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Back when Yarn Unique was a little piece of my imagination, and long before I decided to really jump in with both feet, I was quite certain that I'd never be a vendor at a yarn show - that was for the amazing indie dyers not a little someone like me... I still loved attending them, I just never believed I'd be good enough, or big enough, to bring my own yarn to one!
Skip ahead three years and my thinking couldn't be more different - I LOVE vending at yarn shows!

September marks a full year of trying out yarn shows and dipping my toe into the waters of being a real life 'indie dyer' in person! I'm not going to lie, there is still a really healthy dose of imposter syndrome every time I set up at a venue, but I suspect it's in my nature to always have a little of that with me wherever I go. However, that voice is one I work to quiet so that I can just enjoy the unadulterated yarniness that comes with being at a yarn show and meeting others who, like me, LOVE yarn!

But I digress, the reason this nostalgia comes now as we tick over into September is because we are just days away from the 2022 Perth Festival of Yarn and this is such an important show to me!

If you will indulge me to meander with my thoughts a little more, I’ll take you back to the seemingly never-ending ‘lockdown’ during the Covid-19 pandemic. Yarn shows and events were no more, but social media and reimagined events provided some solace for those needing their fix of yarn, including a creative take on the virtual yarn show idea from the team behind Perth Festival of Yarn. A new and exclusive online store was created for what would have been the festival week and it was to be filled with show exclusives from a wide range of talented dyers and fibre artists. Now if you remember my assumption that I’d never reach the heights of being accepted at yarn shows and becoming a ‘true’ indie dyer, I wasn’t hopeful when I requested more information about joining this event. So when I actually received a warm welcome, encouragement and tonnes of advice from Eva, the festival director, I was amazed!

Now, knowing Eva and the team much better, I know that this warm welcome is just who they are; another shining example of the supportive and welcoming yarn community. But at the time it gave me pause for thought and gave me the confidence to try, which is usually all any of us really need!

An exciting and successful virtual show completed, and the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, led to this time last year where the Perth Festival of Yarn team were preparing to re-open their doors in 2021. I had applied, and been accepted and this was to be my first 2 day event, Yarn Unique was about to be put out there for the public to judge!

That event in 2021, I may be gushing again but I can’t under-emphasise its importance, proved to be absolutely key in kickstarting me to make the full-time leap into Yarn Unique and deciding the yarn business is where I wanted to be for the long haul!

It's safe to say, I had an amazing weekend! I met so many lovely customers, I forged lasting friendships with other vendors and I embraced the social side of the festival – I was all together more outgoing than I normally am and I loved every minute!

In the following 12 months I have vended at lots of other yarn shows, loving each and every one for their uniqueness, but Perth Festival of Yarn does, and will always, hold a special place in my heart. Their championing me as up-and-coming dyer has been so important in my journey and that of the Yarn Unique brand!

So, that meandering through process brings us to now. September 2022. Days before the 2022 Perth Festival of Yarn, where I am not only returning to be a vendor (I'll be right inside the door as you enter at no 52 - come and say hi!) but I am so very proud to say am a sponsor of the iconic lounge where all visitors will be welcomed and find space to rest, meet friends and attend a huge variety of meet and greets.

Sponsoring the Yarn Unique lounge is a privilege and I can’t wait to meet lots of you there!

So... days to go... I'm super excited... what can you expect at Perth Festival of Yarn in 2022?

60 amazing dyers, fibre artists and yarn related businesses will be there with the most amazing items to tempt you and please you! But, Perth feels like so much more than 'just' that (and 'just that' is already amazing!). During show days there's also a programme of talks and a busy schedule in the lounge of people to meet! And after hours on Saturday there will be an epic social event so you can really make a weekend of it!

The Saturday Gala Dinner, which includes live music from Ruth Martin who, equipped with an acoustic guitar and a rich soulful voice, will be sharing her eclectic songwriting style whilst I tuck into a lovely tea and chat with fellow yarn lovers, oh and it's a fab excuse to don a nice 'out-out' outfit - It's fair to say I'm a bit excited!

But, back to the lounge...

Upstairs during both market days the lounge, accessible via a lift or stairs, will house seating and space for all. Come here to meet friends and show off your purchases; find a quiet space to rest before you head back down; or join in with the schedule of meet-and-greets!

Saturdays Lounge Line-up:

11 am

​Rununculus – Made a Rununculus? How many can we get in one photo?

12 pm

Emma Vining – A Knitter's Guide To Shawl Design

1 pm

Abi MacIntyre – Mosaic Crochet

2 pm

Podcasters – Meet and greet the podcasters attending our Festival today.

2.30 pm

Heather and Hops – Meet Katt Weaver and bring any pieces you have made from her designs

3 pm

Yarn Unique – Meet me! (And I may have some goodies to share!)

