This is one of those posts that is a bit of a tell-all. I’m sharing photos of everything I did, ate, and bought at Edinburgh Yarn Festival (minus the items destined to be gifts). So, be prepared because this long post is all about how I prepared for and made the most of Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2016, including photos of all my new yarn.
In preparation for the big weekend festival, I sorted through my yarn and knitting supplies to determine what I need that I don’t have and what I have that I don’t need. It was a bit of space making, and a whole lot of tough decisions. But it was just what needed to happen before I would inevitably purchase more yarn and notions. Here I am doing the tough work of sorting and destashing. It was made easier with my best friend Arlene‘s help.
Getting There & Pre-Festival Fun
Then before I knew it, it was time to fly off to Scotland with Sara (of Smudge Yarns) and Sue to meet our other Irish knitting friends for the Edinburgh Yarn Festival Weekend. Our flight was first thing on Saint Patrick’s Day heading out of Cork City, Ireland. So, as you can imagine, it was a bit of a party plane. The in-flight staff had their biggest smiles on and the seats were filled with festively-dressed passengers ready for a fun weekend in Edinburgh. Most were heading up for hen or stag weekends. This group of Killarney lads was pure class though.
Once we landed, we went in search of food and had breakfast at Milk in Haymarket. We needed to fuel up for the day ahead. We also checked into our AirBnB.
Then it was time to explore Old Town Edinburgh. Sara and I went to Old Town for some wandering while Sue went to help Dublin Dye set up its booth. After some roaming, we managed to make time for lunch at the Baked Potato Shop on Cockburn.
Here you see vegetarian haggis samosas with small (yes, small) baked potatoes topped with butter, salt, and avocado salad (which includes chunks of cheddar). I eat here at least once every time I visit Edinburgh. It never disappoints.
Time for the kick-off knit night at Akva. It was packed with knitters! By 9pm, it was a challenge to find seating.
Thankfully, we situated ourselves upstairs before it became crowded there and were beside the Irish night showcase. Since there were 10 or so of us who flew up from Ireland, it felt like the perfect spot. Akva had a fun vibe, but was definitely at capacity that night.
To make things easy for festival-goers, there was a table set up to show your printed ticket confirmation to receive the wristband and any other details. That made my morning much easier the next day when the queue to do the exchange was longer. Whoever thought to set that table up deserves a huge thank you.
Knitterati were there too, including talented and world-renowned designers Woolly Wormhead and Carol Feller (read more of my posts about Carol and her designs). Here they are with two cards from my homemade Cards Against Humanity deck (more about that in a separate post in a week or two).
The atmosphere was so friendly with chatter and petting of each other’s knitted wares. It’s kinda expected, isn’t it? We had a few extra seats so we welcomed so strangers to join us until our friends arrived and we became fast friends. There was a woman from Paris who was hipper than I could ever hope to be, but so humble and approachable (we’re friends on Ravelry now!). The other woman, by chance, backed my 2013 Kickstarter campaign for my book, Bake Knit Sew! What are the chances?!? And, as you’d expect, she was delightful as were our other new friends. And when our friends did arrive, mysteriously additional chairs found their way to us too, so it truly was the more the merrier.
These Islands Team, Together At Last
This was also the first time all three authors of These Islands:Knits from Ireland, Scotland, and Britain were physically together in the same city. Here’s photographic proof – Sara, me, and Suzi ! This was a very big deal for us, so even though it’s not strictly about the festival, I wanted to document this here as well because the festival brought us together.
If you’ve not heard of or read These Islands, it is focused on ethical and sustainable wool sources in Ireland, Scotland, and England with a few carefully designed patterns to showcase the wool. It encourages awareness of wool sources beyond the dyer to the sheep farm itself. Here is the brilliant Irish podcast Blasta about the book, interviewing all three of us, plus Cathy, and here is the Ravelry link to the book to peek at the patterns and projects. The book was in the works for a year to get it just right and we were a harmonious and enthusiastic team throughout.
You can visit the indie publisher’s site to learn more about it or buy the book (it is also available from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, BookDepository, and Barnes & Noble). Of course, you don’t need to buy the book to get a taste for it, why not knit Sara’s Frontier Shawl pattern which was a free pattern in Irish Farmers Journal last year. Oh, and it’s on super sale with Prime shipping from Amazon.com right now.
