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Tag Archives: Indiedyers

Countdown to Edinburgh Yarn Fest

It is the most wonderful time of the year: the Edinburgh Yarn Festival is just over a week away!

Attending a fibre festival is always a great day (or weekend) out. You are surrounded by people who love the same activities as you do, and you get to do some serious knitwear-spotting too. It can also be a really exhausting time because there are just so many things to see and do – and you might find yourself so overwhelmed that you end up leaving empty-handed and slightly burned out.

With Edinburgh Yarn Festival just around the corner, I thought I’d update my survival guide and share some of my tricks for having a fabulous time.

  • Plan aheadHave an honest look at your stash, go through your Ravelry queue, and then make a note of yarn requirements. Yes, smartphones are handy for looking up requirements on the fly, but you have more time to browse if you already have all the information available! Do the same for any needles, hooks, and other tools you want to pick up.
  • Plan ahead. Start looking through the vendor list and visit their websites, so you know roughly what to expect. Make a short-list of your must-visit vendors and grab the official EYF map to find out where their stalls are. This stops you from feeling completely overwhelmed by everything on offer! Remember to factor in time to browse other stalls – you never know what might grab you on the day.
  • Plan ahead. If you are meeting with far-flung friends at EYF, make sure you know where and when to meet. EYF has an excellent cafe area that is perfect for an informal get-together. Check your favourite Ravelry groups for any meet-ups and, if you don’t have any photos of yourself online, make sure to describe yourself (“I’m short with curly brown hair and will be wearing a blue Waiting for the Rain shawl”) if you are meeting up with friends who may not have met you before.
  • Food. If you have special dietary requirements, always make sure to bring a back-up lunch. Personally I always carry some bottled water to keep myself hydrated and a small bag of mixed nuts to snack on so my blood sugar stays level throughout the day. The cafe sells nice cakes and there are coffee vendors strategically placed. Just remember to stay hydrated and don’t get hangry!
  • Bags. The UK has implemented the carrier bag charge (very good news for the environment!) so remember to bring your own carrier bags. You can also buy gorgeous tote bags at the events, of course. Do not rely on vendors having bags (though most will).
  • Wear sensible shoes & clothes! You will be on your feet most of the day, so leave your high heels at home. I hear the “wear sensible shoes!” advice all the time and yet I keep seeing miserable-looking people in high-heeled boots at events. Obviously EYF and other events are perfect places to show off your favourite makes, but try not to overheat!
  • Budget. Unless you are a multi-millionaire, chances are that you will have to make some tough decisions at EYF. Decide before you leave home how much you are going to spend. Decide how much you’ll spend on yarn, how much on notions, and how much on cute accessories like tote bags, mugs etc. Then leave room in your budget for impulse buys. Even the smallest budget should have an impulse buy allowance. You will fall in love with something unexpected.
  • Classes. If you have signed up for a class, make sure you have everything you need several days in advance. Don’t rely on picking up supplies at the event itself. Check if you need to do any homework and sure to arrive on time.
  • Travel. The EYF website and Ravelry group contain everything you need to know about transport, so make sure you know your train times and keep your tickets in a safe spot. Allow yourself plenty of time to get to and from the venue. Make sure you have a perfect travel project on the go – travelling to a fibre festival is part of the festival fun! If you are going by bus, you will instantly know which bus to take – it’ll be filled with knitters!
  • Be Social. Say hello to people! Smile and talk knitting while you are waiting in a queue. Let strangers know how awesome their cardigans are. Enjoy the atmosphere. If a vendor or a tutor has been especially incredible, let them know! Take pictures of amazing things and share them on the internet. Use the hashtag #eyf17 so others can enjoy your fabulous memories!
  • Remember to Breathe. Fibre festivals can be very exhausting (especially as so many of us are introverts and the buzz can get overwhelming). If you get tired, take a break. If you need some fresh air, go for a short walk. Nothing is more important than you enjoying yourself, so be kind to yourself rather than push through. The perfect buttons will still be there ten minutes later. The Leith Water Walk Way is not far from the Corn Exchange if you need a touch of nature.
  • And just have fun! This is going to be one of the highlights of your year.

I’ll be teaching three classes (Thursday, Friday and Saturday afternoons) so do say hello if you see me! I love seeing what people have made from my patterns, so don’t be shy. Looking forward to seeing a lot of lovely faces.

For the Love of Indie Dyers

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A big thank you to Victoria of Eden Cottage Yarns for sending me this sneak peek of her new yarn, Milburn 4ply. It arrived last week and it brightened up the day. I am yet to wind any of the skeins and swatch, but I have played with colourwork patterns in my head. That oatmeal/grey colour is particularly speaking to me – I am going through a bit of a neutral phase – and I love how the other colours sing to each other. Designing a palette is always hard (every colour needs to be distinct but still play well with the others) but Vicki has pulled it off.

The UK has some of the most amazing indie dyers and I feel so fortunate that I have ready access to names like Vicki, Skein Queen (new website!), Juno Fibre Arts, Lioness Yarns, Kettle Yarn Co., Triskelion Yarns, and The Knitting Goddess. Yarn is shipped quickly and I get to see them ‘live’ at the various shows. Scotland is particularly strong on indie dyers: I’m a huge fan of  Old Maiden Aunt; RipplesCrafts‘ amazing colours are pulled from her Highland surroundings, and The Yarn Yard is well-established as a go-to dyer for sock lovers.

One of the many things I really appreciate about many UK dyers is their commitment to offering a variety of bases – many of which are UK-specific breeds. Sourcing the right bases is one of the hardest thing for an indie dyer (followed closely by being able to source enough for a sustainable business) but so many of them are now selling yarns that are so much more than just a merino or a wool/nylon mix. They are showing a real commitment to showcasing the best of British fibre – and I think this is something we should celebrate. They are small, local businesses, they are supporting other small, local businesses and knitters get to discover what makes Polwarth wool different from Corridale wool, say. Win-win for all concerned.

Louise Scollay of KnitBritish recently wrote about the Dos and Donts of Knitting Locally. It is a wonderful post which pokes holes in a lot of myths surrounding knitting locally. It does not have to be more expensive, nor is it more difficult to care for. Being thoughtful about your yarn choices is maybe something to requires a bit more mindfulness (especially next time you are in a yarn shop and are overcome with omg, all the yarn!) but it is doable and rewarding.

I’d love to see a big collaboration between indie dyers and local designers. I try to work with as many indie dyers as I can, but I am just one person. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see a plethora of the best UK indie designers collaborating with the best UK indie dyers? How do you as a knitter feel about this? What would you love to see happening within the UK indie community? And who are your favourite dyers? I know there are some dyers I am yet to discover!