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Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2018, part 1

· Yarn festivals,Notebook

My oh my, what a treat Edinburgh Yarn Festival was again this year! I know that for many of us, it’s the jewel in the crown of the yarn festival calendar. This year was no exception, it was as varied and exciting as always, an occasion to catch up with yarn friends old and new, admire the most exquisite selection of knit and crochet garments, and to mingle with the best sort of people, over a shared love of wool and yarn. The newly incorporated marquee was a huge improvement; it provided loads of extra and very welcome seats (500 I think!). Whenever I popped in there was so many groups of new and old friends chatting and creating, sharing shopping excitement, admiration of all things yarny, and recharging batteries. I know it was used for some of the evening events like the knit night and the ceilidh so it was a really asset!

I’ve always visited EYF with my lovely friend Sarah and I have such happy memories of the previous four events that I’ve attended. 2016 was particularly memorable as I had my then 3-month-old (and she had her 9-month-old) in tow in baby carriers! That year our marketplace browsing was punctuated with plentiful feeding and changing stops! And slightly aching backs … It was a conversation opener, but there were certainly no classes that year! This year was special in a different way as Sarah has now moved away from Edinburgh, and we were able to enjoy a rare child–free day out, and combine it with a weekend together. Such a treat.

This year I was fortunate enough to attend on two days, for two separate classes (if you’re not already aware, class tickets are like gold dust, they usually sell out within about 15 minutes of being on sale. When tickets were released I was at a children’s trampoline party with my 5-year old; the wi-fi was a little unreliable so it felt slightly miraculous that I managed to secure both of the tickets I was after …)

Gorgeous samples by Janie Crow


I’d had the best of intensions to arrive promptly at 9am when I got early access to the marketplace with my class ticket. I’d done that in 2017 and it was blissfully quiet first thing. But with little people to pack off to nursery and school, Adventures in Yarn notebooks to wrap (more on that later), and a ridiculously late recollection that I was meant to take needles and hooks with me to my class … it just didn’t quite happen. My workshop was held at the Water of Leith Visitors Centre which (I’m ashamed to say, despite living in Edinburgh) I hadn’t actually been to before. I hate being late so I wanted to leave plenty of time to figure out where I needed to go, and sadly the shopping had to wait!

First up was the “Knit and Crochet Combo” class with Carol Meldrum. Carol is a knitting and crochet designer and has written a wealth of books (including an amazing sounding “Knit your own boyfriend” title!). She’s based in Scotland, and she sometimes teaches classes at a lovely local to me yarn store in Edinburgh, Be Inspired Fibres. They’re usually on at the weekend so I haven’t managed to make it to one yet with my little people about, but I hope to one of these days. I have a lovely book by Carol so I was quite excited to meet her! We were quite an international bunch, from Germany, Iceland and Sweden, as well as Scotland and England. It was a nice small class (9 I think) which meant we had lots of individual support when we needed it, and it felt like a nice relaxed place to chat.

Knit and Crochet Combo class with Carol Meldrum

Carol shared some gorgeous samples with us of some of the items where she’s combined knitting and crochet, including a shawl she is writing up the design for, and a blanket where traditional granny squares combined a knitted edge. We all created a small cotton sample to try out the techniques – as you might expect it was the transition between the two types of stitches which was the tricky part but I like a little technical challenge! I’m quite slow with both my knitting and crochet, so I completed the sample in perfect time, just as the class was wrapping up. Some of my group were very speedy and started the shawl that Carol has designed to put our newly learnt techniques into practice. I’m going to make my sample into a small wall hanging and incorporate some tassels I think ... Wall hangings just call for a little adornment! Anyway, I’ll share a photo once it’s finished. I came away from the class with loads of ideas, and some much-needed encouragement to be a little more inventive with my making.

Samples by Carol Meldrum

Adventures in Yarn notebooks at EYF

A few people had contacted me beforehand to ask if I was going to EFY, and if they could collect a notebook from me in person. So that was a lovely opportunity to meet some new yarn folk! Copies left for new homes in Sweden, Norway, France and across the UK, and I passed on a couple of extra copies to podcasters so hopefully there will be some giveaways soon. I got some more really encouraging responses to the notebooks which makes me so happy!

Shopping (but not too much ...)

Moel View Yarns stand

The market place was as colourful and inspiring as ever. So much thought and creativity must go into planning each stall – both individually and collectively they look stunning. It’s hard to single out particular stalls as they were all so varied, original and visually engaging.

Skein Queen Yarns stall

Thursday was reserved for prebooked tickets only which I really loved, it was much easier to move about in the marketplace, get a good look at all the stalls and speak to people. So I really hope that format is repeated another year.

If you follow me on IG you’ll have seen my EFY ‘haul’. I now go armed with a shopping list as I like to have specific projects in mind. A couple of years back I made the mistake of buying some beautiful lace weight skeins – but it’s just not a yarn weight I enjoy working with. So no more! I stayed focused this time around, and bought small quantities of yarn for very specific purposes, and for the types of projects that are realistic for me and the time I have available for making (another learning! Not much time for creating + slow maker = limited quality of yarn required). I don’t feel guilty about my stash, but I’m trying to get it to a more realistic level where it feels inspiring rather than a limitation I need to work around.

I’ve detailed my day 1 buys on my IG post if you want a little more detail – or of course you can drop me a line if you have any questions …

I managed to catch up with my knitting teacher and now friend, friends of friends, fit in a coffee or two (and perhaps some cake) and by the end of the day I was absolutely and entirely exhausted. Hats off to the vendors who had to cope with actually working over the duration of the market place at a yarn festival! As I get older I realise that ‘mingling’ and even being around large volumes of people really tires me out, and I probably didn’t factor in enough down time during the day. And if that doesn’t sound like a perfect excuse for MORE coffee and cake, I don’t know what does!

Part 2 (Saturday) to follow – this felt like a long enough read as it is!!

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