I popped off to EYF last week, I always go to my favourite Woolfest, Wonderwool Wales and now Shetland Wool Week, but this was the first urban one I've been to. I hope it goes without saying that these are nothing like the Knitting and Stitching show etc - big corporate events in massive halls - I like to meet the real makers and I certainly did in Edinburgh.
On Wednesday we got aquainted with the area and called in to The Treasure Trove, the shop of The Royal Edinburgh Repository and Self Aid Society which I had heard lots about. In the evening we dined at Laconda de Gusti which I can highly recommend.
I had a class on Thursday with the very talented Di Gilpin - patience of a saint - which I'd describe as using colour and texture but not as you'd expect. I met knitters from the USA and Germany in the class and on my way into The Corn Exchange I assisted an Indie Dyer from Switzerland with her wares. Meanwhile my friend sat knitting with some Swedish ladies at the cafe around the corner, it truly was an international event.
In the evening we went to the Knit Night which was absolutely heaving, on the table I shoehorned myself onto - green chair first photo was my seat for four hours - were some of the very welcoming volunteers with knitters from Japan and Belgium. I find that at any type of wool/textile event you can plonk yourself down next to anyone in the room and have a good conversation, no need to be shy because your all going to be on more-or-less the same wavelength.
My gold wristband from my class got me into the show at 9 on Friday morning, doors opened to everyone else at 10. This was the scene at 9 and we left at about 12.30, it was far too busy for me but I'd got everything I went for. We lunched in a local cafe and my friend went off to do a darning class with Tom of Holland. I sat merrily in the cafe for 3 hours and had a variety of previously unknown to me knitting companions. I collected my friend who had been in between a knitter from Nebraska and a Shetlander in her class. At this point I must say that when you knowing one knitter in Shetland this qualifies you as knowing them all because they really do all know each other which is brilliant for outsiders because you just list your friends and you are immediately the friend of the new person. Shetland's are the warmest people I have ever met and that's saying a lot as I come from Stoke. Thus, we are having a night out with our new friend in September.
We popped back into the show for a final walk around just before it closed, I had been regretting missing a cone of Iona wool. As we were walking out of the door I bumped into a London friend of mine who I first met at the In The Loop - run by Southampton University - conference in Shetland, serendipity.
The view from our fabulous apartment, perfect walking distance and halfway between the centre of Edinburgh and the Corn Exchange where EYF was held.
On Saturday we left our luggage at the bus station, far far cheaper than the train station, and went off in search of fabric and cake. We found both in the morning, perhaps the monster Victoria Sponge was a foolish choice so close to our lunch reservations but it was excellent. We dined at Mother India for lunch and spent an hour in the very good Blackwells Book Shop. On or way to our last dinning appointment of the trip we were sidetracked by a shop full of Harris Tweed and some German knitters lingering in the doorway in very good hand knits.
Finally - almost - we visited Antiques for tea and scones and the best/only violet petal jam I've ever had. I left with a bag full of Violet Petal Jam, Rose Petal Jam, Violet Petal Tea, Rose Petal Tea and Lady Mary Grey Tea. Absolutely finally as we were briskly marching to retrieve our luggage we couldn't resist The Wee Boulangerie, with sourdough and raisin bread safely stowed we caught our train home. But...
Sitting behind us on the train was a lady from Brazil who crochets bikinis for a living - I saw the photos and definitely no jam and scones for those girls - and across from us was another crocheter from Cumbria, home of the famous Woolfest.