In its 6th year, Edinburgh Yarn Festival (EYF) welcomes thousands of knitters and crocheters from around the world for five full days of woolly fun. The festival, with its ancillary events, took place March 20-24 at Edinburgh Corn Exchange.
The main focus of the event is the marketplace which hosted nearly 100 vendors. Unlike many other big wool shows, EYF focuses mainly on yarn and tools, with very few vendors exhibiting notions, fiber, or wool-related finished products, like felted goods. The variety of yarn, though, is stunning.
The Corn Exchange is not a huge venue, but the festival organizers planned the space well. The bulk of the vendors were in the main room, with a few others spread to other smaller rooms. I found the Baron Room to be an amazing space. The six vendors here offered very breed-specific, Scottish yarns. One, Garthenor, is a leading producer of organic yarns, and in 2003, became the first company in the world to receive organic certification for wool yarns from sheep to skein. Sally Davies of Garthenor explained to me that her company started with organic yarns in 1999, and all their fleeces, except for their Fauklands merino are from the UK.
There were several US vendors present as well: Jill Draper Makes Stuff and North Light Fibers were two that I recognized. Brooklyn Tweed was also in the house for a second year. With such a large showing, I asked about the hassle of getting exhibits and product overseas. Jamie MacCarthy explained that the company packed up in December, shipped in February and the entire process went very smoothly with the help of the show organizers who facilitated the warehousing on the Scotland end. Jamie also mentioned that Brooklyn Tweed is well-received, and while the UK consumers know a lot about breed specific yarn, they’re less familiar with US breeds and it’s fun to explain the differences.
One of the more enjoyable aspects of EYF is meeting knitters and crocheters from around the world. While walking through the venue, you hear a myriad of languages, and given the close quarters, you are very likely to strike up conversations with the people near you. I shared my lunch table with Steve from Devon who’s only been knitting for eight years, but has already tackled steeking! This was his first time at the show, and he was thrilled with the experience and is ready for more.
For knitters and crocheters, EYF is a worthwhile visit. Advanced tickets may sell out quickly, but those waiting to purchase at the door did not wait long. There are plenty of “fringe” social events too, and although those also sell out quickly, Facebook connections proved valuable for those who wanted to meet up. For vendors, it may be worth applying for space, especially after hearing the accommodations set up by the organizers were so efficient,
Paige Sato leads knitting-focused travel as a trip coordinator with Trips for Knitters. A former yarn store owner, Paige picked up garment sewing a few years ago and now makes her own sweaters and jeans. When she’s not sewing, knitting, or tracking down her young adult children, Paige runs, and makes an effort to take a run in every city and country she visits.