Starting tomorrow, this weekend in London sees Yarn in the City hosting their Yarnporium. The tutor and vendor lists for this event include many designers and small businesses whose work maximises the potential of wool. Every year we are approached by small businesses doing really special things with wool and looking for ways to more broadly connect this work to our campaign: this post is for you. Allison and Rachel have some great ideas about how to emphasise the wool content in what you do, and how to connect that amazing work with our love of wool here at Wovember. Read on to discover the roles that friendship, curiosity and conscience have played in the curation of this forthcoming event.
As November marches on, we get closer to the grand opening of the Yarnporium – a yarn market for yarn lovers in central London. We’re excited for the opportunity to help kick off the start of Wovember and have talked a bit about what we plan to do this month in our latest podcast: Yarnporium Hearts Wovember.
A bit about us: Yarn in the City was originally started to host the Great London Yarn Crawl. We’re a pair of self-professed BKFFs (that’s Best Knitting Friends Forever) who wanted to share our love of yarn and the amazing yarn shops in London with other like-minded individuals.
Over the years as Yarn in the City has grown, we’ve gone deeper down the rabbit hole of yarn-y exploration in our adopted country. This has led to us visiting countless yarn and fibre festivals, sharing our enthusiasm for makers across the wider UK, and falling even more in love with WOOL. We’re also both life-long learners and there’s a real snowball effect to all the knowledge to be had on the subject.
Wovember and its mission have definitely affected our approach to organising events as Yarn in the City. We’re both spinners as well as knitters so we already have a natural inclination to think about the materials we work with. We are constantly learning what questions to ask about provenance of our materials and the answers that make a difference to us have been eye-opening. We’ve each learned where our individual lines are, and what answers are important to us as they relate to Yarn in the City and the values of our brand.
These are values that we’ve tried to capture with the Yarnporium: a showcase of makers and yarn producers, indie dyers and designers from across the UK. We didn’t want to be “just another yarn show” but a show that was thoughtfully put together with the right mix of exhibitors, designers, workshops and learning opportunities. The timing wasn’t an accident either – we’ve long thought it strange that yarn shows seemed fewer and farther between the colder the weather got. Maybe everyone has started hibernating ahead of us?
It made sense to us to also plan a show that could participate in Wovember’s woolly celebration. As the days get shorter and colder there’s a natural inclination to snuggle in, and what better fibre to keep us warm and cosy than wool? So it’s no secret that we’ve chosen exhibitors who also have similar woolly inclinations – like Blacker Yarns; Kettle Yarn Co. who has her own new yarn spun exclusively by John Arbon; and The Little Grey Sheep whose small batch, hand-dyed yarns are truly extraordinary.
While the name Yarnporium may evoke ideas of luxury, we’re hoping that our “small, yet perfectly formed” show will capture the wonder, discovery and excitement evoked from memories of old-time sweet shoppes and traditional haberdasheries. We want our guests to feel inspired – whether through finding new materials with which to knit, or through learning new techniques. Even our workshops are woolly themed such as Karie Westermann’s Knitting Hap Shawls, or Fibre and Yarn 101 with Jules Billings of Woollenflower. We want the show to capture that same cosy, feel-good vibe that so many of us experience with wool as knitters and crocheters and makers.
We’ve got some tips for our guests to incorporate some Wovember woolly thinking into their visit to the Yarnporium, or that folks can use to create their own DIY Wovember event from wherever they are:
- Identify some of the awesome indie maker and companies you love supporting.
- Think about the values that are important to you as a maker when you’re creating something. What are you influenced by when looking for a design or materials? Is it the colour that seduces you or the yarn? Do you have similar patterns to other buying and look for organic or local products?
- Use the values you identified to ask questions to help you get to know your favourite companies better. What is their wool source? What are the percentages of their blends? Ask about their processes and ethos as a company.
- Identify your own line in the sand. Is it all wool all the time or British blends only or somewhere in between?
- Pick a project and your woolly materials and make something that promotes and celebrates your own individual relationship with wool this Wovember.
- And perhaps the most important: share what you’ve learned and help spread the word about wool. Tag your photos on social media, write a blog post, tell your friends at knit night or share the provenance of your project with a loved one.
Whatever you’re making or wearing this Wovember (we’ll be wearing our woolly favourites: for Rachel her Dark and Stormy cabled cardi and for Allison a woolly cabled cardi knit by her gran over 40 years ago) – we hope that your Wovember is a wonderful one.
Yarn in the City organize the Yarnporium and the Great London Yarn Crawl as well as other fun yarn-centric events in and around London. They also host a bi-weekly podcast! You can find them at www.yarninthecity.com and on social media everywhere as @yarninthecity.
If you are attending the YarnPorium this weekend, keep an eye out for the Wovember introduction in the programme guide and see what you can learn about wool work in the UK by talking to the vendors and workshop leaders!