Sunday, 29 September 2013

Yarndale 2013

If you're reading this blog then I'd say it's a safe bet that you already know all about Yarndale. Just in case you don't though, I'll explain. Yarndale 2013 was the first (but hopefully not the last) festival of creativity and craft, mainly aimed at all things 'yarny', held at Skipton Auction Mart on the weekend of the 28th and 29th September.



I'd known about it for several weeks, and I was really tempted to go, but I'm not the most proactive person and I'm not a fan of making plans for the future either, so I wasn't sure if I'd actually make it or not. I mentioned it to my mum, but she's not a knitter or crocheter, so I didn't know if she'd be interested. She seemed very keen to come with me though - if nothing else, it would be a nice ride up to Skipton. So we made tentative plans to go up on the Saturday, and as the day approached I really started to look forwards to it.

It opened at 10.00, and ideally I wanted to get there before then to try and ensure we could get a parking place, so it meant quite an early start. I was up about 6am, but that was partly to give me time to hang all my washing out before I left. I picked mum up and we set off at 8.30 on the dot, knowing that it would be about an hour's drive. I borrowed Chris's satnav, but between me and my mum we pretty much knew how to get there, so the satnav was just a backup. We arrived just after 9.30, and although the car park was filling up, we easily found a space.

We walked down and joined the queue that was forming at the entrance to the building. Although the weather was brightening up, there was still a bit of a cool wind, so it wasn't much fun standing there for about 20 minutes, but then I suppose that was our fault for getting there early. When they started to let everyone in, it was disappointing to see a group of three or four women just walk straight to the front of the queue and push in in front of the rest of us who'd waited patiently. My mum, who is normally very quiet, started muttering and commenting; even though I found it frustrating, I didn't want to make a scene so I was quietly asking her not to say anything, and I kept saying "we'll all get in eventually" which funnily enough is what one of the pusher-inners said!!

So we bought our tickets and went in to the entrance hall, and the first thing you saw was bunting. Bunting Everywhere.






The photo doesn't do justice to how amazing it all looked. I actually took my photo on the way out - although people were stopping to take pics on the way in, you kind of felt like you had to keep moving with the flow of people entering the building, so I didn't want to just suddenly stand still in the way to take a photo.

I'm afraid I didn't take any photos once I got into the main building, as I was too busy just looking at the stalls, and trying not to lose my mum in the crowd! When we first got in it wasn't too bad, because it'd just opened, but it didn't take long to fill up and at times it was really hard just moving along from one stall to another, or getting in to see anything. At one point we found ourselves going up the row which was immediately opposite the entrance, and so naturally most people started walking down that one first - talk about swimming against the tide!

I said I didn't take any photos inside, but that's not strictly true. I didn't take any of the yarn stalls, but I was persuaded to get my camera out for these guys




Angora rabbits - the one at the bottom had been clipped (love the tufts of fur on the ears!). The young lady looking after them was holding another one in her hands, who was very kindly and patiently  allowing itself to be stroked by everyone passing by, including me and my mum. Their fur is so beautifully soft, you can barely feel it, it's like stroking air.

Further along we came across two separate stalls showcasing gorgeous alpacas










 My mum was very taken with them, I think I could've left her there while I went for another walk around! She even suggested that her back garden was big enough to keep one as a pet!

The stalls had everything that Yarndale promised - knitting stuff, crochet stuff, spinning, dyeing, felting stuff, and of course wool, wool and even more wool!! To be honest, it was all a bit overwhelming for me. I love crochet, but I consider myself such an amateur, and it felt like a place for serious professionals. That isn't a criticism, and I'm not saying that I didn't feel welcome - it's more a reflection of my own insecurities and self-doubt. I just felt a bit like I didn't belong there.

What didn't help matters for me is that I wanted to buy something, but I just didn't know what. A lot of the yarn is quite expensive so I didn't want to just buy something for the sake of it, and then not know what to use it for, or find that I hadn't bought enough. What I should've done was find a pattern for something that I wanted to make beforehand, and then I'm sure I'd have been able to find some suitable yarn for it.

