My Yarndale 2016 (featuring Llanita’s Yorkshire adventures)


My Yarndale adventure began late on Friday night as I boarded my plane to Manchester. I’d left the rest of the Postcard family at home and it felt very strange to be heading off on an adventure without them this time. I was lucky that I was able to stay at my parent’s house in Manchester on the Friday night (well Saturday morning) because I didn’t get to bed until 2am Gibraltar time.

Despite the late night, we were up bright and early on Saturday morning and set off on the train to Skipton. I had the company of my lovely Mum for the whole day, that’s something which very rarely happens these days. In fact I can’t remember the last time we spent so long together on our own. We had a really good chat all the way across the Pennines.

Of course, I couldn’t go to Yarndale without taking Llanita with me. Well when I say Llanita, I actually mean Llanita II. If you have read my post The adventures of Llanita, the Gibraltar Yarndale sheep, you’ll know all about Llanita I and Lanita II. Llanita I was already at Yarndale having made the trip by post (sorry about that my little sheepy friend). Llanita II was able to enjoy the passing Yorkshire countryside from the train window!

It was pretty obvious which of the other passengers on the train were travelling to Yarndale. There were rather a lot of knitting needles clicking away on nearby seats and much yarny talk. Before we knew it, we’d arrived in Skipton.

There was a special double-decker bus decorated with lovely crochet bunting and mandalas ferrying festival-goers between the station and the Auction Mart where all the fun was happening. We opted to walk though, so we could see all the yarnbombing we’d heard about en-route.

Our first port of call, after such an early start was the legendary Coopers cafe, venue for much crochet activity and of course the home of Lucy from Attic24’s studio.

We were very lucky as we seemed to be ahead of the lunchtime rush. We ordered sandwiches and coffee and considered our plan of attack for the day.

Even Llanita got in on the Coopers coffee action!

Readers of Attic24 will know that upstairs above the cafe is a very special place. The scene of much colourful inspiration, Lucy’s Studio, was open for all visitors to the cafe to see for themselves. There was even wool and knitting needles on the stair on the way up to the studio.

Crochet bunting greeted us at the top of the stairs too.

And there it was, that room which has featured in so many blog posts and some of the beautiful creations made by Lucy over the years. It felt slightly odd to be in there, as if I was trespassing on someone’s private space even though it was open for anyone to call in.

It felt as though I’d been sucked through the screen on my computer into the virtual world on the other side!!

It was wonderful to be able to see examples of Lucy’s work for real rather than on a screen. It was so tidy – unlike my crafty corner. I feel inspired to have a tidy up and sort out!

The beautiful wreaths which inspired me to have a go at making my own Wild flowers of the Med Steps wreath were right there on the wall in front of me…

Even Lucy’s bowl of yarn pegs was out on the window ledge.

It felt like such a privilege to be there. Even the beautiful fabric appliqué and embroidered logo for the Attic 24 blog was lying out on the dresser for all to admire.

The time had come for Mum and I to head off to Yarndale. (Thank you to the lovely lady at Coopers who came out from behind the counter to point us in the right direction, we would have been going completely the wrong way if it had been down to me!)

 

Our walk up to the Auction Mart took us along the canal tow path where even a narrow boat was decorated with knitted bunting and pompoms in honour of Yarndale.

Soon we caught sight of the lovely handmade signs pointing us in the right direction towards the Yarn Walk and our goal.

The bridge across the canal brought us to the entrance of Aireville Park where every lamp post was yarn bombed. This is just a small selection of the many which lined the path that cuts through the park and up the hill towards Yarndale.

There was no fear that we’d get lost on the way – it was so well signposted!

The yarnbombs grew in the their complexity as we neared the Auction Mart. Mum and I spent ages outside the building just admiring the amazing creations adorning the bollards! Made by the Thirsk Yarnbombers, the level of detail that had gone into making these was just incredible. I have since realised that we missed a few but here’s a selection of what we admired.

The Yorkshire Vet

 

Nora Batty sweeping Compo off her front steps from Last of the Summer Wine (complete with Compo’s ill fitting jacket and Nora’s wrinkled stockings)
I fell a little bit in love with Shaun the sheep
This rather buxom lady on the beach had an ample bottom too!
A zingy bright weather bollard

 

 

Bunnies everywhere!

 

Flowers galore!

 

A Yorkshire farm complete with a flock of yarny sheep

So much exquisite creativity and we hadn’t even crossed the threshold of the auction mart venue!