I arrived at EYF 2016 with my carefully compiled list of weights, colors, and yardages. No, really, I did. After months of planning and researching yarns online, it was time to buy the yarns for new designs for my next book (Bake Knit Sew 2). I had a few dyers specifically in mind, but was also open to inspiration and friends’ recommendations. I’d show you the list, but it has secret book planning stuff in there, so you’ll just have to wait (or stalk me on Instagram and Ravelry, because I’ll be needing test knitters soon enough).
Here Squeaky and I are arriving!
Hand-dyed in Germany since 2002 by Claudia Höll-Wellmann and her team. Read more about her work in her own words. When I was in Berlin last month, I tried and failed to buy yarn so this was delightful and my second chance. I bought three skeins.
Lovingly hand dyed in Paris, France, the yarn shop has a sister shop, L’OisiveThé, which is a Salon de Thé et Tricot. Yes, tea shop and yarn store in one heavenly destination. I bought four skeins.
Yvonne has been hand dyeing wool since 2008, at first for This is Knit in Dublin, Ireland, and now online through Etsy as well! Based in Ireland, she values quality and unique colorways while helping customers create the knitted items of their dreams with just the right yarn. Visit the blog to find out more. I delayed my Dublin Dye purchase since I live two hours from the HQ so easier than squeezing more yarn in my luggage home from Edinburgh. I have a couple Dublin Dye skeins to tide me over until then, thankfully.
In addition to my preplanned three destinations, there were DOZENS more! It took six hours over two days to visit all the stalls. Oh, and I did visit them all, at least once. It was my civic duty as a knitter and blogger, no? Let’s peek at a few of the stalls. It was harder to take photos than I anticipated because it was quite crowded. But from these photos, you’ll see what I mean about the caliber of items showcased and sold at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival.
Made from recycled materials, limited quantities made, and darling! These were in short supply by mid-day on Saturday, but I was grateful to discover Succaplokki has an Etsy shop!
Even a spot just to demonstrate and teach machine knitting. This was about as high tech as things got. Their work was amazing!
The EYF Difference
One thing you may notice when you browse the names is that this is about artisan, hand-dyed, lovingly crafted yarns, notions, and supplies. I found a couple blends with a little acrylic, but this festival was a love letter to quality, high-end yarns and the knitters (and crocheters and weavers) who love them. These are not the big names you’d see at chain craft stores in America, but the small design houses that cultivate their own style and colorways from inner passion and years of experience. There were also a handful of retailers there which made for diversity since those stalls stocked not just yarn, but goodies and great gifts for Knitmas.
We looked at everything and truly enjoyed ourselves. But through it all, there was an openness found at many of the stalls that encouraged squishing and questions and enthusiasm. We could literally be kids in a candy store and jump up and down, and no one thought it was juvenile to do so. Our fellow visitors and knitters were collaborative and social. So fun to make new friends. There was a couple who drove up for a getaway and it was a surprise the husband planned for his yarn-dyeing wife! #MarriageGoals
Another element of that openness was knowledge. I personally get rubbed the wrong way when I dine out and am looked at like a crazy person or spy when ask from where they source their fish or butter. Why would anyone get defensive about that? Well, the same goes for asking about the source of wool. We are spending hours upon hours crafting something, so it makes sense we want to know if it was spun from the chin hairs of exploited unicorns or well-loved sheep that have names. Which made attending this with Sara all the more special since she’s all about that with her own yarn company, Smudge Yarns, and it was the focus of These Islands. I firmly believe any knitter should be able to ask where a yarn business gets its wool/roving/yarn and receive a straight, honest answer without attitude.
There was also the KidsKnit.co.uk booth focused on engaging craftiness in children! They had activities too for any children who attended the festival. Brilliant way to engage them and help them be part of the woolly fun. Here is a peek at a threading/weaving activity that I will definitely replicate at home since I’m out of the KidsKnit service area. I have a separate stash for my son and he does random things with it, like creating pulley systems for his Transformers, but I think these fish activities are on deck for the weekend!
KidsKnit does special events, birthday parties, holiday camps, and all sorts of activities to engage boys and girls of primary school age of any skill level. They know that knitting encourages creativity, increases ability to concentrate, and benefits math skills. It also helps with self-soothing of moods and fine motor skills, both of which are great to master early in life. I love how they embrace that needlework can be a life-long hobby with endless possibilities for the creative imagination and knitting and purling are just part of it. I bought a tee shirt for my son that has a smiling bear in a hand knit scarf with a ball of wool at her feet/paws. Actually, it’s this design…
Before moving on to my yarn haul photos, there is one other element worth mentioning… The Photobooth. Of course, I couldn’t resist hamming it up a little in the EYF Photo Booth. Here are the results.
