Yarndale 2015, wow, what an incredible weekend. Golden sunshine, glorious countryside, a building full to the rafters with the most amazing talent (and yarn) and over seven thousand excited visitors from all over the UK and abroad. It was mind blowingly wonderful to be a part of it, and I am still a little bit in awe of it all.
Last week, well I was pretty much good for nothing, wandering around town in a daze with an exhausted look in my eyes and a stupid grin on my face. Sorry to anyone who tried to talk to me about Yarndale last week, I probably made no sense whatsoever. This week however, my bounce is back and I'm excited to share some of my Yarndale 2015 experience with you all.
I thought it might be fun to share not only the weekend's yarn-infested carry-on, but also something of the bigger picture. I want to give you a glimpse at the way I am personally involved in Yarndale preparations and to show you a bit of what I get up to in the weeks and months prior to the festival.
Last time I was here chatting, you may remember me talking briefly about the yarn bombing that I do during the week leading up to Yarndale. It's a lot of fun to bring this creative element to our local park, and I thought you might like to see a few more pictures.
We (three 'bombers this year) carefully secure the panels at the top and bottom using cable ties, then we stitch a seam up the back. As they are only in situ for five days they survive the elements pretty well and bring a lot of happiness to the community here. After Yarndale has been and gone, they are carefully unstitched, taken down and stored away so that we can re-use them the following year.
We have twenty five crochet panels in total, some made by me, some made by good friends here in my town, and some made by generous, creative ladies who follow along with Yarndale on Facebook.
I absolutely love the way the colours look against the backdrop of green grass, they are just so happy and cheerful. Want to see some more?
Here you go..........
You can walk from the train station to the Yarndale venue via the park, so these crochet-covered posts serve as a fun and practical way to show our walking visitors the route to the festival.
As a team of five, it takes us most of the year to organise what has become a pretty sizeable festival. During the week leading up to Yarndale the work is intense and we spend long hours up at the auction mart getting everything ready. From my point of view that generally means decorating the place with crochet, crochet and more crochet! The magnificent crochet bunting which was made for the first festival in 2013 is looking as wonderful and inspiring as ever. We string this up on the Wednesday before the Yarndale weekend and as soon as it's in place it makes everyone feel excited. You can read more about the bunting story on my blog here.
We also set up a pop up shop for the weekend, selling printed bags, tea towels and calendars. The bags are particularly popular with visitors and feature pictures of the yarny sheep that we make to advertise the festival.
This year Yarndale was part of an exhibition in the local museum gallery, and it was especially lovely to be able to display our woolly sheep family there. On the left is Betty who was knitted in 2013 by members of the knit and natter group. Last year Betty was joined by Bert with his colourful pom pom fleece. And this year - there were twins!
My friend Carole and I made the Yarndale twin lambs earlier this year. Carole knitted the bodies.....
....then I set about decorating the girlie lamb (nicknamed Belle) with crochet flowers.
The crocheting of lamb body bits took up a good few weeks of my studio time back in the Spring....
....but I really enjoyed the challenge of making faces, eyes, lamb ears and loopy top-knots!
Legs and tails too. Eventually everything came together.....
....and Belle and Billy were ready for their photo shoot. Baaaaaaaaa!!!!!
Oh just feast your eyes on all that colourful hooky goodness!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You may remember the Mandala Project from Yarndale 2014, which was the result of crocheters from all around the world joining together to be a part of this stunning, visual celebration of yarn and crochet. More than a thousand people contributed to this project from 49 different countries. Last year when we displayed the mandalas, we hung them high up above the heads of the crowds where they could be seen from all across the building. Although they looked stunning, I did feel it was a shame that the detail of each individual piece of crochet couldn't be appreciated. This year, around 500 of the mandalas were displayed in the museum gallery where they were much admired throughout the summer months. We were able to take the remaining collection and attach them to large white boards, making a really beautiful display for Yarndale 2015....
.....awwww, they really did look wonderful. We found a light, bright space near the café to install the display, perfect for visitors to get right up close to the mandalas.
Here are some more pictures.....
Last year I managed to photograph every single mandala I received, uploading the images to Pinterest so that I could give credit to each and every one of the 1,182 people who contributed to this project. Please do go and have a look if you haven't already seen them....
So once the weeks and weeks of preparation are all behind us, what do I actually get to do during the weekend itself? Well......I get to chatter of course!!! I get to hang out in this funny little bit of the auction mart which is filled with animals for much of the year, and I get to meet the most wonderful, friendly people. There I am in the above picture look, working hard at making my corner look a bit more colourful and not quite so drab. The auction mart is very rustic (and that's putting it kindly) but we do out best to make it welcoming and inspiring.
