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 .


Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Upcoming Events Including Edinburgh Yarn Festival and New Things for 2018

Hello and welcome to my belated first blog post of 2018! I think all bloggers and podcasters experience periods in their lives when updating their areas of cyberspace fall by the wayside for one reason or another. I have definitely gotten out of the way of blogging the way that I used to but my working year has changed so much since I first started my little cottage industry and the focus has definitely been on the making as opposed to the marketing.

I have been extremely busy behind the scenes though. I had a hugely successful 2017 with a variety of events starting with Edinburgh Yarn Festival in March, a few craft fairs and a highland games during May and August, Perth Festival of Yarn in September, more local fairs in October and finishing up with The Handmade Show and The Loft at Ardross in November. Keeping stock levels up for these events is a full time job plus I run my online shop and supply a few local gift shops and galleries as well. I do take a bit of a break in July but 2018 is going to be even busier!

It all kicks off mid March with a return to Edinburgh Yarn Festival. I was SO delighted to be selected to exhibit at this wonderful event again. It is way over subscribed with vendors and it feels like a great privilege to be exhibiting again in 2018. It is a three day event this year running from Thursday 15th to Saturday 17th March. The Thursday is advance tickets only and is sold out already. If you haven't got advance tickets for the other days, you can still show up on the Friday or Saturday and if you are prepared to queue, you will get it.

I have been working hard on getting some new images ready to have produced as gift items. Already in stock are these sets of four luxury coasters.

'Drying Day at the Bothy' has been a favourite image since I created it in 2016 and was really successful as a printed card so I have added it to the coaster set and to the pouches. Mugs will be also available soon and it is back in stock as a card.

Multi-purpose Pouch £7.95

This year I decided to add more A5 notebooks to my range. I have usually gone for the small square format but found that these designs worked will as A5. The pages alternate between plain and ruled and I have managed to keep the price at £5.95.

My Lens/Screen Cloths are back in stock and available in six different designs. I have had to put the price up to £4.50 though as my supplier has put their prices up but it's still affordable and a great gift idea plus they really are good at cleaning!

I had all these bags made and put them in my Etsy shop last week and two of the designs have sold out already but I plan to have them all available again at EYF.

Living in an old cottage surrounded by trees and fields, you really notice the subtle differences as the wheel of the year turns and we start to experience more light and the first signs of Spring. If I had time to go and arrange a nice photo I'd share with you the lovely way the sunlight comes in through the kitchen window at this time of year. We have really deep windowsills and don't get the sun coming in all year round, only at this time in February and later in the Autumn. Time is short though and staging photos involves dusting so you will just have to use your imagination! :D
The point is that I was inspired to needle felt some Spring lambs onto these keepsake boxes and as I am impatient to see the daffodils, I embroidered some of them as well. 

Keepsake Box £45

I'm hoarding my stock of these to take to EYF and should have about six available, all slightly different. I will also have other keepsake boxes in various sizes.

New for 2018 are these little needle felting kits featuring my Pretty Bird and Dolphin designs. The kits contain a needle felting sponge mat, needles, fibres, threads and beads plus the design drawn out on a wool base fabric as well as written instructions. I hope to have a third kit available soon which will be released at EYF.

Available now on Etsy

What's keeping me the most busy is building up my stock of needle felted earrings, brooches, pendants and shawl pins in time for Edinburgh Yarn Festival. I'm trying to make as many as I can in all different colours.

I've added a slightly larger brooch to the range with the cottage and sheep design on it and will have a few with highland coos too!

The cow and cottage brooches take so much longer to make though so there won't be as many of them available but I'm trying my best to have a good few ready for EYF.

Highland Cow Brooch £22

Just six weeks after Edinburgh Yarn Festival I will be taking part in Open Studios North Fife for the 8th time! I can't believe it's 8 years since I first took the plunge and applied to take part in this event. I think it really helped me in lots of different ways to build my creativity into a full time job. 
I will be using the venue at Ladybank that I always use and plan to have lots of kits and fibre packs available this year as well as my full range of artwork and jewellery etc.