Lucy’s huge mandalas blew about suspended from the branches of a tree.

Even this converted ice cream van selling finger puppets was completely yarnbombed as well!

The 200th anniversary of the Leeds to Liverpool canal was celebrated by this watery yarn walk across the lawn.

Enough of outside, let’s go in. Tickets were inspected, wristbands attached and we were in…


The first sight which met us was the beautiful bunting made for the first Yarndale back in 2013. I looked hard to spot my Gibraltar bunting triangle but couldn’t see it. There were literally thousands of bunting triangles festooned around the venue, but this section was a real show stopper!

It was so busy inside when we first arrived that it was hard to see what everyone was looking at. After a moment of trying to peer over people’s shoulders I spotted a huge flock of Yarndale sheep perched on bales of straw. I couldn’t get close enough to spot whether Llanita I was there so resolved to pop back later when the crowds had thinned out.

As we set foot into the main area where all the stalls were, it was an assault on the senses. The noise of the chattering crowds and the riot of colour was quite overwhelming. Mum and I decided to have a quick wander round to get our bearings before attempting to do anything. I was given some very useful advice by Instagram friends to just explore before buying anything because otherwise, you’ll have spent all your money by the third stall! It was wise advice indeed -thank you!

The yarns on display were unlike anything I have ever seen before, so many colours and textures and endless possibilities of what you could use them for.

There were huge boards decorating the livestock pens with some of the mandalas from the 2014 festival.

The skill which had gone into the work on display was just amazing and far beyond anything I could contemplate attempting.

Even the Moomins put in an appearance!

It wasn’t just about knitting and crochet though, there were many stalls selling the unspun wool as well as all the equipment needed to have a go at home yourself. Despite this lady assuring the fascinated onlookers that it’s a lot simpler than it looks, I resisted the temptation to embark on another hobby for now. I don’t think a spinning wheel would have fitted into my case!

This was a day of firsts for me. Never before had I seen yarn and needles on such a BIG scale! This stand by Woolly Mahoosive had attracted loads of people wanting to have a go at knitting with needles as broad as my arm!

There was so much to see and take in.

Just look at these blankets….

At the heart of the Auction Mart was the Knit and Natter Lounge where people were gathering to eat their packed lunches and take advantage of some sitting down time to do a bit of crochet or knitting. It was also a magnet for fans and followers of Attic 24. The gate into this section was decorated by the beautiful Attic 24 logo created by crochet blogger Little Tin Bird. And of course, Lucy was there too.

I have to admit that I was a little nervous approaching Lucy, her’s is the first blog I ever followed and I am in awe of her work, but I seized the moment and introduced myself. Her first reaction was to give me a hug and say that her son loved my Yarndale sheep. I was a little stunned that she even knew who I was! Lucy’s youngest son ‘Little B’ had been helping her in the run up to the festival, unwrapping the sheep as they arrived through the post to Yarndale HQ and he’d been rather taken by Llanita.

I explained that I’d temporarily lost my original Llanita and ended up making two but had brought the second one with me to Yarndale. I asked if she would like to take her home for Little B and she said she would like that very much. So here is Llanita and Lucy, I am so happy that she has gone to a good home (and the home of the person behind the Yarndale sheep project).

I have since heard from Lucy that Little B was thrilled that Llanita had come home to live at his house. I’m so pleased that I brought her along with me for the ride!

After the excitement of meeting my crochet hero, I was beaming as I headed into the Workshop Theatre ready for a class that I’d signed up for. I was about to make a ‘Rip and Stitch Brooch’ with textile artist Jaki Bogg. I arrived to find a tray of goodies in front of me to make the brooch.

Jaki was a great help and offered much advice and encouragement as our group set to work on our creations.

(Apologies for the back lighting on this photo)

Jaki Bogg

 

We were set to work choosing some embroidery cotton to embellish our brooches with.

And we were advised to layer up and position our fabric then take a photo so that we could remember exactly how we wanted it to look at the end.

I thought it rather appropriate that some of my fabric had print of handwriting and a stamp on seeing as I am Postcard from Gibraltar!

The hour and a quarter flew by in a flurry of stitching and chatter with my next door neighbour Katherine who had visited Yarndale several times before.

Before we knew it, our time was up. I enjoyed the process and would never have attempted anything along these lines before. I have filed all the information and and advice from Jaki away for future reference, perhaps I should attempt a fabric and stitch picture instead of a painting one of these days….

