It's taken a few days to digest Unravel, hence this post is a day late. This was my fifth visit to the Festival of Knitting and certainly the best to date. I showed you some of my favourite pictures in my last post but here are the highlights of the weekend...
My friend, crochet blogger Wink (A Creative Being), came from The Netherlands again this year, bringing lots of exciting gifts including her new book, which I'll tell you about in another post (spoiler: I love it). It has been said that I'm responsible for enabling Wink to knit, so I was delighted to also be responsible for introducing her to Louise Player from Spin City UK. If you're within reach of Louise for more than two minutes, chances are the magic will happen - lo and behold, she had Wink spinning in no time! She then spent the rest of the festival with her new spindle in hand, looking at fibre, and an evening being inspired by Louise's many talents over dinner (her fashion designs are seriously amazing).
Wink and I also met up with Tink (Master of a Thousand Things), Tanya (A Yarn Loving Mama) and Joanne Scrace (Not so Granny). After four years of 'knowing' Joanne online, I'm so happy that we finally got together in person. It's funny how you can feel like you already know someone so that when you meet, you are completely comfortable with them. That's how it was. As well as being a talented designer, she is a wonderful teacher and very knowledgable about so many different things. Joanne was teaching at Unravel but joined us for an evening of laughter, info-tainment... and maybe just a little plotting too!
As a blogger, you never really know how helpful your posts might turn out to be, so it was very cool to discover that Joanne had been inspired by my Tips for Unravel post and was fully prepared for button-purchasing - with a knitted swatch including a button hole. I couldn't resist photographing her using it.
Despite being a veteran 'Unraveller', it's the first year that I've made it to any of the talks - the revised show layout this year meant it was much easier to get a seat without queuing on a staircase. I couldn't resist the chance to see the people behind Nudinits, and Wink and I were joined by a lovely Instagram friend. The session began with a full 22 minute screening of Tickled Pink - you can watch it here (warning: it contains knitted nudity and lots of double entendres) - and ended with a Q&A session and the chance to take a look at some of the models and props.
The attention to detail on this stop-motion animated film is amazing - every single thing is handmade, including a cow pat with flies, the clouds, litter and so many other things you really need to see it a few times to fully appreciate it. Perhaps the most impressive item was the car which has a working steering wheel and all sorts of little details inside the cabin, which I didn't manage to photograph.
I spent most of the afternoon talking to people - some who read this blog or my facebook page, bloggers I love to read, podcasters I listen to - most notably Kate from A Playful Day and Corrie at Plutonium Muffins, who was (easily) persuaded to join us for dinner. I met other designers and people I 'know' from Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. I also had a chat with Daisy from Devon Sun Yarns who did such a great job dyeing yarn especially for my Seafoam design. I'm not quite sure of the exact point at which chatting to lovely people turns into "networking", but there was lots of both and there are various plans afoot as a result of conversations that sparked ideas. I love this about being around creative people. I only wish I'd taken more photos.
To top it all off, the event seemed to have been planned more effectively this year. Last week I pre-warned about lots of queues and limited seating but this wasn't an issue at all on Saturday. Friday opening - which started last year as a short preview - was extended to a whole afternoon, and it seems that this had a positive impact on the number of Saturday visitors. In addition, the stalls were spread out more than usual - there was enough room to get around even the busiest stands, and to chat to vendors. (I have another post planned to tell you about some of the new-to-me vendors I especially liked as there is just too much for this one post.)
All of this made an enormous difference to the overall experience - it was far more relaxing and pleasant than in previous years. Many of the vendors I spoke to said that their sales were up as a result of having more time to engage with their customers. As well as Wink's spinning, we were able to get a weaving demo, and we saw lots of other people being shown how to knit, spin, crochet and felt.
Yes, it was a fabulous weekend, and I'm already looking forward to Unravel 2016!