Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Edinburgh Yarn Festival Recap: Just the Beginning . . .

Can there be a more beautiful and vibrant city to hold a yarn festival in than Edinburgh?

They even have knitters and spinners on the back of their banknotes (I knew that Scotland had different notes to England but didn't realize that there are three banks who can print their money, so while the colours stay the same, the images vary.  This note is part of the Clydesdale Bank's World Heritage series showing the women of St. Kilda.  Very cool.)

Whew - I am just getting my breath back after a whirlwind five days involving lots of walking, eating, dancing, knitting, crocheting, talking about knitting and crochet, getting inspired through courses and of course squishing and shopping for yarn and fibre. It's going to take a few posts to recap everything but the first thing to say is that if you only go to one wool festival a year, this is definitely the one to attend.  Huge kudos to Jo and Mica, the amazing women behind EYF; I can only imagine the hours and hours of hard work needed to make such a large event go so smoothly.  There weren't even any queues for the loos - how on earth did they manage that?

The marketplace was fantastic as always.  I love talking to the vendors whose passion and knowledge are infectious, and I may have come away with just a wee skein or two (more on that in another post).  It was also fun to hang out at the podcast lounge, fondle some British wool breeds and see this amazing blanket knitted by Cathy Scott and held up by Sonia Bargielowska of Blacker Yarns and the unstoppable Louise Scollay of Knit British

I probably overloaded myself with courses but really wanted to absorb as much knowledge as possible.  This is what I love about knitting - the learning never stops.  And EYF attracts some top-notch teachers from around the globe.  My mind is still swirling trying to process all that I learnt, but some of it was absolutely invaluable.  I took two workshops that will hopefully help me with my City and Guilds course - "Intro to Garment Design" with Ysolda Teague, and "Knitting Outside the Box" with Bristol Ivy.  I've admired these two designers for years and they both helped explain some of the math behind designing and also reassured us that you don't need to be able to draw to get your ideas across.  In particular I really loved Bristol's course; she's a very engaging teacher and had us doing lots of fun exercises to get the creative juices going. I'd definitely recommend taking any course with her; in fact I'm going to purchase her Craftsy class on Knitting on the Bias.  I just really like the way her mind works. 

Then I tried my hand at drop spindling. Here's my very first spun ball of yarn and it's probably a good thing that it's out of focus. However, I've been assured by my instructor Janet Renouf-Miller that if I practice for ten minutes every day, I should get the hang of it in two weeks. 

My other two courses were pure play.  I knew the moment I entered the room and saw a table full of coloured yarn that I was going to have fun in "Freeform Crochet" with Carol Meldrum

I'd forgotten how relaxing it can be to crochet, especially when there aren't too many rules or stitches to count. We learned several interesting techniques and how to crochet "organic scrumbles". Such fun.

And then on the last day there was a workshop with knitting's superstar of colour,  Stephen West.  I've enjoyed participating in four of his mystery shawl KALs including "The Doodler" shown here. 

I'd not really call this a course - it was more of a knit and natter session but with a lot of laughs and a lovely group of knitters. We'd all brought various bits of textured yarn and metal chains and we just spent three hours playing.  I ended up with a large woolly necklace that I have no idea what to do with, but I'd never tried knitting/crocheting jewellery before and it could be fun to try it on a smaller scale. 

And really, that was what last week was all about - trying new things, developing my skills, getting creative and reminding myself that there's a whole lot of craft outside of knitting.  In the marketplace, I picked up some of these garter stitch fat quarters from the Knitting Goddess.  I really want to start quilting again soon.  Oh, and dig out the loom again. After I get good at spinning. 

In this year of trying to balance all my various interests, I decided on the train home to take a whole week off from knitting.  I am allowed to crochet, spin, weave, or sew but no knitting.  So far it's been great and I've made progress on a few other projects that have been lying around in neglect.  Of course, all this yarn came home with me too so I'm sure it won't be long before I pick up the needles again.  There was some incredible yarn for sale at EYF - more on that in the next post. 


kaystir said...

We should start that spinning group here in Liverpool.

Julie said...

Am so pleased to have discovered your blog through the EYF post ... have read a few of your posts and already have a list of places I want to visit and revisit. And your prolific knitting too - wow! Love that you're obviously a lit fan too [I used to volunteer at Charleston many years ago so the early 20th century is a favourite of mine too]. Looking forward to following your posts!

Blithe Spirit said...

Oh, what a lovely comment - thank you so much. That must have been an amazing experience volunteering at Charleston. I STILL haven't made it down there, although I did visit Sissinghurst many years ago and loved Vita's tower and the room she wrote in.