Yarnfolk August 14 2017
Yarnfolk was held on Saturday 5th August in Whitehead in Northern Ireland and organised by Louise of Lighthouse Yarns.
Whitehead was the perfect setting for Northern Ireland's first wool festival - a compact seaside town with several community halls which were just right for hosting vendors from all over Ireland and some of whom had made the journey across the Irish Sea.
Eliza and I had worked hard with our preparations and so had lots of lovely yarn to bring - even more than we had planned!
It was a super easy set up on the morning of the show - with parking right outside the Community Centre.
It was so great to meet the other vendors including Terri of Fine Fish Yarns - who also took a role in organising the event, Lindsay of Dye Candy, Fiona of Green Elephant Yarn, Bernie from Bear in Sheep's Clothing, Tracey of Ewe Momma and Fay of Knit It-Hook It-Craft It who had travelled over by ferry in the morning and was returning after the show!
And, of course, the wonderful yarn lovers who had travelled from all over the country. It was great to meet a long-standing customer from Wicklow and another lady who'd met my father-in-law on the train one day and wondering why he was feeling her knitting! The knitter's handshake! He explained that his daughter-in-law was a dyer and hence, we got to meet her!
The town was buzzing with excited shoppers and attendees of the various workshops on offer from needle felting to making Dorset buttons. There were demos from various guilds including the Guild of Machines Knitters NI and the Ulster Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. And purveyors of everything from hand-dyed yarn to cute accessories were spread across the town's various venues.
The food was amazing -- by local company Maggie's Working Kitchen. Their Fifteens were to die for! And if you don't know what a Fifteen is, you really have to try this Northern Irish traybake - very easy to make (although not sure I'd be able to make them this good!)
I lost count of the number of people who thanked us for coming over but it's us who has to thank everybody for the fantastic welcome. It was Mr O.'s first show and he did a sterling job (although wasn't too keen on me calling him My Glamorous Assistant!)
If you want to get a feel of the atmosphere on the day, check out Vince Polding's vlog here.
A show in Germany and a word on yarn prices September 09 2016
Back in October 2015, out of the blue, an email from Betta (the lovely lady pictured above) landed in my inbox wondering if I'd be interested in exhibiting at the second Wollfest in Hamburg. So of course I said yes!
I had a vague idea about the logistics of getting many kilos of hand-dyed yarn from the UK to Hamburg - over 1000km away. However, a lot changes in a year, and my son had acquired my big mumsmobile and I knew I wasn't going to fit a stand's worth of yarn into my Fiat 500! So he drove down from Lincoln to let his mum borrow back his old car and having arranged special insurance (never borrow someone else's car if you want to drive in Europe - it gets super complicated!), myself and Eliza found ourselves in the Eurotunnel with a car-full of yarn.
I know this little map says 11 hours and 47 minutes, but in reality, with stops factored in, the journey took us about 14 hours with me as the driver, and Eliza as the navigator. We passed through France, Belgium and the Netherlands, finally arriving in Germany.
When we arrived, we met up with Suzanne (alabamawhirly) and her husband who'd had a little holiday in Berlin and had made their way up to Hamburg by train. The night we arrived, we headed straight out to see the sights of the city, and indulged in a few local specialities at the biggest food festival in Europe.
The next day, we arrived at Staatliche Jugendmusikschule and set up the stand in an airy, light room.
Here's Eliza, me and Suzanne just before the start of the show, looking just a little nervous. Although we'd practiced some German on Duolingo, it was coming up with sayings such as "The cat is giving a skirt to a woman" which really didn't come in handy at all!
Suzanne was the best at German, although we were all decidedly ropey, but we managed with her help and were so impressed by many customers' fluency in English. Put us to shame!
These new hexagons which I custom ordered from FaodailWoodworks looked rather splendid filled with colourful skeins.
It was a busy show! By the end of day two, the yarn pile had dwindled to one level meaning we brought back very little.
Both the customers and the other vendors were so friendly. We felt so very welcomed and really enjoyed every minute as the yarn was appreciated with much ooing and ahhing - which is pretty similar whatever the language!
You may have spotted my new Holyrood shawl - pattern by Justnya Lorkowska - hanging in the booth.
I chose crazy summery colours as I really wanted to combine all my bright pinks and turquoises into something fun and the different textures of this design work well for frequent colour changes. It's a combination of Little Wrigglers with some Entwine, but you could really use any 4 ply fingering weight yarn.
For a more elegant look, the pattern works so well with two or three colours.
We did get a few hours to get out and about and see a bit of Hamburg. We walked many kilometres and I stumbled across... yarn! I discovered a massive hobby shop called idee and got a little overwhelmed by all the crafting supplies! Look at all that wool, and that was only about half of what was on offer.
