It's just over a week since we packed all of our Yarndale paraphernalia back into storage for another year, and I am slowly starting to feel the return of my inner bounce which is something of a relief! It's a funny thing because when I think back over this year's festival, it already feels so far behind us and almost a bit unreal like a dream. I guess this is often the case with Big Events that take up many months of forward planning - it's not that it was an anti climax (it was the opposite of anything anti!!) but now I am out the other side the whole thing has ebbed into a slightly faded memory. A glorious, multi-coloured, inspirational memory mind you, and one that I shan't be forgetting anytime soon.
Back in 2012 when the whole notion of creating a yarn festival was still very much in the idea stage, a small group of us at our cafe knit and natter group began chatting about all the possibilities. We knew we wanted to showcase the very best exhibitors, but we also knew that we wanted Yarndale to be more than just a glorified retail event. We began to visualise demonstrations and skill sharing, and workshops using the talented local textile teachers that we knew. But more than anything, we wanted Yarndale to be a "celebration of creativity" with a focus on the fabulous yarn community that we are all a part of. This is something that I feel passionate about, and I've been determined from the very beginning to try and make this festival of ours chockablock full of joy, colour and lots and lots of happy yarny fun.
One of the first things I knew for definite was that there should be some yarnbombing involved....how could we possibly hold a creative yarn festival without it?! We started by focusing on the the walk from the train station to the auction mart where Yarndale is held, creating a "yarn walk" for visitors who preferred to wander on foot rather than driving or taking the bus. In the first year I made quite a few decorations for the canal and park with help from a few lovely friends. I crocheted a family of ducks to swim by the canal, a flower garden blooming on a fence, and a whole tree hung with red crochet balls that looked like apples. You can read about it all (here). Sadly, these lovely makes proved irresistible and so much was stolen (including my beloved ducks). It saddened me at the time, but I refused to give up.
The second year we decided to concentrate on the lamp posts which were more robust than our other creations and harder to mess about with. The first year we had around 10 crochet lamp post "wraps" and although one was set fire to (it was acrylic yarn, so only melted a bit), the rest remained intact. So the second year I put a shout out to friends and followers on Facebook, and we managed to gather enough wraps to dress almost all the lamp posts that line the pedestrian pathway through the park.
They take around half a day to install - I use long cable ties to secure them at the top and bottom, then each crochet wrap is stitched up with a seam running down the back.....
..... and they look amazing!
We have twenty five in total and the effect of seeing them against the green of the park is really beautiful. Each year I carefully take down the wraps after the Yarndale weekend, wash and repair them, then store them away ready to be used again next year.
The now famous crochet bunting is always an absolute joy to be reunited with each year, and as soon as it goes up (usually on the Wednesday before Yarndale), there is an instant festival feeling in the air. I'm sure there is a bit of magic in those thousands of crochet triangles! They were made by followers of Attic24 for the first Yarndale in 2013, and we absolutely treasure them. They are so precious to me, providing a beautiful visual representation of our generous world wide yarn and crochet community. To me, they represent everything we hoped that Yarndale would be about - the fun, quirky, passionate, creative and joyful feelings that come from belonging to this yarn community of ours. You can read all about how the bunting was created (here)
This year when we strung up our crochet bunting, there was already a whole ceiling of fairy lights after a previous event took place in August. It added a beautiful twinkle to the large and rather drab room, and made a great backdrop to our pop up Yarndale shop.
One of my biggest commitments for Yarndale is co-ordinating the large scale Creative Community project each year. I love doing this, and although it is a lot of work for me throughout the summer months, the results are always incredible and so worth while. You can read about the creative displays from past years on my blog >>
2015 Flowers for Memories (raising money for the Alzheimers Society)
2016 Woolly Sheep (raising money for our local children's hospice)
2017 Creative Hearts (raising money for mental health charity Mind)
As you probably remember, this year's creative project was all to do with butterflies, and oh-my-goodness, it has been sooooooooooooooo beautiful!!! I left it very late to launch the project in early August so we didn't have as many folk joining in with our project as we've had in previous years, but it was no less spectacular.
