About Yarndale

The Festival of Yarn and Woolly Creativity in the North.

Championing the brilliance and versatility of wool, our award-winning festival is a show for everyone interested in making. Over the last weekend of September Yarndale brings together a splendid variety of exhibitors with yarny stuff to sell and thousands of visitors, who come to browse, squish and buy yarn to make.

The show is designed to get everyone making, to share ideas, to inspire individual creativity with the chance to meet and chat with others from all over the country and beyond, get thoroughly enthused by new project possibilities and a fabulous range of yarny stuff, to celebrate all things handmade and generally get creative with yarn.

We tell the story of the yarn journey,from the woolly animals themselves, through all the various stages of production to the beautiful finished products which are displayed so beautifully in the pens.

Keen to encourage and inspire creativity in everyone, we work with an extensive mix of enthusiastic exhibitors, tutors and speakers to showcase the pleasure of making and the beautiful yarns, threads and textiles on offer.

Kate and Emma

With backgrounds in teaching and in theatre and festivals, our combined skills complement each other to organise the show and all that comes with it. We’re both keen to bring people together to share the joy of making, to explore different types of wool, different ways to keep the heritage skills of these dales alive and for all to benefit in so many ways from the simple act of making with needles and hooks.

Yarndale Ltd. was formally established in July 2012, with the first festival taking place in September 2013. We’ve been there since the very start and ten years on, we continue to champion wool and making, our local town and working with the local community.

Yarndale’s Roots

The seeds of Yarndale were sown researching another event for a local arts festival. The project focussed on sustainability generally and the viability, specifically, of sheep farming back in 2010, when the cost to shear a sheep was £1 and the price paid for that fleece was around tuppence.

It was abundantly clear that something needed to shift. That encouraging a greater understanding of the value of wool, of its brilliance and its worth was a good thing to do.

It raised so many questions – why use synthetic fibres when sheep are there growing wool on the fells? And what better way to showcase wool than a show focused on wool? The idea was discussed at the knit and natter group which met regularly in Skipton and those tiny seeds of the idea began to germinate.

The name was conjured – we didn’t want to be too specifically wool, so it became yarn and of course the dales were important to all of us. The auction mart, where livestock are traded, is a brilliantly appropriate venue. And Skipton, fortunately, is situated pretty centrally so although it is still a long old haul from the furthest points of the country, we do attract exhibitors and visitors from all over the country and around the world. 

Yarndale had to be held in Skipton, or sheep town since the name translates from the old Norse word for sheep – sceap. Known to many as the gateway to the dales where sheep have been farmed for their wool for centuries, since before the arrival of the Romans. In Medieval times the monks of Fountains Abbey and Bolton Priory grazed their sheep in Craven. Sheep farming could be very prosperous: Fountains Abbey made three times more money from selling wool than anything else it produced. A stark contrast to today with wool mostly considered a by-product of sheep farming.

Skipton and this area has a strong textile heritage, where the finest yarns and threads were spun for the world. Sheep farming still has a huge impact on the life and landscape of this area of the Yorkshire Dales. It also means there’s a local auction mart where during the week, sheep and cattle are sold. The livestock pens are in many ways perfect to be transformed into a pretty good, if fairly rustic, well ventilated venue for our show. With good public transport links, Skipton is a great place to host Yarndale.

When the idea of creating a show to celebrate wool began to take shape, it was important to be in Skipton to benefit our local area. We continue to strengthen our links within the community, using local suppliers, involving local people in creative projects raising funds for several charities, and participating in the town’s annual Sheep Day each summer.

We want to encourage people to think about making, about the materials they use and to consider supporting small scale producers where possible. As one of our recent exhibitors said, ‘Wool is seen by farmers as worthless, but put that wool in the hands of a knitter, and all of a sudden it becomes priceless.’

Our Yarn

Yarndale is about celebrating all things woolly and wonderful and we want to share our love of yarn, and the possibilities it offers, sparking creativity in everyone.

In 2020, as the world was descending into lockdown and we didn’t know whether we’d be able to deliver a show that autumn, we knew we wanted to help ensure that people were able to continue making and hoping.

So we formed a collaboration with West Yorkshire Spinners to create our own exclusive Yarndale colourways which are dyed onto their award winning signature 4ply, taking inspiration from the colours of our Yarndale Sheep. We are very proud of our yarn which is beautifully vibrant and wonderfully stripey!