My finished brooch

 

Once we’d left the workshop area, where Mum had taken advantage of the time to have a sit down and chat with a lady from Wales who had come with her crochet hook, I called my Instagram & blogging friend Wakey Makes to find her and meet up for the first time. Sadly, I had left it too late and she was already on her way home to Wakefield by then.

It’s such a shame we missed each other but she was able to tell me a very interesting bit of news… she had bought Llanita I!! I cannot believe that I found out where Llanita ended up. Of all the people she could have gone home with, I’m thrilled that she’s with Karen. I’m sure she will look after her well.

Mum and I made our way around the rest of the stalls for a mooch about. While I had been in the workshop, the crowds had thinned out considerably and it was a lot easier to see what was on offer.

Toft Alpaca

I have long admired the work of Toft Alpaca and love the animals from the Edward’s Menagerie pattern books. It was just lovely to see so many of them on display together. I particularly liked the little bearded dog!

The Craven Guild of Lacemakers were on hand to talk to visitors about the intricate work that they do and offer demonstrations too. The intricacy and number of threads they work at the one time just boggles my mind!

Craven Guild of Lacemakers

After my recent foray into shawl making over the summer I was on a quest to buy some yarn to make another one for the winter months. I went to stall after stall looking for the right thing, but was very indecisive until I reached Esgair Fibres. Stall holder, Joanna, took the time to explain the qualities of her yarn and showed a crochet shawl she had made using just one ball of the beautiful wool she stocks, so I bought this lovely variegated yarn.

Louisa Harding Fine Merino with Bamboo

It was great to be able to see Janie Crow’s Lily Pond blanket ‘in the flesh’.

And I loved these cards… the one in the centre of the picture is particularly apt in my case I think!! 😉

All in all the day was a total woolly overload!

By the time we’d returned to the flock of woolly Yarndale sheep, their number was rather depleted, but this little chap from the Isle of Man came with me for the trip back to Gibraltar. Allow me to introduce you to Laxey, my Manx Yarndale sheep. If anyone recognises him and knows who made him, please let them know that I’ll look after him well!

Laxey, the Manx Yarndale Sheep

 

Before leaving I spotted a map for people to attach pins to show where they had come from. Can you spot my red pin for Gibraltar?

As we headed out of the Auction Mart to catch the double decker bus back to town and the station, we passed a table with a box filled with some of the ‘Woolly Hearts for Yarndale’.  Just with that, another lady approached with a fresh box of hearts and put them down on the table.

I asked her whether the appeal had been successful and if they’d reached the target of 7000. She beamed as she said that well over 7000 had been received and it had been a huge success. Could this lady be @bonnies_little_crafts from Instagram, the mastermind of the appeal? Yes it was! I was so pleased to be able to meet Yvonne and chat with the person whom I’d sent my consignment of hearts to.

And here’s my very own woolly Yarndale heart, it’s come home with me on my bag!

It was time to head home, Mum and I went out to catch the beautifully decorated bus back towards the station. For a donation towards Martin House children’s hospice (also the recipient of the money raised from the Yarndale sheep sale) we got our passage onto the top deck and found our seats.

Even the interior was decorated for the festival!

A lovely mandala hung in the window next to me.

The bus soon filled up with festival goers weighed down with their yarny purchases.

So I guess you want to see what I bought then? 17 balls of wool, a calendar, notebook, Yarndale sheep, stitch markers and a scissor keeper with a tiny silver sheep on to remember my time at Yarndale.

This little lot should keep me busy!

I also loved this greeting card so much that I had to get one – it will be my motto from now on… 😜

After a very long journey back to Manchester (we sort of got the wrong train – which stopped at every station between Leeds and Manchester!!), Mum and I had an early night before heading back to airport to fly back to Gibraltar.

And so I am back where I began, if it weren’t for the photos and the large stash of yarn I’ve returned with, I’d swear it had all been a dream. Yarndale 2016 was everything I’d hoped for and more. I met lovely people including the lovely Lucy at Attic24 who has inspired me so much over the past few years, I saw such amazing yarny creations and have come back brimming with ideas and enthusiasm to carry on creating… now where did I leave my hook?


Footnote : Would you like to see a photo of Llanita I in her new West Yorkshire home? Well here she is along side a very appropriately coloured pair of socks in the making… Thank you Wakeymakes for giving her a good home xxx


Countdown to Yarndale 2016

Yarndale


I have been a follower of the inspiringly colourful Attic24 blog for a few years now. Back in my early days living here in Gibraltar when my homesickness for the north of England got me yearning for lush green countryside, I could get my fix of the passing seasons from Lucy’s lovely woodland walks.

