Home Farm Wensleydales – at Ally Pally
Today we have a special BONUS post following our earlier installment from Jane Dryden of Home Farm Wensleydales. After reading a bit about her Work with Wool on the farm, here is a wee bit of an insight into the work that goes into taking wool to a show like The Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace, AKA Ally Pally.
Ally Pally – an ‘experience’ for a farmer!
All last minute arrangements put into place, a small overhead spotlight for our stall ordered and a 6ft trestle table with two chairs. We knew the size of the stall (2m sq) and the place on the map where we would be located in the palace. Our stall was about the smallest available but it was all that we could afford and, of course, a new experience so we wanted to make sure it was the right type of ‘show’ for us.
Jason would be looking after the farm and all the sheep were healthy and happy so we had no worries about the farm and our son was working from home to take care of our two terriers, or two terrors however you want to describe them.
The day before travelling I started to collect together the wool – how much should I take? – the baskets to display it and some of the samples we had, along with patterns, gift bags, business cards, flowers, buttons etc etc and suddenly the thought of packing it all into one car seemed one of the worst ideas I had ever had. There was no chance. So – off to hire a van and then change arrangements with the unloading team at Ally Pally – chaos already and we hadn’t event left home – trying to find somewhere to park a van in London etc., etc., etc.
We arrived at 2pm on Tuesday and were very fortunate to meet a nice security guard at Ally Pally who allowed us into the unloading area early with our van. After some chat about our ‘unprepared approach’ he decided to let us stay for the duration in a secure car park!
We found a trolley and began the unloading, which went smoothly, and found our small stall in the Panorama room. It was lovely to meet our neighbours and when the announcement came that all exhibitors were to leave the halls by 7pm the heat was on.
How does a 6ft trestle table and two chairs, as well as the stock and display fit into 2m sq?? Cutting Velcro and sticking our knitted samples and ideas on the dividing walls and arranging baskets of wool and fleece, displaying the Home Farm Wensleydales banner and price lists, oh and not forgetting ‘Give Sheep a Chance’ – what a turnaround, in 2 hours we were done and off to the pub!
A sleepless night, worrying about the next few days and what to expect. And back to Ally Pally for 8am the next morning to find all our samples on the floor and the Velcro useless! Not to worry, this was the knitting and stitching show and somebody must sell pins! Another panic but we managed and at 9.30am just in time for doors opening, we were ready, calm and had even managed a cup of tea!
An unbelievable amount of people rushed in to our hall within minutes of the doors opening.
Organised bus trips and literally hundred of people appeared out of nowhere. It was fabulous and even better – the majority of the customers loved our wool and the vibrant colours we had on display. It must have been 4pm by the time I came up for air and at 5pm when the doors closed my surrounding stall holders and I cheered! What a brilliant day. And phew – a good night’s sleep with the worry gone and so looking forward to the next four days.
At the weekend I had the chance to look at other stalls and was very lucky to have my husband help – and I especially loved the Home Farm crocheted flower he was wearing…
Visitors were so interested to hear about our wonderful rare breed Wensleydales and Bluefaced Leicesters and I had stored some photos on an ipad which were displayed for all to see. Some of our customers already knew about Home Farm Wensleydales which we were delighted to hear, having only launched our product in June 2015.
What a successful event – we met some fantastic people at the show, both customers and stall holders, it was fun from the beginning to the end and, although I missed the dogs and my sheep, I am very much looking forward to next year – even if we did get a flat tyre on the North Circular on our way home.
All content © Jane Dryden and used with kind permission. Thank you for this lovely piece, we at WOVEMBER are sure that many vendors of WOOL will be able to relate to your experience!