Events · Natter

Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2018

Well look at this, I’m actually writing a blog post when I said I would. Miracles will never cease!

So, Edinburgh Yarn Festival happened. Boy did it happen. And I think we’re all suffering the post-EYF blues now (what? It’s a thing, trust me), so I’m reliving in the hope it reminds me of the happy fun times before I had to go back to work. I think the easiest way to do this will be to go through it as it happened and show you my purchases for each day too, so here goes…

Thursday

The main plan for Thursday was to get ourselves up to Edinburgh. Cat and I were going up online the car, and Sarah-Lou was flying up from London later. So, about 9.30ish, after lots of running about picking up stuff and packing it all into the car, I picked up Cat in York and set off. The drive up was pretty uneventful (thankfully) aside from the fact that it rained The Whole Time. It was cold and wet and disgusting, but we were in our warm little car bubble, busy catching up on a couple of months worth of chat.

We stopped near Darlington for a nice long coffee and cake (and knitting, obviously) break, where our Jo dragon popped out for her first appearance of the trip. Jo dragon is our yarn festival mascot – she was knitted for Cat by our best friend and third witch of our little group, Jo, who passed away 2 1/2 years ago and we miss terribly. So Jo dragon comes with us whenever we’re together having fun. Here she is enjoying cake (pic courtesy of @adorkably.knitty on Instagram):

Jo dragon enjoying coffee and cake
Jo dragon enjoying coffee and cake

This was the point when I realised that the trusty Google maps satnav was taking us the boring way to Scotland and we wanted the pretty and fun drive through the Scottish Borders instead, so a quick reshuffle and slight redirection ensued, and we got ourselves onto the pretty road.

Next stop was for lunch… We had planned to stop at the same greasy spoon cafe as last year but we’re getting hungry and decided we must have missed it, so pulled into a likely looking pub for a delicious lunch (spinach and mushroom lasagne with garlic bread, if you’re interested) and another decent length knit break. I’m sure it had beautiful views, but the rain and fog were making it hard to tell…!

Eventually (after another loo stop) we made it to our flat in Edinburgh. The three of us had booked a flat via the modern wonder that is AirBnB which looked nice enough – sleeps 3, has a small limited kitchen unit, bathroom. We figured it’d do the job. We had, it has to be said, a few teething troubles. For starters, the key code we’d been given for the key box was wrong. Luckily, the owners live in the house next door, and were in, so that was an easy fix. The flat had been advertised as having parking, but the owner seemed surprised that we had a car with us (the drive already had 4 cars in it with no way to add in anymore without blocking someone in), but she found us a spot on their back driveway around the corner. Then once in and settled, because we’re all Internet addicts, we discovered that the WiFi code didn’t work. Sigh. That too got sorted eventually, but it’s kind of annoying to have these niggles that are so easy to avoid. We suspect they haven’t been doing Airbnb too long, to be honest.

Cat and I settled down with mugs of tea and our knitting for a few hours before we needed to pick up Sarah-Lou at the airport later in the evening. All well and good we thought, until we couldn’t get the gate open to get my car back out from the tiny driveway it had been wedged into (seriously, if my car had been anything bigger than a little city car, it wouldn’t have fitted!). Cue another knock on the door to the owners. Turned out the gate was just very stiff and had wedged itself shut, so we escaped and made it to the airport, where we could find no sign of a free drop off/pick up point, and had to pay through the nose for half an hours parking. Edinburgh Airport was the recipient of a strongly worded tweet. Never let it be said I’m not a true Yorkshire person when it comes to money!

Anyway, Sarah-Lou collected, we got back to our flat, immediately changed into our pyjamas, decided who was sleeping where, and poured ourselves some gin (and tea, just for balance), opened several blocks of artisan cheese and crackers and dove into our evening food, followed by fancy hipster doughnuts. This, it should be said, set the tone for most of the rest of the weekend where food was concerned. I think we all came back home several stones heavier… Knitting and chat ensued, and we all collapsed into bed somewhere after midnight, full of plans for the next day and our purchases.

Friday

Friday was our first day at the festival (it had started the day before), and we had our plans! So many plans of people to see, yarn to buy, photos to take… Sarah-Lou didn’t have an advance ticket, so we left her in the queue while Cat and I went in to get a couple of specific purchases that we didn’t want to miss out on. In my case, I headed straight to Ysolda‘s stand to purchase a sweater quantity of Icelandic Lettlopi to make one of her patterns – Strokkur, which is something I’ve had my eye on for a long time. So I very quickly picked this up:

There are nine balls of the darker colour in colourway #0058 Dark Grey Heather, and one ball each of the two contrast colours which are #1411 Sun Yellow and #0056 Ash Heather. I promise there is more contrast between the two greys in real life, but it’s really hard to photograph! I also picked up one of Ysolda’s tote bags which I forgot to photograph on its own, but it’s on the haul photo below.

