Sunday, 30 June 2013



Ok, this week's blog is all about the wonders of Woolfest. Now, when you compare it to some of the American fibre festivals, it could be described as on the small side, but this is Britains first fibre festival. This year sees over 150 vendors selling everything you could possibly wish for that's fibre arts related!

Is held at Mitchell's Auction Mart in Cockermouth. Woolclip take over the Livestock centre for 2 days each year. The wonderfully hardworking ladies of the Woolclip co-operative put on a great show for us. There is great folk music played live all day, all manner of fibre bearing animals interspersed with stalls selling their wears. It's great!

So let's start with Friday, Day One -

This is my first view of the mart, from the car park - note the "clart" underfoot! Clart is a technical term around these parts for mucky things! It's rained on and off for the last few days. The car park is a part time hard standing and so it's not got a permanent surface and it is a tad muddy - clarty!!

After buying my ticket and receiving my programme I made a beeline to the information stand to say hello to my good friend Marion.  Marion is one of the brains behind the joyful gorgeousness that is Woolfest, I was giving her a hand later in the day, so I just wanted to check in with here. Next was the ravelry meeting area to collect my Woolfest 2013 bag!!! Well, you do need to have something to carry you haul in!

Then was the first wander around the stalls, I'd already picked out some stands I just had to go to, but I started at the Woolclip aisle and worked my way around from there

The Woolclip Aisle

Dotted around the show are pens with many animals, if you can spin it, it was there!
llama - you've got to love those mop tops!

Hebridean sheep - gorgeous horns
Teeswater sheep - fab dreads!
Cashmere goats - These 2 were grumpy and had to be separated!

Angora bunny - I WANT ONE!!!

Wensleydale sheep - what's with the dreads?

I had specific thoughts about what I wanted to buy. I wanted a light shawl pin; I knit lots of light lacy shawls, and I wanted a pin that wouldn't pull the fabric too much.  I also wanted connectors for my Knit Picks interchangables. I knew that I didn't want to buy a lot of fibre, I've got quite enough for now, I still have some from last year's Woolfest. I wanted yarn, specifically some nice lace weight and self striping sock yarn.

I had a wonderful morning, browsing the stalls, completely absorbed in the riot of colour.  The stall holders are a wonderful breed. They are dedicated to sharing their knowledge. Their passion for their products is a joy to behold. I'd originally decided to spend half my budget on Friday and half on Saturday. Well, that went pretty rapidly out of the window as did my plan not to buy fluff!! Ah well!!

I had gift vouchers to spend from Christmas at Wingham Wool Work. I wanted a lace flyer for the kiwi and some undyed fibre. It didn't go according to plan as they had no flyers; I did buy 2 more bobbins though. I spent the rest of my vouchers on fibre.  Most of it was coloured, but I did buy some yak/merino and camel down/silk blend which is naturally coloured. My plan for shopping was mostly unfulfilled! I didn't find my connectors or the shawl pin I wanted.

One of the things I wanted to do was to buy Ben a proper spindle. He desperately wants to spin, and usually asks as I pull Whenu out to spin myself.  I wanted to get him a spindle so that he can master the art of drafting before he really cracks on with wheel spinning. I found a great starter spindle on Katie's stall, she runs Hilltop Cloud Fibre and her fibre is lovely - I resisted! Sigh, I really was tempted though!

I had some lovely salad and a veggie pastie for my lunch and had a chill session. It was lovely sat listening to the folk music while spindle spinning. I did bring Whenu with me, but it was throwing it down when I came into the show, and I was parked about halfway back in a field. I was quite convinced that I was going to fall and break my wheel. So spindling was the way forward. I had a couple of people come and ask me questions about spinning and my spindle. I was using one I'd made myself from dowelling and Fimo. I enjoyed sharing tips and techniques and talking to like minded people. It's weird to think that this time last year, it was me asking the questions as I was so new to spinning then. It just goes to show you how much you can achieve in a year.

