I had a busy busy weekend, with an overnight trip to Glasgow’s TCA for The Women’s Climbing Symposium on Saturday, followed by a day trip across the Pennines to Skipton for Yarndale. Photos in this post will be crap (thank you, HTC) and front-loaded, as I spanked my phone’s batter in Glasgow and couldn’t take any rubbish photos of Yarndale on it!
Glasgow was stunning and fantastic as always, and the early morning walk to TCA saw me in one of my favourite spots in the city at one of my favourite times of day.
The Symposium’s theme this year was Be Bold Be Brave, and the release of the programme only a week before the event meant I had no idea what that would become on the day. Turns out it was a mixed offering, with some excellent speakers and workshops who I felt completely nailed the theme for me, as well as some others that I found frustrating – mostly because their interpretation of the theme seemed to be “women are scared of climbing” and their content seemed fixated on normalising self-consciousness and self-doubt rather than actively rejecting it.
However, one of my favourite things in the world is people excelling and pushing themselves to be better, and for sure there was no shortage of that at WCS. Being around so many world-class women climbers who shared some insight into their training regimes was inspiring in a “I want to go home and do pushups until my face smashes to the floor in exhaustion” way. So I did.
I also met so many fierce women committed to pushing themselves harder, to challenge themselves, set ambitious goals and train to achieve them, and step outside of those comfort zones it is so easy to cosy down into. So, shout out to the amazing climbers who organised, travelled to, participated in, and made the event what it was. I came away with a lot to work on. Cheers!
I always leave Glasgow with a mixture of sadness and relief, and Saturday was much of the same. I’d have loved to stay longer, but I needed a good night’s sleep before a long day in a Yorkshire shed.
Last year’s Yarndale was a surprise hit with a wide range of fibre fanatics, and it’s no secret that there were a few aspects of the show that didn’t run so smoothly. Credit where it’s due, the organisers took the feedback on board in a receptive and positive manner, and outdid themselves this year, addressing almost every complaint. The event was organised, well-signposted, capacious, and successful.
I hadn’t really gone with anything in mind that I really wanted to buy, and my yarn purchases for the day were testament to how much the ubiquitous hand-dyed merino appeals to me (i.e. not at all), but in keeping with the theme of people being really good at what they do, I did get sucked into some fibre purchases.
My experience of Teeswater looks something like this:
See the long, straigh-ish fibres all aligned neatly with each other to create a slightly shiny yarn? This is what I’ve always understood Teeswater to be, so I was a bit confused to handle a cloud of crimpy grey fluff at Wingham’s stall labeled “Teeswater Grey”. I had to ask if it was a cross, or a breed I’d not heard of, and got such an interesting insight into sheep genetics and fibre supply chains that I ended up buying it (#3 in the photo below), as well as some Romney-Merino cross from the Haunui flock (#1).
#2 in the above photo is one of those story-telling things that I love so much. Katie from HilltopCloud lives in the middle of Wales, a country and landscape that she loves so much she has created a fibre lovesong for in the form of her Hiraeth series. Ynys Môn is the Welsh language name for Anglesey, the island that sits on the other side of the Menai Strait from Bangor, on the edge of Snowdonia in North Wales.
Purchases #4 and #5 were entirely facilitated by a pair of understated, friendly women named Audrey and Josie. While Josie was extolling the joys of her Gotland sheep, Audrey asked if I’d ever spun from fleece, and I shared my story of the neverending Zwartbles that I’d given up on a while back. She told me I’d bought the wrong fleece and might have put myself off for life, but kindly took it upon herself to educate me in the ways of buying the correct fleece and preparing it for spinning without the use of any specialist tools. Hence my half-kilo bag of Mule fleece (#4) that I intend to soak later today.
Having had quite a lot of success with Gotland and Shetland and blends thereof, I took a chance on Josie’s Gotland-Shetland cross roving. I’ve got as far as unravelling it and then rolling it back into a big ball, but it doesn’t feel surprising nor obvious as a Gotland-Shetland cross. I’m really curious to see how it spins up.
What I realised walking around Yarndale yesterday is that I really love my stash. I wasn’t very interested in other yarns, but that wasn’t because I don’t love yarn, I just kept thinking, “I have something better at home… Now I think of it, I can’t wait to knit with that yarn!”. If anyone has seen my stash, they’ll know that I have enough yarn to knit jumpers for a small army, but the point really is not that I have “too much” yarn, but that I have all the types and colours of yarn that I really want to have available to me right now. I feel that I could dive into my stash and dig up the perfect yarn for any project I’d personally want to make. And I’m really looking forward to the next project, and the one after that, and the one after that…
It’s a funny place to get to as a knitter, especially given the Ravelry culture of constant shopping, stashing and yarn-coveting. It definitely wasn’t an sudden thing, as I’ve been losing interest in hand-dyed yarns for a while now, and my yarn purchasing has generally become a far smaller part of my non-essential expenditure, but I suppose it took being surrounded by so many yarny possibilities and not feeling turned on by any of them to realise how complete this feeling is.
I had to mull on it overnight before it really sank in, but I honestly think I’ve reached a point of Stash-isfaction. And it feels good.