Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2019

This year was my second visit to EYF and I think I’m getting the hang of it. Last time I dragged my poor mum around it for four hours, after waiting in the queue for an hour having not bought advanced tickets. That was a rookie error although it’s not easy to buy them – they sell out super fast online as thousands of knitters wait for the page to go live and then blam, gone!

I had a class on Wednesday morning with Maddie Harvey, about using a Stitch Dictionary (of which I have five or six) to create a design for a cowl and/or hat. I have to admit I struggled in this: my wool wasn’t ideal, my needles slippy, I had too much choice to get the hang of it and I don’t think I’m a fast knitter, even though I’ve switched to Continental & Norwegian purl, so I’m not thrashing the wool around. Plus at the moment I’m all about stranded colourwork OR big rows of garter stitch and brioche (I’m blaming Andrea Renee for that) so choosing a textured or lace pattern was a bit off. I DID get the hang of it, eventually, but my top tips for this kind of short (3 hour) class are

  • Get there in plenty of time, bring water and yarn that you love, needles that you know work with the yarn
  • DON’T have too much choice or options, if your brain is like mine
  • If you’re a modest speed knitter, aim for a small sample, use your notebook and camera, accept that this is a jumping off point for your project
  • Enjoy the company – We had knitters from Norway, Germany, England, Holland and (of course) Scotland.
samples of different knitted patterns on a table.

Thursday I stayed home, as there was only access on the afternoon and (according to stall holders and visitors) there was a real frenzy AND over-heating. Not my scene.

Friday I got there at 11, a bit late since with pre-purchased tickets you can get in at 9. THat is definitely my plan for next year! I managed to wander around and buy two things I wanted – the new book and shawl yarn from Martin’s Lab (photo) and the glove kit from Ysolda which was spun by JArbon – their merino DK is a thing of dreams. (photo) It was massively busy however – I tried a few times to get colours from the Jamieson & Smith stall and Jamieson’s but they were too busy – just too many people. I couldn’t decide on what to buy at Woollen Flower – amazingly soft hand-dye with plants and unusual fibres so after a quick coffee, got home for my dog – I never leave her longer than I possibly can.

Marquee with thousands (or maybe hundreds) of women knitting and drinking coffee.

Saturday I was up and out early, getting there just after 9 and my goodness, what a difference! I spent a lovely time with Monica from Ardalanish, on Mull. I’ve got a few ideas for what to do with this yarn, involving St Columba and a big cosy cowl. She’s a real superstar and I really recommend visiting or buying from this small farm.

Balls of wool in natural colours from dark to cream, from Ardalanish weavers on the Isle of Mull in Scotland.
Ardalanish Weavers

Next, zip round to Knit with Attitude for a festival special skein of Black Elephant ‘Gloaming’ – to be knit into a colourwork cowl with a variegated light netural which I suspect will be lurking in my stashbox. I accidentally bought a pin there which I love – not sure where I’ll use it – on my coat? on my project bag? Also accidentally bought some ‘Hillesvag Ullvarefabrikk’ Sojle yarn – a bargain and lovely Norwegian yarn which fits in with this year’s theme of green!

Next up, the three skeins of Magpie Swanky sock for the new Curious Handmade shawl, including Edinburgh Lanes, from A Yarn Story. Lovely shop, lovely yarn, beautiful pattern. Ditto Brooklyn Tweeds for the yarn for Lens Flare, a lovely green and neutral shawl. Yes there’s a pattern. I will die mummified in shawls. What can I say, tension squares are not essential…

three skeins of handdyed variegated wool and a pattern of 'Edinburgh Lanes Shawl' by Helen Stewart.

At An Caitin Beag I bought the most amazing pin (see above) – a venn diagram of me (knitting, dogs, feminism!) and a pattern for a cardigan – I’ve no idea how/when I’ll knit it but I’m sure you’ll agree, it is bonny.

Finally, the book for last year’s Shetland Wool Week has the pattern for a bunnet/tam and gloves that are the same as my much loved ones that are mostly lost (only one fingerless glove survives!) – now to track down the yarn colours and I can in future recreate my favourites.

Book of patterns designed for Shetland Wool Week festival 2018.

I was absolutely exhausted and left by 12, having met a few interesting travellers from all over the world – it really is a destination these days and I recommend having a couple of days access, if you can. By the time i went out there was no queue but it WAS busy, so bear that in mind. It is not for people who hate crowds, small spaces (a lady freaked out in An Caitlin Beag because other people just wouldnt’ let her leave!) but it will give you enough inspiration to keep knitting for at least 12 months until the next one. Well done Jo, Mica and all the volunteers, the stall holders and doughty travellers from all over the world for making it such a special, vibrant event. Next up, my test knitting adventures and a finished shawl by Curious Handmade (Helen Stewart) which provides mental health respite and uses one of those amazing skeins that you buy then can’t bear to use because they are so beautiful.

undyed and green wool in front of a pattern for a mixed yarn shawl called Lens Flare by Suvi Simola

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