It was a wild and blustery Friday morning at the end of September that I set off from Winwick to drive to Skipton for the seventh annual Yarndale festival. Seven years of Yarndale, can you believe that? And I’ve been involved for five of those years with the Yarndale Sock Line – it’s been fabulous!
The last six years have been beautiful Autumn weekends, the leaves just turning from green to shades of brown, orange and red, but this year the leaves were blowing off the trees before they could even change colour and the rain was coming in sideways … we were all keeping our fingers crossed for some last-minute sunshine!
|There’s a certain irony about the sign above these sheep but we won’t mention that 🙂|
It’s become a tradition now for me to meet Lucy at Coopers Cafe Bar where she’s been at the Friday morning knit n natter session (always a busy session with so many visitors able to drop in to knit and chat) and then we head on up to the Auction Mart, where the preparations for Yarndale have been in full swing for a couple of days. Here’s the bunting in the Hub going up …
and if you look at the photo above, you’ll see there’s a blank yellow wall on the left. Not long after this photo was taken, there was something else there …
Teddies! Oh so many teddies! (Over 2,000 of them by the end of the weekend, I think!) They were this year’s Creative Project and would all be going to the Mercy Ships charity – each one of those teddies will be given to a child who will be having medical treatment on the ship so that they have a friend to cuddle at what will feel like a very scary time. It’s been a hugely popular project this year.
By the time I arrive, the pens inside the mart look like this. They’ve been cleaned out and labelled, ready for the exhibitors to arrive later in the day.
Oh, I love those first moments inside the main section – the sheepy smell, the metallic clanking of gates being positioned, the echoing voices from all around; there’s something about the anticipation that gets me every time. And do you notice the sunshine coming in through the skylights? That’s precious sunshine, because there really wasn’t very much more of it!
Inside the Knit n Natter lounge, it was all ready for Lucy and I to start decorating. She has the bottom ring and I set myself up on the higher section where the photo is taken from. I really think that I should have a lifeguard’s whistle and perhaps some kind of klaxon horn so that I can supervise from my lofty perch over the weekend, but instead I just wave to Lucy from time to time whenever I can spot her between visitors 😀
The Yarndale Sock Line is one of the first things to go up, and what a joy it is to be able to peg all of the socks on the washing line! I had a big new sign this year so that it was easier for people to see what the socks were all about – I forget that not everyone who visits Yarndale reads my blog and knows about the socks, and every year people will ask me if they can buy them – and I was very pleased to see how well it fitted as it had seemed enormously huge when it was on my kitchen table!
I won’t show you all of the sock pictures as I’m going to be writing a separate post about the Yarndale Sock Line later on, but I can’t resist showing you this one! Don’t all those socks look wonderful?
This is just one section of them and it looks smaller as I’ve taken a panoramic photo – the socks curved right around the knit n natter lounge and made a gorgeous woolly backdrop for people sitting on the benches.
There are a few more in this photo, and that space to the left was quite deliberate as I knew there were more pairs coming over the weekend.
The exhibitors started setting up from 2pm and it’s a hive of activity as they start to build their stands. The sound of echoing voices grows louder as people greet each other and start to make the empty pens their own space for the weekend, and is joined by the sound of trolley wheels over the rough floors, tables and chairs being moved around and general building noises – there’s more involved than you might think in converting the pens to a store front!
My own space is pretty functional as I’m not there as an official exhibitor but to run the Sock Clinic for people who are stuck with their knitting, to admire socks on feet and in project bags and chat to people about getting started on their own sock adventures and, of course, the Sock Line.
I took my Super Socks books and Winwick Mum badges, and this year I was able to take the Winwick Mum yarns too, but part of the pleasure for me is being able to point people in the direction of other exhibitors who might sell exactly the right piece of kit that they might need to get started, and with so many exhibitors at Yarndale (over 200 this year), it’s very easy to do that!
I’d just finished setting my tables up when there was a brief break in the rain so Lucy and I hurried outside to hang the mandalas in the trees outside the mart entrance. They’re a lovely colourful greeting for visitors and are always much admired.
Lucy and I have got our mandala-stringing technique down to a fine art now which was just as well with more rain clouds gathering!
And look! A blogger in the wild photographing a mandala for a post … 😀
It’s surprising how quickly the time goes. I took a quick break to check into my accommodation and this was the view – it was looking a bit gloomy!
Moments later, I spotted this rainbow and a few moments after the picture was taken, it was very clear double rainbow which I hoped was a portent of a great weekend!
I always love being in the Auction Mart on the Friday as the evening draws on. Once the Knit n Natter lounge is set up then I have a spare pair of hands to offer if anything needs doing and I can always find some sheep to chat to …
|Don’t they look smart in their jackets?|
In the Knit n Natter lounge, it was all calm and quiet. Everything was set up and ready for the morning (and yes, there was a blanket missing from Lucy’s display, she’d left that one at home by mistake but it would be coming later).
Back in the Hub, I joined the Yarndale team of organisers and other volunteers whilst we waited for the last few exhibitors to arrive and ate fish and chips (the best bit!), and then headed home. It was going to be a long couple of days and an early night was definitely in order!
