BRIGHT knitted covers have appeared on bollards around Darlington Market ahead of the wool fair this weekend, along with other knitted creations.

More designs will be added through the week, reflecting stalls within the market, until Saturday when the main columns at the market's entrance will also be dressed.

Sarah Oatley, of Drawn Threads, was commissioned by Darlington Council to help stitch together a bright atmosphere ahead of the town’s first ever wool fair on Saturday, February 29.

The 48-year-old said: “I am passionate about the town centre; if people come to see the bollard socks they might also buy something from a shop or get a coffee when they otherwise wouldn’t have came into town.

“And if they bring children, it shows them the value of the town centre. It can only be a good thing and good for the local economy.”

Graham Dove, 61, a taxi driver parked outside the market, said: “They've really brightened up the place up and the people who are going past.”

The Northern Echo:

Mrs Oatley and her team at Drawn Threads created a range of designs, including cupcakes and flowers, all the way to a tent and sleeping bag and a burger and chips.

“I really like doing unusual and quirky things so this has been great,” she added.

Most of the designs are created with donated wool and other materials, coming from a “yarn amnesty” where knitters give away unwanted yarn and old clothes from Oxfam, reflecting Drawn Threads’ socially-aware ethos.

More designs will be added as the wool fair approaches, including vegetable designs that are highly anticipated by the indoor market. Locals will soon be able to spot potatoes and a “fantastic” cauliflower.

The Northern Echo:

Robin Blair, 74, of the fruit and veg stall at the entrance of the market, cupped the crochet cauliflower when it was first presented to him.

He said: “It’s hard to create a cauliflower, it really is a masterpiece. It's just fantastic, there really is a lot that goes into it. It stands out from the rest because it’s different. All of these events are great too, to bring people back into town, especially those that take place inside the market.

The Northern Echo:

As well as sustainability, Mrs Oatley advocates for shop local initiatives and inclusion through creativity.

She said: “If give someone a pen and paper, they wouldn’t draw because they would say they can’t. Knitting allows people to be much more creative, they can just make anything.”

Marion Ogle, the council’s Town Centre Partnership and Events Manager, said “The knitted bollard socks and knitted creations have been created by Sarah Oatley from Drawn Threads and her band of knitters to brighten up the town centre and help promote the Wool Fair, which is on Saturday 29 February in the Indoor Market. There will be more knitted bollard socks appearing on East Row throughout the week.”

The Wool Fair is on Saturday, February 29 from 10am to 4pm.