This year I was thrilled to have my very lovely friend Christine with me at Yarndale. Christine is a blogger and knitter who loves making socks and is responsible for inspiring many hundreds of her followers to follow in her footsteps and make socks too. She loves knitted socks as much as I love crochet blankets, we are both a little on the bonkers side it has to be said, we make a good pair! Earlier this year, Christine launched a charity project called The Yarndale Sock Line which you can read about on her blog here.
The resulting Yarndale Sock Line was a stunning, woolly success with a total of 75 pairs of socks sent to Christine. Each and every sock has been knitted with love, and is now ready to be gifted to someone in need of a little handmade warmth and love. Fabulous stuff.
Here is my little colourful corner at Yarndale where I stood for much of the weekend. Hundreds and hundreds of visitors come to find me here in my funny little makeshift space, to say hello, to tell me stories of their crochet journey, to give me hugs and celebrate a shared love of crochet. It's fun and intense and wonderful and exhausting and humbling and emotional and inspirational to meet so many people in such a short space of time and hear so many different stories. So many happy faces, so much love for colour and crochet. Thank you to everyone who took the time and effort to come and find me and say hello. You made my weekend a truly incredible one.
As well as sharing my patch with Christine, I was also lucky enough to have the fabulous Wool Warehouse team with me. They travelled up to Yorkshire with a van full of yarn and worked their socks off showing off my blankets to visitors all weekend. It was really great to see so many lovely crocheters (and would-be-crocheters) make the decision to embark on their own blanket journey, inspired by my creations. Made me feel a little bit melty with gratitude and emotion to tell the truth. Thank you, thank you to everyone who bought an Attic24 yarn pack to take home, you made me very, very happy.
So what more can I tell you about Yarndale 2015? I can tell you that around 7,000 visitors came to the festival during the two days. There were 195 talented exhibitors under this roof, selling, demonstrating, enabling and inspiring the crowds who flocked down the aisles. There was every type of yarny thing you could imagine, and even some that you couldn't even possibly imagine. There were knitters, crocheters, spinners, dyers, felters, braiders, stitchers, lacemakers, designers, producers, artisans, teachers, animals. There was yarn, buttons, books, haberdashery, artwork, knitwear, vintage ephemera, jewellery, hats, bags, kits, patterns, equipment, fibre, fluff, yarn, yarn, yarn and more yarn. There was so much of everything, all so beautifully displayed, a riot of colour and texture and a feast of creativity. The air buzzed with excitement, it hummed with happiness. There were meetings, greetings, get togethers and reunions, and the whole weekend was dominated by Friendship and filled to the brim with Inspiration.
And did I mention that the sun shone? The weather was glorious and much of the socialising took place on the grass outside.
It was absolutely brilliant to hear of so many meet-ups happening throughout the weekend, with groups of yarn enthusiasts using Yarndale as an opportunity to get together with friends. Lots of social media groups came together (Instagram gals in the above pics) and many long-time online friends got to meet each other for the first time. The social aspect of having yarn as a hobby is something I love very, very much, and Yarndale celebrates this on so many wonderful levels.
The weekend was a complete buzz from start to finish, and even though I was personally completely and utterly shattered, the feeling of having been to a really cracking good party has stayed with me ever since. It is one of the very best things to be at the centre of so much friendliness and shared happiness, and I am so, so, so grateful and proud to be a part of this unique festival.
I realised when I was putting this post together that I've still got The Flowers to show you. I took lots of pictures of this project which really do need to be in a post of their own I think....it's just too amazing to cram in at the end here.
Now I've noticed that there have been some terrific write-ups online about Yarndale 2015, with both visitors and exhibitors sharing their experiences. If you have time, do take a look as there are lots of lovely photos to see (I didn't have time to photograph the exhibitor stands unfortunately), and the blog posts make for great reading. If you've written a blog post about Yarndale and I've not listed it here, please feel free to leave me a comment and I'll add you in to the list.
These two videos made by visitors to Yarndale 2015 are also really lovely and give a beautiful impression of the festival....
I'm sorry if this post has turned out a bit on the long side, I had rather a lot to chat about! I will share lots more pictures of the Flowers for Memories project very soon.
ps in the interest of honesty and clarity and disclosure and all that kind of thing, Yarndale is a for-profit organisation and I am one of the five organisers. You can find more details on the website www.yarndale.co.uk