Oh Yarndale 2016, already in the past but still a very, very vivid set of memories at the forefront of my mind, that's for sure. This week I am just starting to get my energy back and feeling just about normal again, cripes, doing Yarndale is exhausting! Last week I was most definitely in post-Yarndale recovery, and I have to say it feels great to have my bounce back this week.
I was reading back through my Yarndale 2015 post earlier and thinking how lovely it is for me to have a record of these things. I mean, I do really love to chat to you about it and share my photos, but I also really value the memory keeping aspect of having my little patch here in Blogland to record it all. I was thinking about how to tell my Yarndale story this year, and have decided to focus on all the creative elements that I'm involved in throughout the year. For our team, Yarndale begins in January and one of our first jobs is to create a new sheep for our flock.
This year we wanted to incorporate some woolly flowers as a tribute to Sheila's amazing Flowers For Memories project from last year. We upcycled an old aran sweater that we bought cheaply on eBay (it had one of those dubious orangey coloured stains on the front) and I crocheted a flower garland for our sheep....
....as well as a pretty floral crown for her to wear. She looked delightful, and we named her Flora.
Flora has done a fabulous job of being our mascot for Yarndale 2016, I think she is my favourite sheep of the flock so far.
Talking of flocks, I am so excited to share an update on our Woolly Sheep project, which you might remember me chatting about back in the summer? Gosh, what a success this Creative Community project was!
I shared my pattern for this little woolly sheep here on my blog (it's HERE if you missed it and fancy making one), and a good many of you took up the woolly sheep challenge (thank you thank you!).
During the summer months, the postman was arriving at my house every single day, not on foot, but in a van! He literally handed me a crate (or two) each day, full of parcels arriving from all four corners of the globe. In total, we received just over 700 (SEVEN HUNDRED!!!) knitted and crochet sheep wearing the most adorable woolly jumpers, each of them made with such love and creative skill it made my heart full to bursting. I loved seeing them all, marvelling at the decorative details and the cute little sheepy faces as parcel after parcel after parcel was unwrapped.
I set up the sheep display at Yarndale with a lovely lady called Roma who volunteers for Martin House Children's Hospice (Yarndale's chosen charity this year).
We had a local farmer lend us some straw bales for the display, and we had lots of fun arranging the flock, nestling each little animal in amongst the straw.
Visitors to Yarndale absolutely adored the sheep and they didn't stay put on the straw bales for very long at all. I'm thrilled to tell you that every single one of the 700+ sheep went off to live in a new home, and the Woolly Sheep project raised a heart warming £3103.01 for Martin House, what a terrific success!!
For those who couldn’t make it to Yarndale to see the woolly flock, I managed to photograph every one of the sheep and created an online gallery to showcase them all. You can find it on Pinterest here >> YARNDALE WOOLLY SHEEP GALLERY
For those of you who re-homed a woolly sheep (thank you!), you can lift up the little woolly jumper and hopefully find a small sticker with a number – this will tell you who created your sheep and where in the world it travelled from. You can find the complete list of sheep here >> WOOLLY SHEEP LIST
And just for fun, here is a list of the THIRTY TWO countries that sent sheep to Yarndale >>
♥ Argentina ♥ Australia ♥ Canada ♥ Croatia ♥ Denmark ♥ Estonia ♥ Finland ♥ France ♥ Germany ♥ Gibraltar ♥ Hungary ♥ Ireland ♥ Isle of Man ♥ Israel ♥ Italy ♥ Japan ♥ Netherlands ♥ New Zealand ♥ Norway ♥ Peru ♥ Poland ♥ Portugal ♥ Romania ♥ Russia ♥ Slovenia ♥ South Africa ♥ Spain ♥ Sweden ♥ Switzerland ♥ United Arab Emirates ♥ United Kingdom ♥ United States of America ♥
Many, many thanks to everyone who made a sheep or donated money, it is very, very much appreciated.
Preparing the auction mart for Yarndale takes some serious work I have to say, as in it's raw state it is rather drab and very, very rustic (and that's being kind). We know that the one hundred and eighty exhibitors will do an amazing job of transforming the animal pens into colourful, inspirational yarny havens, but it's down to the Yarndale team to try and inject as much colour and woolly goodness around the large building as we possibly can.
The precious mandalas are still looking fabulous, two years after they first made an appearance. Oh how I love them!! They are incredibly beautiful to look at and do a great job of reminding us of the love and friendship that exists in the global crochet community which I am so proud to be a part of.
Following the success of the Flowers for Memories project at Yarndale last year, we were really happy to have them back again for one final time. The unstoppable Sheila has been in a whirl of floral activity all year, she really is an amazing lady. Not content with the hundreds of pounds she raised last year for the Alzheimers Society, during 2016 Sheila re-worked the huge floral panels to make them even better than they were orginally. She attached safety pins to the backs of every single one of the 5000 crocheted flowers before painstakingly re-pinning them. In the middle of September the flower panels went on an exciting journey all the way down to London to appear at Kirstie Allsopp’s Handmade Fair, before returning back to Yarndale. Sheila’s flowers raised a further £2004.15 this year, which added to her 2015 total of £1811.80. All monies raised have been donated to the Alzheimers Society. There are plans to exhibit the flower panels for just a little while longer before finally dismantling them and offering all the flowers for sale. If you’d like to keep updated with this beautiful project, please do have a look at the Flowers for Memories Facebook page.
