It's actually pretty hard for me to remember what my life was like BB (Before Bunting). During the past four months it has been such a mammoth part of my life, not only due to the massive number of working hours I've spent dealing with it all, but also due to the emotional space it has taken up within my heart and soul. Altogether, it has been a very huuuuuuuge big deal to me (and I mean that in the best, most positive way imaginable).
So. I shall start from the very beginning and tell the story from start to finish, if that's alright with everyone?This does feel like a story for sure, and I'm looking forward to telling it. Ready? Sitting comfy? Here we go.......
Firstly, lets remember the inspiration behind the Yarndale Bunting. It was most definitely the above image, and I can so clearly remember seeing it for the first time and literally gasping out loud at the visual pleasure of it. To me, there is just something incredibly jolly, fun, celebratory and festival-ish about swags of bunting and I find it's charms irresistible. And when said bunting happens to also be brightly coloured and made from oodles of glorious YaRn, well it's a win-win-win situation.
As soon as I saw this knitted bunting (created by Women's Weekly magazine and hung at the 2011 Knitting and Stitching show at Alexandra Palace), I knew straight away that I would like to attempt a crochet version for Yarndale.
You probably remember me writing about it back in May? I just loved working these granny triangles so much, and the more I made, the more I could imagine how great it would look if there were lots and lots and lots of them.
So I hatched a cheeky little plan. I wrote up the pattern for these Granny Bunting Triangles, and put out a call to all the wonderful hookers of the world, asking for help. Please can you help me by making a few triangles for Yarndale? I would love it, I said. I will be ever so grateful, I said. And then I crossed my fingers and made a wish, hoping very much that my bunting dream might come true.
Two months later, in mid July, the packages began arriving. After sweet-talking the lovely Jane who owns the most scrumptious yarn shop in Yarndale Town, she agreed that we could use her shop as a temporary Bunting Delivery Depot. And so began a summer of hard graft for me and my child-sized assistants. Every few days we would call in to see Jane and collect the packages which we then carried through town to my studio. Sometimes we could squeeze it all into a shopping bag....
....but sometimes there were so many parcels that I needed my trusty shopping trolley and made multiple trips back and forth through town.
At the studio, I worked with my eager three year old assistant Little B, processing the bunting as it arrived in heaps. Opening the packages, ooohing and ahhing at the gorgeous crochet goodness, reading the amazing letters and cards, counting the triangles up, putting them into bags, then logging the information (name, location, number of triangles) in my special purple notebook.
But however hard I tried to work, I inevitably began to fall behind. The parcels were coming in so thick and fast from all four corners of the world, that I simply could not keep up. I began to worry, began to dream weird, stressy bunting-filled dreams. How was I ever going to manage to pull this thing together? How would I ever get to the bottom of that huge pile?
The answer lay with friends. I am truly blessed with wonderful, kind and generous friends here in Atticland, and when the piles of parcels got so high that they started to avalanche, I called in some help. I worked afternoon shifts with Little B, then evening shifts with friends.
And then of course, the school holidays descended and summer was in full swing. I could no longer get to my studio during the day, so I transferred the Processing Depot to home base. That way, I had three Little Helpers to call on and it turned into rather a fun thing for them to join in with. Sometimes we worked at the dining table, and sometimes on my double bed, all four of us squashed on and opening the parcels together.
I have to say here a HUGE BIG MASSIVE THANK YOU to all of you who so generously included gifts for my offspring. It was so very, very, very much appreciated. They loved it so much! The wee toys, books, postcards, maps, souvenirs, chocolates and sweeties from all over the world were devoured with glee. ((thank you))
There were some super sweet times too, when bunting parcels were delivered in person. The above piles were brought all the way from Germany when a very lovely lady came especially to see me at the studio. It was unexpectedly emotional, I felt so thrilled but also so overwhelmed by the constant outpouring of generosity that at times it was difficult to keep it all in check. I confess I did shed a few tears.
And so the bunting triangles kept on piling in. Originally, I had really hoped to photograph them all as they arrived so that I could create a big gallery of images.
I wanted to be able to write and thank each person individually, cos each triangle really meant so much to me.
I knew that people would really love to know that their triangles had arrived safe and sound, and I so very much wanted to let people know.
But it was just too much, and I had to admit defeat. I felt so bad about it for so many weeks, but in the end I just had to accept that it wasn't a failure if I couldn't manage to write to every single person, or photograph every single triangle.
In early September, with less than three weeks left before Yarndale, I hit crisis point. The packages were still arriving, and as I'd been writing everything down in my notebook I knew the numbers very well. Incredibly, we had received 582 parcels containing more than 6,000 triangles. And those thousands of triangles had to be somehow joined together..............
