Yarndale 2018 – my favourite yarny weekend!

Two weeks ago, I drove up to Skipton to help set up for the 6th annual Yarndale festival.  It was a gloriously sunny day for late September – I think someone at Yarndale has a magic weather wand as the weather has always been nicer than you might expect – and I sang at the top of my voice in the car all the way.

When I got there, the preparations were in full swing and the Yarndale Hub was abuzz with activity.  (All the activity is behind me, this was a rare moment when no one was walking past! 🙂 )

This years’s creative project was knitted and crocheted butterflies to raise funds and awareness for Pioneer Projects, a Yorkshire-based community arts and wellbeing charity, and the kaleidoscope of butterflies lived up to their name!

Lucy had arranged many of them onto boards …

labelling them to look like Victorian specimens (I much prefer these yarny butterflies to the dead ones that the Victorians displayed) and they looked wonderful!  The other butterflies were either sold or will flutter on to another charity project – you can read more about them over on Lucy’s blog here.

I love setting up day.  So many people, both volunteers and organisers, with the same aim of making the Auction Mart look fabulous for the coming visitors.  The Mart is filled with the sounds of chatting, laughing and echoes with other noises such as tables being delivered to pens ready for the exhibitors to set up their stands.

After I’d tracked Lucy down, we headed to the Knit n Natter lounge.  It looked quite different this year as the Auction Mart had refurbished the space and we had talked at length about how we were going to best use the space to fit ourselves and all of the Yarndale Sock Line socks in.  I actually think that it worked very well.  Lucy and Wool Warehouse, who sell Lucy’s blanket packs at Yarndale, had the bottom ring and I had a separate area on the upper floor.  The seating was much more comfortable with new padded benches and the whole area was much lighter and brighter.

I set my tables up with my socks – not nearly as elaborate as some of the stands that were at Yarndale but it was nice to have the extra space this year.

Next, we headed outside to put the mandalas up in the trees.  There wasn’t as much yarn bombing outside this year due to a bereavement within the yarn bombing group, but it was lovely to see the knitted canal again this year.  Every year I can see something new in it!

I think hanging the mandalas up is one of my favourite parts of setting up.  It reminds me of putting up Christmas decorations; I recognise the colours of the mandalas and always look to spot my favourite.  We’ve got a system going now and although there are more mandalas every year, we soon have them up and swinging between the trees.

I think one of the reasons that I enjoy setting up day so much is that I’ve always been fascinated by “behind the scenes” views of things.  If you take a look at Lucy’s blog post, you can probably spot the photo that she was taking!

Back inside, the exhibitors had started arriving and the hullaballoo in the Auction Mart had increased.  This is the 4th year that I’ve been involved with Yarndale (4 years of the Yarndale Sock Line, isn’t that incredible?) and it’s lovely to see people that I recognise; I am very proud to be part of this friendly, yarny community and thankful every day that I am.

More behind the scenes moments …

Once Lucy and I have set up our Knit n Natter Lounge area, it’s very quiet in there.  It’s lovely to take a moment to sit and watch the sun and the shadows through the new windows that have been built into the walls …

I’m going to write another post all about this year’s Yarndale Sock Line when I’ve got the socks on their way to their new homes, but for now here’s quick peek at some of the socks.  It might look quite different to previous years’ displays and even I was mistaken into thinking that there didn’t seem to be as many socks this year – but if I tell you that there are 150 pairs on this rail alone, I think you’ll agree that people have once again been super-generous with their time and their talents.  I’m looking forward to telling you more soon!

Setting up day just zooms past.  I popped out to check into my hotel as the sun was setting, reminding me of how fast the time flies past.

By the time I got back to the Auction Mart, it was growing dark.

The majority of the exhibitors had arrived and we were just waiting for those who had been delayed.  Motorway travel at the weekend is often not fun!  The security team had arrived for their night shift and wanted to see how the Hub looked without the main lights on.  Fairy lights were strung between the rows of bunting and it looked magical … (perhaps more so in real life than my photo!)

