When we first talked about the possibility of hosting a yarn festival in our sweet town, we all agreed that our number one word should be "creativity". Above anything else, we wanted Yarndale to be a Creative Festival. We wanted it to feel friendly, inspiring, fun, cololurful and possibly a tad quirky. We wanted to make people smile, and remind them how much fun can be had with yarn. Knitting and crocheting our Patchwork Sheep (affectionately named Betty) set us off in the right direction, and it wasn't long before all sorts of wonderful woolly ideas began to germinate.
The idea for creating a Yarn Walk came about during one of our many excited discussions at the knit n natter café. I have long been a fan of "yarn bombing" or "yarn storming" as it is sometimes called, ever since I first came across images on Flickr many years ago. There is an interesting write-up about it on Wikipedia which kind of makes it all sound a bit serious to be honest, but you get the idea. We weren't out to make any grand statements or to do anything subversive, we just wanted to make people smile, and encourage visitors to take a walk in our beautiful local park.
All of Yarndale's decorative crochet was made using Stylecraft Special DK, a 100% acrylic yarn which comes in lots of gorgeous colours. It was absolutely perfect for the job in that it is bright and cheerful, lovely to work with, holds it's shape pretty well when wet and doesn't burst into flames when the local Naughty Kids try to set fire to it (yes, I know. More about that later). Luckily for us, Stylecraft is a local Yorkshire company and when they contacted us and offered us lots of their scrummy yarn to work with, we were thrilled. ((Thank you lovely Stylecraft People!))
Although the whole of the Yarndale team was excited about the yarn bombing idea, it was Little ol' Me who offered to take the project on. Truthfully, I was only too glad to be able to do something fun and yarny so that I could leave much of the scary event management stuff to the others. Finances and logistics and risk assessments and endless paperwork make me shudder, where as crocheting up a rainbow makes me sing!
I began working on some yarn bomb pieces at the beginning of August, but as I also had lots of other things to do (mainly bunting shaped things) I really needed to draft in some assistance. Luckily, I do happen to have a number of Happy Hooker friends who gladly volunteered their help, and it was lovely to be able to share it out this way.
This table of gorgouesness was created by just three happy hookers (myself, Natalie and Liz)....
....and they were made to cover the boring grey lamp posts which line the pathway through the park.
I just loved seeing these mini blankets pile up gently on my table as the summer weeks went by. I couldn't wait to see how they would look when they finally got released into the wild.
Alongside the stripy leg warmers lamp post wraps, flowers began to grow. At the bottom of the park there is a small nursery garden and we thought it would be rather fun to create a woolly flower garden nearby.
When my pointy finger was still very much hurting, I was just about able to work on very small projects such as these flowers. I had to work slowly and have plenty of rest in between, so it was a bit frustrating to say the least. After six slow flowers, I started to ask around for more help. Liz? Angela? can you pleeeeeeeeeeeease help me create a flower garden?
And as great friends do, they rallied around and spent many an hour hooking up a colourful floral storm.
Angela and I then spent a good many hours painstakingly stitching the flowers onto a length of fine green pea netting. It was laborious work, but we chatted while we stitched and eventually it all did come together.
Meanwhile, time was running out and I needed to start work on some yarny things to decorate the canal bridge. Just like the flowers that were to sit next to the nursery garden, I thought it would be fun to create something that directly related to the canal. Ducks were the obvious choice..quack quack!
As time was so short, I didn't even think for a second of trying to make my own duckling pattern. I went straight to Pinterest to see what was out there in Blogland and found the cutest little critter waiting for me.
The free pattern (from Itsy Bitsy Spider Crochet) was wonderful to work :: well written, easy to follow, quick, and the sweetest results.
I made six ducklings altogether, and then one Saturday I jumped in and made a Mummy Duck completely out of my own head. Just like that. I was so chuffed with her!
Sorry this is a bad picture, but it was taken very early one morning when I had just finished stitching on the eyes and beak and was hopping about with excitement in my pyjamas. I can't even begin to tell you about the making of her (it's all a bit of a blur), other than I worked a flat oval shape to start off at the base of her body, then completely winged it from there on in.
At the same time as ducks and flowers and bunting, I was also working on this large piece of crochet to cover a wooden post on the canal towpath. I had a clear vision of Mummy Duck swimming on top of some blue ripply water, with daisy-strewn grass growing underneath.
It took aaaaaaaaaaaaaages. I confess I got seriously bored working those green grassy stripes.