All in all we received just over 2,500 butterflies, from 354 ladies across the world.....
.....and each and every one of them was made with care, skill and a lot of love.
Throughout August and early September, I had the fantastic job of opening up the parcels and envelopes that were arriving from all over the world and adding more and more beautiful butterflies to the growing kaleidoscope. Although most of the butterflies flying in were crocheted, we were thrilled to receive all types of hand made creations, and I loved seeing the variety and skill in each one.
We had some knitted butterflies........
...beautifully stitched butterflies......
....and some with the most delightful embellishments.
They really were a joy to look at individually, but as a collection they reached a whole different level.
Before I even launched the project, I knew exactly how I would display the butterflies. I had a fantasy about creating a visual collection inspired by the old fashioned Victorian natural history type displays.....you know the ones I mean, that you often see in museums? The butterflies are pinned in neat rows, with small hand written identification labels.
I thought it would be a great idea to take one yarny butterfly from every maker who joined in with this creative community project, pinning them to my board in the style of a Natural History collection. I would credit the name of the maker, and where in the UK/World they were from using small labels. A fab thought I'm sure you'll agree, but you've no idea how HARD it was to execute!!! Oh boy, I really did give myself quite a bit of stress with this! Luckily J stepped in to help me and between us we worked out a methodical way to pin and create labels for the butterflies without muddling up who was who.
I was sooooooooooooooooooo happy with how they turned out, and thrilled that everyone who took the time and trouble to send me a parcel was included (with the exception of a couple of very late arriving parcels).
Take a look................................
What do you think? Aren't they things of beauty?
At Yarndale, we used old fashioned wooden artists easels to showcase the boards (we are lucky to know some kind and generous arty folk who helped us out with these).
The remaining butterflies were offered to Yarndale visitors in exchange for a donation to our chosen charity which this year was Pioneer Projects (a local charity offering creative arts sessions to help those living with dementia). There were over 2,000 butterflies to lay out, and I couldn't resist arranging them according to colour.....so very me I know, but don't they look beautiful?!
The Kaleidoscope of Butterflies turned out even better than I had imagined in my mind.....
.....and was very popular with our visitors.
I'm thrilled to tell you that we raised a stunning >>>>>>
🦋 £2339.94 🦋 for Pioneer Projects!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Such a huge success, and I would like to thank everyone who joined in with making butterflies, or who generously donated during Yarndale weekend. You can see more photos and find out more about the charity on their Facebook page.
We have some butterflies remaining, and these will be passed along to the lovely Sharon who is co-ordinating a hospital charity initiative. Crochet butterflies will be included in "comfort bags" for relatives of end-of-life patients >> more details here >> https://www.cottonpod.co.uk/blogs/news/butterflies-for-remembrance.
You will probably remember my large mandala hoops from previous years as I've been making and adding to this collection since 2014.
They always look stunning swinging under the tree outside the front entrance to Yarndale, and I love the creative vibe they bring to the festival.
This year I began making a collection of slightly smaller (30cm) hoops - I had planned to make a dozen but ran out of time and only ended up with eight. Still, I was so happy to give them their own tree to dangle from........
.....and they looked amazing dancing away in the afternoon sunshine.
As ever when I do this sort of thing I always think "I need MORE!!" and plan to keep on adding additional hoops each year until I have a truly stunning and fulsome display. More is definitely more with where mandalas are concerned!
While I was outside in the sunshine with my lovely friend Christine doing mandala things in the trees, inside the auction mart it was beginning to busy up.......
Exhibitors begin arriving at lunch time on the day before Yarndale opens to the public, and have an eight hour window to transform the empty pens into truly fabulous displays of yarny goodness. This year there were more than 200 exhibitors (211 to be precise) and they worked like the clappers to create what I think was our best ever festival. The standard was exceptionally high, and there was such a lot of variety too - oh so much to see, touch, squish, oooohh and aaaahh over! I love the quirkiness and diversity that Yarndale has become so well known for - this isn't just a yarn show my friends, oh no. There is every single yarn related thing you can think of, and then some you have probably never even heard of. I love to see so many fabulous, unique, independent, artistic businesses come together to share their creativity and passion with an audience who truly appreciates it. Inspiration flies through the air, you can feel the whole building vibrate with it!
