Tuesday, 22 May 2018

May Update 2018

Both of my big events for May have been and gone and what an incredibly busy time it has been! There were only six weeks between Edinburgh Yarn Festival and Open Studios and two of those weeks were the school holidays so that didn't leave much making time but I managed it somehow and Open Studios North Fife 2018 was a huge success and one of my busiest ever!

I moved into my usual venue in Ladybank which is kindly lent to me by Gillian McIntosh of Kingdom Osteopaths. This little place was going to be my permanent studio a few years ago but I found it more time effective to work from home so the building was sold to Gillian who now runs a successful practice offering a variety of treatments including osteopathy.
I get to move in for four days in which I recreate my studio and transform the three rooms ready to welcome visitors over the Open Studios weekend.

I was completely overwhelmed by the response to my work this year and received 434 visitors over the three days!

My new artwork for 2018 was inspired by a quick trip to Dingle on the west coast of Ireland that we managed to squeeze into the school holidays in April. 

We usually go in July or August and I completely switch off for the two weeks we are there, this time however I was very inspired by the April light which was moody and changeable and I worked some felt seascapes from these photos I took around the Dingle peninsula.

Wine Strand at Ballinrannig

Wild Atlantic Bay £195

Canvas Print £45 Available

Coumeenole, Slea Head

The Wild Atlantic £195

Canvas Print £45 Available

I also got chatting to local photographer Dave Lee over a pint in Foxy John's and he very kindly sent me some photos taken from his hill farm.
I used them as a basis for this piece below.

West Kerry Sunset £195

I also made this felt piece inspired by the wild montbretia we see every summer in this area of West Kerry.

West Coast Montbretia £145 Available

And this little sunset piece also features the montbretia.

Montbretia Sunset £95 Available

All these new works will be in my 2019 Calendar which will be available in August.

Other work on display during Open Studios included the original felt art for my tea towel.
This is the largest detailed piece I have made to date and I was delighted to see it framed at last.

Cottage, Cove and Coo £385

Tea Towel £9.95 Available
Also available as cards and notebooks.

Delphinium Cottage £145 Available

First Lambs £245 Available

Open Studios is always a great opportunity to display finished work but it is also about sharing information about the processes and materials used so I get my friend Kirsty from Falkland Felts to help me explain the felt making process to visitors and offer some short demonstrations. We had great fun this year and we also put some kits together so people could have a go at needle felting at home.

I have some fibre packs still available in my Etsy shop. These are little 'bits bags' made up with a variety of fibres from my own stash, suitable for small wet felting and needle felting projects. 

It's always exciting to have something new to show people at events and I was over the moon to reveal this new collaboration with local wood turner Mike Kelly.

These beautifully turned boxes are inlaid with my artwork making them truly unique and an unusual gift.
The wood is polished to a lovely sheen and they feel soooo smooooth!

You can read full details about each box in my Etsy shop here

Turned Wood Boxes £65

Just a few days after Open Studios it was off to Aberdeen for the first ever Aberdeen Yarnfest! Amazingly I still had stock left as I had worked incredibly hard to make enough and topped up my range of shawl pins etc in the couple of days in between.

My husband and daughter came too and we made a weekend of it as the Double Tree Hilton Hotel where we stayed and where the yarn fest was held, has a swimming pool etc so they enjoyed that while I got busy with the event.

You never know what to expect with a new event but we were all rushed off our feet from the minute the doors opened in the morning right up to the last hour. Everyone from the organisers and stall holders to the visitors could not have been nicer and a great day was had by all!

I have serious yarn addiction now after vending at all the yarn festivals and have a fair few shawls/scarves crocheted with my purchases. 

Acer Shawl in Sock Yarn from The Border Tart/Blue Moon Indigo at EYF 2018

Above is the Acer Shawl I started just after EYF using a pattern from The Crochet Project and hand dyed yarn from Blue Moon Indigo. I really love wearing it so I made another in a gradient yarn I bought on Etsy from Bilum in Hungary. I had seen their beautiful yarns at EYF 2017 and just couldn't find anything else as nice so I treated myself and the results were worth it.
Both of these shawls used 1 x 100g/400m skeins.

Acer Shawl in Slika Yarn from Bilum on Etsy

I also bought a random skein of purple yarn at EYF 2018 from Fig Tree Yarns but is was only 284m so I went on Ravelry and looked for a suitable pattern and found the Boomerang Scarf for Crochet. This is a great little pattern as you can use any yarn, any hook and any stitch as long as you keep the increase and decrease the same on each row and it only takes 4 hours start to finish for a 284m skein!

