There’s such a range of yarn shows across the UK and this handy list by Travelknitter covers most that I’m aware of, and certainly so many more than I’ve been to. Larissa’s list has clickable links to all the festivals listed.
My own experience is limited to Woolfest, Yarndale (both previously local to me) and Edinburgh Yarn Festival (a short train ride away but on hiatus in 2020) and the big one that was Shetland Wool Week, all of which I’ve blogged about previously.
Each has it’s own highlights:
- Woolfest (Cumbria) is a real celebration of sheep and the importance of sheep to local landscapes and economies. Last year I enjoyed an excellent presentation about rare breed sheep by Peter Titley a former President of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust ‘illustrated’, by living, breathing and sometimes less than co-operative ovine participants. Woolfest was the first wool show I went to and it’s still a favourite although it has become quieter over the years as there are more and more shows coming onto the scene. But if you want to speak to people who know sheep, people who practice the full range of fibre crafts and people who can tell you about the journey of their yarn from lambing to needles, then this is a great show to visit.
- Yarndale (Skipton, Yorkshire) draws on Yorkshire’s textile heritage, although I’d like to see a little more made of that connection. For example, how the story of UK textile history is written not just in our heritage, but also on our diverse communities in the here and now, and the socio-economic role of wool in our communities going forward. That said it’s a good mixture of local producers and designers, established and new.
- Shetland Wool Week, a much bigger undertaking than a day trip but oh how amazing it was! I blogged about it here and would go back in a heartbeat. Wool and textiles permeate so many elements of Shetland life and history there’s plenty to do and see even when it isn’t wool week. With all the additional events and classes of Wool Week, it can be exhausting but in that wonderful way that will fill you up for years to come. If you can stay on a little longer to decompress, process and enjoy the amazing landscape I’d certainly recommend it. A real bucket list trip in my view.
There are other shows that I’d love to visit based on what I’ve heard from those who have. One coming up is Unravel, a great combo of vendors and talks, then there’s St Abbs (another fabulous location), still to be confirmed, then Leeds at Armley Mills where you can see original looms working and there’s even a gin palace on site, so best to take the train there I think.
If you get chance to attend a festival this year, have a fabulous time. If you want to give a shout out to a festival you’ve enjoyed, please feel free to comment.