Ah, Yarndale. The glorious September weekend when Skipton cattle mart transforms into a colour-filled festival joyfully celebrating all things yarn-related. To be honest, I’d decided not to go this year. After all, I’ve visited the three previous years, it’s a bit of a drive and I have enough yarn and crafting supplies already to last several lifetimes.
In the weeks running up, I enjoyed the build-up on the Yarndale website and Facebook page, especially seeing the contributions sent in for this year’s community projects, including ‘Creative Hearts’, that is raising money and awareness for the mental health charity Mind. It’s always fun to try to spot your own in the display and the fact that I have posted a photo will give you a clue that I was indeed at Yarndale 2017. Here’s how it happened…..
One week to go and the exhibitor list gets posted. Intending a quick browse, before I know it, I’ve systematically visited every exhibitor’s website, filled a couple of pages in my notebook, printed a floor plan highlighting my route around the stalls and made copious notes about products I never knew I needed. I’ve got my Mum on the phone, kidding myself that it’s for her benefit I’m taking her out for the day. Shameful I know. I’m so weak, and so not sorry.
Maybe we arrived just at the wrong time (10am, just as the doors opened), but getting in took longer this year, especially with the understandable introduction of bag checks. However, the external areas are yarnbombed, so there’s plenty to look at, there’s banter in the queue as the excitement and anticipation builds and thankfully it wasn’t raining! Considering the scale of the event, the organisers do a fantastic job and the £8 advance entry fee is very reasonable. A comprehensive colour guidebook with simple knitting and crochet patterns is included in the price. Admittedly it sounds sad but my route planning worked a treat for a one-day visit. Through previous trips, I know Saturday is the busier day and how easy it is to get distracted and find the show is closing before you know it and you’ve missed something you really wanted to see.
Here come some of my 2017 highlights and purchases….
I’m working on a modern needlepoint project at the moment so was keen to see Hannah Bass and admire her bright graphic designs. Her city map cushions would make a lovely meaningful gift for someone special. She tells me more cities are on the way. Though tempted by Amsterdam, I’m holding out for my Liverpool hometown that is in the pipeline for 2018.
Many of the stalls are a riot of colour but I was drawn to the simple, clean display of knitting and crochet kits in limited palettes by Made Naturally . I found the prices very reasonable and bought the geometric Morocco cushion pattern. When I got home, I realised it’s knitted using the mosaic technique in the round (don’t know how to do that – yet) on circular needles (don’t like them as I do the one needle tucked under my arm thing). Oh well, I should get on better with my crochet dizzy lampshade kit. Subscriptions are available should you want to experiment with different techniques and have a new project every month.
The Crochet Project was on my list to visit. Generally, I prefer to make items for the home, but I will cross the line into wearables for beautiful accessories. Particularly as they are a good way to use up those irresistible single skeins bought at previous Yarndales for no particular reason other than being gorgeous. At first, I thought the patterns to be a little expensive, but actually I was mistaken. I bought ‘The Shawl Project: Book 1’ which appears more booklet than book but, it includes 6 shawl patterns and has a whole section of notes on shawl design if you want to have a go yourself. The text is quite small, for my eyesight anyway, but the book comes with a code to download a digital copy so I can print it up bigger if needs be. Their website and blog impressed me too with good clear tutorials.
Last year I bought some beautiful greetings cards for my creative friends from Beyond Measure. I remember their beautifully crafted tools and notions and was on a mission to buy this leather wrist ruler. Also now on my wish list is a Japanese screw punch tool and some turquoise Ernest Wright embroidery scissors.
Every time I’ve been to Yarndale, I’ve been to the Injabulo stall. I’ve so wanted one of the Bolga market baskets. Well I’ve either not been able to decide which one or not had the funds, but this year my Mum offered to buy me one for Christmas! Following much pondering, considering the various sizes, shapes and colours, I decided this was the perfect one for me.
I really do love it and it made an excellent receptacle for our purchases for the rest of the day until it was packed away till December. The baskets are Fairtrade and woven by women in Northern Ghana from straw known as elephant grass.
Every year I buy a little something from Janet Browne. I can’t share what it is this time as it’s a present! She is one of my favourite exhibitors. I just love her charming Yorkshire/folk art inspired designs stitched in bright clear colours. I think next year it may be a bigger something I treat myself too.
Occasionally I like to make stuff for no reason, other than it makes me smile. I have a few of Sue Stratford’s books already and I’ve found her latest irresistible too. I’m well aware I’m a grown woman but will you just look how adorable!
Felting appeared to be as popular as ever with numerous stalls dedicated to it. Needle-felted creatures especially, though the quality is quite variable I think. If the features are not quite right, it spoils all that effort (and bloodshed in my case). Two who always get it spot on in my opinion are Jenny Barnett and Heartfelt Dogs (below).
The trend for mahoosive textiles also continues. My 25mm knitting needles seem quite puny compared to what’s out there now. Or you might not even bother with needles and just use your arms. What though when you need to answer a knock on the door? And how do you keep those monster-sized throws clean?
I spotted macramé a few times which I haven’t seen in previous years. The next big thing?
Some exhibitors work I was just there to admire. Sock knitting, Fair Isle and brioche are techniques I love to see but not to do! Marie Wallin’s colourwork is just exquisite.
I was delighted to chat with Ann Kingstone about the Yorkshire Knitting Tour she has planned for next year. Already fully booked by international visitors, I’ll be looking forward to following her blog. Here are a couple of her lovely designs.
One of the major advantages of buying in person of course is to see, feel and compare all that yarn. I practically had to be peeled off the cashmere at the Yarntelier and Cashmered stands. My wonderful Mum also offered to knit me a scarf for Christmas. One ball projects make luxury yarn affordable, though I did fall in love with this 9-ball shawl! It’s crocheted in dragon stitch so I think the thing to do would be to practise with a cheaper alternative then save up!
We stayed from start to finish and there’s so much more I could tell you about over a cup of Yorkshire tea in my new mug. Next year, I’m not even going to pretend I don’t need to go to Yarndale. I do!