I have to appologise here now, as I was extremely lame with my camera this year. In fact, I saw very little of the festival as I was kept so very, very busy in my blanket-covered ring. The only picture on my camera was this..............
...........the lovely people of Injabulu at the very beginning of their set-up. It's so exciting to see and hear the whole set-up in progress, it's an absolute hive of activity and a lot of hard work goes into creating a visitor-worthy festival.
By 9pm the Yarndale team were sitting under the fairy-lit canopy eating fish and chips after a grueling twelve hour work day. It's an odd time when everything is poised and waiting for the doors to open the next day, a real feeling of accomplishment and excitement.
Early on Saturday morning, I walk along the canal and through the park installing the last of my yarn signs.
It's the gentle calm before the doors open, and I am already feeling the buzz as I know what is to come.
I take a moment to stand still and breathe in the morning air. I know the weekend is going to be an absolute whirlwind of excitement and activity and I won't get a chance to catch my breathe again until it's all over.
Inside my cosy area at the centre of the festival and all is well. I had a lot of fun hanging all my blankets out around the auctioneers ring, it was a brilliant way to see them all displayed together and remember the inspirations for each one.
I'm cross because I forgot to take a photo of my crochet banner which I hung on a gate leading into the ring. It looked really flippin' good too! I also didn't manage to take any photos of Christine's famous Yarndale Sock Line which looked amazing. I'm hoping she'll be sharing a blog post about this soon and you'll be able to see a little of how her Yarndale played out.
The above photo was taken on Friday evening once everything was set and ready, the calm before the storm!!. During the weekend, that ring was pretty much full of people all of the time, gosh it was so busy!! I barely got chance to think about eating or doing anything else other than chat with all the hundreds of visitors who had traveled from far and wide to see me.
I borrowed the above photo from my lovely friend Donna who was a volunteer at Yarndale - she has written a lovely account of the weekend with some beautiful photos if you want to hop over and see. Ahh, it was a pretty intense experience for me I have to say, a tidal wave of gratitude and friendship and the best type of happiness radiating out of everybody I spoke to. So many heart-felt stories of crochet journeys taken and even more in the planning, oh it did make me feel good! I adore how we can be so emotionally connected through our love of yarn and colour, and how great it feels to have that sense of "belonging". Crochet blankets are just such feel-good things on so many levels. Love love love my blankets times a gazillion, all the gratitude and all the heart squeezes.
As you probably know by now, I am very happy behind my little point-and-shoot camera and very rarely do I put my face out there into cyberspace. However, in the spirit of friendship and community I make an exception at Yarndale, stepping out of my comfort zone and allowing myself to be drawn into the business of being inside the photographs. Oh boy, this isn't at all easy for me as I do have a very wide shy-streak running through me, but I do my very best not to let that show. I had to share the above photo as it's a rare photo of me with my fab friend Christine, along with two very gorgeous ladies who had traveled all the way from Australia.
And this one too - this sums up the FUN of Yarndale - again, another beautiful visitor all the way from Finland, who made me laugh and made me so happy with her enthusiasm and joy. And.....I've just realised that she is showing you my crochet banner as well, oh happy day! I so love how that turned out.
I'd like to say a massive big THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to come and say hello to me at Yarndale, most especially those who made considerable journeys to my little patch of Yorkshire. I hope you enjoyed an amazing weekend of yarn and creativity, and that you returned home feeling inspired and full of yarny good vibes. And to those of you who have followed the story from afar and haven't visited Yarndale, I thank you for reading and hope you've enjoyed a little peek behind the scenes.
ps to be clear, I'd like to mention that Yarndale is a for-profit orgnisation and I am one of the five organisers. I am so proud of our festival and all that we've achieved since the beginning. We remain passionate about this community we belong to and all the fantastic yarny creativity that it brings to our rural market town. You can read more about Yarndale here xx