This weekend is Yarndale, one of the best events in my yarn year! I will be visiting on Saturday and I’m just thinking about my preparation.
Are you going to Yarndale? If so here are my top tips.
The first part of my prep is a review of the exhibitor list and floor plan, both can be found on the website here. I check the exhibitors then print out a floor plan and highlight the ones that I really want to visit, sometimes I end up with a long list of exhibitors and have to prioritise them (maybe using 2 colours of highlighter pen!). This then helps me decide which route I should take through the auction mart.
Next is what to wear. It’s a good idea to check the weather forecast, but even in hot weather the venue can be cold – it has open sides and concrete floor and is built on a slope which helps the air flow – so it can be chilly even on a warm day. The floor means comfy shoes are needed, and nice warm handknitted socks. I find trousers are best and ones with a secret security pocket, then lots of layers. Also, some fingerless mitts are useful and something for around the neck (for me that means a cowl).
Normally, I would take a large canvas bag to fling over my shoulder, but this year there are bag searches and it will be quicker all round if I don’t take a large bag. So I’m opting for a small cross body handbag for money, phone, lippy, comb, small packet of tissues, keys etc. It has some good little zipped pockets which are great for security.
For food I will take some lunch items, I’ll have some before I leave the coach (did I say I was on a coach?) and leave anything else on the coach (you can do this also if you have a car). I’ll also slip a couple of energy bars in my pockets for if I get peckish.
Also in my pockets will be some lightweight but strong shopping bags, these will be full by the end of the day! If I find they get full early, then I’ll just leave them n the bag crèche until later. And if I need another bag, well I can always buy a supply of the Yarndale bags!
Some, but not all, stallholders have mobile visa machines but the signal isn’t always good, so it’s much better to have cash (and possibly a cheque book). I don’t keep cash all in one place which is why those little security pockets in trousers and bag are handy. And it’s good to have small denomination notes and a good supply of pound coins, stallholders love them!
One mention of security – it is heightened this year, and we should all be alert, not just for additional risks but also for normal risks, be careful of where you keep your money and phone and hang onto your shopping (this is the worrying risk – don’t leave any of your precious purchases anywhere!).
Finally, the night before I have an early night and I put the mobile on charge.
If you’re at Yarndale on Saturday, look out for me – I’ll be wearing my Ravelry badge. And if you have any tips for Yarndale, please share them!
It is a very popular event and people come in thousands. So many people that I find it difficult to get any decent photos of the exhibitor stands! This shot shows just how busy it can be (this shows about half the marketplace and was taken fairly early in the day):
The layout and decoration has improved again! Well done The Yarndale team! These are some of the lovely Yarndale decorations to see:
I should have taken a photo of the mandalas, but I clean forgot!
The range of stallholders has expanded yet is also of a much higher standard than previous years. There were lots of quality things to see and buy, and I found it very tempting. But I controlled my budget by taking cash only, this made me careful in what I purchased. Here’s my haul:
The basket is an African basket from Injabulo (I think I’m addicted to baskets), 2 skeins of the now rare Natural Dye Studio yarn from Amanda Perkins, one skein of luscious silk worsted from Willow Knits, 6 small skeins (200g total) of gorgeous Yeavering Bell DK from Whistlebare (a lovely mohair/wensleydale blend), 3 balls of linen and some linen material from Namolio, large pegs for my Swift from The Yarn Cafe and some brooches from Max’s World.
As well as shopping there so much to see and so many people to meet up that my head was in whirl half the time! And this year I even had the opportunity to help Anne on the Willow Knits stand for fifteen minutes, having my first experience of what it’s like to sell yarn to hungry customers 🙂
This year I took an hour out of the show and I went into Skipton on the red routemaster bus. It was a lovely escape from the crowds which seem to be at the greatest from about 11.30 to 1.30, but also Skipton is a great little market town to visit. I had coffee and cake with one of my friends in a lovely café she spotted down one of the ginnels:
Latte, fruit cake, Wensleydale cheese and apple – a delicious combination and great ‘fuel’ for the second half of the show!
I went by coach,organised by Lynne, Bernadette and Maxine, and Lynne did a splendid job of getting us on the coach and then into the show (always a bit tricky with 50 or so excited yarnies!).