Boomerang Scarf in Cricket Yarn by Anzula Luxury Fibres from Fig Tree Yarns at EYF 2018

This is a really wearable scarf and I have teamed it up here with one of my own felt flower shawl pins. 
This is the shape of the boomerang scarf hence it's name.

I made it again in this Mochi Plus yarn that I got from my neighbours, Albayarn, at Aberdeen Yarnfest. It came out a lot longer and skinnier than the purple one and I'm not sure why but it's still wearable and goes with my Autumn/Spring coat. Again I have teamed it up with one of my own shawl pins, a range of which I plan to have available in time for Perth Festival of Yarn in September.

Boomerang Scarf in Mochi Plus by Crystal Palace Yarns from Albayarn at Aberdeen Yarnfest 2018

I have added lots of things to my Etsy shop over the last week including these new rings and pendants.

The rings are adjustable and are very comfortable to wear. they adjust from the side so that they don't pinch underneath. 

The pendants are very elegant and great for wearing with summer necklines.

I have also topped up my usual range of felted Sheep Jewellery, Keepsake Boxes and Brooches.

Sheep Brooch

Sheepy Shawl Pins £18

Sheep and Cottage Brooch £22

5 x 5 x 5 cm Keepsake Box £30

7 x 7 x 7 cm Keepsake Box £35

10 x 10 x 6 cm Keepsake Box £45

Harris Tweed Bird Brooches £14

Harris Tweed Leaf Brooches £14

Find all these and more in

Little Lamb Lens Cloth £4.50

My next event will be at Aberfeldy Highland Games on Saturday 11th August held at Wade's Park across the bridge from Aberfeldy. 

Then I will be at Perth Festival of Yarn on 8th and 9th September. It is advisable to buy tickets in advance for this. See the website here for details.


My next 

Friday, 11 May 2018

Aberdeen Yarn Festival Sunday 13th May

I'll be at Aberdeen Yarn Festival on Sunday 13th May! 
10am to 5pm. DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Aberdeen Treetops
161 Springfield Road, Aberdeen, AB15 7AQ

Monday, 19 March 2018

Fibre, Fun and Photos from Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2018!

Edinburgh Yarn Festival is over for another year and what can I say? It was absolutely fantastic! As a vendor it was a huge success and as a shopper it was fibre heaven!

So what makes EYF so special?
Well for starters there's a marketplace with around 100 vendors from all over the UK and beyond. There are two large social spaces to knit and chat, eat and drink.
A photo booth and podcaster lounge. A Ceilidh and Knit Night plus this year there was an additional event on the Sunday called Meet the Shepherd/ess. Plus there are classes which are extremely popular and sell out within minutes of the tickets going on sale!

Jo and Mica who organise EYF do their best to bring a wide variety of vendors to the market place, concentrating on small independent dyers and spinners and those passionate about sourcing the best quality fibres, often single source and rare breeds. Additional vendors such as myself bring a selection of gift items and useful products that appeal to knitters and lovers of yarn and fibre. I should also add that their organisational skills are exceptional! They think of everything and keep us up to date with all that we need to know right up to and during the event, taking a lot of the stress out of our preparations.

To get an idea of just how popular this yarn festival is and the esteem in which it is held within the knitting community, look at where people travelled from just for EYF!

Needless to say, I was super excited to be there. I love the vendor badges. Look! I have staff! haha

Set up day was Wednesday and it took me five hours to get my corner stand from this to .....


I always like to line my booth with a coloured fabric as it gives a nice backdrop to my work and creates a colourful corner to attract the eye. Takes ages to hang it up though and get it just right! haha I had my husband David giving me a hand this year and I have to say he was very patient and helpful.

I managed to get everything out on display and although the right hand side looks in shadow, this photo was taken after dark and it looked okay in day light. 
I swithered about setting the stall up so that visitors could come right into the corner but I prefer to be behind my table.

I loved how Sue Stratford Designs had her corner set up. It was really pretty and eye catching and I did wonder about changing my layout to maximise the wall space but during the busy times, I was glad I had my wee corner to stand in as I'd have felt in the way otherwise. 