In the end, all I bought was two balls of bamboo cotton, which I thought I could make some facecloths with, a pack of stitch markers, and a badge. I was disappointed not to have bought more, but like I said, I wasn't sure what to get, and also, I don't really have room for any more yarn, not until I've turned some of what I've already got into something useful!

Forgot to take a photo of the badge...

I did wonder if I'd see anyone I might recognise from the blogging world, because I knew quite a few people were planning to attend. I spotted someone who I thought might be Lucy, but I only saw her from behind, although I recognised her shoes(!). The fact that she was posing for photos with people like a celebrity made me feel sure it was her. I've since seen some of those photos, and now I know it definitely was. Just as we were leaving, I passed right by Heather and her mum, who were gazing up in awe at the bunting - in fact, I'm sure Heather was just getting in position to take a photo! I'm an avid reader of both blogs, but I'm not much of a commenter, and neither of them know me, so I would've felt a bit weird speaking to them, although I'm sure they would've been lovely. It was strange to think that I recognised Heather's mum too! She's famous in her own right!

We were only there for two hours, so luckily avoided having to queue for food or for the toilets (I've read some negative comments about both of those things). When we got back in the car, we had a chat about what to do next. The plan was to have a drive down into Skipton itself for a wander round, and maybe find a cafe. As we drove away from the auction mart, we saw just how busy it was getting - the line of traffic going in was unbelievable! We were supposed to turn right at the roundabout, but our designated driver (that would be me, then) got a bit confused, and went left instead, and we found ourselves on the A65 heading towards Gargrave! The traffic going the other way towards the auction mart was at a standstill for what must've been about two miles.

We didn't make it to Gargrave because I turned off for Grassington, knowing that there were public toilets in the car park. We walked into Grassington and had a nosey in a few shops, and then went into a bakery called Walkers (I think) where we bought a freshly made prawn salad sandwich each, and something for after (cream eclair for my mum, chocolate fudge brownie for me). We went back to the car to eat them - the sandwiches were amazing, really stuffed full, and my little square of fudge brownie was one of the nicest I've ever tasted. My mum said her eclair was beautiful too. I'd definitely recommend Walkers.

We decided to head home from Grassington, going through Burnsall towards Addingham and Ilkley and then back to Leeds. Just after we'd passed through Burnsall the oil warning light came on on the dashboard. Great stuff. I knew that it wasn't good to drive if the oil level was low, but we were out in the middle of nowhere, so I thought I better just keep going. I think I drove for about 10 miles before pulling into a lay-by on the way out of Ilkley. I'm afraid I'm a stereotypical woman who doesn't really know anything about car engines, so even if I'd checked the oil level, I wouldn't have known whether there was enough to get home, and we didn't know where the nearest garage was. I rang Chris to ask his advice - he said he thought I'd be ok driving home, but I wasn't convinced, so in the end I rang the AA. A very nice AA man arrived about 40 minutes later, told me I'd done the right thing to not drive any further, checked the oil and showed me that it was almost as low as it could be without actually being empty, and topped it up for me. I now know that I should check my oil once a month. I also owe the AA £13 for the oil that he used, and I owe Chris £16 because after I'd rung him he bought me some oil to keep in the car. So that was an unexpected little interlude on the journey home.

I eventually got home about 6.30pm after a very long, tiring but mostly enjoyable day. And as I said to my mum, if I hadn't have taken that wrong turning, we probably would've got home a lot earlier, which means my oil light probably would've come on one morning on the way to work instead, which would've caused me to worry just as much because I would've been on my own. So, every cloud and all that...

Despite my feelings of inadequacy, I did enjoy Yarndale, and I hope it's on again next year. If it is, I will definitely try to plan for it and have some idea in mind of what I want to buy. As I mentioned above, I've read some slightly negative comments about disorganised traffic control, toilets that wouldn't flush, the stalls not being arranged in a user-friendly way etc. In terms of parking, I didn't have any trouble, but I was lucky to be able to arrive early enough - I know for people travelling a long way it wouldn't have been possible unless they left in the middle of the night. I didn't use the facilities so I can't really comment on that, but obviously it's an important thing to get right. As for how the stalls were arranged, well, yes they were all quite close together. I wondered if it would've been better to only have them on one side, so that you didn't have people going up and down the same aisle, and in a lot of cases crossing over from one stall to another opposite. But maybe having all those people travelling in the same direction would be just as bad. Perhaps it would've been better to stagger them, so that opposite each display was an empty stall for people to maybe step out of the way? I don't know... On the whole, I think the organisers did a great job for their first time. I think the problems were fairly minor in the big scheme of things, and I think perhaps nobody expected so many people to turn up, so if they can be criticised for anything it's maybe just underestimating how popular the event was going to be!