I voiced my anxious, stressed-out concerns to the Yarndale team, and was immediately reassured that I had no need to worry, there would be plenty of help. Pheewwwww!!! So it was decided that for a few weeks, we would turn our usual knit n natter gatherings into bunting-stringing sessions.
I purchased some huge reels of 6mm cotton tape and stringing commenced. Our method was to cut the tape into 5 metre lengths, then thread it through the chain-space holes of the granny triangles. No knots (far too tricky and time consuming), just simple threading, one triangle after another. Each 5 metre length of tape accommodated roughly 20 triangles.
And so the triangles became bunting strings....
....and the piles of bunting strings began to grow reassuringly quickly.
Meanwhile, back at the studio, I decided that I really should be trying to take some photographs. I wanted to capture a little of what it was like to have soooooo much gorgeous crochet work at my disposal. So how to describe it all? What words?
And utterly, completely FANTASTIC.
WOW. All those words and a heap load more besides.
By now, we had reached the Final Push. On the Thursday morning, just 48 hours before we opened the Yarndale doors, the final sack of triangles was brought to the café for stringing.
It was rather wonderful to finally catch a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel.
The atmosphere in the café on this Thursday morning was really amazing. All these lovely, kind, creative ladies being so generous with their time, working like the clappers to finish it all for us.
Lovely, lovely ladies (and gent!), I can't thank you enough for your help. We honestly couldn't have done it without you.
The time had come.
Deep trepidation and high anxiety as we prepared for The Hanging.
It was completely nerve-wracking. Honestly, I can't tell you how worried I was. I kept having this awful sinking feeling that for some reason it just wasn't going to work out. We knew the ceiling was very, very high. We knew that it was going to mean some Very Big Ladders. And we knew it was going to be a long, difficult job.
In fact, it wasn't nearly as difficult as I had feared. We had three ladder-savvy menfolk to go up the ladders, whilst the yarny-savvy ladies directed from below.
Each five metre length of bunting was passed up and knotted to the previous length, so creating one enormous, continuous length swinging from side to side. Back and forth we went, working our way down the left hand side of the room.
It began to look MaGnIfIcEnT.
And the more we hung up, the more MaGnIfIcEnT it became.
It was the most incredible feeling for me, I can't tell you. After months of hard work and a huge amount of associated worry, my Creative Vision had miraculously come to life. It happened! It actually happened!
THE YARNDALE BUNTING :: Ta-dah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hahahaaaa...my biggest ever Ta-dah moment by a long chalk :o)
Absolutely, jaw-droppingly stunning. If you don't mind me saying so.
The bunting was an outstanding success and made a fantastic welcome for all our visitors. I know from the huge number of comments we had, both during the weekend and via the internet afterwards, that everyone absolutely loved it.
It's hard for me to put into words what this project meant to me personally. Because it did feel very personal for much of the time. With every parcel I opened, and with every one of the 6,212 triangles I held in my hands, I felt so much love and gratitude. Such a strong sense of community and friendship. Thank you, thank you, thank you, to all five hundred and eighty two of you who took the time to make and send. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for making my dream come true ♥
But before we end, shall we have a few facts about the Yarndale Bunting?
Number of parcels received :: 582
Number of triangles :: 6, 212
Length of bunting :: 1.25 km (ohmygosh, yes it's true!)
Number of countries :: 31. Yes THIRTY-ONE. Want to read my list? Ok>>>>
- Great Britain
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- Czech Republic
- St. Helena Island (South Atlantic)
ps actually, sorry, I know this is a very loooong post, but one last final little thing...
A lovely lady who made some very beautiful triangles to send from her home in Spain wrote a beautiful blog post about the Yarndale Bunting. It was wonderful to read about it from her (very eloquent) point of view, and I'd like to share some of her words here. She wrote ::
"There we are peeps representing and participating in colour our unity for yarn, crafts and the handmade. We herald our love for yarn, our love for colour, our love for beauty and demonstrating that craft breaks the language barrier because that bunting is a message that can be understood by all. I feel so good inside to see it, I feel just a little bit of me is there, I feel I belong, I feel the admiration of thousands of yarn lovers admiring OUR bunting!!!! I feel it is a tremendous achievement to have brought together so many many people through the creation of this bunting."
Beautifully said Amanda, thank you xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
EDIT :: ahhh yes, that question....what will happen to the bunting now? Well....right now it is packed away in some very large sacks and is sitting in the basement of my studio. We intend to keep it to bring out again if we decide to go forth and create Yarndale 2014.
In the meantime, we are also being asked already if it can be loaned out. For other festivals, for a shop window display....it's pretty exciting, and the story continues.....