As the dust from Shetland Wool Week began to settle, when we found ourselves frantically getting ready for the Loch Ness Knit Fest. The organisers had very kindly covered the cost of Billy going there and provided a stall for Friday and Saturday. Their price? A half hour Q&A session on the main stage at 3:30 on Saturday.
Hazel Tindal and Elizabeth Johnston, who were tutors at the event, weren’t so lucky. Billly arrived there only a little later than planned with Billy O’ Middle Toon in tow. They however had their Wednesday flight cancelled due to weather, had to take the overnight ferry instead and get a taxi to Inverness from Aberdeen in order to make it there in time. It was this massively expensive for them. However, it was a poignant reminder that in the case of an MRI patient, their scan appointment would often be set back several weeks in similar situations.
Loch Ness Knit Fest had everything ready for us, including our delivery of the new Harriet’s Cowl patterns. We’d arranged for the printers to deliver to them directly since it was still being finished during Shetland Wool Week leaving only a few days to ready the pattern itself. Really they couldn’t have been more helpful, and their support both prior to and during is trully appreciated.
The benefits the event brought began before their market place even opened. We’d proposed releasing the Harriet’s Cowl pattern at their event, in part as a thank you for all they’d done. So when on Thursday we shipped 2 stockists bundles of them to the Morehouse Farm in America, it’s fair to say they wouldn’t have been anywhere near ready without a hard to meet deadline. We’d had another pre order of a mixed bundle for Travelling Yarns including the Cowl pattern too. It also meant that on Friday morning as we set up our stall, the online download became available, and the first sales came within minutes of automatically publishing at 8am.
Nancy Hunter had kindly taken some of the MRI Maakers’ finished items, (actually quite a lot) with her earlier, Billy had maxed out his luggage on his flight, so on Friday there was plenty on sale. Here it is all set up and ready to go, thanks to Anne Frost for helping lay it all out before her classes started. With the exception of a much appreciated break Nancy provided between classes, and the half hour slot on the main stage where someone from the Loch Ness Knit fest team covered the stall, this is where Billy spent his 2 days being kept busy. In all, £1220 was raised at the table alone.
I don’t think the half hour Q&A on the main stage went terribly, at the very least people seemed interested and it was a great opportunity to share with new people why we’re doing what we do. It seemed to create a final boost in sales at least, with some who had already bought coming back for more.
John Glen (BeardyChiel Designs) was there too, we’d met him at Shetland Wool Week in the Hub and before the end of the two market days he came over. He wanted to donate some of his yarn to the MRI Maakers, so obviously we had to get a pic. It’s a lovely soft yarn, 50:50 Alpaca:Shetland wool.
Loch Ness Knit Fest lay on a feast on the Friday night, and a concert on the Saturday night when it’s all over bar the singing. It really was a great event, not only for the fundraising opportunity, but the experience as a whole. As with Shetland Wool Week I met people who have been supportive already but in person instead of online, and new people hearing of the scanner appeal for the first time. Like a Nancy from Orkney Tweeds, we’d never met before but she’s been doing a lot for us already.
All in all, when Billy left Shetland the MRI Maakers fundraising total was at a little over £59,000, but now sits at just over £62,000 including the sales at Inverness and the Cowl pattern sales which wouldn’t be happening without it. We’re very pleased and grateful for the benefits Loch Ness Knit Fest has brought, along with the experience the organisers provided. Thank you.
Oh, and Billy O’ Middle Toon found Nessie on day 1, they seemed to get on 🙂