Tucked away in the hills above the Yorkshire market town of Skipton is the Auction Mart. The place is usually full of sheep, cows and farmers, but on the weekend of September 24-24 the livestock made way for Yarndale, the annual festival of creativity and craft that everybody – exhibitors and visitors from all over the world alike – wants to attend. Visitors who come by public transport – something that is encouraged here – make their way to the Auction Mart via a footpath through the park to admire the yarn-bombing or travel on the big red London double-decker shuttle bus, also covered in yarn-bombing. There’s no mistaking that the crafters have come to town!

Crocheted bunting.

Mandalas.

Inside the Mart, the pens (which just a few short hours before were full of sheep) have been transformed into exhibitor stands. There’s no shortage of hand-dyed sock yarn, but for those who don’t knit socks (and apparently there are some people who don’t!) there are rare and single breed yarns from sheep and alpaca (often with the animals the yarn came from in attendance as well), haberdashery, vintage fabric and knitwear, crochet, beading, felting, weaving, spinning and a whole host of other crafts, Guilds and workshops tempt visitors to expand their existing skills or try something new.

Eden Cottage Yarns

Yarndale Creative Project.

It’s hard to identify single trends within the exhibitor stands at Yarndale simply because the organisers have worked hard to ensure that there is something for everyone, although I did notice more giant yarns, needles and hooks around this year, and also more undyed yarns and dyes as more and more people, seduced by the colourful hues of hand-dyed yarn, are keen to have a go for themselves. I noticed more British breed yarns than ever before too, supplied by small producers of limited run yarns who aim to raise awareness of our home grown breeds and get a better deal for UK farmers who are paid very little for their fleeces.

Yarndale sock line.

Lucy, writer of the crochet blog Attic24 and one of the organisers of Yarndale, told me that the original premise of the festival was to “celebrate yarn in all its forms” and they have certainly achieved their aim. I would defy anybody to leave Yarndale without finding inspiration at least, although judging by the number of visitors who arrived with huge bags ready to fill with purchases, inspiration wasn’t the only thing they were looking for!

One of the things that is unique about Yarndale is the opportunity for the creative community to get involved. The miles of crocheted bunting hanging in the Yarndale Hub where visitors are welcomed were crocheted by readers of Lucy’s blog, as were the display of over 1000 crocheted mandalas which brighten up the café area. Each year, Yarndale works with a charity to raise awareness of the issues supported by that charity. They do this by setting up a Creative Project which is displayed or sold to raise funds over the Yarndale weekend. I also have a role to play in this – through my blog, Winwick Mum, I have taught thousands of people to knit socks, and run the Yarndale Sock Line which displays pairs of socks that have been donated and are later gifted to people who are in need.

Extreme crochet hooks.

Giant yarn.

Yarndale is a truly unique event, but I’ll leave the last words to Raye, who had travelled from Leicestershire to visit the festival. “Yarndale is the Glastonbury of yarn … a true festival that is as much about celebrating the yarny community as it is about the sales … utterly fabulous.”

I couldn’t agree more.

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Christine Perry is the author the blog Winwick Mum where she writes about family, knitting, gardening, homemaking, and enjoying the outdoors.

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