Sue Stratford Designs

Across the aisle from me was Tania aka TJFrog who lives on Sleat on the Isle of Skye. It was lovely to be  beside Tania's stand again as we both started out exhibiting at yarn festivals at EYF 2015! We had stalls in the pop up market that year and again in 2016 then last year Tania was teaching a Dorset button class and had a stand elsewhere in the building and I hardly saw her. Not that we saw much of each other throughout the day this year either as it was really busy but we got wee chats here and there.

It's always lovely to see how people's businesses grow from year to year and Tania has added a range of yarns called Shorelines and Strata to TJfrog as well as bags printed with her own Dorset button design fabric alongside her kits and earrings etc. You can read more about TJFrog on her website and listen to the podcasts which feature among other things, interviews with creative people who live on or around Skye and the west coast of Scotland. (Links at the end of this post).

I could not have had such a successful event without the help of my best friend Kirsty! 

Kirsty taught me to make felt twenty years ago and I taught myself how to needle felt and my little cottage industry has grown from there. We thoroughly enjoyed working together for the three days and had such a laugh. 

Keeping our energy levels up!

Kirsty still teaches felt making at Falkland Felts in Fife. (Links at the end of this post).

A wee special mention for Mr TJFrog as well!
Garrant worked hard throughout the festival and was always cheery. We like cheery helpers :D

Thursday got off to a very busy start and remained steady with visitors throughout the day but I managed to nip round to The Crochet Project's stand and get my hands on a shawl pattern that I really wanted to try.

The Crochet Project girls could not have been more helpful and I went back and bought their latest book as well! I've made a start on the Acer shawl using a beautiful merino/nylon blend from Blue Moon Indigo. 

This shawl is actually really easy to make and I'm even managing it in 4ply. As a relatively novice crocheter and follower of patterns I'm pleased with my progress!

A real highlight of my day on Thursday was when seven visitors from Spain arrived at my stand, all so excited to see my sheepies in person and sporting Style Awards from Stephen West for their matching jumpers!

They were so lovely and having such a great time!

So while everyone else was going daft for yarn, I went completely mad for fibre again this year.

One of my favourite vendors is Louise at Spin City.

She was really sweet and helpful as was her Mum and I got quite a few exciting things to experiment with over the next few weeks.
Look at these adorable handspuns! I had to restrain myself because I wanted them all!

Our whole aisle was just one feast of colour after another actually as in between my stand and Spin City was the Wensleydale Longwool Sheep Shop and they had the most beautiful array of colours on offer as well the most gorgeous basket of locks.

Wensleydale locks.

I was delighted to see the big John Arbon Textiles stand there again this year. Kirsty and I just go mad for his blends and we treated ourselves to a fair few this year!

Back to the yarn and it was lovely to meet Lj from The Rusty Ferret aka Fluph.

Based in Dundee, Lj produces an exciting and quirky range of hand dyed yarns, known for their humerous names and vibrant colours. 

I was tempted by one called Kevin but had already bought a skein of turquoise but I know where I will be heading when I need a new colour to try!

Of course there is much more going on during EYF than I ever get to experience. As a vendor you rarely get to leave the actual market place so I don't have much to share about any of the other goings on. I did hear that people loved the extra space created by the marquee this year and enjoyed meeting old friends and making new ones. Lots of people came on their own but found people to sit and chat to, travel to and from their accommodation with and even attend classes with. There is a great camaraderie among the knitting community and you could certainly feel it in the air every day.

Stock wise, I sold some of everything and everything of some things. 
My new needle felting kits were well received and I will add the Little Sheep Kit to Etsy on Tuesday (2oth March).

I have quite a few things to add to Etsy this week but need to photograph them all first.

This little cutie is available now as a cushion and as a bag.

As you can imagine, it is quite exhausting preparing for a big event like EYF but I can't really take too much time off to recover as Open Studios North Fife is in just six weeks time! All the fibres I bought are spurring me on to get going again though. I'm so excited to try felting some of them to see how they turn out and see where the creative process takes me.

Be sure to check out these links to people I have mentioned above;

If you fancy a rootle round Fife on the May bank holiday weekend of 5th, 6th & 7th May, come and see me during Open Studios North Fife 2018!
I'll have original felt pictures on display alongside my full Aileen Clarke Crafts range plus felt making demonstrations, tea, coffee, cake and wine!
Brochures are available from next weekend. Look out for them in galleries, libraries, book shops, cafes and all sorts of places between now and May or download it from the website here .


All contributed content © Aileen Clarke