Yarndale 2016 – from dawn till dusk

One of the things that I like best about being involved with Yarndale is the “outside” bits.  Not just physically outside the Auction Mart (and that certainly looked stunning this year with the yarnbombing – more about that in a minute), but everything that goes into pulling the festival together.  It feels like helping a performer into their costume, making sure that the clothes fit just right and the hair and make up are perfect before they step out into the glare of the footlights.

This year, Yarndale was the busiest that it had ever been and I’m sure you’ve seen lots and lots of photographs already of the beautiful yarns, clothes, accessories and animals that were on sale at this year’s festival.  It’s just as well, because the photos that I’m going to show you are from around the edges; from backstage as we set the scene, adjust the lighting and tune up the orchestra.  These are the outside edges of Yarndale that you don’t normally see, and I feel very privileged to be able to share them with you.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you … Yarndale, From Dawn till Dusk!

By the time I arrived at the Auction Mart on the Friday morning, there had already been a huge amount of work done.  I’m not just talking about the planning, the preparation, the writing of the brochures, photographing the calendars, liaising with printers and suppliers, making deliveries and collections and making sure that local transport, health and safety and security people are booked and ready.  This is the final part, the transformation of the Auction Mart into a yarnporium for the weekend.  The bunting is up in the main entrance hall, the tables have started to be delivered to the pens and the stands are ready to be decorated.


I always forget the sheer size of the Auction Mart until I arrive again.  It’s a huge place to fill with exhibitors and visitors, and it’s good that there’s always a floor plan available in the brochures so that you can work out exactly which stands you want to visit as it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

The exhibition hall, which becomes the Yarndale Hub, is always a-buzz with activity.  This year, the creative project was knitted and crocheted sheep which were to be sold to raise funds for local hospice, Martin House.  There are nearly 700 sheep on these bales, all ready to go to new forever homes in exchange for much-needed pennies to fund the work the hospice does with families with children with life-limiting conditions.


The sheep were so very popular that most of them were sold on the first day.  This was disappointing for many people who came on the Sunday wanting to see them, but as over £3,000 was raised for the hospice over the weekend then the aim of the event was realised and will hopefully be celebrated despite any disappointment.

Yarndale - sheep creative project

Yarndale - sheep creative project

Outside the Auction Mart, the sun was shining and the wind was blowing gustily.  Lucy and I had gone out to hang up the mandalas in the trees which proved to be quite a challenge with the wind blowing them out of our hands on a regular basis!

Yarndale mandalas

The Thirsk yarn bombers arrived with covers for the bollards surrounding the entrance – the detail and the time that has gone into knitting these is amazing!  My favourite is this one of a beehive – you almost expected it to buzz!

Yarndale yarn bombing

Yarndale yarn bombing

 Counting sheep …

Yarndale yarn bombing

Fishing in the local canal …

Yarndale yarn bombing

A Yorkshire farm …

Yarndale yarn bombing

Nora Batty with Compo, characters from the TV series Last of the Summer Wine, perhaps! 

Yarndale yarn bombing

No self-respecting yarn festival could be without Shaun the Sheep!

Yarndale yarn bombing

We did feel a little sorry for this lady as she was rather under-dressed for the time of year …

Yarndale yarn bombing

Yorkshire weather …

Yarndale yarn bombing

Rabbits!  They were popping in and out of this post in all directions!

Yarndale yarn bombing

And last but not least, a hat-full of flowers to brighten up anyone’s day.

Yarndale yarn bombing

This fabulous creation by another yarn bombing group represents the Leeds and Liverpool Canal which passes through Skipton.  The knitted canal is full of interesting textures and shape and lots of fish!  Visitors were welcome to walk on it as long as they took their shoes off – but unfortunately it rained overnight on Saturday so anyone who tried it the next day would get very soggy socks!

First impressions are always important, and as you approach the entrance past all of the yarn bombing, you can’t fail to know that you’re going to be seeing something special!

Yarndale yarn bombing

Back inside, the bunting was going up all over the Auction Mart.  This is blogger Kathryn from Crafternoon Treats who came to lend a hand and was certainly kept busy!

Yarndale - Kathryn from Crafternoon TreatsThe mandalas that were the creative project in 2014 are now permanently attached to boards so that they can be displayed every year.  This year, they were in the cafe area and it’s still fabulous to see them.  I think it’s similar to the pleasure that you get from unpacking Christmas ornaments every year; it’s a bit like greeting old friends.

Yarndale mandalas

The day passed in a bit of a blur of setting up, fetching and carrying.  I hung all the socks up on the Yarndale Sock Line and set up my table ready to talk to people about socks over the weekend.  I’m going to write a separate post about the Yarndale Sock Line which will I’ll be posting very soon.

The night before Yarndale starts is always quite a late night.  Some of the exhibitors have travelled hundreds of miles and for anything up to six or seven hours (the joys of our motorway network on a Friday!) – some have even travelled from abroad – and they are often still setting up in the hour or so before Yarndale opens on the Saturday morning.  We wait until the cut-off time when the security team come in to keep the building and the contents safe before heading off.  

Although it’s approaching the end of a long day, I do enjoy the time before we leave the Auction Mart for the evening.  There’s time to sit and chat and eat some dinner …  

and chance for a last look around before the flurry of activity the next morning.  There’s something about being in the building when it’s quiet and seeing the stands in the overhead light that makes you tingle with anticipation.  Everything is more or less ready.

Yarndale - Toft alpacas

The show is about to begin.


It’s another early start.  The sun’s just coming around the trees when I leave my hotel and go to meet Lucy who’s putting up the last of the yarn bombing in the park.  

Yarndale - Skipton

This isn’t a bad view for first thing in the morning, is it?

