Monday, 30 September 2013

Getting in at the ground floor

Hello webby mates,

How are you all? Have you had a nice weekend? Did you spend it doing chores, or having fun, or just relaxing? I hope it was full of sunshine and good thoughts.

One of the truly great films that I can watch endlessly is Frank Capra's It's A Wonderful Life. James Stewart is one of the most delightful actors there ever was. I can almost quote the whole film from memory.

There's a bit where George is offered the chance to invest in his friend Sam Wainwright's new business - plastics. "You can get in at the ground floor" is Sam's refrain, but George has more pressing matters to mind - the most heartbreaking and tormented proposals of marriage I've ever seen.

Because of that scene, Sam's telephone chatter of 'Getting in at the ground floor" has snagged in my mind. Although he meant it in a capitalist, money-making way I only associate it with being there at the start of something big.

I took the chance to be there at the start of something big on Saturday. I went to the Yarndale event in Skipton. It was one of the most inspiring things I've seen in a good long time.

The story of its creation is on the Yarndale Blog. In a nutshell, a Skipton Knit and Natter group were chatting about how great it would be to have a yarn festival nearby, and then, over the course of 18 months, they created one.  This weekend, September 28th and 29th, saw the first ever Yarndale festival, and I ran away from my familial responsibilities to spend a day there.

It was HUGE. The roads into Skipton were moving at a slow crawl, the 1000 space car park was full long before noon and the trains were bursting at the seams.  Bright crocheted triangles of bunting covered the route to the Auction Mart, which was heaving. No one could quite believe the sheer number of people.

The entrance lead to an exhibition hall showing knitted picnics and crocheted blankets from all over the place. I'd never seen anything like it. While for me a picnic-you-can-eat is infinitely superior to one made out of wool - especially in a venue unable to cope with the demand for coffees and lunch - the skill and the humour shown in these displays was just astonishingly.

Then it was in to the main hall.  Wow. Over 160 exhibitors dazzled me with different colours, materials and textures. There were crafts I've never hear of, equipment that amazed me, examples of work(wo)manship that dazzled me. Women outnumbered men by about 25 to one. We all chatted, mingled, ooo'd and ahh'd at each other's purchases.  It was so nice to be amongst a huge crowd of warm and friendly people who were so enthusiastic about making things.

I met a woman who wove fabric on a wooden loom to the design of those used by Romans, Tudors and beyond. I'd never quite managed to picture how the threads of the weft stopped getting tangled but after watching for a few seconds it all made perfect sense. Her looms were as beautiful pieces of craftmanship as the fabrics she wove on them.

I saw people who spin yarn, dyed it, people who made astonishingly beautiful items of clothing and lovely works of art. So many were from this region that it gave me a glow of pride that I get to be a Yorkshire-woman too. I also met some of the beautiful originators of  a very soft and beautiful yarn - Alpacas. They had alpacas. Mark is tense, waiting for me to wander home one day soon leading a brace of them to live in the garden.

I will love him and hug him and call him George
The Yarndale celebrity, the lovely Lucy of the fantastic Attic24 blog, was swamped all day by people wanting to meet her, take a photo, tell her how much her blog inspired them to attempt crafts. I was no different - a total groupie.

Happy groupie and tired but friendly Lucy
I didn't buy any yard to knit or crochet with in the end. Instead I bought stuff for crafts I'd never tried before. The first was a little octagon of slitted card - a braid wheel - with a leaflet and a few bits of wool for £1 from the Braid Society (there is an actual Society for braiding. I love this country. So eccentric). My daughter and her cousin are now enthusiastically braiding book marks and friendship bracelets for each other. Brilliant.

My other purchases? Tune in in a few days and I'll show you. I'm having a LOT of fun.

Easy Friendship Bracelets:

Cut a square of card approximately 5 - 8cm (3 - 4 inches) wide. (I used a cereal box) . Cut off the corners to make an octagon. (That's a stop sign, if you are explaining this to a little kid). Cut a slit about 1cm deep in the middle of each side and punch a hole in the centre of the shape.  That's your braid wheel.
Take 7 pieces of yarn/string/ribbon/embroidery thread etc about 20cm long.  Tie them together with a knot and drop the knot through your braid wheel's central hole. Tuck one piece of yarn in each of the slits.
You now have 7 slits holding yarn and one empty one. Count up from the empty slit three threads and move that thread to the empty slit.  Repeat. That's it.

If you are right handed you'll probably count up anti-clockwise from the bottom, and we lefties are more likely to do it clockwise. It doesn't matter at all as long as you stick to whichever way you started. Keep the empty slit facing you at all times so you don't lose track, mix and match colours and textures as much as you like, and perhaps thread little beads onto the yarns occasionally if you fancy.

It's easy, cheap and rather soothing to do. It certainly kept a trio of kids silent for a good while!

1 comment:

  1. Lovely lovely read....but gosh I look tired!!!
    Glad you enjoyed the festival, we are all still a bit shell shocked!