For full details about this event visit the website here 

Hot on the heels of Open Studios will be Aberdeen Yarn Fest on Sunday 13th May at Double Tree Hilton in Aberdeen! I'm not sure how I will cope with having a stall at this just 6 days after Open Studios but it's a great opportunity and a chance to take my wares to Aberdeen where I spent 4 years back in the 90's as an art student.

Later in the year on August 17th and 18th I have been invited to exhibit at EWEfest which will be Scotland's first wool festival of it's kind. It's to be held in Dundee at Slessor Gardens which is on the water front near the new V&A museum. This looks like an exciting and ambitious event that I am very excited to be involved it! 

As you can imagine, there is a lot of work involved in preparing for these events hence the lack of blog posts! I do try and keep everyone up to date with what I am making via Facebook and Instagram so do pop over and say hi if you use either of these. And if you are coming to any of the events mentioned above please introduce yourself! It's always lovely to meet people in real life as well as online 

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Half Price SALE!

My End of Year Half Price SALE is now on!

Mostly pendants and earrings, some seconds and some end of line, all half price.

Pendants were £26 now £13
Earrings were £18 now £9

I have included a couple of cushions that were £40 now £20

 and one canvas print that was £30 now £15

Sale runs until end of January. There are 70 items still available. Click here to view.

I'll be back in the New Year with updates on new work and previews of what I will be taking to Edinburgh Yarn Festival this year. It's going to be a busy 2018! 

Wishing everyone all the best x

Thursday, 7 December 2017

December Update with Lots of Gift Ideas

Well, that's all my craft fairs and events over for 2017 and what a fantastic time I had taking my wares out and about! 
I had to expand my stall at a few of the fairs I did as I struggle to fit everything on a 6ft table now.
Below was my stall 'In The Loft' at Ardross Farm Shop on the last weekend of November. I thoroughly enjoyed being back here near Elie. Although it was an exceptionally cold weekend, lots of people turned out for the fair and the fellow artists and makers were great fun.

This month I have been making as much of my work available online as I can. Lots of photos taken and edited! My Etsy shop is stocked right up with lots of lovely gift ideas.

My lens cloths are back in stock with two new designs added.
Hare Among The Wildflowers and Drying Day at The Bothy.

At £3.50 each these make a great little gift or a treat for yourself.

I also have some new canvas prints in. Light weight and easy to post. 
All these ones measure 20 x 20 cm at £20. 

I had a few seascapes printed as well. 

I think these two go particularly well together.
 20 x 30 cm

and I have a few larger ones at 35 x 35 cm 

My tea towels also make a great gift, easy to post.

£10 each, machine washable at 40Âșc. I washed and ironed one just to make sure and it came out beautifully.

My little keepsake boxes have been flying off all over the world and I only have one left in this size and a couple of smaller ones at the moment.

7 x 7 x 7 cm 

I'll need to make more background felt and get some more made this week or next.

I have lots of pendants and earrings available in various shops and galleries including Silver Linings in Perth, The Atholl Gallery in Dunkeld, The Rowan Tree in Falkland and Maisie and Mac in Cupar.

I am doing my best to keep my Etsy shop stocked up with them as well with more earrings being added today. 

Pendants £26, Earrings £18

I love making my leaf and bird brooches and have quite a few listed. 

Brooches £12

My next event will be Edinburgh Yarn Festival in March! It's a three day event this time from Thursday 15th to Saturday 17th March at Edinburgh Corn Exchange. The social space is being expanded and with the market place running for three days, it's set to be even bigger and better!
The Exhibitor list is available to browse on the EYF website here

 I am so excited to be there again in 2018! This is such a vibrant and inspiring event and I am already planning my wares and thinking about how best to layout my stand.
If you are planning to attend, it is best to sign up to the EYF mailing list as important ticket info is sent out in January.

I will also be taking part in Open Studios North Fife in May 2018. 

That seems like a long way away but these things have to be planned well in advance and you can take a sneaky peek at the participants list on the OSNF website here . It's quite handy having a name that starts with A. It often puts me at the top of the list! 

I'll leave you with this photo I took in Anstruther last week on a rare day off. I'm very much looking forward to some time off over the holidays, a chance to gather inspiration and recharge in readiness for a busy 2018!

All contributed content © Aileen Clarke