After I'd helped my good friend Marion out (she is one of the brains behind the whole Woolfest experience) I headed over to check out the Woolycultural Show. Blow me down, I won!!!! Well, all things being equal, I was third to win! But I'm having that!!! Considering it was my first attempt at felting, I think I did quite well really!!
My yellow rosette winning spindles

Marion and I with her Miniature Garden exhibit
I left the show and headed home before my swelling head prevented me from getting out of the Auction Mart!!
I had things to do before my friends arrived later on Friday night. Beds to make, wine to chill. You know, all of the important jobs!!

We had a great night on Friday. We knitted and watched Glastonbury on the BBC. We contemplated why folk would trudge through mud to listen to music when you can do it on a sofa with your knitting needles and a cup of tea! Life doesn't get more rock and roll than that!!!!
Saturday, Day 2 -
The weather was much improved and the drive through to Cockermouth was lovely, the views of the mountains and of Bassenthwaite were stunning.

Once we arrived, we had a brew (obviously!) and then went to a demonstration of natural dying techniques. I wanted to go on Friday, but missed the demo while I was helping Marion out. I've been contemplating dying for a while now, and while you tube is a great resource, having someone you can talk to is invaluable.
Alison from Pure Tincturia demonstrated how to use natural plant extracts to dye yarn and fibre using a microwave - I love the instant gratification! After the demo, shopping had to be done, I found the connectors thanks to a lovely lady on Woolfest's Facebook page and I also found a gorgeous bone shawl pin.

I left the girls shopping while I helped Marion out again, when we met up again, they where laden! A good hour's shopping was had!! We got some lunch and sat in the Main Ring to eat it and watch the sheep shearing demonstration. It was amazing to watch an artist at work, her mastery of technique was balletic. Her feet and hands worked seamlessly to get the sheep into the position she needed to get the fleece off. Amazing. Truly amazing!

A little more shopping later, we retired home for a slap up roast lamb dinner cooked by my wonderful mother in law. I truly don't know what I'd do with out her!!

Saturday evening was spent teaching my friend Steph (the blond) how to purl so that she could make a hat from the lovely yarn she'd bought that day. Steph is a new knitter, who so far has mostly knitted scarfs from that icky, shiney, fluffy yarn! Moving to sheep is a big step for her, and thankfully I don't think she'll go back to that man-made scarf yarn.

I'll post photo's of my haul next week! It's currently stashed about the house, so I need to gather it back together.

One of the things I crafted this week was a bag. I knitted it from the yarn left over from the roses I knit and felted for the whorls for my spindles. I'd attempted to over dye the remaining yarn with food colouring with some degree of success. I knit a French Market Bag and felted it in the washing machine. I finished the knit at about midnight on Friday. I put it in on a 30 minute wash and it felted quite nicely. Now it's dry, I think I might well put it through again, just to felt it a bit more.

I loved making this bag. I decided to make another for my mother in law. I found some naturally coloured dark brown wool on a stand and it was just £4.50 for 100g. I bought 2 balls, I thought that between these 2 balls and a skein of nasty massam I've spun which is almost identical in colour, I could dye them and use this yarn for Jean's bag.

One of my purchases was 3 pots of acid dye. Needless to say, they're shades of purple. Last night I skeined the balls of yarn and then set all three skeins to soak in cold water with some white vinegar added. This morning (Sunday) I started to dye. I think I may have a new obsession! EEEKKK I kept the yarn in their skeins and I'm loving how the colour has taken. It's drying now so I'll show you the results next time, but here is a photo of the yarn in the pot

Still hot and steamy

So then, photos of the stash to follow.

Next week's blog will be back to normal. The knitting content may suffer a tad as Tour de Fleece started yesterday, and I'm conscious of my commitment to spin an hour a day! I did manage to spin at Woolfest and I spun at home last night too.

Have a great week guys.

See you all soon x