On Saturday I played hooky (skived, in Scottish) and abandoned my family to go to a knitting festival hosted by British Yarn at the University of Stirling. I saw and heard many beautiful and thought-provoking things. There were knitters, spinners and dyers from all over the world, and some of the designers and writers that I’ve known only through their books. (My rationale for this selfish expedition was that such an event will likely not happen again so close to Aberdeen for at least another decade.)
There was an abundance of beautiful wools. It was quite overwhelming – although this didn’t prevent me, ultimately, from buying some of it. Here is a photo of Yarn Gathering‘s stall, to give you some idea:
I was really happy to meet the folks from P/hop there. This is a brilliant charity knitting project in support of Médecins sans Frontières. P/hop stands for “pennies per hour of pleasure”: you download one of their free patterns, decide how much you wish to donate per hour of the pleasure of making it, and then send the amount once you’re finished, or indeed before. They offer over 20 patterns, donated by various designers, and they’re adding all the time. I’d already downloaded one of them, but didn’t yet have the wool to make it – a perfect justification to buy some gorgeous handspun and -dyed yarn!
Clare told me that all their efforts at the moment are going towards helping people afflicted by the flooding in Pakistan. You don’t have to be a knitter to give, though: Médecins sans Frontières.
Another very interesting stall was from the folks who are running the Moray Firth Gansey Project:
They are attempting to chart, conserve and recreate gansey patterns from fishing communities around the coast of the Moray Firth. The gansey (examples in the photo) is a type of pullover worn by fishermen in Britain and Ireland. Traditionally, every village had its own designs. This project is not only conserving patterns that might otherwise be lost, but they’re also going to be teaching in the schools, and encouraging designers to use some of the gansey patterns and construction techniques.
There was also an interesting event going on, a “Sheep to Sweater” attempt to break a Guinness world record. In the photo you see three spinners and four knitters. The spinners are spinning from the bags of shorn wool, then plying the spun wool, i.e. taking three strands of the spun wool and twisting them to make a yarn. The four knitters were knitting the front, back and two sleeves from the wool as it was plied. I’ve no idea where the sheep had gone! Maybe for coffee?
Lastly, there was a great view of the Wallace Monument from the Pathfoot Building at the University of Stirling:
Every time I see the Wallace monument – built to the glory of William Wallace, Scottish patriot – I think of our then-five-year-old son’s reaction when we pointed it out to him: “But where’s the Gromit monument?” And why not?
Sorry for the pun, but it was indeed A Grand Day Out.