It was, though, the crochet which introduced me to Attic24 first of all. I don’t know what made me pick up a crochet hook so many years after being taught as a child by my lovely Gran. In the intervening years between learning the skill on my summer holidays at Gran’s house and our arrival in Gibraltar, I really can’t remember ever feeling the need to pick up a hook and yarn again. (My love of sewing and embroidery continued but not that.)

 

My Attic24 inspired tin & jar

One day, for some long forgotten reason, I found myself trawling the Internet for crochet inspiration and I happened upon Lucy’s lovely post about crochet covered tins. Over the next few months whenever I did a hapless online search for crochet patterns and tips, sure enough Attic24 would appear in my search results.

I soon found myself actively seeking out the blog and looking for new posts about yarn as well as family life in Yorkshire. (I’m familiar with this part of the world as we lived in West Yorkshire before moving to the Rock.) When Lucy announced that she was part of a group of people organising a new festival of yarn in her home town of Skipton, I watched from afar glued to the updates and wishing the project well knowing full well I wouldn’t be able to attend.

In the run up to that first Yarndale, 3 years ago, Lucy made an appeal to readers of her blog to contribute granny bunting to decorate the auction mart where the festival is held. I felt compelled to have a go and send one in. Following the detailed and clear instructions I created a ‘Gibraltar’ bunting triangle featuring the national colours of the Rock.

I was thrilled to be sending my little triangle to Yarndale, safe in the knowledge that although I was unable to attend, a little bit of Gibraltar would be there anyway. My bunting even got a mention in the post festival bunting roll call, look at number 20!!

 

That first year, like each one since, I have avidly checked all the crafty blogs I follow to scour them for information about what the festival was like, trying to soak up a little bit of the atmosphere.

The following year, the crochet appeal for decorations was inspired by the fact the Tour de France would be coming through Skipton, so a call went out for mandalas to represent bicycle wheels. I need to point out that the request was for bright colours – hence the slightly clashy choice I made… Perhaps if I was to do it again, I would have selected a different colour palette! Oh, and it was my first attempt at a mandala too – so don’t look too carefully! 😉

A lot more intricate than the bunting this time, the mandala was hooked up and popped in the post to wing it’s way over to Skipton again in time for the Yarndale festival.

Last year, sadly, I failed to contribute to the Yarndale appeal, which was for flowers to create a display raising funds and awareness for the Alzheimers Society. I am sorry I failed to join in – the deadline for submitting anything passed me by and it was too late to join the party again.

In addition to reading accounts of the festival, I have over the years collected a few souvenirs…. programmes, bags…

… and I even have the current Yarndale calendar hanging in my crafty broom cupboard.

This year, my crochet contributions resumed; first of all was the #woollyheartsforyarndale. I first heard about this on Instagram, when @bonnies_little_crafts announced that she wanted to collect 7000 woolly hearts to give out to visitors to her home town of Skipton when they visit Yarndale 2016. 7000 is rather a tall order, so I thought I’d like to join in and send some woolly love over from Gibraltar. I hooked a few hearts up under the bright spring sunshine.

…and then posted them off to ‘Bonnie’ along with a postcard from Gibraltar (naturally). She created this beautiful photo collage when she received the parcel through the post.

Those little hearts are really quite addictive to make you know, during a bit of down time between other crochet projects, I felt the need to hook up a few more. So a second shipment of Gibraltar hearts found their way over to Skipton.

So did she reach the target of 7000? Well this is the latest update from woolly heart HQ and she’s within touching distance. Congratulations @bonnies_little_crafts!!! 

The ‘official’ appeal for crochet and knitted items this year was for little woolly sheep. They are going on display in the festival venue and will be auctioned and sold off to raise much needed funds for the Martin House children’s hospice in Boston Spa. This appeal struck a chord with me, as I was fortunate enough to visit Martin House with my job in the days before having Little Postcards of my own. It’s a truly wonderful place, so positive and friendly and a very much needed resource for the families who use it’s services.

In the spirit of my Gibraltar bunting from three years ago, I created Llanita, the Gibraltar Yarndale sheep. You can read all about her in this post : The adventures of Llanita, the Gibraltar Yarndale sheep.

