January 30, 2007


Scott took some time off from work on Wednesday afternoon in order to install the shelving and racks in my booth at the Madrona Fiber Arts Retreat. I loaded up my small SUV with yarn and met him at the Tacoma Sheraton where the retreat would be held. When I got there, I could not have been more delighted to see that Sheila and Michael Ernst were my next-door booth neighbors.

Scott and I had sketched out the floor plan for my booth at home, and had gone so far as to set up the shelves (but not the racks) in a mock layout. But I'll confess that the standard 8' by 10' booth size was much larger in my imagination than it turned out to be in real life. And we were not prepared for the disproportionately huge table (provided by the hotel as part of the booth). Although my visions of having a lovely traffic flow as customers would move around a small table and into the booth were never completely realized, I think that the booth was still pretty darned good looking for a first effort:


After spending a couple of hours with me setting up the shelving and racks, Scott left me to filling up the shelves with yarn. One carload of yarn filled only about one-third of the shelving that afternoon, and I made a second trip back to pack more yarn and then to the market site to fill another third of the shelving. On the drive, I was thinking how my booth looked like a lemonstade stand . . . not that I'd ever had a lemonade stand as a kid, but I was feeling like what I imagined a kid would feel, making up her pitcher of lemonade and thinking about who might come along to buy a cup of it.

Another confession: Throughout Wednesday afternoon and evening as I was traipsing back and forth between my car in the parking lot and my booth space, every time I crossed the threshold to the room where we vendors were setting up, I always felt that heady excitement about being in a huge room surrounded by yarn!

There was so much to do to set up, but at 7:30 Wednesday evening when I gave myself the most amazingly wicked cut while opening a box of books from Unicorn and began bleeding all over the box (but fortunately not on the merchandise), I decided that my body was telling me it was time to go home. It was time to regroup, and finish setting up the next morning.

At home, Scott wanted to know what he could do to help with the last-minute packing. I'd bought a cash box, and asked him to please unwrap it from its packaging and fill it with some bills and coins so that I'd be able to make change the next day. So he was standing at the kitchen counter, using a steak knife to pare off the labeling from the cash box, and began chuckling. "Honey, this says -- 'good for garage sales and lemonade stands'," said he. "If the yarn store gig doesn't work out, you can open a lemonade stand!" And y'know, that was just the perfect echo of what I'd been thinking about earlier in the day.

Thursday morning when I arrived at the hotel I was shocked to see the line of people -- potential customers! -- lined up at the market doors, waiting to get in and shop. Although I've been a regular (as a student and market customer) at the retreat since 1998, I've never been aware that people lined up waiting for the doors to open! And I was so not ready. That last third of my shelving was still bare, waiting for me to bring in even more yarn, needles weren't yet hung on their racks, my computer wasn't yet hooked up -- egads. (There was at least one other vendor besides me who was completing her set-up at the very last minute, but at that point my booth looked far more chaotic than hers.)

I would especially like to thank Norma who helped to see me through that morning, the roughest period. Norma had a few minutes before her class started, and even more importantly, Norma has years of experience selling at art fairs. She went with me and a cart to my car, which again was filled to the ceiling with yarns and etcetera. Faced with all of the jumble of stuff and the time pressure, I would have made multiple trips back and forth, but Norma was able to sense the big picture. She said, "We can put this bin here, and that one will fit on top of it, and this box will ride along right here, won't it?" She piled the cart higher than my head, but got most everything that was important. Overloaded as it was, I couldn't see over the top of the stuff to steer the cart; overloaded as it was, the cart wanted to travel the slope of least resistance down the parking lot and away from the doors -- but eventually we made it inside. Then Norma did a beautiful job of arranging Kidsilk yarns on the shelves in an artistic way before she dashed off to class. Norma also was kind enough to help me out in my booth over her lunch hour. (And she even gifted me with a beautiful drop spindle -- she is much too kind!)

Special thanks also to Joy, who feng shui'd my booth by bringing me a vase of white, red, and pink tulips.

MFARetreat 012.jpg

(After the retreat was over, I looked up which corner of the bagua she had put the tulips in -- the corner for relationships. Perhaps we should have put them in the corner that's auspicious for money.) And I'm grateful also for help in minding the store from Lizabeth and Anne, and to Anne for trusting me with the loan of sweaters to display. (Check out Anne's blog for more photos!) Big hugs and kisses to Scott, too, for all his support -- couldn't have done it without him.

In contrast to the hours upon hours -- days! -- it took to set up my booth, Scott, Lizabeth and I managed to haul it all away in a mere 45 minutes. And as he was wheeling out the last set of cubes on a hand truck, Scott declared, in all sincerity, that having a booth at the Madrona retreat was fun.

And it was fun -- especially for the opportunity to see friends (Vanessa, Denise, Sam, Sheila and Michael, Lizbeth, Ryan and TMK, Janine, Devorah, Naomi, Kathleen, Betts, Pat, and I know I'm forgetting others of you) and to meet in person people who've bought from me through my website (Karen H., Gail, and others) and to meet all the other people who came by who share my appreciation for traditional knitting. Can't wait 'til next year!

Posted by Karen at January 30, 2007 01:32 PM

karen, the booth was lovely. especially the rainbow of shetland color :-)

Posted by: vanessa at January 30, 2007 04:13 PM

I loved your booth. Honestly it did not remind me of any lemonade stand I've ever seen!! The feeling I got was it was so calm and serene despite how busy and crazy the marketplace was. Y'all did an awesome job at displaying the yarn. I know it was a lot of work!

Posted by: Naomi at February 1, 2007 06:31 AM

I wasn't there but from the pictures your booth looked amazing. I can't imagine the work that went into it. I wish I had been there to see the beauty of all that yarn!

Posted by: Jewel at February 1, 2007 08:14 AM

What a pleasure it was to be your neighbor!! Your booth looked like you had done this 1,000 times!! It was a beauty! AND..Seeing your lovely smile each day gave me such joy!
Can't wait until our next venture together!

Posted by: Sheila E at February 1, 2007 11:01 AM

Goldfish would be perfect in the money corner, or a jade plant. Something in yellow, gold, jewels, ... oh! Put the most luxurious yarn there, to bring in luxury. Or a beautiful bowl of oranges or lemons - there's the lemonade again!

Posted by: terri at February 2, 2007 12:50 PM

Terri, your suggestions cracked me up! I thought red was supposed to attract money (and so I use a red wallet, based on something I read in a book on feng shui) . . . but *why not* goldfish, or lemons?! (Actually, Joy showed up with the red tulips all on her own accord, as a "booth-warming" present -- but I *did* think that the red would be auspicious.)

I'm going to take classes at the Blue Mountain Feng Shui school, and if I find out anything more on this topic, will let everyone know.

Posted by: Karen at February 4, 2007 09:12 AM