Cat and I then decided to take advantage of the fact that there was only a relatively small queue at the Stephen & Penelope to meet Stephen West, which has to be on practically every knitter’s bucket list I think! We’d both knitted his Marled Magic shawl as an MKAL (mystery knit-a-long) last year, and wanted to get a pic of us in our shawls with him (and Jo dragon of course), as well as buy his two pattern books between us. I was also on the lookout for a final yarn to go into a fade project to make his Dotted Rays Speckled Fade shawl this year. My plan was to get a light neutral with some neon pink speckles, which is *almost* what I ended up with…

Hedgehog Fibres Skinny Singles in Pinky Swear
Hedgehog Fibres Skinny Singles in Pinky Swear

Yes, that is a neon pink with neutral speckles, but that’s close, right? And it wouldn’t be a Stephen West pattern without a crazy neon, so it’ll be fine. It’s also my first Hedgehog Fibres yarn too, which has been on my want-to-own list for a while. We’ll gloss over how much it cost though I think. It’s for the best. Anyway, Cat and I got our books, got him to sign them, were given style awards for our knitwear (yay us!) and then got the all important picture!

Stephen West selfie
Us with Stephen West

We also got a pic of Jo dragon on the stand, because they were selling a EYF limited edition colourway called Jo’s Garden (named after one of the organisers) by Uschitita so it had to happen:

Jo in Jo's Garden
Jo dragon in Jo’s Garden

We finally managed to meet back up with Sarah-Lou who had got herself into the festival, and headed off into the marketplace. While I was lurking outside the Old Maiden Aunt booth, where we always seem to end up, I saw the very lovely Kristin Lehrer of Voolenvine Yarns and the Yarngasm podcast, who is the designer of the Half Moon Oracle shawl that I finished recently, so we had a lovely chat and a picture:

Me with Kristin Lehrer
Me with Kristin Lehrer

We all have a bit of a girl crush on her now, she’s just adorable!

Onwards into the marketplace, and purchases started to happen… I don’t know how it happened, they just fell into my hands, honest guv!

After a bit of judicious browsing, we ended up at the Knitting Goddess booth, where I was after some nylon-free sock yarn. It is 75% BFL and 25% mohair, which normally makes me itch like nothing on the planet, but because of the way that this is spun up, it’s very smooth. I tested it on my inner elbow, and held it up against my neck, and it doesn’t seem itchy at all, so I picked up this beautiful rainbow skein:

Knitting Goddess BFL/mohair sock yarn
Knitting Goddess BFL/mohair sock yarn

After a bit of browsing, it was definitely time for tea, cake, and the first meet up of the weekend with some of my Rav friends in the marquee, which is a new area this year for socialising, and it was full the whole time! We never actually made it to the other socialising area near the podcast lounge, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find it was also rammed the whole time. I met up with a few friends, we had tea and cake and knitting and chatted, and it was all very lovely!

As we were heading out of the marquee, I spotted Nathan Taylor of the Sockmatician podcast, of who I have been a long time fan. Last year at EYF I almost stalked him for 20 minutes before I was brave enough to say hi, but I was much more confident this year, and just grabbed him for a chat. He was, as ever, just lovely, and we had a nice natter about the fact that I bought yarn for his Scaref pattern at EYF last year but haven’t been brave enough to try it yet, and he made me promise me that I would before next year! So I’m committed now. Yikes. Anyway, we had a pic with him too:

Us with Nathan Taylor
Us with Jo dragon and Nathan Taylor

We were right next to the TOFT booth with the giant Morag the Highland Coo which they had made up for the show, so obviously we had to have a pic with her too (and Jo dragon):

Us with Jo dragon and Morag the Coo
Us with Jo dragon and Morag the Coo

Next we headed back to the marketplace again for a bit more shopping, and inevitably ended up at the EasyKnits booth. This happens to me every time. I swear Jon puts some sort of addictive scent in his yarn that draws me in every time! I had a strict personal limit of no more than two skeins of this yarn, and I stuck to it (hurray!), picking up these two beauties:

Both are on the Twinkle base, which is 75% superwash merino, 20% nylon, 5% stellina, and I’ve used before, so I know wears really well. The yellow is a proper bright eye-searing highlighter yellow, so will definitely be socks. I haven’t decided about the Nebula Nights yet… We’ll see what that wants to be.