I was exhausted when I returned home, so it was an early night for me…and then I slept in a bit later than I anticipated. The exhaustion was well worth it. But do I really have another year to wait for the next show?!
……and I’m getting excited! Also, I am preparing for the day in my usual fairly organised way. So I thought I’d share how I prepare as a visitor:
What do I wear? It’s pretty obvious really – some comfy trainers (the floor is solid concrete and warm socks are a necessity), trousers (not a skirt as it may be chilly!) with a secret security pocket, lots of layers, a pair of fingerless mitts (excellent for being able to fondle yarn and get your cash out easily) and my favourite type of neckwear for shopping – a cowl. When I thought about this I came to a bit of a standstill, you see I do like to co-ordinate what I wear and I’m taking some lovely crocheted fingerless mitts in blue but I don’t have a blue cowl! So my last minute challenge was to stash dive and make a cowl that matches. So that’s where I’ve been this afternoon – searching through piles of stash (which makes me wonder just why am I going to Yarndale!?). I have found some lovely NDS dk yarn called Stardust in blues and lilac, not an exact match for the mitts but should be ok. And my challenge for this evening is to make a cowl……wish me luck!
The next stage of my prep is to get the bag packed. Ah yes, the bag – it is a good sized canvas bag which I can fling over my shoulder, not too large as I don’t want to inadvertently bump it into other visitors (which is very easy to do in a crowd).
I have reviewed the exhibitor list and floor plan already, so I have a printed copy marked up with my ‘must visit’ stands. This is the first item to go in my bag. .
I always take a packed lunch. There are cafes in Skipton and food stalls at the show, but the queues can be long. So I find it easier to pack my own lunch – and a few snacks. I’m travelling there by coach so I have a snack before arrival which helps keep me going until lunch! So this afternoon I made sure I had sandwiches, snacks and some bottled water ready in the fridge. They will all go into my bag just before I leave tomorrow morning.
Also in the bag is a market shopping bag, you know the sort of old fashioned string bag – you could crochet one yourself but I have a few ‘turtle bags’ so I use one of those. It’s perfect as an overflow expandable bag.
A lightweight fleece is the next item – just in case it gets really cold.
The last item in the bag is a pack-a-mac. I prefer this to an umbrella for two reasons – firstly it can provide an extra (and windproof) layer if it gets cold and, second, umbrellas can be difficult to manoeuvre in a crowd and possibly a bit dangerous! I have checked the weather forecast and it looks good, but this is England so it is best to be prepared for rain.
Also, I have a small cross body handbag for money, phone, lippy, comb, small packet of tissues, keys etc. It has some good little zipped pockets which are great for security. I put my mobile on charge overnight, so it is fully charged for tomorrow.
Money is another thing to consider. Some, but not all, stallholders have mobile visa machines but the signal isn’t always good, so it’s much better to have cash and cheque book. I don’t keep cash all in one place which is why those little security pockets in trousers and bag are handy. And it’s good to have small denomination notes and a good supply of pound coins, stallholders love them!
Finally, an early night is in order. I want to be fresh as a daisy tomorrow!
I’ll be wearing my Ravelry badge at Yarndale, so if you spot me you’ll soon tell if I won my cowl challenge, although I may still be crocheting it on the coach!
My friend, and amazing crochet designer, Amanda Perkins popped round for a chat. We don’t often get the opportunity to chat face to face, since I live in the North West and she lives in Devon! But today she stopped off on her way to Yarndale, the festival of woolly wonders which is on this coming weekend. Amanda has a stand there and it will be the first time she is exhibiting purely as a designer. It was fantastic to see her and get a real opportunity for a good chat.
I will be going to Yarndale on Saturday, and will see her again, but we won’t really have any quality chatting time as Yarndale will be buzzing! She has told me her plans for her stand, which include some of her amazing blankets, some yarn (the last of the now very rare Natural Dye Studio yarn, and some of the gorgeous John Arbon Knit by Numbers) and an array of her gorgeous patterns. Her stand is right in the centre of Yarndale, very close to Lucy’s Knit n Natter lounge. So please look out for her on stand number 80.
The second thing to make me happy today was what Mrs Postie delivered – my contributor copy of Inside Crochet issue 70. I have a design in it, the Medina Cowl. This is made with some luscious silk from Willow Knits.
