Wednesday, April 25, 2018

It’s the Edinburgh Yarn Festival!

Yes, that is snow in the photo!
Serendipitously, Cathy learned that the world-famous Edinburgh Yarn Festival happened to be taking place the following weekend, March 16-18. She regularly “googles” for knitting groups for me wherever we are traveling and this time the Yarn Festival popped up on the screen. Oh WOW! Oh WOW!

Berwick was only a 40-minute train ride from Edinburgh, so we kept our room in the very special youth hostel there and “commuted” by train both days that we attended the festival. Cathy loves trains and will choose a train over a bus almost any chance she gets. Maybe one reason is because it is easier to knit 
on a train—you don’t have all that wobbling around.

On Saturday, we got to the Festival site about a half hour early joined the throng waiting in the snow. Yes, snow! The organizers took pity on us and opened the doors 10 minutes early. Inside, it was not long before we were warm—the sheer volume of people kept it warm.

There were stalls upon stalls of yarn merchants and in two other large rooms were tables upon tables of knitters and crocheters.

Cathy spent a couple hours visiting vendors and deciding what to buy and then sat down to meet knitters and hand me around. Boy was I a hit!! I grew 8 inches during those two days.

On Sunday of the Festival, there was a special event: Meet the Shepherd/Shepherdess. There were only about ten hand-picked farmers exhibiting their own lines of yarn. It was a less-crowded affair and gave folks a chance to meet these dedicated and hard-working people.

Cathy spent some time with Dan and Rosemary Champion of Rosedean Ryelands located near Dundee, Scotland. They have recently begun to market custom-milled yarn from their Ryeland sheep and it is truly beautiful. Dan was the knitter and Rosemary, the farmer. Dan had just recently learned to knit and was already turning out socks! Cathy was amazed…his stitches were so even—not at all like a beginner’s. (I think he may have been pulling her leg!)

He was particularly taken with me and enjoyed knitting some rows using some of their luscious yarn.

Dan gave Cathy a couple skeins of their 4-ply Ryeland wool which they designed as sock yarn. Cathy promised to make a pair of socks with it and test it for durability. Before we left, Dan invited us to come visit their farm. Unfortunately, we never made it there—yet another reason to return to Scotland!

Cathy barely got back to the hostel before she began working on those socks!

Cathy also visited with Suzie of Lammermuir Wool. She creates a limited edition of Shetland wool yarn from her farm east of Edinburgh. She showed Cathy some samples of the one-ply laceweight yarn knitted up. There is quite a bit of lanolin left in the yarn, making it feel a little stiff in the skein. But, one of the samples had been washed, resulting in a soft, comfortable fabric. Cathy purchased a skein to try. Suzie was very busy with visitors at her stall, but she was able to knit a few rows for me.

For the rest of the afternoon, we relaxed in the huge marqee (tent) and Cathy passed me around to more knitters. Yay!

Here is Cathy’s “loot” from the festival. I think she made some great choices, even while sticking with her plan. She even came in under budget at £86! 

That unspun fiber is a blend of Bluefaced Leicester wool and silk. Cathy reports that is spins up on her Turkish spindle like a dream.

I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the Edinburgh Yarn Festival. Maybe if I am good, Cathy will bring me back next year!

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