Sundays Line-Up:

11 am

Fairisle – Made anything in Fairisle? Let's get a group photo.

12 pm

Podcasters – Meet and greet the podcasters attending our Festival today.

2 pm

Yarn Unique – Meet me! (And I may have some goodies to share!)

All in all, it is going to be an amazing weekend, and if you haven't already you should definitely book your ticket to come and join us there! (If only to make sure my imposter syndrome doesn't crep back in - I'll need your support during the meet and greet so please do come and say hello!)

Decades of Yarn is the 2022 yarn club, taking a stroll through the 20th Century trends and fashions, taking inspiration each month and creating a brand new colourway on a variety of bases and in a mini-skein collection and Blanket Club!

Each month I'll be sharing the colours created and progress on the Blanket I'll be designing to go along with the club - feel free to knit along with me and share your progress in our social media pages!

This month, the colourway was taken from the luxury that exudes from the upper class decks of ships such as the ill-fated Titanic. Because if you're going to fantasise about being in the past you might as well make it a fantasy with ever flowing teas, parties and evening gowns - right?

Although somewhat limited in my fashion sense in real life, I can pick a wonderful gown out (a bit like this one, featured in the Met Museum collection) and imagine what it might have been like to be a Lady, albeit a lady with all the freedoms and opinions I have today! This is in part why the 1910's was fascinating to research, there was quite a way to go, lets be honest, but there was the air of change...

Women's suffrage was well underway in many countries, there were a growing number of outspoken ladies who were beginning to shape common thinking and even the fashions began to reflect this. Although the 'ladies' of the day were still caught up in customs and etiquette of dress and social niceties, there seemed to be a relaxation in style. Corsets were eased and began to be phased out, lines of gowns began to take a more natural look and the world was wild open with international influences being shown in the fashions of the day.

Working on personal tastes, I picked out a handful of gowns, re-watched Titanic (obviously!) and devoured pictures and illustrations of the 1st class facilities of the trans-Atlantic ships of the day. Truth be told, I had a great time! And once I got into the studio, the colourway 'Titanic Grandeur' was born.

But - I've hinted at all this during the process of doing it via Instagram, what I've not given any detail on yet is the blanket KAL promised! The plan is each month to release the pattern for a section of a blanket which uses 50g of the monthly colourway and 3x 20g mini-skeins taken from the mini-skein collection. January was a bonus month, as I felt it needed an extra skein to allow for an i-cord cast on.

The key design feature of the January section is the Woven Wave slip-stitch pattern, which adds a heavy texture to

the blanket border, and works perfectly with a fading set of mini's (in fact, you'll soon see a whole range of patterns released in this style!). A really simple pattern repeat, see below for a link to this month's pattern download and a video of me demonstrating the stich (with lots of babbling, it's one of my first videos so I hope you'll forgive the amateur nature of it!).

If you decide to knit along do share your progress and thoughts with us, either here on the blog post or on Instagram via #DecadesofYarnKAL

January Pattern Sheet_a
Download PDF • 300KB

In July 2021 Yarn Unique became a fundraising partner of Mermaids UK!

A truly wonderful charity, there is a bit of a story about why they were chosen as the first charity I wanted to begin a relationship with, and although it starts out pretty negative (the story not the action!) I believe it has become something more important than the original motivation. A tale of some personal introspection, and a long hard look at certain sections of society and a really positive conversation it now allows!

But, I'll start at the beginning and lead you through the same journey I went on...

They say you should never meet your hero's and although I not 'met' mine, nor would I use the term 'hero' so much as an inspirational figure, I spent some time reeling with disappointment, and confusion early in 2021 when I learned that someone I had held on a pedestal for so many reasons holds, and frequently shares, views that indicate they are not the person I thought they were.

The writer of a wonderous collection of stories, an 'inspirational female role model', an all round bloody clever woman who did good with her life... I am referring to J.K. Rowling but those things are now tainted for me by comments and inferences she has made in recent years on gender identity and transgender communities rights to equal treatment.

I have to say, I am late to be adding anything to this discussion, and in doing so I don't want to reignite hurt experienced by the transgender community. This post has been written and re-written many times as I debated personally whether I had the right to comment, whether my opinion was valid and even whether the long-taught rule of keep your personality out of business was the right way to go? I also missed the first hints that anything was wrong!

Back in 2020 / 2021 I have to say I spent much time burying my head deeply in the sand, avoiding ALL news and negative stories as I, like you all, navigated a busy life during a global pandemic. I habitually find that a coping mechanism of mine is to create my own tiny bubble and not engage with anything outside of that! Although it has some positives for me managing my mental health this is one example which has led me to question the wisdom of this as I find myself out of the loop.

