Tash's trip: Edinburgh Yarn Fest
It's hard to know where to begin with this post - which is partly why it's taken so long to sit down and write it. You may know I've been off on a big trip to Europe, taking in Edinburgh Yarn Fest, H+H Cologne and a few other stops along the way. This is the first of what will be a few posts, there is too much to say in just one!
If you are after the short version: come to Knit August Nights!
In fact, maybe i'll start there. Registration for Knit August Nights goes live on 1 May, and I highly recommend it as a yarn event. You do need to be quick if you are hoping to attend classes, as many sell out within minutes. Even missing out on classes, and simply coming along to enjoy the offerings from the traders, the wonderful company, the sunshine, and the great wine (if that's what you're into) is so restorative at the end of winter. We'll be there, and love catching up with all our fibre-loving friends.
Watching social media from this part of the world often leads to a lot of FOMO (fear of missing out) when it comes to yarn events. I suffer it too, which is a lot of the reason why I jumped at the chance to go to Edinburgh Yarn Fest this year. It fell the weekend before a big trade fair in Cologne, so the timing was perfect to book end two work events and make the long trip over.
It was amazing, and a bit overwhelming, but you know what? We have two yarn retreats right here in our neck of the woods that are just as good: Unwind in Dunedin and Knit August Nights in Napier. Plus the delightful The Craft Sessions over the ditch in Victoria, Australia. They all offer excellent classes, great selections of traders and wonderful regions to explore during your down time. The one thing I can really point out as being different is the celebrity factor - the chance of running into a big name knitting designer is obviously a lot higher at EYF - but we do have our own right here, too.
The Good Stuff
There really was an overwhelm of amazing yarn and notions and everything in between. I had a list of yarns I really wanted to add to my collection and I was mostly successful. Tell you what though, trying to browse yarn with a squirmy toddler attached to you (or running away) is somewhat of a challenge. My advice would be to maybe not take a toddler if you can help it...
First stop was to buy a Morag the Highland Coo kit from Toft, who are a bunch of wonderful people doing great things celebrating UK wool and alpaca. They produce the most delightful kits and amigurumi animal patterns in conjunction with Edwards Crochet - it was very hard to resist adding more animals to my one kit. There was a GIANT Morag the Highland Coo, which of course called for a photo:
Because apparently having a favourite cow is a thing, highland coos are the Mister's favourite breed of bovine, so this one is destined to be his. When I eventually get around to dusting off my crochet skills and making it.
I was able to stop by and select some wonderful squishy DK minis at Rainbow Heirloom, collect a rainbow of Knit by Numbers minis at John Arbon (oh how hard it was to limit myself there), grab a yellow Field Bag from La Bien Aimee (a complete indulgence), and picked up two skeins of speckles from Martin's Lab (the husband of Justyna).
If EYF was anything to go by, speckles and minis will continue to be big this year. Along with big (enormous) shawls, colourwork sweaters and enamel pins.
The Interesting Stuff
Aside from all the hand-dyed yarns, there was a substantial amount of rare-breed and breed-specific commercial wools. While it is fascinating to see how these fibres spin up keep in mind that these yarns may be interesting and have a great back-story, softness does not always come along for the ride. Sonja had a great chat with Bex from Ysolda about this, and they theorised that colder climates work for wearing rougher, more robust yarns, our mild climate not so much. When you're warmer, your tolerance for the itch reduces. That's the theory, anyway.
What I did really enjoy about the rare-breed / breed-specific set was the celebration of local: supporting local sheep farmers, local mills, and local retailers. We certainly need more of that, and definitely a greater education and understanding around softness not being the be-all and end-all of knitting yarn.
1. If you're planning to head to Edinburgh Yarn Fest, make sure you add on something else as part of your trip. A tour of Scotland, another leg to your journey, something else substantial.
2. Try to get along to a class. They sell out exceptionally fast, so you'll need to get up in the middle of the night (NZ or Australia time) to get a spot. The knit night and Ceilidh looked great fun, but again you'll need to move quickly to get a ticket.
3. If they offer admission to the market by advance ticket only for any of the days, do that. We went on Thursday (no door sales, only advance tickets) and it was much less busy than the other days.
4. Come along to Knit August Nights or Unwind: they are just as good, with better weather (usually).
If you check out my Instagram profile, you'll see i've saved some highlights from our visit in our stories.