Brighton was amazing. If I lived in Brighton, I'd be unbearable. As it were, I lived in the single estate coffee shop next to my hotel, I watched the World Cup finale in an awesome craft beer pub, I had some incredible locally-sourced organic vegan food, and there was some knitting thing going on too. Ah-mah-zing.
The knitting thing was Unwind Brighton and it was the real reason why I was there. And you know what? It was really good. National newspaper The Independent wrote an article about Unwind and called it 'a woolly business conference' and I love that definition. It captures a lot of things for me: I went to Unwind and I bought yarn (more on this later), but I also met incredible, incredible knitters and fellow pros. Being a knitting industry professional can be a bit weird sometimes because .. well, you are on your own a lot and you work strange hours and you never know what to tell taxi drivers when they ask about your job. Unwind was a good reminder that I am not throwing words into thin air when I work long hours from home - amazing people knit my patterns, wear them, and respond to them, gosh - and that my lifestyle is shared by a lot of incredible, interesting people. Other people get it. Whoop.
The venues were stunning. As a huge Regency nerd, I had small 'moments' throughout my entire stay about my surroundings. Okay, I was running around like a big geek. Not only did I teach in a Grade II-listed Georgian house, but the marketplace took place within Brighton Dome which was built in the early 19th century for the Prince Regent's stables (and where ABBA won Eurovision in 1974). It was such a pleasure to see buildings I have been reading about my entire life and imagine ladies in diaphanous muslin dresses (or, in Agnetha's case, satin trousers) float down the street where I was having lunch.
I taught three classes: Beading for Knitters, Continental Knitting, and Crochet for Knitters. I was so impressed by the students who took my classes: they were creative, excited, focused, imaginative, and adventurous. This is a sentiment that was shared by a lot of teachers, incidentally. People were there to learn and they were not afraid of getting things wrong because it simply meant a learning opportunity. I was deeply impressed by that. I took as much away from my classes as the people in my classes.
The Unwind marketplace was so well-curated. It felt coherent, the vendors were of a very high standard and it was clear that the organisers had gone in with a clear idea of what they wanted the marketplace to reflect. I have seen larger marketplaces, but I have rarely seen a marketplace where every single vendor was so appealing (Edinburgh Yarn Festival is the only other one that springs to mind). It just had that feel of quality, you know?
I got my hands on one of TrueBritKnits' iconic knitting badges and picked up a skein of Eden Cottage Yarns Milburn 4ply because reasons. I have worked with Triskelion Yarn before and I was really looking forward to meeting Caerthan in person (he was lovely). My one indulgence was a skein of his Taliesin 4ply in dark green . Finally, I acquired a hank of Lioness Arts Merino Single in "Quartet" at the Pom Pom Mag Seaside Shindig when my team triumphed in the pub quiz (we may have been slightly competitive). It's lovely to take home one of Dani's beautiful yarns because she did an amazing job as an organiser.
Looking back, Unwind Brighton feels slightly unreal. I described it at the time as Glastonbury for Knitters - though with less mud and more artisan coffee - but it's not quite accurate. I met a lot of old friends, forged a lot of new friendships, and I feel so inspired. During Unwind I occasionally had to escape from everything because so many things started clicking in my head and I needed time-out to sort through them. The beach was a welcome retreat (with bonus gelato) where I could hear myself think. It'll take me a couple of weeks to sort through all that happened.
Thank you Dani for organising Unwind Brighton. It was an honour to be a tiny, tiny part of something this special. Thank you to all of the organising team - you kept us all sane. And the biggest thank you to everybody who came to the seaside for a day or five. It was truly magical.
See you in 2015?