Friday, 31 March 2017

Five go to Edinburgh Yarn Festival

It started just after visiting Yarndale last September. Five of us got together and hatched a plan to go to Edinburgh Yarn Festival the following March. We had heard great things about it and felt that we should find out for ourselves. Savings tins were started, a group chat was set up on social media, accommodation was found and agreed upon and as soon as they became available train tickets and show tickets were booked. Excitement levels were building, growing as the list of exhibitors was released. It was time for five to go to Edinburgh Yarn Festival.

So, a couple of weekends ago, very early on a cold Friday morning, we met at the train station and set off on our much anticipated jaunt. The train journey passed by quickly as we were occupied by our knitting and crochet projects and by a discussion of our tactics for the next day. Some had a plan of attack and a hit list not to be deviated from, some wanted just to wander and ponder.

1950's Bohus jumper
The big day dawned and we were up bright and early, wearing our carefully chosen woolly garments and our comfiest shoes. Our bags were packed with food, drink, project lists and knitting and we set off. Handily the stop for the bus out to the Corn Exchange was opposite our apartment. Twenty minutes later we were off the bus and following all the other excited faces and fabulous knitwear to the festival.

The marketplace was a joy to behold, a feast of colour, texture and pattern just waiting to be explored. The exhibitors are all hand picked and it shows, every stall was full of the highest quality items. The stall holders were a mixture of designers, dyers, yarn suppliers, small shops and makers. As you might expect there were many Scottish brands exhibiting, such as Iona Wool, Ardalanish and Uist Wool, all with fascinating products and stories. 

1950's Bohus hat and gloves
The Knitting and Crochet Guild had an attention grabbing stand with several examples of Bohus style knitwear, including a stunning cardigan and jumper which I though were amazing pieces of work. Bohus style originated in Sweden in the 1930's in the Bohuslan area. The area was badly affected by the Depression and women there requested help setting up a home industry which they could make a living from. Knitting was the answer and the Bohus style was at the height of it's production in the 1950's, which is when the Guild's garments are from. The patterns and colour work are just beautiful, it was lovely to see them close up.

1950's Bohus scarf
There was much to take in and savour as well as much yarn stroking and squishing to do. Our eyes were drawn not only to the stalls but also to everyone else’s beautiful knitwear. Stephen West patterns were definitely having a bit of a moment. Everyone was very friendly, united in their excitement over all the woolly goodness, chatting about their projects and their purchases. We met people from all over the country and from much further afield with plenty of knitters from Europe and Scandinavia.

1950's Bohus cardigan
The Festival runs from Friday to Sunday with taught classes on all three days and with the marketplace open on the Friday and Saturday. Buying advanced tickets for the day you wish to visit the marketplace lessens the time spent queueing in the Edinburgh drizzle. The taught classes sounded fascinating but sold out almost immediately so booking the minute the class tickets go on sale is key. Half an hour later was literally too late for some classes.

One of the KCG display boards showing Ingrid Bergman wearing a Bohus jumper

Some highlights of the festival for me were meeting and chatting to The Icelandic Knitter, the walls of colour at John Arbon Textiles and Jamieson's of Shetland, the sample garments from the Inspired by Islay book on Kate Davies stand, the Tin Can Knits, the beetle and penguin buttons and beautiful leather goods at Beyond Measure and all the sweater spotting. I really wish I had taken more photographs. Very bad blogger! I actually bought very little, despite my long accumulated savings, but only because I was determined not to add to my stash unless I had a definite project in mind.

It was also exciting to see the Shetland Wool Week stall as the Patron for 2017, Gurdrun Johnston had just been announced and her free pattern for wool week, the Bousta Beanie was available to pick up. Visiting Shetland is on our wish list so watch this space for the sequel to these adventures, Five Go to Shetland Wool Week.

Just one of our group's hauls