Behind the scenes at Yarndale 2015 – part 1

Have you ever wondered just what goes into putting the Yarndale festival together?  For the last two years, I was a visitor to Yarndale and by the time I got into the Auction Mart it looked as if the exhibitors belonged there.  The pens were full of beautiful coloured yarns, alpacas, yarn bowls, rare breed sheep, buttons, angora rabbits, knitting needles, felt kits and pictures, crochet hooks, spinning wheels … you name it and it was probably there, displayed enticingly and calling out to your purse as you went past.

This year, I was really lucky.  I was able to be part of the Yarndale volunteer team and saw the Auction Mart change from – well, from an Auction Mart to a hugely popular yarn festival and back again over a weekend.  I took lots of photos.  Would you like to see?

Lucy’s post on her Yarndale experience this year tells you about the background preparation that’s involved in getting ready for Yarndale, so really the work in setting up the Auction Mart is the culmination of twelve months of hard work.  It all began for me on the Friday morning when I dropped small daughter off at school and drove up to Skipton.  The Yarndale team had been working in the Auction Mart for a few days already and it had been cleaned out and was ready to become Yarndale’s home for the weekend.  By the time I got there at 11am, work was in full swing.

It was quite strange to see the Mart so empty.  It smelled of sheep (which I actually quite liked, I felt that it gave the place an authentic “from sheep to needles” feel to it) and it echoed with the bangs and clankings of tables being set up, chairs being moved, and laughter and voices as the serious job of decorating the Mart began.

First stop for me – the Knit n Natter Lounge.  I was going to be sharing the space with Lucy who would have her blankets and cushions to show, and I would have the Yarndale Sock Line and be holding a Sock Clinic in case anyone had any socky questions.  It’s surprising how big the Knit n Natter Lounge looks when it’s empty.

Lucy’s tables were all ready to be set out …

and here was mine.  Suddenly, the big bag of Sock Line socks didn’t look so big after all.  However, after setting to work, I was pleasantly surprised by just how far the socks stretched out – you can read about this year’s Yarndale Sock Line here.

Back out where the rest of the pens were, it still looked very empty.

So much space to fill!

I went to lend a hand with the bunting which was being strung up across the walkway, the seating areas and in other places around the Mart.  There’s over a kilometre of bunting which is used to decorate Yarndale.  It all has to get tied up – and it all has to get taken down again afterwards.

The mandalas, which was last year’s creative project, were already in place.  They were being displayed on huge boards in the cafe area so that people could get up close to see the detail of each mandala.  Not all of them were at Yarndale, some of them were being displayed elsewhere, but they still made a stunning sight.

This year’s creative project was the Flowers for Memories project in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society. It’s hard to describe the impact of these thousands and thousands of flowers as you walked into the entrance hall – there were just so many of them in so many shapes and sizes.  The project has caused a huge emotional response and is set to raised a great deal of money for charity – you can read more about it here.

After lunch, things suddenly seemed to step up a gear.  The exhibitors started to arrive, first just one or two …

and then suddenly it was as if the floodgates had opened.  If it had been noisy before, it was nothing compared to what was happening now!  There was hustle and bustle, people greeting each other and chatting, and the sound of numerous trollies and trucks rattling across the concrete floors.

Each exhibitor was on a mission to get their stand set up as quickly as possible and then get away for an early night – many had driven for hours to get to Skipton and in Friday traffic as well.  The Auction Mart started to fill up with a different type of stock in the pens.

Back in the Knit n Natter Lounge, things were taking shape nicely.  The socks were up on their Lines and the rest of the decorations were in place.  Lucy put the finishing touches to her display …

and then we headed outside to put the bunting up in the trees by the entrance door before it got too dark to see.  Lucy and I soon realised that neither of us were tall enough so we called in the cavalry!

By the time we got back inside, most of the exhibitors had set up and gone.  The Mart was the quietest it had been all day, the stands all tucked up for the night.

Did it feel eerie?  No, I wouldn’t say that it did.  It felt calm, and each of the pens were full of things that would make people very happy over the next couple of days.  It felt more like Christmas Eve when all the preparations are done and you’re waiting for the morning.  There was now a sense of excitement in the air.

The Hub was all ready to welcome visitors the next morning and there was nothing more to do but wait for the last few exhibitors who had been delayed on the roads.  Can you see the stacks of Yarndale bags behind the tables on the left?  There were considerably fewer of those on Sunday night!

Whilst we were waiting, I got to take part in another essential Yarndale preparation – boy, were those fish and chips good!  (They were from Bizzie Lizzie‘s in case anyone’s travelling to Skipton and needs to eat chips – definitely worth a visit!)  I don’t think any of us had eaten much during the day and it was now after 9pm.  They didn’t last very long at all!

A short while later, it was time to close the Auction Mart up for the night.  The next two days were going to be long and busy and I’ve got more photos of the weekend – come back again and look at them with me!

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15 Responses

  1. Run Home To Crochet says:

    How fabulous to be involved in such a great event. Lucky you and I look forward to part two xx Joy xx

  2. Sharon - creativity and family says:

    Thanks for giving us such a great peep behind the scenes, what a transformation!!

    • Winwick Mum says:

      You're right, it was such a transformation and it seemed to take place in such a short space of time! xx

  3. Unknown says:

    wow! it's lovely to see behind the scenes of somewhere I've dreamed about going to, lack of funds prevented me this year, but I'm going to save up for next year 🙂
    well done on working so hard to help bring it all together 🙂 xx

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Ooh, you'll love it if you can go next year, and yes, saving up is a good idea! There's nothing better than guilt-free yarn shopping because you've got a budget! 🙂 xx

  4. linda says:

    Thank you sharing this with us Christine it must have lovely to be a part of the setting up process, I bet you were all shattered by the end of the day, those fish and chips look good. 🙂 xx

    • Winwick Mum says:

      The fish and chips were just the best, Linda! It was brilliant to be part of it, it was just a fab weekend and I loved it all! xx

  5. Amy at love made my home says:

    It was fantastic to see a bit of the behind the scenes with you! Looks as though it was a very busy day for you! xx

    • Winwick Mum says:

      We didn't stop, Amy, and I was very aware that I was just coming in at the end of the process – it's a huge job! xx

  6. Anonymous says:

    It's fascinating to see the transformation! Thank you for taking all those pictures and sharing them. We had fish and chips (actually, I had mine with salad and coleslaw which was A: delicious and B: meant I had room for jam roly poly!) at Bizzie Lizzie's. DELICIOUS!

  7. Lilly's Mom says:

    Wow Christine, these photos are amazing showing the transformation that took place to make Yarndale. How I wish I was there….It's a huge venture compared to my lodge's Scandinavian Heritage Festival which took place last weekend. I had a knitting demonstration booth there and it was a fun event. I hope all is well with you and your family. Sending you hugs, Pat xx

    • Winwick Mum says:

      I think there's always a huge amount of work that goes into these events no matter what size the venue and I hope your knitting demonstration went well, Pat! xx

  8. Jo says:

    It's such a well organised event, it's obvious how much planning and work beforehand goes in to it. It must have been quite exciting to be a part of it, especially at the end of the day when everything was set up and just waiting for morning to arrive.

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