Feedback – Part 8

Another subject that was mentioned in the feedback is signage.

Every year, we produce a brochure for the show to be given to our audience as they arrive. This includes a floor plan, as well as other information.

However, in our feedback, it became clear that we needed more signs within the venue and outside to help people find their way. Fortunately, we have our fabulous knitted arrows, created by the Yarningham team, that we could use both inside and out.

Another suggestion was to have a large floor plan on display at the main entrance – why didn’t we think of that??! This was put in place at Yarningham 2019 and did make a difference.

We hope to put more copies of the floor plan on display around the venue if we can find suitable locations. This is complicated by the fact that the Uffculme Centre is a grade 2 listed building, so we can’t attach anything to the walls. We will find a way!

We are very grateful to everyone for taking the time to send feedback – it really does help us to make changes to improve the show for everyone.

Feedback – Part 7

We moved to our current, larger venue Uffculme Centre in 2018. It was exciting to be in a bigger space with opportunities to grow and develop the festival.

We always measure the rooms to be used as marketplace and make a paper floorplan to lay out the stands. Unfortunately, our measurements weren’t quite right the first time.

This was reflected in the comments received in feedback – aisles too cramped, lack of space between the stands. We knew this before the show happened, but not until the day before when it was too late to change it. On paper, our plan worked perfectly. In reality, it didn’t.

In response to this and to the feedback received after the show, we went back to the venue and started again. We purchased a trundle wheel (pictured above, being pushed by Sara) and measured more thoroughly to try and work out where we went wrong the first time.

We discovered that the main hall wasn’t a rectangle, as we had thought. The two long sides of the room curve in slightly, making the room narrower in the middle than at either end. The curve isn’t visible to the naked eye, but is enough to make a difference to our original layout.

We redesigned the marketplace for 2019 using these new measurements and it was a much better fit. Lesson learnt – measure more carefully in future!

Feedback – Part 6

As mentioned in previous posts, feedback from our audience and exhibitors is very important to us.

We enjoy reading your comments and suggestions in the feedback survey sent out after the festival – even the negative things, as this helps us to plan and improve the show.

We love cake at Yarningham! For us, yarn shows and amazing cake go together perfectly. It was mentioned in the feedback that it would be great to have gluten-free cakes as well, so we asked our instagram followers for suggestions of a local, Birmingham based baker.

Paisley Immy Cakes was highly recommened and, after a tasting session, we agreed that her cakes are delicious.

We are delighted to have a wider range of cakes available at future Yarninghams, including gluten free and vegan options.

Black Pound Day This Sat

This Saturday (7th November) is Black Pound Day. Started on 27 June 2020 Black Pound Day is a monthly ongoing campaign to meaningfully alter the UK’s shopping habits to become more inclusive and, in turn, grow the Black economy and Black communities.

Black Pound Day seeks to make some noise about the brilliant stuff that the Black community is and always has been doing.

So this Saturday, if you are in a position to do so please support Black owned businesses like ours. If you’re looking for other fibre/yarn companies to support check out BIPOC in Fiber website for there fantastic searchable directory.

You can find our online shop here.

Add to our press list

Are you a woolly blogger or podcaster? Would you like to receive press releases from S&H/Yarningham?

We are currently updating our press distribution lists. If you would like to be added please send us an email.

How We Select – The Panel

TEAM YARNINGHAM L-R Venetia, Helen, Sara and Lilith

In our last post about how we select exhibitors for the Yarningham marketplace I’ll talk a bit about the panel. The panel is made up of TEAM YARNINGHAM – myself (Sara Fowles), Helen Winnicott, Venetia Headlam and Lilith Winnicott.

Sara Fowles “I grew up in Birmingham and learnt to knit at school aged around 7. I then promptly gave up knitting and learnt to sew instead, crafting clothes for myself out of pillowcases and my mothers cast offs. I didn’t take up my needles again until a friend gave me a birthday gift of 2 balls of chunky Rowan yarn. Less than a year later I had started Stitches and Hos, a monthly knit night held in a pub. Over the last couple of years I have expanded my making repertoire to include machine knitting after buying a machine in a charity shop.”

Venetia Headlam “My mom taught me to knit when I was about 7 or 8 years old, I forgot it all then she re-taught me when I was 11, ill and needed something to do. She also taught me the basics of crochet when I was 14, and I have surpassed her in my skills, she will now call on me if she needs “help” with something (ie wants me to do it for her!). Over the past few years I have expanded my skills and added knitting machines and an electric spinning wheel to my arsenal of yarn crafting instruments. The spinning wheel doesn’t get as much action as the needles/hooks/machines but I am determined to make yarn that actually looks decent, and not like spun carpet fluff.”

