Last Saturday Rowan Yarns had a garment sale in which they were selling off all the garments they’ve had made in their yarns and designs for promotional purposes during the last season. The prices are usually an absolute bargain at these sales and would cost you significantly less than the yarn would have cost to make the same items yourself. Since I’ve been working with Rowan on the Ambassador program, I’ve really wanted a chance to visit their HQ at the Mill in Holmfirth (West Yorkshire) and this seemed like a great opportunity. I asked around my knitting friends and got a very positive response, so we ended up with 2 cars of people road tripping “oop North” last Saturday morning.
The drive up was blissfully easy, with the M1 being very kind to us indeed. I didn’t have to yell at a single middle lane hogger – amazing! The views got prettier and prettier as we made our way up into West Yorkshire and, with some expert modifications to Mr Google’s suggestions from Jem, we arrived at the Mill in one piece and in good time.
The garment sale opened at 8.30am which is pretty early for a Saturday morning if you are driving 90 minutes to get there from Nottingham. We decided to aim for a more civilised arrival around 10.30am, which meant I could set off at 8.30am to collect the friends who were coming in my car. We arrived at almost exactly the same time as our friends in the other car, but to a sad discovery: the garment sale had already sold out and closed up before we even arrived!
We heard later from local sources and people In The Know that there had been customers queueing from 7am and that they sold out within an hour or less. Not to be defeated, we had plenty of other plans for the day other than just the garment sale, so we drove back down into town to see what we could see. After parking up, we walked through Victoria Park where we found a surprising sight.
It had been Yorkshire Day on the previous Wednesday but, clearly not satisfied with only a day, Holmfirth was having en entire Yorkshire Week. As well as these sheep, there was an adorable rabbit and a guinea pig with longer fur than I’ve ever known one to have. Cute!
A very nice man who was looking after this slightly strange menagerie told us excitedly about all the other things going on in town, including a Yorkshire Pudding eating contest (we were initially well up for this, but never quite got round to finding it) a real ale trail with stamps to collect, and more.
On closer inspection we found that the sheep had been recently shorn and therefore were of no interest to knitters at the moment. I think they knew we were in search of yarn as they seemed pretty nervous! This could also be because they were in a tiny pen and surrounded by chattering women, but I like to think they their instincts could detect the yarn crazed desires of their audience…
We were all definitely in need of some elevenses after our long drive and luckily Rebecka has a friend who lives in Holmfirth and she knows someone who runs a tea shop, so off we went in search of sustenance and Rebecka’s friend, Stef. After some confusing directions (Rebecka is generally not allowed to be in charge of navigation!), we eventually found Emma’s Tea Parlour.
This was a wonderful place with friendly staff, delicious treats and a relaxed atmosphere. I wanted a cream tea because I love scones, but I don’t drink tea. This can sometimes cause consternation with staff in uppity establishments, but the lovely chap who served us was quite happy to swap mine out for a soft drink, which we dubbed a Cream Diet Coke. It doesn’t quite have the same ring as a Cream Tea, but it was just as tasty!
We had a lovely long natter and Rebecka’s friend Stef eventually joined us for a cup of tea and a catch-up as well. She was very sweet and it is always lovely to finally get to know a friend-of-a-friend that you’ve heard about but never had the chance to meet. Stocked up on caffeinated beverages and baked goods, we went off to do the only thing we could possibly want to do next – look at yarn!
By this time the weather had started to clear up. There had been showers on and off when we arrived and that sort of dramatic English weather you get where you look to the right and it’s a gorgeous sunny day, but look to the right and there are big black clouds. A lot like this!
Our first stop was Up Country who are the closest Rowan stockist to the Mill, as well as other brands including Debbie Bliss and Noro. There was plenty to coo over, although the layout was a bit confusing with one room looking like a stock room so I wasn’t actually sure if I should be in there! The staff were lovely, helpful and welcoming though, which can often make all the difference. I was suckered into buying some Amy Butler Belle Organic Aran which was on sale as it’s been discontinued. I totally forgot to take a photo though, silly me! It’s a dusky, dark orange with fine yellow threads in it, and I think it will make a lovely long sleeved shrug, eventually.
All that walking around and buying yarn we were starving (well, I was, anyway!) so we went in search of lunch. We wanted a pub so those not driving could have a glass of wine or a pint of local ale and preferably some outdoor seating so we could take advantage of the sun that had finally made a solid break through the clouds. Unfortunately we struggled to find a pub with both, so in the end we settled for a nice looking pub with indoor seating and a good menu, called Carniceria. I was very excited by the burgers on the menu because I love a good burger but I don’t like cheese, so I often struggle to find interesting burgers that don’t have cheese on them. Their menu had a burger topped with parma ham and a fried egg – delicious! And it really was, the burger was huge and I couldn’t finish my chips as I was totally stuffed. Good times!
After a very long lunch and yet more excitable chatter (I think we may have intimidated the barman a little bit…) our parking was just due to expire, so we made our way back to the cars for 3pm and planned our next step.
As you might expect in a town that has at least one large mill, there is a lot of water running through Holmfirth. Even less surprisingly, one of the two rivers is the River Holme.
Jem recommended we visit the Holmfirth Fabric Mill Shop next. I don’t sew but many of my knitting friends do, so this was a popular suggestion with the group. We thought that we’d cursed yet another retail opportunity for our day because we arrived just after 3pm to find that they had closed at 3pm! Just as we were about to give up and leave, we saw the owner near the back gate and he very kindly re-opened for us, how nice is that? And what a treat it was! I don’t sew but I was dearly tempted to start when I saw the delights inside. Thankfully I managed to remind myself that I don’t have enough time for my knitting as it is, so I really shouldn’t add any more crafts to my life right now!
Still, here is just a small selection of the wonders of the Mill Shop:
And for those of us who didn’t sew, there was even some yarn.
The shop was in a gorgeous old mill building and was guarded by a very regal pair of deer
Quite a few fabric was purchases were made (although not by me) after some great advice and assistance from the owner. If you need fabric and can get to Holmfirth easily, I highly recommend you drop by. The chap who runs the place is brilliant and the selection is fabulous!
Now we were all shopped out, but it was too nice a day to head home yet, so we drove back into town and returned to Victoria Park where we now found there were kids being given donkey rides. Top marks, Holmfirth! We ate ice creams and enjoyed the sunshine, whilst Eleanor knitted the fair isle cowl that she’d bought yarn for earlier in the day and was inventing the pattern for in her head as she went along. She’s a genius! See the photos (and her account of the day) here if you don’t believe me…
As the day wore to a close, the lovely Yorkshire man from earlier tried to get the sheep back into the farmer’s van. It was a terribly undignified experience for the sheep and the men, but we found it quite hilarious. Especially when the last sheep stubbornly planted its rear end on the floor and refused to move, so he had to drag it like a truculent child. Clearly our cackles of amusement reached the other end of the park, as the chap later thanked us for our help in that great team effort. We laughed some more!
So there you have it, a gorgeous day with lovely friends, retail therapy and many laughs. What could be better?