With festival season upon us –  Indie Untangled, NY Sheep + Wool, Vogue Knitting Live NYC, and Stitches West are all happening in the next four months – there is much to look forward to: the camaraderie, the friends, the classes, and the fiber fest souvenirs. Of it all, nothing compares to the loot you’ll come home with. We’re talking yarn, notions, and projects purchased from the many vendors that make up a festival’s marketplace.

Some festival-goers approach a marketplace with a strategic buying prowess. They go in know exactly what they need and keep their eye on the prize (or in most cases, prizes). But for most of us, we go in blindly with a plan to buy some special souvenirs. While a seemingly innocent plan, it can quickly backfire and result in too many bags of yarn.

If you’re looking to issue some marketplace restraint, yet leave with some memorable gifts for you and/or your knitting group, here are some tips to being a smart fiber fest souvenir shopper:

1. Buy mini skeins

Mini skeins are a common offering at fiber festivals and they allow you to purchase a variety of yarn without being a burden to your yarn stash. Plus, they give you the opportunity to create a memorable finished object. Use them to create a pair of fiber fest scrappy socks, a scrappy top, or even a blanket that documents all of your fiber fest adventures.

2. Collect Pins

The enamel pin trend is here (we think to stay) and most vendors will have some available. Pick up limited edition festival themed pins and other fun options to put on your project bag or take home to friends.

3. Swap A Skein

Going to the festival with friends? One sure-fire way to ensure that a yarn purchase gets made into something memorable is to have everyone in your group buy one favorite skein of fingering weight yarn. Then, do a random drawing of yarn skeins. Everyone will leave with someone else’s skein and the promise to knit them a surprise, one-skein accessory knit by an agreed-upon date. A finished garment from someone you love is the best memory.

4. Learn a skill

There is no shortage of education at fiber festivals and learning a new skill is the souvenir that keeps on giving. Pack it into your knitting technique tool belt and then share it will your knitting group.

5. Shop Ahead of Time

We’ve noticed that many of the vendors popping up at festivals put their items on a pre-order sale ahead of the festival. Whether shopping for yourself or for friends, this pre-purchase option keeps you from spending too much time in the marketplace and becoming stressed. This will keep you from over buying and even lighten your load when you pack up to go home at the end of the fest.