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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Workshops announced


We are very pleased to announce the workshop programme for Yarningham 2018.

This year our workshop programme is bigger than ever.  Our wonderful new venue Uffculme Centre has given us the scope to programme even more stitch based workshops.

You can find the full programme on our website here.  All workshops are £40 (+ booking fee) and include entrance into the marketplace on the day of your workshop.

Lorna Bakes @ Yarningham

I would like to introduce you to Lorna-Mary Webb.  She runs LM Projects as a freelance producer and is a massive lover of cake.


Lorna has been catering for quite a few years and started to include it under the title of ‘Producer’ after she found a real passion for baking. After some time working in tour catering, she decided to stay closer to home and trained as a Barista. She now runs Front of House at Buddy’s 232 cafe, in Digbeth, baking cakes, making great coffee (she’s been told) and keeping customers happy and in check.

Now everyone knows that you can’t have a fibre festival (or any kind of festival) without cake. So we got in touch with Lorna to make sure that we have lots of delicious cakes for Yarningham.

Here are some  of Lorna’s previous bakes to whet your appetite.


Lorna has chosen to bake some traditional cakes and loaves, some naughty tray bakes, a gluten free and vegan option, as well as a ‘ Yarningham show stopper`. So, hopefully something for every sweet tooth.


One more for luck

We are delighted to announce one more exhibitor for Yarningham.

Yarn Angels are a new Birmingham based dye duo of Lizzie and Fiona.  The produce mostly one of a kind, hand dyed skeins on a wide range of fibres including merino, silk, alpaca and bamboo.


We are pleased as punch that Yarningham will be Yarn Angels’ first fibre festival.  We had hoped to find a dye company based here in our home town of Birmingham when we started putting Yarningham together.  It turned out to be a long search to find someone, but I think you will agree it was worth the wait. Their skeins look wonderful.  I can’t wait to get my hands on some.

And with only 6 weeks to go until Yarningham, I won’t have to wait too long!

New exhibitors


We are very pleased to announce 3 new exhibitors for Yarningham

In The Wool Shed


Little Boo Yarns

The full list of exhibitors is now:

Beyond Measure, Fab Funky Fibres, Fig Tree Yarns, Hand Dyed by Kate, In the Wool Shed, Jo.Knit.Sew, Little Boo Yarns, Mothy and the Squid, Owl About Yarn, Phileas Yarns, Stitch Solihull, Textile Garden, The Knitting Swede, Toft Alpaca, Whimzy, Yarn Cafe

For more information on all of our exhibitors please visit our website here