On Saturday morning, I was back at the Auction Mart bright and early. I usually go out with Lucy to put up the last of the bunting in the park but she only had a couple of things left to do so we agreed to meet at the Mart instead.
The volunteer team for the day had gathered in the Hub and were having their briefing. You might have noticed the people in green t-shirts over the weekend, and every one of them had given up their time to help out at Yarndale to try to make sure that visitors have the best experience that they can.
Exhibitors are usually in the Mart bright and early too, finishing off their setting up before the doors open at 10am.
It’s a good opportunity for me to take a quick look around, although every year without fail I manage to miss stands and when I see pictures on social media later, I wonder if I was even at the same festival as everyone else! 😀
The rainbow colours of yarn skeins are always a pleasure to see, and aren’t they tempting? I always want them all, not just one or two out of the colours!
There were stands of felted pictures which are always so very beautiful and so cleverly made …
|Little Gem Felts|
The Joe’s Toes stand was right outside the Knit n Natter lounge this year and I love seeing Amanda’s felted slippers. I don’t wear slippers (or baffies, as they’re called in our house 😀) very much any more as I’m often outside so tend to wear a pair of very battered and chewed (thanks, dog!) Croc-type shoes these days but these always look so lovely.
There are tiny ones too! They always make me wish (just for a moment) that my girls still had feet small enough to wear them – but only for a moment!
Once the doors open at 10am, Lucy and I know it won’t be long before people make their way to the Knit n Natter lounge. This is the quietest time of the day (apart from just before the show closes) …
it gets busier …
I am always delighted to see people who make their way up to my elevated space to show me their socks or ask questions – I truly am very happy talking about socks all day! I’m just sorry that I don’t get to speak to everyone, but I do try my best!
This year’s Yarndale was definitely disrupted by the weather, which was a real shame, and there was a cycle race on the Sunday which also caused some disruption but not as much as was originally anticipated. It meant there was a slower start on Sunday – which was also a good thing for me as I got another chance to look around!
Every year, I admire the Toft animals and promise myself that one day I’ll make one, and I’m still waiting for that day 😀 The problem now is that there are so many to choose from that I wouldn’t know which one to start with … so I’ll just make more socks!
There were more animals at Sincerely Louise. Every time I see her stand there are more heads!
I’ve never seen anything like these before. These ornaments are made from acorns!
|Karamel & Co|
My lovely friend Kate at Northern Yarn had brought along her own yarns this year rather than the entire stock of her shop which might not sound like anything out of the ordinary, but Northern Yarn has only been trading for a short time so to have as many yarns sourced from local sheep as she does is amazing!
I spotted blankets …
|Gwennol Hand Knits|
and spinning equipment …
Sheep on a rack …
|Chester Wool Co|
and a sheep peeping out from underneath an alpaca in a pen … apparently they’re great friends and like to snuggle up together. This was the Hart Farm for Children stand and these animals are therapy animals who help children coping with bereavement, illness and disability.
There was no missing this huge felted head (I did wonder how the lady in the stand opposite had felt about being in his view all day, but she said he wasn’t making eye contact so it was OK) …
or these bright sock knitting accessories …
I didn’t make many purchases at Yarndale this year but I did buy some self-striping hand-dyed yarn from The Yarn Badger. I’ve been told that it’s not at all easy to create stripes in hand-dyed yarns but that’s Liz’s speciality and I’m looking forward to trying the yarn out! (I’ll show you a photo of it in a bit)
The clock hands ticked around and suddenly it was all over and the show was closed.
Trollies clanked back into the Auction Mart, vans were backed up to the doors and all of the wonderful produce on the stands began to be packed away.
It always feels a little strange to see the setting up process being reversed, and it happens pretty quickly too as everyone wants to get on the road before it’s too late in the day, and also the Auction Mart staff are waiting to put the pens back together ready for use the next morning.
I always stay to help clear up; I actually quite like the “minesweeping” of the pens to make sure that there’s nothing left behind that a cow or a sheep might mistake for food, or might get stuck in a hoof (although I’m not so keen on having to pick up half-eaten sandwiches or soggy tea bags!).
Within a couple of hours, it’s as if Yarndale has never been there – but it will be back next year, and I can’t wait!
Here’s my very modest “haul” from Yarndale this year. I bought another Yarndale project bag, and I was given that very cute Robin one by Sarah (thank you!) to match the WYS Robin yarn that I’ve been knitting. The ball of The Yarn Badger self-striping yarn is in the middle – the shade is Allotment Harvest – and it is a merino/bamboo blend. I’m not sure if it’s totally no-nylon (I must check that) but I’m looking forward to knitting with it whether it gets a no-nylon review or not, and there are two balls of 100% Wensleydale 4ply from the Wensleydale Longwool Sheep Shop which I’m going to (eventually) try out as no-nylon socks after a discussion with the lady on the stand. There’s also a pair of adjustable wooden sock blockers which came from The Yarn Badger stand as well. I do have a pair of adjustable sock blockers but have realised that a second set would be very handy!
Coming up soon will be the Yarndale Sock Line review and I will, of course, be letting you know where all the socks have gone to this year.