So excited was I by the prospect of the first ever Edinburgh Yarn Festival that I hardly slept the night before. I was up before 6am ready for Mica to collect me at 6.30. Once at the Drill Hill in Leith (Leithers will tell you that this is Leith NOT Edinburgh but most everybody else ignores them) we were joined by an army of volunteers ready to welcome the stallholders.
A well organised team of volunteers were waiting to greet stallholders and help them to unpack vehicles and move everything inside. With over 40 stallholders and very little parking directly outside the venue (but plenty elsewhere) a military-style operation was needed to move what felt like a few tons of yarn, books and equipment safely into the hall.
A couple of hours later all the stallholders had arrived and were busily setting up. The Drill Hall cafe had opened and were serving coffee! Time for the team of meet and greet volunteers to relax and get out their knitting… as you do…
Thanks to a sneaky early purchase (thank you Textile Garden for letting me do this whilst you were still setting up!) I was able to sew buttons onto my just blocked Levenwick.
However, Edinburgh Yarn Festival volunteers were not allowed to relax for long as we were soon alerted to the fact that a rather long queue was building up at the entrance..
There was a short time spent photographing newly set up stalls and saying hello to friends, many of whom had stalls of their own.
There was Helen of Ripples Crafts who traveled down from the North-West coast of Scotland.
Verena and Fiona who formed 50% of Team YarnPony.
Ysolda, who supplied a photo booth as well as selling some of her great designs. I bought the first of her books and the latest pattern, ‘Blank Canvas’ released publicly on the day…
Finally there was time to chat with Oliver Brewer of the Seaman’s Church Institute and find out about their knitting programme which provides mush appreciated warm hats for mariners.
Then came the call. Nearly 10am! To your positions everyone! I was assigned to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival stall, selling bags, mugs and badges and collecting entries for the free prize draw. It seemed quiet at first but soon the length of the queue outside the hall became obvious. There was no time to take any photos for several hours as it was all hands to the deck.
The catering staff in the cafe did a superb job of feeding hundreds of knitters but there was still a 30 minute queue (at least) for service so I raced out to the local bakery for sustenance. This was well after 1pm and probably nearer 2pm, so at least 3 hours after the doors had opened. However there was still a queue!! Judging from the hordes inside the venue, the volunteers at the front desk were working hard to welcome visitors as quickly as possible. It must mean that the great publicity put into place for this event was working very well indeed.
A little later, as things were slightly quieter, I did get an opportunity to photograph the crowds in the venue. This would have been between 3-4pm. To say that the organisers and volunteers were in a state of shock at the numbers would be an understatement. Volunteering on the Edinburgh Yarn Festival stall gave me a unique insight into the demographics of the visitors. I spoke with many who had never heard of Ravelry, did not know any other knitters and had simply seen a poster in their local shop or library. They were also many who did not use the internet and had found out about the event from articles in knitting magazines. I spoke with people who had traveled from Kirkintilloch, Airdrie, Dundee, Inverness and Aberdeen simply to attend this knitting event.
When asked if they would attend a similar event in the future, there was not a single dissenting voice. Edinburgh Yarn Festival organisers, I hope that you’re listening!!