I'm really glad I went though, because as well as enjoying Yarndale, it was really lovely spending the day with my mum.

Friday, 13 September 2013

"Blue and Green...

... should never be seen, without another colour in between..."

I've been thinking about this phrase lately, and a quick google tells me that it was originally an old Scottish phrase regarding clothing colours. I believe another version goes: "brown and blue will never do".

I guess nobody thought to tell Mother Nature though...

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Millie Bobbingtons!!


The reason I was thinking about "blue and green should never be seen" is because of the colour choices in my latest finished blanket.

A few months ago, I bought some new bedding:


Wait, let me move the cat...

Look, life's too short to iron duvet covers, ok?
I found that I was quite drawn to these colours, so I decided to embark on a new blanket using the following yarn from my trusty Stylecraft Special DK collection:


Top row, left to right: Turquoise, Cream, Mocha, Aster
Bottom row, left to right: Spring Green, Cloud Blue, Meadow

I started the blanket in April 2013. Another ripple, but this time I thought I'd vary the number of rows in each colour. I didn't plan what order I'd work in, but I kind of wanted it to be mainly the blues and greens, with the mocha and cream just popping up now and again to break it up and add a bit of variety.

The reason I decided to make the blanket in the first place is a little bit embarrassing. I wanted to make a cot blanket for someone who was having a baby boy. I know it's old-fashioned to do the whole 'blue for a boy, pink for a girl' thing, and some people don't like it, but at the same time, I don't really know the person who was having the baby very well, and I didn't know her tastes, so I thought I'd play it safe and stick to blue tones. Unfortunately, I'm the slowest crocheter in the world, and she popped out Junior months ago when the blanket was nowhere near ready. I hadn't told her that I was making it, it would have been a total surprise, so in the end I, um, just decided to keep it for myself. I know, that's sounds awful, doesn't it? But when I said I don't know her well, I mean, I really don't, she's not a friend, colleague, acquaintance or anything like that. It actually might've been a bit weird to give it to her, considering that she's practically a stranger.

Anyway, I won't say any more about that, apart from the fact that I got my sizing a bit wrong and it came out a lot bigger than intended, so I'll just keep it as a kind of 'throw' on the sofa.

I know a lot of bloggers name their projects, and I've been thinking about a name for this one. Apropos of nothing much more than the fact that the colours kind of remind me of my beloved Scotland, and wanting something fairly short and snappy, I've decided to call this one...


... the Skye Blanket...

You're meant to think Highland lochs, rivers, moors, mountains etc

Look at our lovely plums! And gorgeous red gladioli! Oh, and the blanket too...

Ripple roll

So, facts and figures. Started 6th April 2013, finished at 15 minutes past midnight on the 5th September because I was damned if I was going to spend another day on it (just kidding, I enjoyed it really!). I used a 4.5mm hook with the aforementioned yarns. The foundation chain was approximately 90cm in length. I started and finished with Aster, and did a repeating pattern of  3, 1, 2, 1 rows. I chose the colours at random until I'd done 16 full ripples, and then started to repeat the colours in the same order, three times altogether. For the border, I think I did two rounds of mocha, and then two rounds of cream - the first one in trebles, and the second one in double crochet just to finish it off with a neat edge. I pondered about some kind of fancy finish, like picots, but then decided to just leave it plain, which I actually really like.

In fact, I'm really pleased with the finished product! It might've turned out a bit bigger than originally planned, and it might not have gone to the original intended recipient, but it's still a really nice-sized blanket which I'm sure will get plenty of use. And as for the colours, all I can say is...






... Mother Nature knows best!!





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