Our Sheep

Each year we have created a sheep for the show. We began with Betty, with a woollen patchwork sheep, reminiscent of the blankets so many of us remember, next came Bert and his colourful squishy pompoms. Our sheep in 2020 was aptly named Hope and she gladly provided our first colourway.

We now have a proud flock of 13 sheep and exclusive colourways in the colours of our Barbara, Hope, Maude, Nigel and Tristen sheep with more planned.

The latest addition to our flock is our 2024 sheep. As we thought about the design for this year’s sheep, we knew we wanted to shine a light on British wool, sustainability and traceability. You can learn more about this year’s sheep as well as the rest of the flock here.

Yarndale Makes

Yarndale is for everyone interested in wool and making, those who already knit and crochet and those who want to start. It’s about making stuff from warm woollen socks and scarves to big blankets and cosy cushions and everything in between. And encouraging each other along the way.

We love that people want to make and it is so clear to see the benefits – the joy in creating something unique and in health and general wellbeing. The physical act of making helps keep fingers and joints supple, brains in gear and the sense of achievement is a huge boost.

The Worldwide Creative Project

Yarndale is well known for the magnificent displays of our Worldwide Creative Projects bringing a heart-warming celebration of colour, community and creativity to the show each year.

Visitors have been able to walk under a kilometre of colourful woolly bunting strung from the rafters, or gaze at a stunning array of more than a thousand crocheted mandalas, bought stacks of cotton cloths and admired long lengths of chain bunting. All contributed by thousands of people around the world, all brilliantly making together to raise awareness and funds for a variety of charities.

More information about the 2023 Worldwide Creative Project can be found here

Yarndale Make Along With Emma

By celebrating all things woolly and wonderful, it is has always been Yarndale’s mission to inspire creativity and share the love of yarn, and to encourage people to start a new skill or have a go at something different.

We know from speaking to members of the Yarndale community that during the 2020/2021 lockdowns, knitting and crocheting was a source of relaxation and therapy during challenging times. There is something inherently soothing in the calm repetition of the creating process, and something very joyful and satisfying when seeing the finished result.

This is why we started our series of Yarndale Make Along With… videos and starter kits at that time to help people get started. Since then, our MALs have been growing from strength to strength and have been embraced by people keen to create their own clothing for sustainability reasons as an antidote for the fast fashion industry. 

Yarndale Social at Skipton Town Hall

Working with the Town Hall in Skipton, our popular weekly session brings people together to make and chat for a cosy hour over a cuppa. People of all ages are welcome to come along with their own projects and make and chat with us. Share ideas, share your day. Everyone is encouraging and happy to help if it’s needed, happy to chat along. 

Yarndale Social is free for all to join, all levels of ability welcome. Sessions are on Thursdays from 7pm – 8pm in term time.

Workshops and Creative Conversations

Each year at the show visitors are able to try their hand at all sorts of skills and techniques in a range of workshops led by experienced practitioners.

We also hold woolly sessions at local events such as Sheep Day, Pride, The Great Yorkshire Show, Skipton Now and Kilnsey Show.

We are keen to offer the possibility  for people to make with each other and share skills with everyone of all ages and abilities. Join us to make and to learn how to knit and crochet.


Since 2020, when the show was held online for the first time, we have included a virtual element to the show for those who have been to the show and want to have a reminder of the day’s delights and for those who can’t make it to enjoy a flavour of Yarndale. With an introduction to a wondrous array of exhibitors, the chance to share skills and experience with demonstrations and a wide-ranging offer from other woolly organisations.

We are keen to ensure Yarndale@Home helps make the show as accessible as possible for those who can’t travel to Skipton and so we have continued to offer a virtual complement to the show at the auction mart.

Yarndale is the must-visit event for yarn enthusiasts everywhere, a much loved fixture on the town’s cultural calendar and in the wider wool festival diary.

Last year, it was a Finalist in the category Best Knitting Show/Event in the British Knitting & Crochet Awards and a Finalist in the category Event of the Year in the Yorkshire Post Tourism Awards.

Visitors flock from across the country and around the world to enjoy this weekend of wool. We look forward to welcoming everyone to Skipton in September.

Equality, Diversity & Inclusion

Creativity is for everyone. Knitting and crocheting is for everyone. Yarndale is for everyone.

Please click below for our inclusion and diversity statement.