Unwind(ing in) Brighton

Unwind Brighton

Due to a sick child on Thursday night, it looked like I wouldn't be able to make it to Unwind Brighton and at that point I will admit to feeling relieved, perhaps even a little smug, not to have booked any of the many classes I'd considered. It had been a lethal combination of indecision and procrastination that stopped me booking anything in time. Plus Mum was coming and, being deaf, wouldn't be able to take a class, so it was a trip that had been planned around the marketplace and the people.

As I sat on the sofa cuddling my boy and browsing Instagram to avoid Children's TV, I felt sad that I might miss out on an event so close to home. People were posting pictures of their flight departures from overseas, distant train platforms and the excitement of seeing "Brighton" on a road-sign. With luck and Calpol on my side the lad perked up considerably by Friday evening and I sent a text to Mum stating simply "We're on!".

Heading to Unwind Brighton

We met at the station in time for the obligatory 'train station selfie' and set off for the short trip, arriving just over an hour after the opening. Having changed bags numerous times my knitting had been accidentally left behind, and maybe everyone else had done the same as we didn't spot a single person crafting on the train. And no signs of knitterly-tendencies either - no shawls, knitting bags, crochet hooks or whiffs of sheep. Nothing. I'm putting it down to the warm weather (I had ditched my own hand-knits before heading out for this reason).

If you don't know Brighton, it's a beautiful, crazy, eclectic place, located above a pebbled beach right on the South coast of England - take a look here and you'll get a feel for it. Classes and demos were taking place in various locations around Brighton, but our day centred around the Marketplace at Brighton Dome Corn Exchange. Number 11 on the fabulous Unwind Map.

Brighton map - Unwind style!

Despite keeping an eye on the announcements and hearing about the plans on the Playful Day podcast, it wasn't until we entered the marketplace that I got the true sense of how 'big' this event was. I am not talking about physical size - which was not that big at all - but the  teachers and exhibitors were a real who's-who of knitting. It was also incredibly hot in there. Oh my!

I'm sure part of it was the rush and excitement of a room full of very special fluff and great people, and perhaps a few fumes from the 'recently-dyed' wares, but it was mostly down to a very sunny day, glass panels in the roof and lots of lighting. (I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to everyone who was on the receiving end of one of my hugs, but I think we were probably all as hot as one another, and am sure you'll understand.) Despite the heat, and proving she really is too cool for school, Ysolda Teague actually managed to wear her hat and to look as lovely as usual - here she is with my big sweaty head. Poor Ysolda.

Unwind Brighton

Having rushed over to join the queue for her book-signing (I got a copy of Saturday Treat which also includes a code to download the ebook - fabulous!) it was so busy I didn't get to chat to her, which is just one of my many regrets* of the day.

At that point, the two busiest stalls seemed to be Ysolda's and Spin City. You may remember Louise from an earlier Show & Tell post and after Saturday it's clear I'm not the only person to have a 'spinning crush' on her - we had to queue to get into the booth which was packed with beautiful spindles and scrumptious fluff. It was worth it to meet her at last - we've been talking online for a while, and she's every bit as lovely as I thought she'd be. Coming away with one of Louise's spindles was always part of my plan for the day, and you can imagine that it was a tough decision when the many jars filled with them looked like this...

Unwind Brighton

The marketplace was great. We bumped into lots of lovely blog readers and bloggers - hello!!!! - (I'm still always shocked when people 'know' me from the blog) and Sewing Bee fans who took selfies with Mum. There were people we'd met  before - at Unravel - and also some lovely friends we'd arranged to meet - Tanya (A Yarn Loving Mama) and Kristina (Eaden Yarns - who incidentally has a shop update this coming Thursday, look out for her gradients!). We also met  Gemma (@MrsBlaza) and her gorgeous little boy who was born just after our last knitalong. I couldn't resist a picture of this little hand hanging onto his mum's knitwear.

Unwind Brighton

There were many vendors I hadn't seen at other shows (all credit to the organisers for attracting such great people, including those from overseas) and we browsed all sorts of lovely things, but I am most proud of myself for managing to completely avoid the temptation to so much as look on the Signature Needle Arts stand. After getting the full set of Chiaogoo interchangeables and DPNs recently - which I love - I'm determined to avoid any risk of infidelity with something brighter and pointier.

Between visits to the café and the Podcaster meet (not just for podcasters!) we spent a few hours at the marketplace but I didn't go mad, coming away with just a few carefully selected items - all for planned projects. That's a lesson I've learned from previous festivals.

Unwind Brighton - the purchases.

There's Ysolda's book, the sparkly spindle from Louise, some gorgeous Triskelion sock yarn, a shawl pin and some brass rings to try making some of those lovely pinwheel buttons. I also got a Playful Day badge, which is not pictured (it felt a bit like getting a Blue Peter badge and is now safely stuck to my pinboard), an Unwind carrier bag and programme which includes two knitting patterns - the first of which you can see I've already cast on.

If I were to relive the day, there would be some things I'd do differently:
  • Book at least one class. I don't know which - there were too many I wanted to do! I really feel that I missed out by not taking any classes. Veera talking about stripes, Amy Singer spindling, Felicia Lo's theories on colour, and Woolly Wormhead talking hats...? Seriously HOW did I let these get away, never mind all the others!!!
  • Stay overnight to make a weekend of it.
  • Take more cash to grab some of the little bits and pieces I didn't need, but would have quite liked  and didn't have the small change for.
  • Make a physical list of the people who will be there that I'd like to meet, and then work through it. I missed a few people that I REALLY wanted to meet such as Joanne Scrace! 
  • Not rush into the marketplace, but take more time to hang back and chat. It was much quieter (and cooler) later in the afternoon, and that would have been a better time to chat to vendors, rather than rushing around like a hot headless chicken at the start of the day. 
  • It sounds awful to say I'll go alone next time.... but I will. I love doing things with my mum but as she's not as 'into' knitting as I am, she doesn't spin etc, and she was far more interested in Rachel Coopy's (aka Coop Knits) hair colour than almost anything else. It's beautiful, by the way, and she was very patient and lovely to my mother!
  • Oh, I'd also take a fan.
I'm really hoping there'll be another Unwind next year so I can get chance to do it again. 


  1. Sounds like you had an amazing time! Reading posts like these make me long for Unravel 2015 so bad!!!

  2. Oh, I'm really sad I missed you too. I understand why now, I was at the market place for the first hour then I left for an interview with Simply Crochet, dropped in to a darning session with Tom of Holland then taught my class. Such a busy weekend!
    Tell you what, lets arrange a day to meet up outside of a crazy busy event! We are only a couple of hours apart so if we pick somewhere in the middle (london?) Its totally doable!

  3. I love the innocent trust of babies when they clutch onto you. You and your mum are cute. Brighton looks like an awesome place to see. I ask my husband all the time to take me to England. The spindles are pretty. So glad you got to go.

  4. I am so happy that you and your mum managed to go. I am not fit enough at the moment to attend things like this but would have loved to especially as so close to me as well. Maybe next year. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Brilliant great post! I only went for the day and felt as though I had missed a lot too. Your list of things to do is a great idea. I tried to make note of the yarns I wanted, but that all went out the window on the day! :). Funny thing is as I was looking at some yarns I distinctly remember a couple of ladies talking about hair colour near me! :) Hopefully Unwind will happen again next year. Best wishes, Pj x


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