I had a fabulous time at Woolfest and enjoyed every minute of my day. I think I last visited around 2007, and a lot has changed since then. There were an amazing number of stalls, with a huge range of products. I had a rough idea of what I wanted to buy, partly from the preliminary posts from some of the sellers in the Woolfest Facebook group, and partly from knowledge acquired over the last couple of years. As you will have realised from my post about the two day workshop,with Robbin Firth of Heartfelt Silks, I love making felt, so I know I wanted some fibres for felt making. I also knew I wanted a small hand bowser for wetting my fibres, some silk fibres, and to investigate the various drum carders on offer. I also wanted to see what was new, interesting, and useful.
I chose two demonstrations to attend, one by Sew Sister, and one by Artybird Carnforth. The first one was in the morning, the second was in the afternoon when I was really glad to be able to sit down for half an hour! The Sew Sister demo was of a technique that Sue had developed. She discovered through experimenting that stitching fine cotton fabric to needlepunch (wool prefelt) and throwing it in a 40 degree wash gave wonderful textured surfaces. Kate from Artybird Carnforth is a felt making tutor on their City and Guilds course. She demonstrated making two pieces of felt with different fibres, one with Norwegian wool batts, and one with South African merino wool batts. Her teaching was excellent, and I came away feeling that I had added to my knowledge of felt and wool fibres.
So what did I buy? My first purchase was a book showing how to create clothing from handwoven fabric. I bought a Brinkley loom two years ago, and this book seemed perfect for inspiring me to use it more, and to weave with garment making in mind. I then had a look at the rare breeds section, complete with sheep, and bought a Shetland Moorit fleece. It’s been hard work trying to get it clean, and I think in future I’ll only buy scoured fleeces. I knew from the photos on Facebook that I wanted to buy silk “bricks” from Hilltop Cloud, and I ended up buying four as the colours were so beautiful. I also bought a drop spindle kit for learning to spin with – now I need a teacher. I found someone selling discounted knitting yarn, and I bought a large skein of white viscose that I can dye myself. I’d spotted very reasonably priced skeins of turquoise linen on the Texere stand, so I had to have some, given my Irish linen roots. I also got some gold trilobal nylon to add a touch of sparkle from Texere. At Wingham Wool Work I found the bowser I wanted, plus a niddy-noddy for wrapping skeins of yarn properly.
My biggest purchase was an Ashford Classic drum carder from P & M Woolcraft where it was significantly cheaper than the Ashford agents, and other suppliers. I’ve already carded all my rather scrunched up, tired, 11 year old merino tops, that I bought on holiday in New Zealand and never got around to using. Carding them into batts has softened them up and given them a new lease of life. I was also able to create interesting colour blends, and I’ve only just begun. I’ve decided to offer a drum carding service, and there are more details on The Thread Shed Studio Facebook page about that.
Cockermouth is a lovely small town, with interesting independent shops, and lots of places to eat. I would recommend it as a short break destination. We booked our stay through Sally’s Cottages, who I would give 5 stars to for service and friendliness. I’d love to hear from anyone else who visited Woolfest this year, and compare notes.