And there are some quite tall people in Hamburg...
It really is a wonderful city and Wollfest was a small, friendly show with very high quality vendors and teachers. It happens every two years, and I would thoroughly recommend a visit should you get the opportunity. Massive thanks to Suzanne and Eliza for being brave enough to accompany me on our little German adventure.
And now to the not so nice bit - yarn prices.
As you may be aware, following Brexit in June, sterling took a plunge against the US dollar and other currencies. I'm sure if you're UK based and been lucky enough to have had a summer holiday abroad this year, you'll have experienced directly the lack of purchasing power of the pound.
I have five to six suppliers of white yarn and many more other suppliers from mailing bags to tissue paper to dyes. Some of these suppliers I pay directly in $US and others pay their suppliers in $US or euros. Those not dealing in the dollar have still put up their prices as they have other supplies to pay for which may not originate in the UK.
So it is with great regret and having held off as long as I can, I've now had to make the decision to put up most of my yarn prices in order to continue to provide the highest quality yarn bases that I know you've come to expect. You can find a full price list here.
Please be assured that I highly respect each and every purchase made with your hard-earned cash and strive to provide you with an excellent product that you'll hopefully get a lot of satisfaction from.
Thank you for your understanding.
On a brighter note, I'm currently dyeing up the last installment of the Summer Club ready to be sent out at the end of next week and simultaneously signing up existing members and the waiting list to the Winter Club.
Depending on uptake, there will likely be more club places available at the end of next week, so keep your eyes peeled on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook if you fancy joining.
Our Edinburgh Yarn Festival adventure March 27 2016
After three weeks solid of dyeing by me and winding by Eliza, and labelling and pricing by us both well into the evening of Tuesday, we had a studio full of yarn that we had to get from deepest Berkshire to my home city of Edinburgh for the event of the year, Edinburgh Yarn Festival.
Bright and early on Wednesday morning, somehow (and I'm still not sure how) myself and Suzanne (alabamawhirly) managed to get the whole lot into my little car and we set off from the farm.
Having bumped into John and Juliet Arbon at Westmorland services (my favourite and the best), they were a little envious of our planned overnight stop in a shepherd's hut. I must say, I was a little skeptical staying in the middle of the woods in March, but... I was proved wrong.
We had a very comfortable stay and were more than toasty as the hut has its own woodburner. Opposite was a wooden cabin with a kitchen and bathroom and in another wooden building, the self-composting toilet!
Suzanne's friend, Tabi, owns the farm. Her job for the weekend was dosing 1000 pregnant ewes! I didn't envy her that little task. To get a glimpse inside the shepherd's hut, check out her Scales Plantation website here.
There was knitting in the evening with cocktails and the woodburner. I say knitting - mine was more like detangling after this - but the beautiful brioche is Suzanne's Askews Me shawl by Stephen West.
The next day, we set out on the road again in brilliant sunshine, through the rolling Pentlands, until we reached Edinburgh in the fog.
Unloading was straightforward, but I'd accidentally ordered a teeny tiny stall, so you remember all the yarn in the studio in the first picture? We had to somehow squeeze it all into a 2m x 2m space.
We used every available inch, but there was still half as much again under the table. But no need to worry - everything was out by the end of Day One and it was nice to be in the position of being able to replenish stock.
Little Wrigglers and gradient Little Squashes - new 20g minis - were particularly popular and there will be more...
These next few photos were taken in a quieter moment.
I wanted to convey and remember the atmosphere of the event.
The excitement of newly discovered yarns.
And the meeting of friends and designers.
We were situated opposite Kate Davies Designs, so were witness to some of the knitting glitterati (knitterati if you will) meeting and greeting and hugging and photographing as they caught up with each other.
We had a wonderful, overwhelming couple of days - so good to meet so many customers from all over the world. I'm only sorry if I didn't recognise anyone - you know what would be great? Badges with your real name and Ravelry name. That would mean an end to secretly checking out someone's name on their debit card! That's it - I've given away my trick! I do wish I had a better visual memory for faces.
It was also great to meet the whole team from Wollfest - the next event we're attending in Hamburg. I met many German knitters in Edinburgh and looking forward to meeting you in your home country in September. As I don't speak a word of German, I've been attempting to learn some using the fantastic Duolingo app. Any useful phrases very much appreciated in the comments below!
Kudos to Mica and Jo for organising such a smooth, enjoyable event. There's not a single thing I would change.
One of the best things was waking up to this view - not dissimilar to the view I used to wake up to growing up between Morningside and Marchmont. And catching up with old school friends and my aunt. It was also lovely to spend a bit of time with Vero (thatCanadiangirl) of Along the Lanes podcast fame and her mum who was over from Canada.
Edinburgh - I miss you.