On Saturday morning, I was up bright and early –  not quite early enough to catch Lucy who was putting up the rest of the yarn bombing in the park – but early enough to catch the Auction Mart in a few quiet moments.

Outside, the queues were forming even before 9.00am …

and inside, Yarndale was waking up.  I managed a few photos as I passed by the stands – I never see everything despite thinking that surely I must do as I get to spend longer at Yarndale than most people.  In fact, I think I see less and every year I see photos on social media and in blog posts and think “how did I miss that?!”

This bag was very popular! 🙂

This is Violet.  She knew exactly where to sit to get the most attention – and she loved it!  I think we’d both have been quite happy for me to sit there all day stroking her nose!

The workshops start early – this one was in full swing before the doors opened.  I went to a hand dyeing workshop the very first year of Yarndale and even bought myself some dyes and undyed yarn to try it out at home, but it’s all still sitting in the bag.  I decided I could create enough mess on my own without adding dyes into the mix.  I may get round to it one day 🙂

Don’t Lucy’s blankets look fabulous set out around the railings?  I think they look wonderful displayed like that rather than folded up on a table as they were previously.  This new space is ideal for showing them off!

This was my view for the weekend.  I felt like I should have a whistle like a lifeguard so that I could toot at people when it got a bit busy, but perhaps fortunately for everyone, I didn’t have one 🙂

I took a few photos during the day …

What I haven’t shown you is how busy I was.  Oh wow, the number of people who came to say hello, to show me their socks, check out their socks on the Yarndale Sock Line and buy copies of my book was just amazing!  Thank you so much to everyone who came up to find me in my lofty space, I absolutely loved talking to you all!

I am thrilled to think that my sock tutorials have been so helpful to so many people, and I really love to know the stories behind why someone has started to knit socks.  It’s such a personal thing on many levels; from getting the right fit to being able to gift them to someone special, there are as many reasons to knit them as there are stars in the sky and I never ever get tired of talking or hearing about them.

Did you notice my banner this year?

Lucy crocheted an Attic24 one earlier this year (you can see part of it in the right of the photo above) and I felt that I couldn’t let the side down.  However, this was Thursday afternoon before I left for Yarndale on the Friday morning …

I have no idea how I managed to get from that squiggle to what I took to Yarndale but someone must have been smiling down on me, or perhaps taken pity once they’d stopped laughing at my efforts to create curly writing out of icord.  Anyway, after an inordinately long time and some words that I will not repeat here, it was done and I was super-proud of it!

If I thought that setting up day went fast, it seemed that only minutes later Yarndale was over for another year and the stands were being dismantled at an amazing speed.

Every time I went out to the car park, there were fewer and fewer vans and cars as exhibitors packed away what remained of their stock and headed home.

Inside the Auction Mart, the behind the scenes work continued.  Tables and chairs are collected, rubbish is cleared and the pens are swept of any debris that could be mistaken for food by the livestock that will be back in there on the Monday morning.  The bunting that decorates the Yarndale Hub and areas of the Mart is taken down and carefully packed away for next year.  The Yarndale team will spend the rest of the week storing decorations and unsold merchandise; nothing at all can be left in the Auction Mart and all the yarn bombing has to be removed over the next few days too.  The amount of work that goes into preparing and clearing up after the show is phenomenal, and I am full of admiration for the small team that do it all.

The sun had gone again by the time I was ready to head home.  It had been a wonderfully busy, happy, chatty, yarny weekend and I can’t wait to do it all again next year.

Oh, before I finish this extremely long post, I must show you the treats I’ve brought home with me – some bought, some gifted, thank you very much – I feel very spoilt!