Yarndale - Skipton

And the neighbours aren’t too bad either!

Yarndale - Skipton

Up at the Auction Mart, Yarndale was waking up.  Exhibitors were uncovering their stands which, once set up, slept safely under sheets overnight so that nothing could disturb them.  



Here’s my little space …

Yarndale - Winwick Mum

with the sock display that small daughter and I made over the summer holidays.  We’re really quite proud of our efforts!

Yarndale - Winwick Mum

There was just time for a quick scoot around the stands before opening time – a chance to take a few photos and make a few purchases (which I’ll show you in another post).  I loved these animal heads.  

Yarndale - Sincerely Louise

I mean, seriously, who doesn’t need a unicorn head on their wall?

Yarndale - Sincerely Louise unicorn

No yarn festival post from me would be complete without a couple of sheep pictures and I would hate to disappoint anybody J.

These are Hebridean sheep at the Daughter of a Shepherd stand.  I do have a soft spot for Hebridean sheep now after their yarn worked so well for big daughter’s Peru socks and who could fail to be charmed by these little woolly wonders?

Yarndale - Daughter of a Shepherd Hebridean sheep

What a cheeky face!

Yarndale - Daughter of a Shepherd Hebridean sheep

I headed back to the Knit n Natter lounge.  Ten o’clock was approaching fast and we could see the queues building up outside.  The anticipation inside was tangible.


There was a brief quiet moment in the Knit n Natter lounge before the day started.  Lucy caught up on some social media work and I sat on the benches for a minute or two, breathing it all in.  The smell, the atmosphere, the excitement of the days to come …

Yarndale - Knit n natter lounge

And wow!  What a busy two days it was!  I never expected to talk socks with so many people, and it was amazing!  Thank you again if you came to say hello to me, it was great to put so many faces to names after conversations online and to help start people off on their sock obsessions adventures and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it.

We were even visited by a sheep!  I missed the big sheep last year so it was great to see them close up.

Yarndale - giant sheep puppets

All of a sudden, it seemed, it was Sunday evening.  Where had the time gone?  The Auction Mart was once again a hive of activity but this time all the exhibitors were heading out of the building – with far less stock than they brought in!  The Yarndale team are on a tight timescale on Sunday evening as there is usually an auction the next day so there’s a rush to get everywhere cleared out and cleaned up before the animals arrive.


And then there were just a few of us left.  The tables and chairs were being picked up by a tractor and trailer, the pens were being closed off again ready for the sheep the next day, and floors were being brushed and rubbish picked up so that it was safe for livestock to enter. 

Yarndale was over for another year.



The date is already set for next year – 23 and 24 September 2017.  Are you ready to do it all again?  I am! J


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19 Responses

  1. Beryl Ruane says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed that read Christine Thank You x

  2. Sarah Hardy says:

    Thanks for all the time and effort. It was a great show and I am already looking forward to next year! X

  3. Loraine McLean says:

    All looks fab, thanks for the insider view. I wasn't too far away, in Whitby, on a weekend break,but my husband wouldn't have appreciated walking around all the woolyness, he doesn't understand my yarn and knitting fetish . Maybe next year, sigh….

    • Winwick Mum says:

      I saw a few husbands there who didn't look like they were appreciating the woollyness, although they were doing a sterling job as pack horses 🙂 xx

  4. selina says:

    wow that does look busy!
    what a contrast from empty stalls to the exhibitors, looked amazing!
    thanx for sharing

    • Winwick Mum says:

      I love the way that it goes from empty to full to empty again in such a relatively short time; I guess the fact that Yarndale is only on for the weekend is what makes it special! xx

  5. Susan says:

    What a wonderful time you must have had it looks amaing congratulation on all your hard work you must be so proud i would love to have seen it but a bit far from Australia maybe one day.I really enjoyed reading your comments.

  6. Jo says:

    It must be exciting seeing the crowds start to line up outside waiting for opening time. I think it gets busier every year, a huge success. I'm definitely going to try the Sunday next year, it was just a tad too crowded for me on the Saturday this time. That sheep in your photo was so cute, wanting to be petted and wagging its tail.

  7. Christina says:

    Thanks for a lovely trip behind the scenes Christine. I really enjoyed seeing all your photos, and read about Yarndale, not being able to go myself, your post is the next best! x

  8. AnnieOBTextiles says:

    Goodness, it is astonishing how quickly the Auction Mart is transformed into festive yarniness and back again. A tribute to much hard work and organisation, congratulations to all involved. Thank you for the insight Christine, maybe I might make it next year.

  9. Angel Jem says:

    It's like a mythical land, the Brigadoon of Wool, appearing with the dew and disappearing with twilight's last gloaming….

    I could tell just by talking to you how much you were enjoying it! Well done to everybody who runs it and organises it! Here's to 2017!

  10. helenpollard says:

    Glad to see you had fun at Yarndale and love all these photos – the beehive is absolutely fantastic. I definitely would love a unicorn head on my wall too. 😉

  11. Bossymamma says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I wasn't able to go to Yarndale but you have certainly stirred my interest for next year.

  12. Mary Nolan says:

    lovely….someday I will make it over the pond for this wonderful yarny event!

  13. Unknown says:

    Lovely lovely blog post – yes the hours and hours of work and the long long days are hard, but it is always SO worth it when the joy and excitement arrives!!! The three days before Yarndale saw 20,000 sheep in those pens, and on the very day after Yarndale, the same pens were filled with cows, it really is astonishing to see the process

  14. Elsie Pop says:

    What a great post Christine, it all looks amazing! I've managed to accidentally book holidays for the last 2 yarndales – it's not happening next year! xx

  15. Susannah says:

    Christine, thank you for your wonderful recap of Yarndale! I feel like I was really there 😊

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