Lilith Winnicott “I began knitting as a child and promptly forgot how to do it. I re-learnt when I was about 18 and chose the most complicated pattern to knit, on dpns! I also sew, bake and build things. My life seems to revolve around one craft or another but I love it all”

Helen Winnicott “My mom taught me to knit when I was 6 or 7, but I don’t remember making anything until I was a bit older. My cousin and his wife had a baby girl when I was 12 and I knitted bootees and a cardigan for her. I began knitting again in 1989 when I was pregnant with my first child and have never stopped since then. I knitted things for all my children when they were small and now for my grandchildren. Thanks to the internet, I found lots of indie dyers and gorgeous yarns and love to knit socks and shawls for myself. I have tried to crochet but am not very good at it and can only manage a chain.”

How We Select – What we are looking for

In this blog post about how we select exhibitors for Yarningham, we’ll look at what we are looking for.

Picture of my partner M searching somewhere in Paris, 2007

The Yarningham marketplace is the place to find the best independent dyers, producers, designers, online retailers, brick and mortar shops from around the UK and beyond.

Once the application closing date has passed we hold a meeting to assess the applications. The Yarningham panel is made up of myself (Sara Fowles), Helen Winnicott, Venetia Headlam and Lilith Winnicott. We use a scoring system to assess the applications. Each member of the panel scores individually. The scores are added together and a mean average taken. Those with the highest scores are selected.

The scoring system we use is divided into categories with points given for each category. Points are awarded for uniqueness of style/voice, diversity of range and price points and quality of the products. We award points based solely on the application form for that year.

A point is given for applicants new to Yarningham which helps us to ensure that 50% of our marketplace is new to Yarningham each year. A point is also given to those who have followed the application guidelines and sometimes this can be the difference between being selected and not.

In the next blog post about how we select I’ll tell you a bit more about the Yarningham panel a.k.a. TEAM YARNINGHAM

How We Select – Images

Enamel badge of Yarningham mascots Boris and Donald

In this blog post about how we select exhibitors I want to talk about images.

On our application form we ask you to upload 4 images to support your application. These images should represent what the applicant would bring to Yarningham. We ask that 3 of the images are of products and 1 of their stand at a previous show or festival. If the applicant hasn’t exhibited at a show/festival before we ask them to supply 4 images of representative products.

There are image guidelines for the application form. We specify what format the images should be in and how they should be labelled. We also ask for information about the image including product type, name and price.

We know that not everyone is au fait with technical terms for images or how to change their images so that they meet our guidelines. So we provide an email address on the application form to get in touch if you are having any problems.

If you are selected the images you provide on your application form are used for marketing purposes including on our website, social media accounts and in promotional material.

We are looking for clear concise images where the product featured is centre stage. To achieve this you don’t need to be a professional photographer. I took the image used in this blog post with my phone. Whilst a professional photographer would be able to produce a better photo the image is a good, clear representation of the enamel badge which is what I wanted.

The best recommendation I’ve seen for taking photos of products is to invest in a background. A large piece of plain paper will do and is much easier to use than fabric (saves on ironing too!)

In the next post about how we select I’ll talk about what we are looking for and a little bit about scoring applications.

How We Select – The Application Form

Yarningham Exhibitor application form used in 2017.

Usually at this time of year we would be receiving applications for the next Yarningham. As we all know 2020 has not been a usual year.

We thought we would share some more details about the application process. We have always tried to be as transparent as possible about our application process and we hope this information will help anyone looking to apply to the festival in the future.

So first up is the application form. We think this is the fairest way to assess applications. Exhibitors are selected blindly, based solely on their application form. This helps us to ensure that 50% of our marketplace each year is new to the festival.

The application form is simple. In the old days we uploaded a Word document or PDF to our website for people to download. We’ve since upgraded to an embeddable form that automatically files each application on our shared drive.

We ask applicants for their details (business name, their name, website, social media accounts and a short biography). We then ask them to upload 4 images that represent what they would bring to Yarningham. 3 images should be of products and the 4th an image of their stand at a previous show. If they haven’t exhibited at a show before they should supply 4 images of products.

Once the images are uploaded they then need to submit their application form and that’s it. Yarningham exhibitor application completed.

In the next post I’ll explain a bit more about the images you would need to apply.