Woollinn, Dublin’s Festival of Yarn

Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting Dublin’s very first yarn festival, Woollinn. Running from 25th-27th May, it promised to be a premier showcase of workshops with world renowned knitwear designers, dyers and makers.

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I was selected to be part of the press pool for the event which was really exciting, so I want to share my thoughts with those of you who couldn’t visit.

The event itself was held in the ALSAA Centre, close to Dublin Airport. Despite being about 100 miles from where I live, I was able to visit the event as a day trip leaving my house just after 7am and arriving shortly after opening at 9am. As I found from speaking to people throughout the day the location was ideal for many international visitors who had travelled from overseas – UK, France, Germany, Italy and Majorca just for the festival (that’s dedication for you).

The market hall was situated in an enormous sports hall and contained 56 stands with so many different coloured skeins, project bags, stitch markers, books and even the Pompom quarterly publication trunk show.

marketplace

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I have uploaded a little video I took on my YouTube channel, it shows a walk around the marketplace. Click on the link here to watch it. You might see a couple of well known yarn dyers and YouTubers on it 🙂

There was a social area to grab a snack and a drink and the Dublin Knit Collective had an area to demonstrate a range of knitting/crochet techniques. They also had a huge display of shawls that had been donated to them.

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The Irish Guild of Weavers Spinners and Dyers were also on hand to demonstrate and offer advice on different methods of spinning and weaving. I was allowed to use a brilliant, compact Louet Victoria spinning wheel – thanks to the lady who let me use her own wheel despite me obviously having no clue. It’s something I would love to own so I’ll have to save up as they are quite expensive. In the meantime I bought myself a little drop spindle and some fibre so I’ll start using that to reaquaint myself with spinning ( I took a class a couple of years ago).

There were book signings and paid for workshops that had to be prebooked online. You could choose to learn double knitting with Nathan Taylor, brioche with Nancy Marchant or hat design with Woolly Wormhead to name just a few of the designers. I even managed to have a little chat with Ysolda who was knitting at a stand.

I attended in a couple of free events throughout the day the first being The Yarn in Ireland Q&A panel which was hosted by the lovely Nadia of Cottage Notebook.

YARN IN IRELAND PANEL

The 4 speakers were experts in their industry and had such passion and knowledge.

  • Edel MacBride – a knitwear designer, she spoke of how she knit during her childhood in the 1970’s and then trained to be a designer.
  • Diarmuid Commins – is a dyer who specialises in collecting wool from local farmers, washing it with a natural fermentation method to clean and strip the grease before dyeing with locally sourced dyes.
  • Carol Feller – grew up loving knitting but only took it up again after having children. Following advice from the ‘This is Knit’ shop she took up knitting with such hunger and began designing her own knitwear. She’s had many patterns and books published and has now got a range of yarn, Nua.
  • Johnny Shiels – a third generation spinning wheel maker who recalls growing up watching his Mum spin while his father carded – as men spinning wasn’t the done thing at the time. He is an expert who has so much knowledge to share and would love for his children to carry on the tradition – they have the best teacher available. Meanwhile he is happy to share what he knows with those who buy one of his Donegal Wheels aka the Sheils Wheel. He also offers a restoration service, for those lucky enough to come across an old spinning wheel 2nd hand. What’s lovely is that it’s still a family business at heart, if you visit his Mum will sit you down and make you a cup of tea.

MAKE GOOD FEEL GOOD

In the afternoon I attended a free photoshoot (sponsored by This is Knit) with Kate O’Sullivan of the A Playful Day blog and podcast. Kate wanted to make every BODY feel good about themselves so she had an open door, relaxed session upstairs away from the hubbub of the marketplace. She certainly made me feel at ease and I can’t wait to see what photo she chooses to share of me on the Woollinn website.

SOMATIC EDUCATION

The last event I attended was a workshop for somatic education held by Katrin Neue of Soma Dublin This was an introductory workshop to help knitters and crocheters understand their posture better as well as learning how to release tension in our hips, shoulders, arms and hands. She made us aware of how our muscles tense up and don’t release smoothly. Also would you believe it takes more core effort to sit slouched or bent over – I must try to sit upright from now on.

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I thoroughly enjoyed the day and the best bit was meeting people that I know follow on Instagram and YouTube.

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A couple of them I had met previously at another yarn festival but the majority of them were 1st time meetings. I have to say that everyone was lovely and so friendly – it’s brilliant how a common love of wool can bring people together.

From top left clockwise: Julie of the Julie Knits in Paris YouTube channel, Fiona of Green Elephant Yarn, Bernie and Derek of the Bear in Sheep’s Clothing yarn brand and podcast, Grace of Babbles Yarns yarn brand and podcast and Emma of the Woolly Mammoth Fibre Co.

I didn’t stay for the evening social as I had a long drive home but I really enjoyed my visit to Dublin. Thanks to the organisers, sponsors, vendors and all the volunteers for a great event, I will definitely visit next year.

Ah but wait , “what about your haul?!” I hear you cry.

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I received a fabric goody bag containing a skein of Donegal Studio yarn, a skein of The Fibre Company yarn and a Woollinn pin badge. I was kindly given a Green Elephant Yarn pin badge. I bought a skein of Woolly Mammoth Fibre Co. DK BFL/Masham in stormy water and a skein of Bear in Sheep’s Clothing in nectar. I also bought 2 skeins and a pattern from the Countess Ablaze stand (I even have got a temporary tattoo from the lady herself) – hoping to make a shawl from this duo. The drop spindle and fibre was from the Irish Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers stand, for the bargain price of 5 Euros.

I have to say I have been spoilt, I do love indie dyed yarn. Can’t wait to get started on making ALL the things.

Until next time.

Jean x


8 thoughts on “Woollinn, Dublin’s Festival of Yarn

  1. I was thinking about you this morning, Jean… so glad you’ve had a happy day… hoping you’ll bring your ‘haul’ into work to let me see and feel it all! 😊😘

  2. How exciting! This looks like it was a wonderful day and that you had fun (which is the most important!) looking forward to see what you make with all the yarn!

    1. I’ve heard a few people say they missed out this year but will hope to make it in 2019. It’s definitely worth it, I think I should probably start saving up my spending money now 🤫

  3. Lovely piece and thanks for the kind mention too. I treated myself to the 2 colour brioche class but was torn with so much excitement at every turn. Such a well organised event too, smooth.

    1. It was a pleasure to hear you speak. My Granny, who lived in Londonderry knit aran jumpers to sell (don’t know who for). I was always fascinated by her ability to knit the intricate designs so fast.

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