Wool festivals are fabulously good fun.

These days I often go to yarn festivals as a trader and a punter. I pack my car with patterns and knitted samples and spend the day saturated in yarn fumes and the good vibes of knitters finding a design for their yarn, trying samples on, and generally hanging out to talk knitting. If I’m lucky, I steal a moment or two to dash about the rest of the show and see what’s new, what’s beautiful and what skeins need to come home with me.

I’ve been known to stuff my bag with all sorts of goodies at yarn shows. But that isn’t always the case. Sometimes I stand eyes wide at the choices, bamboozled about where to start and leave full of plans to buy up large online later, when I can think straight.

I’ve been thinking about it and suspect the difference in my polar approaches to yarn festivals might be in the planning – or lack thereof.

It might also be the moon and other invisible forces over which I have no control … but I’m trying to focus on things that I can change. So let’s talk about planning for yarn festivals.


Some of my indecision comes from worrying that I might be buying tons more of yarn I already have in my stash. I fear I’m buying the same colour, the same blend of fibres, heck, even exactly the same yarn (yep, done that).

You don’t need to have a hugely complicated or detailed knowledge of what yarn you already have, although if you have managed to catalogue all your yarn online and can quickly refer to it (I haven’t!), that sounds brilliant.

My strategy is less organised. In the days leading up to the event, I take a squiz at my stash, noting what’s there. How much shawl yarn do I have? What sweater lots are in there? What colours jump out at me or are missing? If I notice a glut of something – colour or weight I make a mental note. (I do have a lot of DK and worsted weight yarn in raspberry, pinks and reds at the moment – note to self: you do not need any more.)

Because I primarily knit for myself, I also think about what gaps I have in my wardrobe and what I feel like knitting. Do I want a fresh new shawl? New sweaters? Cardigans? How heavy? Do I fancy a new hat for winter? And, because I’m always designing, I consider what patterns I’d like to create.


The best time to note all the designs you can’t resist is before you confront a wall of yarn at your next yarn festival.

Again, details are great but not essential. Notepad at the ready, you could jot down all the bits you’d love to cast on with a reminder of what yarn you’ll need. Yardage, how many colours, yarn weight – details we’re all liable to forget.

You might print out some patterns, or instead go with looser plans like, “I neeeed a shawl that pops” or “think neutrals! You always forget neutrals!”, or maybe “this winter I am knitting a DK-weight colourwork sweater.”

Don’t forget to take your notes. And, don’t forget to look at them in all the festival excitement.


No matter how good your intentions – always pay attention to yarn that takes your breath away. You know, the skeins you can’t stop thinking about, the ones you circle the room to stroke just once more and make you feel a bit giddy. Sometimes you haven’t got the foggiest idea how they’ll fit into your life. Grab those skeins and stuff them into your bag. Fast.

If you’ve only brought cash and planned to buy something sensible, I feel for you. You’ve got to make a tough choice.



Look, sometimes you’ll see a whole sweater load of yarn that you need/want/can’t resist. Sometimes you’ll find just one skein of something electric, find yourself unable to say no to and grab it with no plan in mind – both work when you’re building a fabulous stash.

My rule of thumb is:

  1. Make a loose plan;

  2. don’t forget to look for some of the things you need;

  3. refer to your list often;

  4. don’t leave a heartthrob behind.

But mostly, take a few deep breaths before you go in. Steady yourself for the overwhelming yarn fumes that fill the festival. Tell yourself this is exciting.

Have fun!

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