I worked on this piece for weeks on end, it is pretty big. One metre tall and worked round in a tube, so double the width you can see in the above picture. I finished it only four days before Yarndale during a most hectic week when my life was also rammed full of bunting triangles. It was all a weeny bit stressy!
Another yarny decoration that I conjured up during September were crochet balls. I was inspired by Kate's crochet apples which looked absolutely bloomin' marvelous, but I had the idea to work the crochet around these colourful plastic balls. These are "ball pit balls", purchased very cheaply from eBay (they came all the way from China!) and I loved how this idea turned out.....
....just look! They were quick and easy to make (ten minutes per ball!) and insanely addictive, I loved doing them very much. I think I made about twenty five in total, a group of all red ones for the yarn walk, then these multi-coloured ones to decorate a tree outside the Yarndale venue.
This was another crazy idea of mine, to use the same plastic balls to create knitty tree decorations. I bought some inexpensive plastic childrens knitting needles that were easy to stick straight through the plastic balls, then I simply wound yarn around the whole thing until the ball was covered.
Simple but effective, with just the right amount of quirky humour that pleases me so much ;o)
Most of our yarn bomb decorations were put up in one day, the Wednesday before Yarndale. I had a wonderful assistant who laughed and chatted the whole way through the process (thank you SO MUCH Jenny), with Heather taking some pics of us as we worked (thank you Heather and TTB)
First to go up were the flowers.
They looked a little bit droopy....
....but the overall effect was bright, colourful and welcoming as you entered the park.
After the flowers, we worked our way through the park putting our stripy leg warmers on the lamp posts. They were stitched in place, and at a metre or so long, it was quite a bit of work.
I took photos of most of them as they went up so you can see them before they got all saggy and wrinkled......
There were three more I think, plus some thrifted blankets that we stitched around some tree trunks and on fences, but I didn't get chance to photograph those.
My red balls looked a-MAZ-ing when they were hung from the tree branches. They looked really great. Bright. Seductive. Tempting. Maybe just a bit too tempting......
.....cos they didn't last for long. Less than three hours after they went up, every single one went missing. Gone. Stolen fruit. There are a lot of Big kids who walk through the park as it's the main pedestrian route through to the local secondary school, so hardly surprising really. No good getting all upset though, that will never do. I ranted internally, then breathed out and let it go.
The woolly fruit balls that I hung from the tree outside Yarndale fared much better, and I think were really appreciated by all our visitors.
The above (glorious) photo was taken by Jacquie, and gives you a glimpse of the amazing weather we had during Yarndale weekend. We were so blessed, it was a little slice of late summer and made so many people happy.
I didn't manage to get a very good picture of the knitting balls in the tree, but hope you can make them out. They really made me smile, and I hope if you were there and looked up to see them, that they made you smile too.
Yarn bombing in action! This was me, 7 o'clock on Saturday morning (the very morning of Yarndale opening), installing my ducklets. I had stitched the ducklings firmly in place at home the previous night (well, early hours, it was gone midnight), but the blue striped lengths then had to be actually stitched around the railings.
It was all a weeny bit crazy and I felt quite anxious teetering on the very edge of the tow path doing this bonkers thing. I was most definitely not a relaxed yarn bomber! However, once they were in place, I stood back and had a moment of complete happiness, because they really did look great. Worth all the time and effort.
Mummy Duck was much easier to install. I stitched her bottom firmly to the blue water, and the whole thing just slid over the wooden post to cover it completely.
She looked wonderful!
I heard so many happy stories from visitors (and local residents) who had walked this way and come across my little duck family. It made my heart swell with happiness and a little teensy bit of pride. It's a wonderful thing to be able to make people happy with a bit of creative yarning :o)
There is a little bit of sadness attached to the yarn bombing story. Not all the residents of Yarndale Town were respectful. Every single piece of crochet was messed about with in some way. Every last bit of it was seriously pulled about. Most was just left looking very baggy but remained intact. But flowers, blankets and balls were stolen within hours/days of being put up. One of the lamp post covers melted a little, so I suspect that there was a flame involved. And most sadly of all, Mummy Duck was also stolen. Luckily she lasted for the two days of the festival and as already mentioned, I know she caused many smiles whilst she sat there.
So despite the tremendous work and the niggly issues would I do it all again? Well....the up side was definitely greater than the down side, so you know the answer I expect ;o)
Tomorrow, will be all about triangles. Thousands upon thousands of triangles......