takes place at the Royal Welsh Showground, and the halls Wonderwool is held in are usually used for livestock at agricultural shows. They are ‘inside’ but they’re really outbuildings. There’s no artificial heating, and even with all the walking, if you stop for a spot of lunch it can get quite chilly. With all the hand knits you’re going to want to show off, this shouldn’t be a problem!
Tip Six: Take lots of water
There’s limited access to drinking water and you don’t want to keep wandering back to the food vendors to buy a beverage. You’ll need to make sure you stay hydrated, especially with all that heavy fibre to weigh you down after spending a few pounds! If you bring your own water bottle you will be able to refill it.
Tip Seven: Take cash, and plenty of it. But, set a budget!
There are two parts to this – the first being that this is an agricultural setting and I’m not sure if there’s an ATM available. If there is, the chances of it having enough money to last the weekend are slim. Some vendors do accept card, but don’t bank on it!
The second part relates to budgeting. If you say you’re only going to take cash and you take £100, you will only be able to spend £100. Likewise with £20 – or £200! Even if you do plan to spend on your card, it’s useful to set a budget. I once walked away with an unbudgeted Ashford Knitter’s Loom that set me back £300. It affected my savings goals for months! Was it worth it? Probably not.
Tip Eight: Make sure you’ve got a small crafty project with you
With all the walking, you’re going to want to make sure you sit down and rest your feet for a little while. You’ll feel inspired by all the fibre, and the people crafting around you – there’s no better time to work on something.
Tip Nine: Decide what you’re going to eat
The food at the show can be expensive and you may want to bring a packed lunch or snacks. Even if you buy your main meal there, you may want to graze throughout the day, and it can take away from your precious yarn budget. I take plenty of packed lunch, and normally buy a scotch egg (or three). The packed lunch can be eaten as a packed dinner on the way home if you don’t get to it otherwise!
Tip Ten: Take a shopping list
If you’re just going to browse and don’t have any fixed idea of what you want to buy, you’re in the best place! If you have a list of things you want, however, it’s better to write them down and make it accessible. It’s very easy to forget what you’re there for in the heat of the moment. You don’t want to leave and halfway home realise you’ve forgotten to buy that skein of yarn for your next shawl project.
That’s it for my top tips. Most importantly of all, enjoy yourself! Look at as much as you can, especially some of the exhibitions the vendors and the show put on. I’ve seen some incredible things, especially some of the more incredible felt pieces!
Official exhibitions this year include a knitted map of Llandysul, a Llareggub Village in felt, and displays and period costumes brought together to mark the centenary of the First World War.
I’m going to leave it at that – I hope everyone has a wonderful time, and see you there!