I am very pleased with this design. It uses 3 beautiful colours of silk and the components are quite simple, but the joining is a feature which may prove a bit challenging to some (although it will become easier the more you practice). Willow Knits is also at Yarndale, so please pop by and see Anne on stand 101, I am sure she’ll have these beautiful autumnal colours of silks!
Finally, do also pop by the Inside Crochet stand (159) – you may even see Medina Cowl ‘in the flesh’! And I’ll be there at around 2.30pm.
The 3rd annual Yarndale takes place next weekend. This is a fantastic yarny event focussing on crochet thanks to Lucy of Attic24, and one of the highlights of the yarny year for me.
This year I am joining a coach trip organised by Lynne (of The Wool Nest), Bernadette (of Cheshire Needlecraft) and Martine. This makes it even more enjoyable than previously, as I haven’t been involved in organising it! All I have to do is turn up at the coach on time.
This afternoon I printed off the plan of the show and the list of exhibitors. I visit all the stands but there are some I like to linger at, so I started highlighting them on the plan – I started with my favourites: Amanda Perkins Designs, Willow Knits, Inside Crochet and Namolio, and then I read the list of exhibitors thoroughly to see who else would be there and decided to ditch the highlighter pen – my ‘must see’ list was getting too long!
Are you going to Yarndale? If so it would be great to see you – I do plan to be at the Inside Crochet stand at around 2.30pm for a little while. Maybe I’ll see you there 🙂
Having been to Yarndale only a few days ago it was rather indulgent to visit a yarn shop but, when invited to join my yarny friends for a quick trip out to Black Sheep Wools, I could not resist, after all I am a self-confessed yarn addict! And I had visited Ovelha Negra in Oporto very recently – Ovelha Negra means black sheep – so I thought I should try an English one.
It was a fun time, we got lost going there and again coming back (the coming back was probably my fault – sorry Julie!). So when we arrived we were ready for a coffee, and in my case a lovely homemade scone with jam and cream, in the café. Once refreshed it was time to shop.
I didn’t need any more yarn but I can never resist. I had decided to make some slippers using a pattern in the new magazine #crochet which needed 2 balls of Rico Creative Cotton Aran, so I selected the 2 balls. I then found myself in the ‘yarn dive’ area which is full of bargains. I could not resist some Louisa Harding Sari Ribbon on sale at £4.99 per skein – this will be great from some Christmas seasonal makes but is also great for wrapping. Although Ruth did say I looked like a cheer leader holding up this sparkly yarn in both hands!
Black Sheep is an extensive yarn shop and includes other crafts. There is a good selection of fabrics and, with seasonal makes on my mind, I bought some:
One thing I didn’t buy at Yarndale was some more of the KnitPro Karbonz knitting needles. I bought a pair on my trip to Blackpool and they have become my favourite needles. I am using them at the moment for the Sunny Sail shawl (using yarn purchased at Yarndale) but I need to transfer to circulars soon. When Julie spotted they had sets for sale I really could not resist at all – so a set of 7 interchangeable needles was also purchased.
I enjoyed the trip out and I am sure to visit Black Sheep again, especially as their prices are very good. And the café does lovely cakes and food. Why is it that yarn and cake go so well together?
I bought some Rosarios 4 Bijou yarn in Portugal (from Ovelha Negra a wonderful shop). It is super bulky with a varied thickness and absolutely lovely to use. As soon as it was on my hook it flowed! So I wasted no time in making something with it which reminded me of our holiday in Northern Portugal.
Probably the best evening we had was the first night, it was pouring down with rain but we had the most spectacular view of the Luis I Bridge over the River Douro. It is known as the Eiffel Tower of Portugal, and is constructed from lots of grey steel.
The Bijou yarn I bought is a pale grey and as I looked at this photo of the bridge:
my mind started to think – simple steel structure, simple crochet stitches. This cowl is the result:
The stitch is simple and shows off the yarn beautifully, it is so simple it took only a few hours to make. It is also adaptable, I made it using Bijou but you can make it in any yarn as long as you use the correct hook size and start with a chain which is a multiple of 4.
The pattern is now properly written in English and US terms and is available here on Ravelry:
I had a fabulous day out at Yarndale but I had only recently returned from a holiday in Northern Portugal and my mind was still there.