As I was in this situation, Because I missed the first questionable posts, and the reactions on social media, and the second and all future ones. So I have to say it was quite a shock when in summer of 2021 I looked backwards through the social media posts and news coverage. It also gave me pause for thought - I typically choose not to be outspoken and bring personal politics into my business and professional environments, something which was drilled into me during Business Studies lessons, but seems less important today in more informal times. And to be honest, whether the cause is disillusionment or greater maturity, I am slightly less noisy about my opinions in my personal circles than I used to be in my outspoken youth (though

it has to be said, I still struggle to quell my 'fixer' and 'organiser' tendencies). But, what damage am I accidentally contributing by passively ignoring and overlooking things - effectively not being loud about my own opinions because I assume that the majority of people believe as I do. Right or wrong, is it forgivable in 2021, and going forwards, to not take action or at least lend a voice?

As a white CIS straight woman, I know I am afforded a privilege around many areas of my life. I consider myself an Ally across the board, because quite simply we are all people and we deserve the same rights and opportunities to be 100% ourselves in a world where all are equal. The murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement prompted so many of us look inwardly and interrogate how white privilege and unconscious bias affects our behaviours. For many it was an uncomfortable realisation that we have not made as much progress as assumed towards equality and we just have to do better and be an active part of solutions! For me personally I found myself going through the same thought processes on the JK issue; was I failing to notice discrimination against other communities and in particular LGBTQ+ groups.

When you are not affected by discrimination its sometimes hard to even see it and therefore a bit more effort needs to be taken to be an actual Ally. Sometimes you need the issue pushing in your face. In this case I have taken a long hard look at how I, and Yarn Unique, should respond given that a large section of our yarn designs are inspired by the Wizarding World JK created! We made some choices and set things up, yet it has still taken me many months to complete this blog post, because how do you lend a voice, reject transphobic figures and state you're an Ally without making it a little about yourself? And therein lays my personal discomfort in vocalising my own opinions; being an Ally without virtue signalling. I think if you've read this far you will gather that I am an over-thinker! My biggest take-away from my time reading around the issues and reflecting was the phrase Action > Intent and it stuck with me. What can I/Yarn Unique do which contributes to a better world?

And contact with Mermaids UK was made, a fundraising agreement set-up and each and every purchase of yarn from the Hogsmeade Yarn Shop collection generated a donation of at least £1. This began in July 2021, and allowed us to donate over £250 in it's first 6 months. Now, this isn't a huge sum of money - we're a really small independent business - but, I know that every penny counts and so am choosing to feel good about it! For as long as we sell the collection we will donate to Mermaids UK, whether a purchase is online via our website, Etsy, through our LYS stockists or direct at a Yarn Show.

So why Mermaids UK? In past lives I've worked for, and with, many youth charities and organisations and, steering away from all cliches about the youth being our future, strongly believe that young people do not always get the support they need. Children and Young People who are navigating growing up whilst being gender-diverse are certainly less likely to easily find support and so the work that Mermaids does instantly felt like a great fit! Taken from their website, Mermaids says:

Transgender, nonbinary and gender-diverse children and teens need support and understanding, as well as the freedom to explore their gender identity. Whatever the outcome, Mermaids is committed to helping families navigate the challenges they may face.

  • Reduces isolation and loneliness for transgender, nonbinary and gender-diverse children, young people and their families.

  • Provides families and young people with the tools they need to negotiate education and health services.

  • Helps young people to cope better with mental and emotional distress, and equips their parents with what they need to offer individual support.

  • Improves the self-esteem and social skills of children and young people.

  • Improves awareness, understanding and practices of teachers, GP’s, CAMHS, Social Services and other professionals.

So, this is how Yarn Unique came to support Mermaids! And aside from the cash donated twice a year one of the outcomes which has cemented this as a good thing (so far - I am not ruling out withdrawing the collection from sale should we get to a point where the 'art' cannot be separated from the 'artist' in good conscience) is the conversations it has prompted...

Largely at Yarn Shows, I have had the pleasure of meeting so many yarn lovers, many of whom have a lasting fondness for the Wizarding World. Some have known about Mermaids and their work, but a number haven't and have asked for more detail. This has become such a great conversation starter, and yes it begins from a negative starter in the transphobic essays and comments made by JK, but it becomes an opportunity to say out loud that her opinions are not mine and that I and Yarn Unique simply believe transgender women ARE women, and so far I've not met one person disagrees! (Well, we've had one aggressive e-mail, but it was neither well researched and laden with bias so it was ignored and put in the delete folder!)

I am realistic enough to know that a cash donation is not the answer, and is actually the 'get-out-of-jail-free card' used by so many big businesses in trying to make right something wrong. But I do hope it's a start! A small (because Yarn Unique is small) cash donation which in turn starts conversations and puts the issue of trans equality out there.

So there it is, the origins story about why Mermaids was chosen as a charity we support, a long-winded essay in its own right so if you have read to the end - well done!

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