Croeso I Gymru! (Welcome to Wales). This month we’re virtually visiting the picturesque country of Wales. A Celtic culture country, Wales is based in the southwest of Great Britain and notorious for its mountainous national parks and blissful yet rugged coastline.
From Abersoch to Aberporth you’ll find the turquoise waters of Cardigan Bay, one of only two coastlines in the UK that dolphins inhabit in all year around! And this month we’ll be finding out all about the Llwyngwril Yarn Bombers who are 50 miles south of Abersoch, a village famous for its wakeboarding and music festival, Wakestock. Based along the wondrous Welsh coast and within Snowdonia National Park Llwyngwril is the ideal spot for visitors to experience the very best of Wales and Pat and her fellow yarn bombers wanted to heighten that experience even more for tourists and local villagers.
Formed in January 2015, Llwyngwril Yarn Bombers have been regularly knitting and hooking up woollen accessories to bring their village to life. So, how did it all begin? Pat is on the fundraising committee and her friend Karen Brown the secretary for the local Ganolfan (Wales’ equivalent to a community centre) decided they needed an innovative way to raise money for the village’s central hub. The ladies advertised for knitters to join them at a coffee morning and proposed their yarn bombing adventure to the crafters; in hope to raise money and entice tourists to the local area.
The village of Llwyngwril has a myth of a giant named Gwril. The village is over-looked by Castell-y-Gaer a prehistoric hill fort, with standing stones surrounding the area. It is said the local legend who is Gwril ruled Castell-y-Gaer and his cousin, Giant Idris, from Cader Idris Mountain used to throw rocks at each other and this is how the standing stones were formed. The Llwyngwril Yarn Bombers played on this myth and brought it to life in the form of knitted and crochet figures. Creating a map and story about Gwril, his mermaid wife Moriania and their baby, the small Welsh village was decorated with these handmade figures along with dragons, bunting and fishermen. Selling the maps for £1, they invited Llwyngwril-goers to explore the village, whilst being told a mythical Welsh tale. The sales of maps and donation boxes placed around the village raised a brilliant £2,500 for the local community, helping to keep the village’s close-knit neighbourhood alive.
The news of Gwril and his yarny friends brought great success for the village and when the International Sheep Dog Trials were held locally the crafters of Llwyngwril had the honour of advertising the event with knitted and crochet figures. Unfortunately as many yarn bombers across the country have experienced, their work was vandalised. Gwril took pride of place guarding a bridge crossing over River Gwril. In October 2015 Gwril was pushed into the river and the crafters got straight to repairing him, however their hard work was soon destroyed again and Gwril was stolen. The theft was reported across Wales, however Gwril has yet to be found and as the main character of the coastal village’s yarn told story the villagers were soon busy trying to recreate the local legend again.
The Yarn Bombers have not let vandals deter them and have continued to create unique and fabulous hand-crafted creations and were even featured on BBC Alba, demonstrating villagers pulling together. You can see a clip of the filming here. Llwyngwril’s following has since grown and they now have followers from places far and wide. This has encouraged crafters from outside the village to get involved too, with their furthest participate coming all the way from Argentina! She was visiting for the Sheep Dog Trials and was very excited about the thought of seeing her work on display, so sent a crafted item to the Llwyngwril Yarn Bombers.
The group gets together twice a week plus, dependent on the project and varies from 15-20 members each session. As a group they enjoy the company of like-minded people and have now formed great friends. Pat tells us how the group has brought a lot of people together from the village, some of who would not normally have mixed socially and it has well and truly put their seaside spot on the tourist map, both of which are fantastic to hear. Not only has the group been successful for the crafters, each of them gaining new skills, but they have made life-long friends and brought success to their home at the same time.
When we asked Pat what the group's knitting ambition was she answered with “Just to get through each project without divorce!!” Whether she’s referring to with their partners from all the time spent on the craft or with each other and their creative differences, we can definitely relate to both and we’re sure you all can too! This year Snowdonia National Park Tourism has a theme of ‘Myths and Legends’ and the crafters of Llwyngwril will work alongside this to add a new yarn bomb story to their village. Over a period of two years the group have raised £7000 with their knitted displays and sales! An absolutely tremendous success for small community which we hope will continue along with their yarn bombing adventures. To end the feature we will leave you with Pat’s wonderful words of wisdom:
“You don’t have to be perfect to knit or crochet as long as it is knitted with love and that you enjoy what you are doing that is the main thing.”
The Llwyngwril Yarn Bombers story has certainly made us want to visit the Welsh village and we’re sure it has you too, along with giving you plenty of inspiration for your local community! We hope you enjoyed reading about the crafters as much as we did writing the piece. Don’t forget to check back next month when we’ll be featuring a European group only a stone’s throw away from the Mediterranean Sea! If you’d like the chance to win £100 worth of yarn and get your knitting or crochet group featured, then simply drop us an email at [email protected], telling us all about your crafty circle, for more information click here.