A kaleidoscope of colours filled Dewars Centre on Sunday 10th September when it hosted the Perth Festival of Yarn 2017. Now in its second year, this celebration of all things fibre welcomed over one thousand visitors and seventy vendors alongside workshops, a social evening and a keynote lecture.
If you are into knitting, spinning, felting or weaving (or perhaps all of the above) then the marketplace was the place to go on Sunday. A multitude of independent studios and crafts people were ready to show and sell their wares – everything from wool to clothes to buttons to brooches to tea cosies were there, in colours ranging from the muted natural colours of Uist Wool to the bright vibrant colours of small independent dyers such as Dyeninja. The vendors ranged from local to international; they had travelled from all around Scotland, England and as far away as Germany and Athens. Equipment such as spinning wheels, looms, stitch markers and needles were on display and the enthusiastic discussion about these items filled the hall with a happy hum.
Men, women and a wide range of ages were represented at the Festival of Yarn and as technology plays a huge part in knitters, crocheters and weavers honing their skills there was a digital presence too. Many of the vendors have their own YouTube channels explaining techniques and the Festival welcomed podcasters, from as far away as Iceland, and bloggers in the Lagom Felt Studio Podcast lounge. Some well-known faces in the world of knitting – the Knitterati – were present. Nathan Taylor, aka Sockamtician, has 10,000 followers on his YouTube channel and was one of the tutors leading classes. The classes, spread over the Saturday and Sunday and located in nearby Saltire House and the Lovat Hotel as well as at Dewars, were in a variety of disciplines including knitting, weaving and crocheting. The keynote lecture was delivered by Di Gilpin, the Fife based award-winning knitwear designer, to a packed audience. Di is internationally known and has collaborated with names such as Nike, Mark Fast (for Kanye West) and Topshop Unique, and her design work is supported by a team of local knitters within 15 miles of her St. Andrews studio.
Event Director Eva Christie explained that the Festival of Yarn was a celebration of textiles and their artistry and heritage. ‘There is a feeling of finding your tribe,’ she said. Eva expanded on this by explaining that the interest in fibre crafts is about sustainability, creativity and slow fashion – the movement that promotes lasting garments which are less trend-driven and more mindful of the resources and skills involved in producing them. Holding the event is about supporting small independents and cooperatives who have come together to produce yarn, many through community enterprises. Understanding the provenance of the textiles is very important to crafters who spend hours with these materials producing items that will be treasured. ‘Everyone has a knitting memory,’ said Eva. ‘Continuing these skills is about getting away from our electronic devices and reconnecting with making.’
As Perth is a central location within 90 minutes drive of 71% of Scotland’s population it is ideally situated for craft-loving visitors. The Dewars Centre provides free parking and a café upstairs where you are able to refuel and knit a few more rows of your latest project if you wish. Disabled access is good with lifts and toilets available and plenty of room between the vendors’ stalls.
The Festival of Yarn is on the cards (small wool joke there) for next year. Keep in touch with the event on its website www.perthfestivalofyarn.uk. You can also follow the festival on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
About the Author
Catherine Ogston writes short stories, articles, young adult fiction and is one of this year’s contributors to New Writing Scotland 35.