As we were wandering around, we found a stand selling kits for stuffies by Sue Stratford, who had the most adorable little dragon kit made up, so obviously Jo had to have a picture:

Jo dragon with Dennis and Mini Dennis
Jo dragon with Dennis and Mini Dennis

And, then came across TOFT’s marketplace booth where they had a mini Morag, so another picture had to happen:

Jo dragon with mini Morag
Jo dragon with mini Morag

The last item I bought on Friday was an impulse purchase from the Wollmeise stand. We had gone back there a couple of times already to look at their yarns, because they were so incredibly good value. Cat and I both picked up a super huge 300g skein of 4 ply yarn for £28 each. They had a huge range of colours available, and it was actually quite difficult to choose, but in the end I plumped for this one, which will hopefully knit up into a nice short sleeved sweater at some point:

Wollmeise Lacegarn
Wollmeise Lacegarn

There is some debate as to what weight this yarn is. On Ravelry it’s listed as a lace weight, but to look at it’s more of a light fingering weight, so that’s what I’ll go with when I’m selecting a pattern for it.

Here’s my ‘family shot’ of all the haul from Friday, which I think is rather restrained all things considered… It also includes the Ysolda bag that I mentioned earlier.

Friday haul
Friday haul

After all of that, we were pretty tired, so we went back to the flat to recharge our batteries a bit, then I went to visit a friend from university for dinner, which was delicious, and we had a lovely catch up for a few hours before the tiredness hit and I had to call it a night.

Saturday

We went into the festival on Saturday with a clear plan of what we were going to aim for. In my case that was some yarn for a friend who wasn’t able to come with us (which I did get, but am not including any details of, because she hasn’t been given it yet, and I don’t want to ruin the surprise!), and that was about it. I wasn’t ruling out any additional purchases, but I knew that the majority of my purchases had been made the day before, so I was mostly following my friends around while they did their shopping.

We had a good rummage around on the Eden Cottage Yarns booth, as they always have lots of lovely things, but can be out of my price range a lot of the time. However, I did find a lovely little basket of 50g balls of 4ply baby alpaca/silk which they call their Askham blend. This was the bargain price of £4 per ball, and came in four nicely contrasting colours (Blossom, Crocosmia, Walnut, and Yarrow) that will go well together, so I bought one of each!

Eden Cottage Yarns Askham 4 ply
Eden Cottage Yarns Askham 4 ply

I’m not sure what this will be yet – it’s one of my few purchases from EYF that doesn’t have a mission in life yet, but I’m sure it’ll tell me when it’s ready.

The only other purchase for myself that I made on Saturday was one more skein of sock yarn from Ginger Twist Studio, who are the LYS in Edinburgh. This was another impulse buy, but since I’m constantly making socks, I’m sure it won’t be long before I use it!

Ginger Twist Studio sock yarn
Ginger Twist Studio sock yarn

It’s a 80% BFL 20% nylon blend so should make for lovely socks; the colourway is Hocus Pocus and is quite difficult to photograph – the lighter sections have quite a teal hue to them that isn’t coming across well on photos.

Aside from purchases on Saturday, there was more sitting and drinking of tea and eating of cake while knitting in the marquee, followed by a bit of down time back at the flat as we were all shattered. We didn’t manage to see any friends at the festival that day, but we made up for it in the evening when a few of us who are friends from the LSG group on Ravelry met up for dinner:

LSG friends knitting in a bar
LSG friends knitting in a bar

It’s not the greatest photo (and is pinched from @pinsandneedlesuk on Instagram!) but in the security guard’s defence, there were a lot of us to fit in and it was very gloomy in there! We still managed to get a bit of knitting done, plenty of lovely chat, good food, and a few drinks too. Jo dragon had a particularly fun time with a gin cocktail…

And finally, to finish off Saturday’s report, the group shot of the (much smaller) haul from the day’s shopping (these colours are much more accurate than the individual photos):

Saturday haul
Saturday haul

The weather had started to turn during the afternoon on Saturday when some snow had started to come down – we were eyeing it rather suspiciously all day, and when it started snowing sideways because of the wind on Saturday night, quite a few of us were getting nervous about our travel plans to get back home again…

Sunday

Sunday was ‘going home’ day for us. There was another event (Meet the Shepherdess) at the festival, but we had decided in advance that we would have done enough by then! We got ourselves and all our lovely purchases packed up, cleared the snow off the car, and set off back home, but not before Jo dragon had had a play in the snow:

Cat and I had a steady drive back down the A1 to Yorkshire with a stiff cross wind the whole way. The main highlight of the drive was a stop off at Berwick Garden Centre for a very delicious Sunday lunch, which did a great job of perking us both up a bit for the next bit of the drive. Jo dragon partook too:

Jo dragon and Sunday lunch
Jo dragon and Sunday lunch

We had a wander around the garden centre (mainly killing time while it snowed again outside), and Jo dragon met some new friends there too…

We all eventually made it back home, utterly shattered and very ready to collapse into bed and sleep for a week. My journey was largely fuelled by these essentials:

Driving essentials
Driving essentials

Edinburgh – you were absolutely fabulous, as you always are! We will be back!

3 thoughts on “Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2018

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