Yarndale

Season of mist and mellow fruitfulness! Yes, autumn is drawing in, and for me, that means two things: knitwear season is upon us, and Yarndale time has arrived once again.

The festival, which takes place at the end of September in Skipton’s auction mart, wasn’t on my radar until we moved to Leeds for the Yarn Widower’s Masters. Once we had settled in, I found a knitting group that didn’t hold meetings during my working hours, and promptly proceeded to make a group of excellent friends, which is most unlike me. One of the first questions they asked me (in November) was, “Are you coming to Yarndale?”

My first response was, “What is a Yarndale?” My second response, after a quick explanation, was, “I am now!”

Since we moved, I don’t see those friends as much, but I know that I can pretty reliably bump into them at Yarndale, even if I don’t make any specific plans to do so. For me, like many knitters, Yarndale has become a major part of my social, as well as yarn-acquisition, calendar.

So, here is how it all went this year.

I looked at getting there by train, but quickly realised that this would take forever, thanks to three changes and a rail replacement bus each way. Luckily, the Yarn Widower had a gig in Leeds, so he was prevailed upon to give me a lift both ways. Ergo, more money for yarn, right?

I remembered being a little child last year, so I set off wearing now fewer than four hand-knitted items (a Featherweight Cardigan, a scarf for which I can’t remember which pattern I used, some Regency Socks, and my beloved Scalemaille Mitts). It quickly became apparent that I was going to overheat in a big way, but I couldn’t bear taking any of it off. After all, it’s not often that I get to be surrounded by so many people who really get how special hand knits really are.

On running into the Leeds contingent, it became apparent that I’d been a bit of a bad influence. Last year, I’d turned up with a hipflask full of scotch, and a few people had decided to follow suit this time (and yes, mine made a repeat appearance). Much as I enjoy the event, I find it easier to cope with densely packed people with a little bit of added mellowness. I have also now seen a friend who shall remain nameless under the influence of an ungodly mixture of whisky, energy drinks and yarn fumes, so don’t even try telling me I’m the one with a problem.

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Even amongst the chaos of knitters on a yarn excursion, it’s still a wonderful way to catch up with friends from all over. To the vendor who had to listen to my off-colour anecdotes while trying to convince a friend that she didn’t need a Starry Night/Tardis themed crochet hook (she had limited funds and can’t even crochet), I am sorry, but the joke was just too good to pass up.

So, the haul. Before I show you this, I want two things noted for the record: firstly, I donated a substantial bag to the Oxfam yarn amnesty, so I technically came home with less yarn than I set off with.

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Secondly, the Yarn Widower continued his Yarndale tradition of adding a new musical instrument to his collection (a marching baritone this year, an orchestral tuba in 2016), so even he wanted to complain about my acquisitions, he wouldn’t have a leg to stand on.

Anyway, I now have: two skeins of Aruncania Botany Lace. They discontinued a lot of shades when they were bought out by Debbie Bliss, and I absolutely love the yarn, so I tend to buy it up whenever I see nice colours, as the ends of lines are almost always discounted.

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These two lovely skeins from the Dye Ninja, which are going to be the basis of my version of Woman Must Make Her Own Arrows, when I finally get around to it.

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Two skeins of John Arbon Knit by Numbers, plus beads, for when I manage to make a Fabergé Shawl without messing it up (there are a few painful attempts in my past).

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Pretty fibre from John Arbon. No plans for this yet, but it’s always fun to spin with pretty colours.

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This gorgeous braid of Blue Faced Leicester, from a vendor that has shamefully vanished from my memory, and hasn’t included any branding on the tag…

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And finally, a Latvian mitten kit from Hobbywool. I was so glad to see these guys at Yarndale, as I tried to visit their shop in Riga when we visited last year, but didn’t realise that the summer solstice was a national holiday and therefore everywhere was shut.

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We then repaired to Leeds for restorative burritos, and I got to stand on a street corner in town for half an hour on a Saturday night waiting for my lift (“I’m literally five minutes away, honest!”). I don’t recommend this, but I did get to see a man so drunk by 9pm that he was trying to punch his own shadow in the doorway of a McDonalds. Never change, Leeds. But maybe sober up a bit?

In short, the day was overwhelming, exhausting and occasionally infuriating, and I can’t wait to do it all again next year.

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