Well, you can probably gather I am a keen (if distant) supporter of the Yarndale festival and I have really wished I could attend each year it has been held. This year, my patience has paid off because I’M GOING TO YARNDALE!!!!! Sorry – did that come over a bit shouty? I’m more than a little bit giddy at the prospect. I have Mr Postcard to thank for it, it’s my birthday present from him you see.

So on Friday I am going to follow in Llanita’s footsteps and fly off to Yarndale myself – I cannot wait!! I promise I’ll take loads of pictures when I’m there and share them on my return. I will have to really rein myself in and not be paying for excess baggage on the return flight – we don’t want the plane weighed down with too many yarny purchases do we?! 😉

Until next time, thank you for stopping by!

The adventures of Llanita, the Gibraltar Yarndale sheep

Llanita, the Gibraltar Yarndale sheep

Introducing Llanita, Gibraltar’s very own Yarndale sheep. For those of you unfamiliar with Yarndale, it’s a festival of all things woolly which takes place in Skipton, North Yorkshire in September. It’s in it’s fourth year now and each year, the organisers ask for crocheters and knitters to contribute a little item to decorate the festival, and as with last year’s event, those items will be used to generate funds for a local charity.

Baa!
 
In past years they have asked for bunting triangles, mandalas and flowers. This year, they have asked people to contribute little knitted or crocheted sheep. I have contributed to this effort in the past and couldn’t resist sending a Gibraltar representative to Yarndale again. 

The charity they are supporting this year is the wonderful Martin House Hospice for children & young people. Many years ago before having small people of my own, I was lucky enough to visit this marvelous place through my job. It is a magical place where everyone is greeted with a smile, so positive and uplifting. 

Before Llanita was packaged up and sent off, I couldn’t resist having a little bit of fun with her … she’s been around the Rock on a bit of an adventure, and even got lost! Here’s what she’s been up to:

Visiting the Convent

You can’t fly the flag for Gibraltar without a visit to the Convent, the official residence of the Governor of Gibraltar. She popped in for afternoon tea and a chat about her important job representing the Rock at Yarndale. 😉

Hanging out in Casemates Square
She loved hanging out in Casemates Square, it’s quite the place to be seen, especially on a Friday night when the bars and restaurants are busy.

Admiring the art at the Gibraltar National Gallery
Quite the sheep about town, Llanita decided to soak up some culture on a visit to the Mario Finlayson National Art Gallery at City Hall.

Llanita likes nothing more than a sheep dip in the pool on a very hot day…

You just can’t beat an early morning frolic in the luscious grass at Commonwealth Park. A little nibble of that for breakfast sets her up for the day, but please don’t tell the park keepers!

Frolicking in the grass at Commonwealth Park

So here’s the thing… I discovered to my horror, shortly after taking the above photo, that Llanita was missing. No!!! Cue: little Bo Peep tune.

I could only assume she must have loved the feeling of the grass on her hooves so much that she didn’t want to leave Commonwealth Park. 

But we still need a Gibraltar Yarndale sheep I hear you cry… Drum roll please: in a Dolly the sheep type cloning exercise we have a replacement…. Llanita Mark II.

Continuing the good work done by Llanita Mark I, Llanita carried on her pre-Yarndale tour of Gibraltar. Next stop: the beach!

Llanita loves it at Catalan Bay but isn’t a fan of the sand on her hooves. She loved it so much that she’s been twice!

She also really enjoyed her trip to the Gibraltar Fair but the candy floss at the family pavilion was more her thing than the noisy rides…

The imposing Trinity House Lighthouse at Europa Point is right up her street. It even matches her woolly jumper!

Just like all beauty queens who represent Gibraltar on the international stage, Llanita posed for a photo on the runway in front of the Rock before flying off to join the flock of woolly sheep at the Yarndale Festival.

She packed her very own postcard from Gibraltar so that the other Yarndale sheep know her name and where she’s from.

Bye bye Llanita, have a safe trip! Keep the Gibraltar flag flying!


Baa baa!

But that’s not the end of Llanita’s story, no sooner than she was ready to set off, who should put in an appearance?

The original Llanita turned up in a totally inexplicable place, under a beach towel at the bottom of the beach bag! She must have been hiding in there all along. What a happy ending to the Llanita the Yarndale sheep story – now one Llanita can fly off to Yarndale and the other can stay at home with me!!

Llanito or Yanito is the dialect spoken in Gibraltar and includes a mixture of English, Spanish, Genoese and words borrowed from other languages.

A Llanita (pronounced Yanita) is a female Gibraltarian.