1. The moment I arrived at the gate at Zurich airport, I saw a fellow knitter making the pilgrimage. On the next plane, from Amsterdam, we saw a dozen more (just in the rows around us). In Edinburgh itself there were knitters everywhere. (They're not hard to spot. Sure, those Selbuvotter mittens might just be the sign of a person with cold hands, but in context, it's a dead giveaway.) By the time I flew back on Sunday afternoon, it seemed like half the plane was returning from The Festival. Certainly at least 80% of those in the rows immediately around me, and why should the rest of the plane have been any different?
Being surrounded by the Wool Tribe like that is thrilling. Seeing all these people who care about what you care about, enough to spend money and time on travelling to immerse themselves in it. It's pure joy. And of course, there's the fun of making new friends, instantly, just by talking knitting with them.
2. The festival itself was overwhelming. In both good and bad ways. The vendors were spectacular,* the people fantastic, but there were so many of them. The crush on Friday was quite unbelievable, making it very hard to either shop or find people. Saturday was a little gentler; still very busy, but on a more enjoyable level. I'm glad the event is so successful, but it was exhausting – especially since I started off exhausted. I didn't manage to see everyone I hoped to (honestly, not a surprise – it would have taken a miracle!) and, worse, I didn't manage to spend nearly enough time with those I did see. Too bad I'm not one of those who find masses of people energising, instead of draining! Spending time with good friends in small groups is always great, but even though I had the chance to do that, I no longer had much energy for it. I'm sorry, friends. You're awesome. I'm just tired.
3. Still though: grabbing a hug and a few words with so many internet friends was incredible. It doesn't sound like much; after all, if you've been talking so much online and already know each other, what difference does it make to have a quick hello (really, in most cases not much more) in person? But it does make a difference. And not just because a hug is nice. Taking the effort to find each other, seeing and showing pleasure at connecting, cements things. It gives you more trust in the friendship: yes, she really does like me as much as I like her! It means a lot.
4. Which is a huge part of what makes a great event so great. Sure, the actual product on offer (the yarn in the marketplace, and the knowledge in classes) is inspiring. But as I've said before, I'm not very interested in "inspiration". Ideas are plentiful. Motivation can be harder. The personal connections you make, though; the joy of being part of a community; that's golden. Getting appreciation for your work is nice, too; when else are you almost guaranteed compliments on your favourite scarf! Put it all together, and you have a pretty solid cure for a creative slump.
5. Having a break is of course good anyway. Edinburgh is a lovely city, and I thoroughly enjoyed tramping around a bit. (Also. The coffee in Edinburgh Larder? Ambrosia. The platonic ideal of coffee.) It was very refreshing to be child-free for a few days. But... it's really nice to be home, too!
* Someone said they were looking forward to my Instagramming of the festival – but as I feared, I totally failed! Partly because I'm just not very good at that part (I don't like taking my camera out in a crowd; no actual reason, I just feel uncomfortable and self-conscious). Partly because I was constantly worried about my phone charge and data use. Sorry, folks. I totally fell off the #transformyouryarn challenge too, although that's not really working for me anyway.