Feedback – Part 3

Yarningham looks sees and does a yarn festival differently. One of our core aims is to bring you the best independent producers, dyers, designers, online retailers and bricks and mortar shops to our marketplace.

We are committed to seeking out new talent and unearthing existing hidden gems. This means we are constantly looking for and researching potential companies and individuals to invite to apply for our marketplace.

From 2016 – 2019 we have had 107 exhibitors in our marketplace. That’s 107 exhibitors packs that have been created with all the information that an exhibitor needs to exhibit at Yarningham, 214 invoices sent (deposit and balance) and 107 badges made for the website.

That’s quite an achievement and something to be proud of.

Feedback – Part 2

Following on from my last post Feedback – Part 1 here’s the second of our infographics. This one is about our exhibitors. We ask every exhibitor to complete a short feedback questionnaire once the festival is over. 95% of them said that they would exhibit again at Yarningham. This figure is a mean average taken over the 4 years of the festival.

We are really proud of our exhibitor approval rating. The feedback we receive from them is invaluable as they have a very specific view of the festival that we just don’t get as organisers.

Success! You're on the list.

Feedback – Part 1

We have always collected feedback from both our audience and exhibitors who attend Yarningham. It’s a way for us to continually improve the festival and find out what does and doesn’t work.

We use the information collected from the feedback forms to inform the next festival. The feedback we receive is a valuable resource and really does make a difference.

What we haven’t done previously is share some of the information and feedback we receive. So over our summer break I asked our designer, illustrator extraordinaire Ben Javens to create some infographics to showcase some of the festivals successes.

The first infographic contains one of our greatest achievements. 96% of the Yarningham audience said that they would attend the festival again. This figure is a mean average taken over the four years of the festival.

I didn’t realise that these figures and statistics were in any way exceptional until I talked to a close friend who works for the National Trust. She said that they would pay good money for these kind of approval ratings especially from audiences.

I’ll share all of the infographics over the next few weeks here on the blog and over on the Yarningham Instagram account.

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The Yarningham Story – Part 2

If you need to catch up here’s Part 1

Whilst Lil and V had to take a back seat for personal reasons, Helen and I agreed that we would meet at my house every Thursday to work on setting up a shop.  We wrote a business plan, conducted market research and trawled the city for potential shop units.  Our initial enthusiasm saw us through the first few months, however after nearly 6 months of trying to find suitable premises we began to realise that it wasn’t going to be possible.

Our dream Stitches and Hos shop location

So what next?  We had spent nearly 6 months trying to open a shop and put a lot of work into trying to make it happen.  It seemed criminal to let all our work go to waste but what could we use it for?  I came up with the idea of a yarn festival.  It seemed like a good idea and we could use most of the work and research we had done for the shop to inform the festival.  I also had over a decades worth of experience working at music and film festivals and putting together my own projects and events. 

I talked the idea over with Helen initially and she agreed it was a good idea. We then had a meeting with all four of us to discuss the idea further. We knew from the start that we wanted our festival to be different from other festivals. The fact that our team spans different backgrounds, upbringings and ages, helps us achieve this as we all have different perspectives, opinions and views.

And so, Yarningham was born.  Yarningham has continued to grow and evolve with the help of family and friends, some of whom have been willing to help out in return for cake!

The Yarningham Story – Part 1

This is the tale about how I met Helen, V and Lil and we started a yarn festival.

I met Helen Winnicott through Stitches and Hos, a monthly knit night I set up in 2007.  Helen came along by accident with a friend. I clearly remember watching Helen knitting socks on DPN’s on one of her first visits.   She made it look effortless. We hit if off and I asked Helen to help me with a commission I had for Bullring Birmingham.  Helen brought her daughter, Lilith (Lil), who had also been attending knit nights, for moral support. Lil had just finished her degree in Costume Design and helped with the production and installation of the final commission. 

Helen and I sewing up my commission for Bullring Birmingham, Woolly Bully 2011

Helen, Lil and I then met Venetia (V) whilst working on K2TOG, a participatory knit graffiti project I created as part of the Cultural Olympiad for London 2012.  I had secured a pop up shop in a shopping centre in Birmingham that acted as a central hub for the project. Venetia came to visit, as she knew someone who was working on the project from when she worked at Stitch Perfect, a now defunct independent yarn store.  With these kinds of credentials I asked V if she would like to work with us on future projects.  Luckily the answer was yes!

Myself, V, Lauren, Lil and Helen in the window of our installation A Knitted Harvest, 2013

Stitches and Hos now had a core group that worked on several projects together including a window display competition (We came second). We talked endlessly about wanting to open an independent yarn shop.  We had seen a couple of independent yarn shops open in Birmingham and then unfortunately close.  Our shop would be full of all our favourite dyers, our own space that we could host knit nights, workshops and trunk shows and create fantastic window displays.  We talked about it so much that eventually it seemed like a good idea to try and get it off the ground. 

The story continues in Part 2 coming soon…

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Who We Are

Earlier in the year I was lucky to receive some business mentorship from Tian Connaughton. She pointed out that it wasn’t easy for people to find out who we were on the Yarningham website.

So we’ve written a kind of mission statement for Yarningham. It sets out why our festival is different and the ideas and reasons for starting the festival.


Yarningham looks, sees and does a yarn festival differently.  As the only Black led yarn festival in the UK we are unique.

Why is Yarningham different?

  • Yarningham is the place to find new dyers & producers.  We are committed to seeking out new talent and unearthing existing hidden gems.  This means constantly looking for and researching dyers, producers and designers to invite to apply.
  • Exhibitors are selected blindly based solely on their application form for that year.  This helps ensure that we meet our target of at least 50% of the marketplace being new to Yarningham each year.
  • We pride ourselves on programming new and innovative stitch based workshops not seen at other yarn festivals. 
  • We are the only independent yarn festival in the West Midlands.  It is vital that we make it easy for as many people to attend by having an accessible venue and good public transport links.

You can find our sort of mission statement on the new and improved’ About Us’ page here.

Website Tidy Up

Over the summer break I spent some time revamping and tidying up the S&H/Yarningham website. Usually this is a job that remains on my to do list whilst planning the festival and then come summer break I never quite get round to doing it. But this year is different.

I imporoved the contrast between text and background so that it is clearer/easier to read. I also labelled with alternative text all of the images on the site. This bit I’m not sure I’ve done correctly but I have some time next week to check it our properly.

For the most part you don’t see much of a difference but these background changes will help with accessibility to our site.

Would you like to have a look? Here’s a link to our websites Stitches and Hos and Yarningham