Clockwise from the top left I have Bendigo Woollen Mills yarn in my favourite colours with a matching mug (featuring a Superb fairy-wren – what a marvellous name for a bird!) brought all the way from Australia by Lenore and Nola; The Second Drawer Down by Verity from Truly Hooked – I do feel an affinity with Verity as we have both self-published sock books around the same time; this time around it’s clear that confidence around pattern writing has grown for both of us, and I wish her lots of success with her book; a project bag from Carol in Australia, specially made to sit flat on a table or knees – genius idea!; a Yarndale project bag (no, you can never have too many projects bags); shortbread and a Scottish phrases tea towel which has amused me enormously and the shortbread is no more than crumbs now; hand-dyed sock yarn mini skeins and some Scottish tablet (a bit like fudge but sweeter and soooo good) from Cookston Crafts and above that a crocheted heart made by Helen, a Harris Tweed DPN holder from The Fabulous Mr G (I never thought I needed one of these until I got one as I use a short circular needle – but for those times when I’m mid-heel on DPNs and don’t want to risk losing stitches when I have to stop knitting, this is as fabulous as the shop it came from!); Milburn 4ply from Eden Cottage Yarns (this is the same yarn I knitted my Beatrice socks from and I wanted some more to make an everyday pair of socks for me 🙂 ); blue Preseli sock yarn from Garthenor and last but not least, a Keep Yarn on Our Streets pin badge from Yarn Etc.

If you’re thinking of coming to Yarndale next year (the dates are Saturday 28 September and Sunday 29 September 2019), it’s best to get organised early.  You may have heard that a cycle race has been organised which clashes with Yarndale and this is quite right, but the Yarndale organisers are going to be meeting with council staff to work out the best way to look after visitors and ensure a smooth journey to the Auction Mart.  There is still accommodation available in Skipton and the surrounding areas (despite rumours to the contrary) but it’s always wise to plan ahead and not leave any bookings till the last minute.  You can keep up to date with what’s going on at Yarndale on their Facebook page and through the website.

Hope to see you there next year!

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12 Responses

  1. Ruth says:

    Christine, a real delight to read your account of the weekend. Thank you for taking the time to share it with us.

  2. happy hooker says:

    What a lot of work you all put in. It all looks fabulous. Wasn't able to come this year due to family commitments, but next year – fingers crossed! I'd better start saving up, so much yummy stuff which I really, really need!

  3. daydream in colour says:

    What an incredibly bustling and busy few days for you but it looks like a wonderful time was had my all. Congratulations to all of the organisers for another successful year and I think your banner looks lovely. Well done you for getting it done in time! xx Susan

  4. Julie says:

    Ive heard great reports about this years event …. Well done to all who make it such a great success and fun time for crafters.

  5. pippajb says:

    It was our first time but certainly not the last. Accommodation already booked for next year. We missed so much but next year we will know what to expect and plan our yarn assault accordingly. It was a fabulous adventure and every second enjoyed even the blisters and the backache !! A very grateful lover of all things handcrafted. You all need praise for all the hard work you have put in to accomplish such a spectacular show. Well done

  6. luluknitts says:

    My first Yarndale this year and it was amazing! Just can't wait for next year (but the bank account can….). I did pop in to your area once or twice but it was so busy that I thought I'd wait to see you next time you come to Woolaballoo. Your banner was great and big respect for getting it finished. Much love. x

  7. purpleivy says:

    Can you get Bendigo yarns in this country? My cousin (5th cousin, twice removed, long story) has just visited from Bendigo,where they live and they brought me a ball of Bendigo sock yarn!

  8. Unknown says:

    What a fantastic day it looked 🧡 ive only been crocheting 2 weeks.

  9. Judith says:

    Great to come to Yarndale – had a lovely weekend and lots of projects to work on! Lovely to pop in & meet you after reading your blog and following your sock patterns.

  10. Unknown says:

    Wow what an amazing two days you’ve shared with us,thank you .

  11. Rachel says:

    I've visited Yarndale a couple of times and had a blast, but I have to say how interesting it is to see a behind the scenes post. Thanks for sharing.

  12. selina says:

    thanx for sharing

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