My New Yarn
Now, let’s focus on all the woolly goodies that I bought. It was difficult to choose just a few gems and to stay on budget, but I did it! The key was my list. But I also had a small mad money budget for impulse buys that I’d use for non-book projects. That was a relief when those love-at-first-squish moments came along.
Here is one big group photo, then group photos by day, then detailed shots of each cake of yarn. And because I keep it real, yes, that is dried macaroni and cheese on the carpet under the “i” of “festival”.
And now group photos by day. I had my day one skeins wound right away by the Teapot Trust because winding at home is a challenge with an eager and helpful four-year-old. Note that the top left pink/green and hand wound ball on the bottom came with me and are Irish Fairytale Yarns.
My day two haul at lunchtime. Yes, Transformers. Not quite the traditional Edinburgh Yarn Festival purchase, but found at the ASDA next door for my little man back home.
By the afternoon, a couple more joined the family. They stayed in their original hank forms until Suzi brought her swift and winder to our AirBnB for some winding fun, Chinese take away, and a rousing round of my homemade Cards Against Humanity game.
Now, for the detailed look at each of the yarns and from whence they came. I tried to photograph the labels so you have the details for your own shopping and wish list purposes. But you can also see the details in my stash on Ravelry.
These are Pairs BFL & Bamboo 4ply.
We also knew that Edinburgh had more to offer than the yarn festival, so we split our time evenly between EYF and Old Town exploration.
And because when expats travel together (it was Sara, Squeaky, and me for this jaunt), inevitably we are drawn to Mexican food, we found a charming little spot that is a mini chain called Pancho Villa’s.
We weren’t sure what to expect, but they were open at 3pm and we were hankering for some guacamole, so we gave it a go and have no regrets. What a find!
It looks like I’m living it up, but everyone knows I don’t really drink, so it’s just a pretty lemonade. But, oh so yummy.
Oh yes, there were churros!
I ate mine then helped Squeaky with her own! Which was even more impressive because we then had about two hours before we met the rest of the ladies for dinner at Chop Chop (highly recommended, I’m in love with their spicy green beans and rice).
More Blogger’s Tales from Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2016
Mine is not the only story. I know, this is a long post, but maybe you still want to read more about this year’s Edinburgh Yarn Festival. If that’s the case, here are other fabulous bloggers who also attended and lived to tell the tale.
- AbsoKnittinglutely – Wool Tribe: The Edinburgh Yarn Festival companion
- AbsoKnittinglutely – Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2016 – Recap
- Baby Cocktails – Edinburgh, Part 1
- Baby Cocktails – Edinburgh, The Festival, Plus the Yarn
- Creating Ruth and the Felty Folk – All the Yarn, Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2016
- Depuis qu’elle tricote – Globe Tricoteuse: EdinYarnFest 2016…Le Debrief ! (French language blog)
- Drop One, Ripples Crafts – EYF – Over for another year (sadly!)
- Hand Drawn Yarn – Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2016
- Julie Hedge’s Laces – Edinburgh Yarn Festival Recap: Just the Beginning
- Julie Hedge’s Laces – Edinburgh Yarn Festival Recap Part 2: Skeins With A Story
- Karie Bookish – With Love From Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2016
- Kate Davies – EYF Snapshots
- kikithings – Edinburgh (German language blog)
- Knit British – My EYF be-wool-derment
- knitsonik – Thank you EYF
- Midwinter Yarns – Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2016
- Mrs. M’s Curiosity Cabinet – EYF 2016: wool, connection and community
- My Life in Knitwear – edinburgh yarn festival round up
- Natalie Fergie – EYF, WM and fairytales
- Nessa’s Place – Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2016
- Never at a Loose End – A wee cough…
- Oranges & Apples – Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2016
- Owl Print Panda – Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2016
- Polo & Co – Edinburgh Yarn Festival (French language blog)
- RØD TRÅD – Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2016
- The Slipped Stitch – And so it’s over…
- Thien-Kieu Lam – A Knitter’s Journey to the United Kingdom
- Tin Can Knits – Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2016
- TjFrog – Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2016
- Travel Knitter – a weekend at EYF
- Wool, Knit, Collect – Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2016
Did you go? Which is your favorite yarn that I brought home? What is your favorite part of yarn festivals? When you travel, do you also seek out Mexican cuisine?