As well as prettifying the inside of the auction mart with oodles of crochet, it's also my job to work my magic on the outside too. In previous years we've had bunting strung up out here, with small-scale yarny bits and bobs hanging from the tree branches. This year I felt we were ready for a change, and hit on the idea of using my large mandala hoops (you can read about the making of them on my blog here and here) to create a lovely hanging display.
It was pretty windy on the day I hung them in the trees for Yarndale, so rather than twirling gently in the breeze they were seriously swinging about in the full scale wind! But they did look lovely and I know that many of our visitors enjoyed seeing them (they are rather photogenic, if I say so myself)
We also had a fifteen metre long knitted canal winding it's way across the grass under the trees, a perfectly normal occurance for a creative yarn festival of course. This beautiful creation was made by a local group of knitters to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Leeds-Liverpool canal, so we were thrilled to be able to show it off. Please also note the amazing yarn-bombed van in the background - oh it is fab-u-lous! Not an ice cream van, but one selling hand knitted finger puppets. Of course!
And now my friends, prepare to be amazed by the most wonderful bollards your eyes have ever seen.....
.....created especially for Yarndale by the famous and talented Thirsk Yarnbombers, they were photographed and admired by the many thousands who came to visit.
They are, quite simply, stunning works of art....
What do you think? Absolutely amazing, aren't they just?
These ten bollards are usually just plain ol' ugly wooden things lining the pathway around the front entrance to the auction mart, and through the power of knitting and crochet (as well as some lovely stitching and felting), they were transformed into woolly works of art. They really do epitomise the creative and community spirit that we love to celebrate at Yarndale. Huge thanks to Ann and the talented team of 'bombers from Thirsk. You are all fabulous.
So...............all that creative, decorative stuff happened BEFORE Yarndale even opened it's doors, it is quite an undertaking, both to put it all up and take it all down again (and I haven't even included the 25 lamp posts and the half a dozen crocheted signs I made and installed in the park, or the famous Yarndale bunting).
The actual weekend for me is all about meeting people and celebrating a shared love of colour and crochet.
Those of you who have visited Yarndale, will know exactly where to find me during the weekend - in that spot right there, just in front of my colourful crochet blankets. I have the lovely peeps from Wool Warehouse to keep me company which is brilliant, and we are all kept exceptionally busy right from the minute the doors open.
For pretty much the whole weekend I stand in my little spot, completely surrounded by a heaving sea of people, laughing, chatting, hugging and socialising with the most wonderful and friendly bunch of visitors you could ever wish to meet. Attic24 readers, colour-loving hooksters and all-round lovely people come to seek me out and tell me their stories. We do lots of photo's together, we chat about blankets and the such like and I generally become engulfed in a tidal wave of gratitude, friendship and feel-good. It is overwhelming. It is emotional. It is so much fun and a whole lot of fabulous. I am incredibly proud to be a part of such a thriving and creative community, and during the Yarndale weekend this community comes together in full force. The feeling of friendship and joy is tremendous. I swear the very air vibrates with all the excitement, you can honestly feel the buzz!
Thank you to every single one of you who took the time to come and say hello, I can't tell you how much I appreciated it and enjoyed meeting you all. And thank you also to everyone who loved my projects enough to buy a yarn pack to start out on your own creative journey, it means the world to me that my designs are spreading so much joy and colour.
Having Christine and her socks alongside me in the Knit and Natter lounge was wonderful, and oh-my-goodness, the Yarndale sock line was a huge success again this year! More than one hundred pairs were donated and will be gifted to those in need - you can see some of them in the above photo, they looked fabulous. I'll let you know when Christine does her write-up about this so that you can see more pictures.
So that was my fourth Yarndale festival, and it was absolutely stonkingly amazing. Exhausting, but amazing. Over 8,000 visitors travelled from all over the world to visit our little patch of Yorkshire, and I am very, very proud to be a part of this crazy, creative, buzzing yarny festival. It really is brilliant.
ps for more behind-the-scenes insights into Yarndale, with lots of photos and some lovely descriptions, you can go take a peek at Christine's blog and Kathryn's too. Kathryn also created a wonderful Vlog all about her time at Yarndale (you might even spot me in there a few times if you look carefully!) - well worth making a cup of tea and settling down for a look/listen.
pps the above photo - me with the Skipton Giant Swaledale puppets (with Sammy the Sheepdog) who came to see us at Yarndale, it was hilarious having them right in the knit and natter lounge!
ppps thank you so much for sharing this with me, I hope I've not bored you too much with my rambles.
pppps gosh I almost forgot - I do need to mention that I am one of the five organisers of Yarndale which is a for-profit organisation, just so that I am being honest and transparent and all that necessary disclosure stuff. All details about Yarndale can be found on the website www.yarndale.co.uk. Thank you x