The holiday was a short river cruise on the Douro followed by a short stay in a Pousada.
Prior to going I asked around on Ravelry to see if anyone could give me ideas of yarn shops to visit during my free time (a few hours on the first day) in Oporto. So I was fore-armed. Unfortunately things don’t always go to plan and my idea of having 3 hours free to wander Oporto on the day we arrived dissolved when we were whisked off for a coach tour of Oporto and a port wine tasting (and I love white port – so I wasn’t too disappointed!). However, the tour included 20 minutes of free time in an area very close to one of my ‘tips’. So I wasted no time in searching out ‘A Vida Portuguesa’. It is a lovely old shop with lots of beautiful items all made in Portugal. Unfortunately my enquiries drew a blank – I was advised they had no yarn.
As the time was ticking away rapidly, I felt quite low, my only possible chance of finding yarn in Portugal had diminished substantially…. or so I thought…. I unexpectedly I found a fabric shop/haberdashery on a street corner so took my chances and jumped in. After an interesting discussion consisting mainly of gesticulation, I was told to go around the corner and across the road (I have no idea how I worked this out as my Portuguese is extremely limited!). By now I had only 2 minutes free time left but I ran across the tramlines and into the shop……which turned out to be a fabric/haberdashery/yarn shop. It took only a quick peruse of the shelves to see there was no Portuguese wool – it was all acrylic. Nevertheless I asked and someone who could speak enough English let me know they didn’t have any local Portuguese yarn.
My first yarn hunt had drawn a blank but I was happily surprised at having found not one but two crafty shops in a small area of Oporto.
Two days later we visited Lamego – a small town famous for the sanctuary of Our Lady of Remedies and its long staircase down to the town (685 steps and yes I walked down but I didn’t count them! Thank heavens they didn’t ask me to walk up!!!).
After the long descent (which reminded me of my last fire drill from the 24th floor of the building I used to work in!), we wandered through the main parts of Lamego and then took a side street and lo and behold I found Casa Das Las on Rua Olaria – yes a yarn shop!!!! After the usual gesticulations (I was getting used to this!) I found some yarn in hanks that was 50% Portuguese wool. I was surprised to find it was sold by weight and priced by the kilo. I chose 2 colours and found they weighed about 240g for a total cost of €9.37.
Suddenly I felt I had achieved my goal of finding Portuguese yarn.
Two days later we were back in Oporto, but again the timetable had changed and I found we had 1.5 hours free time. Filipa, the hotel/ship manager, had given me a map to find Ovelha Negra, a modern yarn shop in Oporto of which I had read some excellent reviews. I found it easily and found someone who spoke perfect English. She seemed surprised that someone from the UK wanted to visit a Portuguese yarn shop! She helped me find some Rosarios 4 yarn (a Portuguese brand) and I left feeling happy. The shop is very modern and much like many yarn shops we have in the UK
Apologies for the quality of this photo – it was taken on my phone and I made a complete hash of it!
Here is the yarn I bought:
I was now on a high and decided I would like to revisit A Vida Portuguesa as it was a lovely shop, old and characterful, and full of local Portuguese goods. I ascended the beautiful old wooden staircase and just at the top I found some lovely yarn! Just a few skeins in a basket but this was clearly handcrafted and gorgeous! So my second yarn purchase of the day – and only 8 euros!
The next day we visited Braga – a larger town. Again we had some free time ….did I tell you about the fantabulous pastries in Portugal? Well I went in search of one of the pastry shops, which are everywhere, and lo and behold almost next door to the first pastry shop I found was a wool shop, no signage but plenty of wool (on Rua de S Marcos). Again the language barrier was overcome with gesticulation and a clear love of La (wool) and I was shown a section of hanks of 100% wool. I chose a hank and this was weighed and priced as before.
You can imagine how happy I was by now – 4 yarn purchases in a few days!!!!
Our last trip was to Guimaraes, a UNESCO world heritage site with a beautifully preserved medieval centre. It has lots of characterful buildings, restaurants and shops….and very strangely I found 2 yarn shops, much the same as the ones in Lamego and Braga. I was extremely restrained and decided not to buy any more yarn, maybe the size of my suitcase helped in this decision!
