How to Support Our Fiber Community
Hi all. It’s been a rough couple of weeks, and we have a ways to go before we see the other end of this. With cancellations, flights shutting down, and store shelves empty, there’s a lot of stress and confusion, fear and sadness.
I am sitting here in my small Brooklyn apartment, looking at my giant teaching bag that has been packed and sitting in my hallway since I returned from my last teaching trip on March 3rd. Like most knitting teachers, spring is my busiest season. For me I’m on the road nearly every week from March to May, and spring is about 25% of my annual income. In fact, I travel so often that my spring ritual when I get home from one job is to unpack and repack. The bag never leaves the hallway. In the past week I’ve been removing class bags for one event that was canceled and putting in class bags for the next, and then that event got canceled . . . remove, replace, rinse, repeat. It’s almost like if I unpack and put the bag away, I’m giving up, giving in.
Everyone has their own version of this story. But through it all, with everything EVERYONE is going through, I’m still getting messages from people asking how they can help. That’s knitters for you.
Online Fiber Events – Let’s Lift Each Other Up!
If you click on the link below, you’ll find a page that is a work in progress. My hope for it is to keep a list of upcoming online events, pattern releases, web sales, video classes, KAL, etc., so you know what’s happening. Please check this often. I’m hoping to add A LOT to it in the upcoming weeks. Please spread the word to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with additions to the list.
Ravelry just put out a wonderful blog with suggestions, and here are mine.
Instagram has also been a huge source of info on ways to help. I try to share them regularly in my stories.
How You Can Help
1) Knitting Events
Why am I starting here you might ask? Aren’t big events put on by big companies? (Not really — more on that in a minute.)
Well, a lot of reasons. I was talking to a friend of mine the other day and she said, “I’m most worried about my friends in the event industry. We can figure out a different source of income, but they are really in trouble.” And knitting shows being in trouble means everyone in the industry is in trouble. For instance, without the knitting shows (and make no mistake, their existence is in danger) there is no place for the indie dyers and the knitting teachers to go!
The number one thing we can do to support this industry is to support events. The way to do that is to accept a credit for a future show rather than asking for a refund.
Here are two things about the industry that most folks don’t know:
SIZE — first and foremost, the “big” fiber events are not run by big companies. The two largest ones are both small, family-run companies, with literally a handful of people doing everything. They create a large front facing image, but behind the curtain, it’s small.
THE CHAIN — This is the big one. We all have a place in this very tenuous chain, and we all now need to help hold up our end of the chain or it will break.
If any part of the chain is broken, the knitting shows may not be able to come back.
- The organizer pays non-refundable fees to the convention center and hotel.
- The teacher (in some cases) charges a non-refundable deposit upon signing a contract.
- The student pays an event fee, and there is a cancelation policy.
When an emergency like this happens, we all need to give a little. This means, hopefully:
- The venue allows some or all of the deposit to transfer to another date.
- The teacher allows any payment deposit to transfer to another date.
- The student accepts a credit for a show at a later date.
I posted something on my Facebook page about the scene in “It’s a Wonderful Life” where there’s a run on the bank, and when people come to get their money, George Bailey explains that the money isn’t there.
Please, if everyone can be patient while the events figure things out, we will have events to return to when we see the other side of this.
The support people are giving to the vendors by shopping online to make up for lost income is just wonderful. For many teachers, teaching live is a large part of their income, so here’s how can you help:
- Many teachers are also designers. Is there a pattern you’d love to have? Many are running spring KALs.
- Some teachers also write books or have DVDs. Consider checking if that teacher sells their books directly from their website.
- Some teachers have Patreon pages or are setting up a subscription for content. Some have pattern clubs.
3) Local Yarn Store (LYS)
- See if they are still open. Many are doing mail order, or even curbside delivery.
- If your LYS has canceled a class, please consider taking store credit.
- Finally, if your LYS has decided it’s not safe for them to stay open, and they are asking for help, please give if you can. Knitty City here in NYC has decided it must close. Pearl has given so much to the community, and she is going to continue to pay her staff for as long as she can, with no income coming in. She has a gofundme page.
4) Small Fiber and Craft Companies
The cancelation of knitting events has hit teachers and event organizers hard, but it has also hit the vendors. They budget for, and create goods based on, the projected sales for these shows.
- Find out if that company sells direct.
- Go to their website to see if your LYS carries their goods.
- Look for virtual shopping events and trunk shows. There will be a lot of these in the future.
This will not be easy. This will not be over soon. But if we all stick together, lift up each other, we can all look forward to days of sitting around a project table at our LYS, going to a cafe for a knitting meet-up, attending a guild meeting, going to a knitting show.
And until that can happen —
Wash your hands, don’t touch your face, and knit on.