On it’s website, Yarndale it describes itself as a “Creative festival celebrating all things woolly and wonderful”.
I would say that pretty much sums it up!
I’m going to tell you now that I took a LOT of pictures. There was so much to see that I can’t possibly write about it all, so I put together this montage which gives you a much better idea…
Set in Skipton amid the stunning scenery of the Yorkshire Dales (you see what they’ve done with the name there!), it was like being in a wonderful yarn bubble.
I used to live in Leeds and thought it would just be a short stop further on from there, but I did not account for google maps taking me a very odd route right through Bradford city centre. This is why I do not trust Sat Nav! That said, driving past the Alhambra Theatre added a nice trip down memory lane (I saw Matt or Luke Goss in Grease there back in the late 90s!). The rest of the drive through the Dales was stunning and made me wonder why I did not take better advantage of visiting them when I lived there.
There was a lovely yarn walk from the car park which stretched through the town to the station. The organisers had also put on big red london buses to ferry people to and from the centre as the Auction Houses were on the edge of town.
I must have arrived at peak time because the queue was huge, and somewhat disorganised but everyone’s enthusiasm seemed to take the edge off the 40 minute wait. There were also all sorts of beautiful yarn installations to examine as I moved along the line.
When I got in, I went straight into the workshop I had booked into, which was an Embroidery Stitch Sampler session. I have never really done much embroidery, unless you count making friendship bracelets or a cross stitch kits when I was a kid, but I wanted to try something different as that’s kind of the point!
This was my rather wobbly sampler showing running stitch, couching, satin stitch (that’s the messy blue one where I tried to fill in the leaf!), threaded running stitch, a french knot and a couple of attempts at Lazy Daisy stitch!
I learned that I am not a natural! To be kind to myself, an hour was too short a time to really get stuck in and I felt a little like we were rushing through the stitches. That’s my excuse for this mess anyway! I got to take away another piece of blanket and some threads to practice with so perhaps my next attempt will be a bit neater! I did pick up a couple of tricks which will come in handy in my crochet life too.
After that I went straight into the fray.
Skipton Auction House is essentially a huge draughty barn with rings for displaying animals. For those of you not from the UK, Yorkshire has a long history in textiles and, to this day, is a huge hub for the yarn industry. There are a lot of hills and a lot of sheep which helps!
There were hundreds of stalls selling a mixture of yarn and patterns, as well as accessories for knitting, crochet, spinning, weaving, felting and pretty much anything else yarny you could imagine!
As a newbie, I had been given the advice to go round once before buying anything, unless I wanted to re-mortgage my house! I think this was a good approach to take.
There really was something for everyone and I saw a few recurring themes along the way.
I absolutely love the look of giant knitting / crochet. The largest crochet I have tried is with a Sirdar super ultra chunky using a 25mm hook which was really fun to work with. I made a beautiful lap blanket but it leaves fluff everywhere so is not very practical! I’m not sure if the beautiful giant merino wools on sale here does the same. Probably not, I’m a firm believer that you get what you pay for!
On my second round, I did buy some of the Wool Couture Merino Cheeky Chunky which I just fell in love with. Yarndale was a feast for the hands as much as anything else. I spent the whole day just squeezing yarn!
There was a lot of beautiful Merino yarns there which was the second thing I noticed. The gorgeous blends and differences between them. I really got the opportunity to get closer to the yarn producers and compare the feel of the wools from different sheep. I learned that not only am I obsessed with Merino and Baby Alpaca, which I already knew, but that I am also partial to a Bluefaced Leicester.
It helped that they had some sheep there – one of whom was particularly keen for a good scratch. This little dude stole my heart.
I also bought some beautiful yarns from Laxatons, who I had never heard of before. They are not on social media as far as I can see and seem more focused on supplying hand dyers and wholesale. This worked a treat for me because I got a couple of hanks of this stunning Falkland Merino Aran and some Leicester Sock Yarn all for a song!
One of the other trends I noticed was the number of mounted animal heads, knitted, crocheted and felted. These were such fun to look at and there were some wonderful characters. I think I may have to look into getting one!
Last but not least, I cannot talk about Yarndale without mentioning the yarn installations. They were everywhere. You can see lots of them in the video but I must give Hester’s Giant Mandala a mention which was inside the main barn. This was made as an Instagram challenge in 2016 and really is an extraordinary piece of work!
To sum up, my first experience of Yarndale was one of excitement and to some extent, overwhelm. It was exceptionally busy, though after about 4pm it quietened down considerably giving you more time to chat to vendors and browse without the bun fight!
I was actually pretty restrained with my shopping. I think I was simply paralysed by indecision as there was SO MUCH yarn to look at. I’m debating going to the Kitting and Stitching show at Ally Pally next month so perhaps I’ll blow the rest of my budget there instead!
I think if I go back to Yarndale next year I will stay up north for a night the night to make the most of the trip, the show, the Dales and memory lane.
I was broken by the time I got home but on the plus side, the cat had finally worked out how to use her new cat flap whilst I was out for so long!
Now, where do I start with this little lot?