Friday, 8 April 2016

Tips on Combining a Holiday and a Yarn Festival

Every so often, an opportunity for an expedition in pursuit of yarn and knitterly people comes along which I cannot resist. Edinburgh Yarn Festival is one such, especially after last year, when I heard all the talk, and did nothing but wish I could be there.

So this year, I had the conversation early: could we make a bit of a holiday of it, and go up to Scotland for the Festival, which happens to fall just after my birthday? The answer was a resounding yes (I'm a very lucky person, and he's very special), and after the excitement, came the considerations of how to make this work. We've been to knitting events together before, but never on this scale, and it's never been more than a long weekend.

We had a brilliant time, but preparation and communication were key to balancing the two reasons for being in Edinburgh, so here're some tips on how to make that negotiation work!

Our first day included a trip to the Botanic Gardens

Make sure you have enough time

When you're heading North in March, and you have a limited number of annual leave days, it can be tempting to cut the trip as short as possible. We took the conscious decision to arrive early, and give ourselves a full day after travelling to explore and spend together before the Festival began. We also declared Sunday a non-travelling day (on the British rail network, unless you can leave at lunchtime, or have a direct train it really isn't), and so had the luxury of a Sunday evening together in Edinburgh before a very respectable lunchtime train. We got home in daylight and with enough time to establish we had no food for dinner before the shops shut!

Calton hill from my preferred breakfast spot

Take time to find your bearings

If you are going to be spending portions of the weekend apart, definitely worthwhile making sure you both know where the bus stops, and where key landmarks are. Yes, we have phones, but being able to say "I'm about 10 minutes down the Royal Mile from the Castle, I'll meet you on North Bridge" makes it much much easier than being forced to describe the four closest buildings, and hoping to goodness that combination doesn't come up too often.

Susan Crawford's amazing Vintage Shetland Project presentation

Have a clear idea of what you want to do at the Festival

While it is a holiday, and you want to enjoy that section of the break, you will enjoy those times more if you are confident that you will have time to do everything you want to do at the Festival too. Who do you have to see? Which vendors are must-visits? What's on your shopping list? Do you have classes or talks booked? How long will you want to sit and knit in the podcast lounge? If you know the answers to this sort of question, you can talk about how much time you'll be at the event, and enjoy both sets of time without feeling guilty that you should be elsewhere, or that you're missing out!

Involve your non-knitter in the event

Isla (of Brityarn) and I, randomly on the street
Mr P likes to see where I'm going to be, so I got him weekend tickets for the marketplace, and he was therefore able to come and go as he pleased. He knew when and where my classes were, and had the option to pop along and catch me if it fitted with his plans. He's also started to be frustrated at hearing about all these people he cannot picture, so he declared that if I was introducing him to someone, he wanted photographic evidence of us for future reference.
Jo (of Shinybees, on her birthday) and I in the podcast lounge





Plan things to do together

With limited time together, it's easy to just find yourselves wandering around, getting progressively hungrier, and then wondering what to do with the evening. Worse, if you (as the knitter) have nothing planned for the evening, and you're having the best time in the podcast lounge, you might find yourself tempted to stay beyond what is fun or friendly towards your other half. Make arrangements for things you're looking forward to - we went to the cinema* one evening, and a comedy show another - and you'll be all the more refreshed for more fibre adventures the next day.

*It can be worth sourcing vouchers / special deals in advance if you anticipate this sort of outing, though it can limit the amount of independent traders you can support.

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