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Published September 19th 2016
Ever thought about knitting your own village?
After relocating to North Wales in 2015, I was casually checking out my local region one day when I entered an alternative universe. I'm not even kidding. On the way back from the beach in Tywyn, I drove through a village that was, well...knitted.
I haven't been drinking; it really does exist and it's smack bang in the middle of Gwynedd. Sitting on the Cambrian Coast, within Snowdonia National Park, Llwyngwril is home to around 500 residents. And these residents know what they're doing with knitting needles and wool.
In order to stop traffic (quite literally) and encourage people to visit, as well as raise funding for their local community centre, a group of very talented and creative individuals took to Yarn Bombing.
I have no idea how long this has been going on under unsuspecting visitors' noses, but it is a crime for it not to be seen more widely. It will put a smile on the face of even the grumpiest traveller. It made me grin like a maniac last year, so I was keen to see what the village got up to for 2016. And so, I ran to my car and flew across the estuary to see the colourful knits in all their glory.
Entering the village, I found a sign proclaiming that the International Sheep Dog Trials had been held locally in 2016 and that this was the theme for this year. Dogs, people!! If anything is guaranteed to make me smile more than people covering their town in knitted animals, bikes, benches and bunting, it's when this is expanded to include woolly doggies.
And it was glorious. From start to finish. A couple of the highlights were back in place from the previous year, including this splendidly knitted beast who keeps an eye on the heart of the village from his lofty position on top of the River Gwril bridge, with which he shares his name.
Right next to the bridge troll/beast is the village shop, where you can pick up a town trail that will lead you in all directions and introduce you to a magical universe made of wool, where sheep ride bicycles; farmers look a *touch* threatening, and knitted mermaids have taken over the local benches. I'm not making this up. Look!
In addition to the countless hours, in fact, I can't even guess how long all this creativity must take, but along with the main features, local householders have brightly coloured bunting across their garden fences and gates and the lamp posts are wearing sturdy winter outer layers. I can't speak for your town, but the lamp posts in my village are totally naked. No one has even given a thought to how cold they must be. How selfish.
Dotted through the the village are little donation pots (yes, these are also knitted...) that encourage delighted visitors to, one can only imagine, help pay for the cost of the wool? Because, man, there's a ton of it.
If you are *anywhere* near Llwyngwril (Edinburgh is but a short 6 hour drive...) you should come along and marvel. I imagine that children's eyes might actually pop out of their heads, so do watch for signs of this is you have wee ones in tow. I'm not being sued is that transpires. You've been warned.
On a serious note, though; it really is incredible to see this pretty little village covered in vibrant colours and completely insulated for the winter ahead.
Tip: don't bark like an over excited seal and abandon your car in the middle of the road like I did. People do live in Llwyngwril and they need to be able to get to the shops in their cars because, let's face it: they're way too tired from all that knitting to manage walking. If you pass a local, feel free to offer them money; wine; one of your non essential organs, or merely just your praise. You know, whatever you think appropriate.
I'm already far too excited to see what 2017's going to be like. No pressure, Llwyngwril, but I'll be back to write my third annual piece about you then.
I have to agree with you Suzanne, the village really is transformed. I visited Llwyngwril in August last year, whilst viewing the very property that is lucky enough to have the bridge with Gwril The Giant on it. I was completely drawn in by the feeling of community spirit, clearly demonstrated by the display of woolliness. I have since purchased Bodlondeb Cottage and look forward to witnessing the arrival of the Yarn Bombers once again this year. Great article...