But I thoroughly enjoyed finding yet more yarn shops and I also spotted some small handcrafted crochet shops, primarily baby clothes but definitely hand made.
Finally, I fell in love with Guimaraes embroidery – which I found everywhere. Traditionally in black, red, blue or cream on cream linen. The best shop I found was a co-operative and I was tempted to purchase a lovely embroidered pouch bag – I love how the drawstring is crocheted!
And this was small and flat, so fitted easily in the suitcase!
So Northern Portugal has been very rewarding for a yarn addict. It is clear that there are more plentiful yarn shops than in the UK (much more plentiful). I just hope it stays that way.
And I must thank my husband, he was very patient as I searched out all the yarnie goodness in Northern Portugal and I love him to bits!
Happy knitting and crocheting xxxx
PS I didn’t mention it but the prices of everything are excellent, I can’t recall ever buying a bottle of beer (Super Bock) for only 70p!!! Visit Northern Portugal now, before it gets too commercial.
PPS I have been working with some of the Rosarios 4 yarn and there is a cowl pattern almost ready to publish…. a fabulous reminder of my yarn adventure in Northern Portugal!
I have been busy for the last 2 weeks, a little bit of designing but mainly ‘stashing down’. What is stashing down? For yarn-aholics like me, stash is the stock of yarn I have acquired over the years. So stashing down means using up lots of yarn so that my yarn ‘stash’ reduces. Now my stash is huge, so large that I keep a spreadsheet to help me manage it and I know how many balls/skeins I have. But it is so embarrassingly large that I can’t even bring myself to tell you what that number is! It does fill a tall built in double width wardrobe and overflow into numerous baskets in my yarn room. Did I ever mention I have a yarn room? Perhaps the less said the better – but it gives you an idea of how much stash I have!
I need to reduce this stash considerably and I decided to use quick simple crochet stitches (such as granny square stitches) that I can do with my eyes shut, and therefore speedily stash down. So I have used these simple stitches and crocheted like the wind. So far I have used 17 balls of my stash and made no fewer 8 gift bags (destined for Christmas wrappings).
The bags are varied, and mainly just improvised. I did start a couple of patterns but changed then, and after that I decided I could just make them up as I went. So here’s a selection:
You can tell from the photos that I haven’t used the best of my yarn stash for these bags. But there is a little glitter and silk in some of the yarns I used.
I have also started on some simple but luxurious cushion covers in pure silk. These are a simple granny square design – one for the back and 4 for the front. I plan to fasten them with buttons, so I will need to design a granny-style button flap.
I love the yarn and the colours complement each other well. Unfortunately this photo just doesn’t show the colours in all their glory, nor the beautiful sheen of the silk.
I’m also working on a few WIPs – one a second cushion cover to match this one:
In the next couple of weeks my stash down will be finished (for now) and hopefully I will have used more than 30 balls/skeins of yarn. Perfect for creating more storage space …….because at the end of September I am going here: http://www.yarndale.co.uk
And I am sure to buy lots more yarn – I guess that’s called stashing up!!!
I consider myself to be privileged and lucky to be a member of a fabulous knitgroup called Knitsford. I could write pages on how fabulous it is!
Although called a knitgroup, it is for any craft – we have knitters, crocheters, spinners, weavers, embroiderers and sewers who attend regularly, and many are multi-crafters. They are a wonderful group of people and we have a laugh, share experiences, help each other with any knit/crochet/sewing problems, give each other moral support and generally just have a great time over a coffee, sometimes cake, sometimes bacon butties and sometimes lunch, depending on the time of day.
We meet in 3 venues on different days/times of the week – a pub, a bar/restaurant and a garden centre café, and people come when they like. Anything from 4 to 24 people can attend any of them.
Today we were at the garden centre, and I found myself swapping stitch markers, showing the delights of Ravelry, sharing ways of joining crochet motifs, doing a ‘show and tell’ on some recent completed projects such as this:
Yes, only sneaky previews as these are a couple of designs that I plan on publishing (you must be patient!).
I also shared progress on bohemian rhapsody, found out who is coming on our coach trip to Yarndale in September and I worked out how to do a pretty crochet flower for Maxie, who is visiting from South Africa.
There was an abundance of laughter today and I came away refreshed!
So tell me are you a member of a knitgroup? And, if so, what do you enjoy the most about it?