This weekend, Farnham Maltings will once again be hosting unravel, the festival of knitting and crochet where a wide range of professional craft makers will be coming to exhibit their work. There will be a huge marketplace with an eclectic mix of yarn and knitting products, talks and exhibitions led by a variety of industry experts as well as many different workshops for visitors to participate in. We spoke to Gemma Curtis, the festival’s coordinator, to ask her what people can expect from the three-day craft extravaganza this weekend.
What can people expect from the festival this year?
With the festival being three days, there is something for everyone to enjoy and participate in. We have a huge range of fun activities from exhibitors selling their yarn accessories to a varied programme of talks. There will be a lot going on!
Why is the festival so popular? What is different about it this year?
As this is my first year in charge of Unravel I’ve noticed, after speaking to the returning exhibitors, how it seems to be a very well-loved and cherished event. People seem to really look forward to it as it returns to that time of year again and they feel really strongly towards it. The format is essentially the same every year, with the programme of talks, workshops and exhibits so people like to come back towards what’s familiar. We do have a mix of returning and new exhibitors which keeps it fresh and exciting.
How will the festival be laid out?
The whole building is used for the festival, which is nice as visitors can see the building in full swing. The Great Hall will be used for the marketplace and exhibits and the Long Kiln Gallery will play host to the varied talks and screenings. There will be also be lots going on in the Tindle Studio, Cellar Bar and Courtyard Kiln, so there are lots of places for visitors to explore when they arrive!
There is a wide variety of workshops on offer this year. Can you tell us a little more about those?
The workshops are there to provide something for everyone, covering a whole range of abilities from novice to advanced. We want everyone to feel like they can take part and so we planned to have a balance of activities, from beaded lace knitting to shawl shaping. We have established tutors from the field who will be on hand to guide and help those new creations.
There are some familiar faces returning to the festival this year, such as Ingrid Wagner, Susan Crawford and Amanda Perkins, who will be giving talks and displaying their work. How did you hear about them and what will they be doing at the festival?
Ingrid has been known at Unravel for many years as she used to be a stall holder. This year she will be giving a new workshop on Tunisian crochet. Susan was also a former exhibitor, but this year she will also be giving a talk on the Making of the Vintage Shetland Project, a subject she has researched for several years. Amanda has previously held a stall showcasing her work from her Natural Dye Studio years, but has subsequently given it up to focus on being a crochet designer. Her earlier work on Zodiac and Stargazer patterned designs will be on exhibition in the Long Kiln Gallery.
What other talks are happening over the weekend?
We have Rachel Brown whose talk Dyeing Science combines her two passions of science and yarn. This will be a really creative and visual talk as she talks about colour and how it can translate onto different yarns. It will be something new and more unusual for our visitors to enjoy!
Are there any offbeat or fun workshops that you in particular are looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to seeing how people participate in the Cast On, Pass On workshop, which will see them create knitted and crochet bunting as part of an evolving unravel display. I’m also excited to hear Amy Twigger Holroyd, as she will be tackling the subject of sustainability in her talk on reknitting old garments to create new wardrobes and will show some of her methods to achieve this.
Why do you think these traditional methods of craft have stood the test of time? Why are they still practiced and popular?
I think individuals still like to practice these more traditional methods as everything is bought or manufactured now, and people always seem to have an appetite for creating something original. It’s an art that tends to be passed down through the family and so it makes it a more personal product at the end. Bought/manufactured products also tend to be more disposable whereas people are more likely to hold onto things that they have made themselves.
Why should people come to the festival?
It is a really good quality festival in all areas of talks, workshops and exhibits. It offers knitters and crochet makers the chance to showcase their work and network with fellow craft makers on the day. Our visitors will be provided with an incredibly busy, interesting and fun day out, with lots to see and participate in. We look forward to welcoming them this weekend!
unravel runs Fri 19 February Midday – 6pm, Sat 20 February 10am – 5pm & Sat 21 February. The daily schedule can be found on our festival event pages.