Yarndale, Skipton 2014

Posted by Zoe Fletcher on Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Yarndale is an annual festival held in the beautiful market town of Skipton, this is the second year of festivities and having heard great reviews about the variety of yarns available and amount of creativity showcased I was eager to experience it for myself. Events such as Wonder Wool Wales, and Fibre Fest in the South meant that Yarndale had some serious competition, but I was excited to see what they had to offer from the North.

The stamp of approval...

Set in Skipton Auction Mart - which is more accustomed to selling live sheep than their fleece - gave the event a unique sense of style, each stallholder had their own ‘pen’ and it was great to appreciate yarns and knitwear in the settings of another stage of woollen production.

Having queued for over half an hour before even getting in, we knew it was going to be busy, I had dragged along my better half (on the promise of a nice country pub lunch!), and I don’t think he (or I) was prepared for the sheer force of knitters and crafters about to be unleashed on us in a confined space!

It was INCREDIBLY busy, so much so that a little of the enjoyment was knocked out of it due to the constant battle to move from one stall to the next (or even get in some of the popular ones!), that’s not to say I don’t think it was amazing that it was that busy – indeed it shows how popular and relevant wool, knitting and crafting is in todays society – there was definitely demand for it!

I talked with an incredibly knowledgeable lady from the British Coloured Sheep Breeders Association (www.bcsba.org.uk), about the growing popularity of coloured sheep, and the wide variety of coloured fleece that can be spun, knitted and crafted with.

The entrance...

Another great stall was BaaRamEwe based near Leeds, They have begun having their own blends spun called ‘Titus’ at a British spinning mill and being dyed within the UK as well – great steps to product transparency and traceability strategies.

The Wensleydale sheep shop, where I get my Wensleydale samples from, was a highlight, their shop in Leyburn is beautiful, and they had transported the best features of this to the show, with baskets full of beautifully dyed 100% British Wensleydale yarns.

Blacker Yarns, whom spin their yarn from their own spinning mill in Cornwall, were next on my radar, I had seen them previously at the British Wool Weekender and have also bought some sample yarns from them in the past, they had a good selection of British Breeds, blends and rare breeds.

John Arbon Textiles, based in Devon, are worsted spinners, it was great to see a variety of British yarns and tops and the information that was on display about the production cycle was impressive.

Laxtons, based near Bradford, brought all their manufacturing back to the UK in 2010. They are one of the only commercial spinners of worsted yarn in the UK, and having recently visited their mill, and talked with their marketing manager, they showcased that they are a forward thinking company who I look forward to seeing grow and develop, they displayed an array of different yarns, spun beautifully and creatively at their mill.

There were many other lovely stalls that caught my attention, but the above ones were the ones that hooked me in, and showed British wool off as versatile, unique, and modern fibres!

Next year I’ll remember to pre-book tickets!    

The walk back...


Zoe Grace Fletcher Currently undertaking a PhD at Manchester Metropolitan University within the MIRIAD post-graduate department, I am beginning a practice based academic journey into British wool fibres and new technologies within knitwear design. Graduating with Distinction from a Masters in Fashion and the Environment at London College of Fashion, specialising in hand-knitting and the British Wool Industry, I have worked on a number of knitwear collections (personal and external companies), whilst freelancing and researching for a number of exciting projects. My work revolves around the idea of sustainable fashion from a knitted perspective and the different ways to achieve this incorporating the ideas of slow fashion into mainstream society. I love knitting. And wool. And double sided sticky tape.
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