Woolfest 2011

Ok then, let me take you on a virtual trip to Woolfest. Perhaps it will make you want to go next year?

Woolfest is located in Cockermouth in Cumbria and has been running since 2005. I went on the couch trip organised through Baa Ram Ewe in Headingley. I have only been to Baa Ram Ewe a handful of times, but Rach is a bit of a regular at the knit night (Thursdays, in case you fancy it) and is good friends with the Baa Ram Ewers so when she asked me along I thought, yeah, why not.

So the coach left at 8am and we had been estimated 2.5 hours to get there. This turned out to be a slight underestimation as we didn’t arrive until 11:30.

Hello, my name is Heather and I’m having an identity crisis as I thought we had to write our Ravelry names on our badges but nobody else did so I had to sneak another one. Didn’t wear either of them in the end.

It was rainy and misty weather but actually very beautiful for it. This is Ilkley Moor around 8:30 am.

Loads of people (Rach included) were knitting on the bus. This was not surprising given that it was a trip organised by a knitting shop to go to a knitting festival ;-)

I didn’t feel like doing any hooking on the bus so I just took photos, munched on tomatoes (still loving these by the way) and admired the view from the window.

I definitely need to learn to smile in photos.

Apparently I actually DO look like this in real life though … we stopped for a wee break at Tebay services and as I was loitering looking shifty whilst waiting for everyone else, who should recognise me but Hazel from Quietly Stitching! I was very surprised: she called out “Heather!” but I must have looked very blank (frantically trying to place her, wondering if she is perhaps a cousin from my dad’s sprawling side of the family haha) because Hazel then said “Little Tin Bird? I’m Quietly Stitching!” and then it all made sense. How lovely and unexpected! I felt very famous and a bit chuffed that I hadn’t even needed my identity-crisis badges. Awesome.

Gradually the countryside became more lumpy and pointy which I took to signal that we’d arrived in the Lake District. It was very Scottish actually and made me want to go back to Glenelg for another honeymoon.

The queue was mahoosive to get in to Woolfest and this was not aided by a coachload of women pushing in to the queue. Very rude and unnecessary and they certainly should have known better.

When we made it inside it was ab-so-lute-ly heaving with people. It was all a little overwhelming and quite tricky to move around. Very tricky. We dived straight in to the middle aisle and were greeted by Fyberspates stand. Full of lush, beautiful skeins of yarn. So pretty and tactile. The olive green one in particular was divine … it had come just a little loose from the skein and so it was possible to give it a good old squoosh and oof yes, very nice.

I had been really looking forward to visiting the Laughing Hens stand because I’ve been lusting over their Almerino Aran yarn for months, ever since I bought that crochet book back in October. There is a blanket in there made from Almerino Aran, it is just straight stripes made from half trebles but I desperately want to make it. I am even more set on it since feeling the yarn in real life, it is STUNNING, even softer than Cashmerino. And the colours! Oh, my. Take a good look at these though because these were the only balls of yarn I saw all day pretty much as the rest of it is in skeins, hanks, rovings etc.

Or in plaits like horsetails! These were on The Laal Bear‘s stand. Rach bought some purple laceweight yarn here. The colours in handdyed yarn are particularly captivating but I always think that they look nicest in a skein and that if I was buying some I wouldn’t want to knit with them, instead I’d just want to look at them and stroke them. Yeah I know, I’m a bit odd.

This stall was my favourite of the day and I definitely definitely would have purchased the dark bluey skein (the one just being touched by the pink knitting) and the turquoisey blue one. Rach bought the one that looks quite grey. It’s gorgeous. There was a scarf knitted up in that same colourway and I was SO SURE that I’d seen it before. Not one like it, but That Actual One. When I realised that it was Ba’Tat yarns it all came flooding back – they stock Ba’Tat yarns in Create! That’s where I’d seen the scarf and really lusted over it at the time. At least I know where I can go and get these yarns again, given how close I live to Ilkley.

Talk about squoosh-tastic yarns … there were a few stalls that had miles and miles of soft natural yarns hanging around. I couldn’t stop touching these, they feel diving. the chunky one that is in the centre particularly grabbed me. I’m not sure which stall the top photograph came from, but the next three photos came from Woolfish.co.uk It was £5 for 100g of this yarn and I was sorely tempted to buy some just to stroke.

More lovely laceweight yarn from Wild Fire Fibres, hand dyed and handspun by Vikki (who is 25 according to her website and evidently far more talented and enterprising than me, also a twenty five year old …) I forgot to ask before I took this photo but she said it was ok as long as I have her a link back :)

Now THESE really caught me. STRIPES! ZIG ZAG STRIPES! And the colours are ace. The photo really doesn’t do them justice. They are knitting kits from Suzie Johnson at The Wool Sanctuary and it was a little while before I could put these down and walk away. WANTIES!

Fortunately I was distracted by the arrival of Jenny – lovely to catch up :-)

And of course a wool festival would not be complete without the wool that started it all … the sheep! There were a few pens of sheep but I have just photographed the prettiest ones for you. This is a Teesdale sheep with beeeeeeeaautiful flece and a very sweet nature, she kept sticking her head through the bars for some fuss and attention.

No idea what type of sheep these are, they may even be goats. I am not sure. They have lovely curly fleeces, and ears that look very very soft.

Alpacas! I love alpacas especially after they’ve been shorn because they’re all stripy as a result. Couldn’t get them to do a standing photo I’m afraid.

Ready for some more yarn? Ok.

This is my favourite skein of the whole day. I think this may be the most beautiful handspun skein of yarn I’ve ever seen. This would definitely be one just to stroke though because I can’t imagine what a knitted item would look like with it! But it’s fab. This was made by Felt Studio UK.

Aaahhh yet more yarn that I want to cuddle! There is so much of it too. Again no idea of the stall name or any other details but this is space dyed yarn or something. Either way it’s lush and I even went back for a second sneaky snuggle of this later in the day. Oh hang on, I’ve just found the card – it is Knitting4fun from Nottingham.

I would have loved to have taken Andy a felted Bee home but as he doesn’t like the feel of anything woolly it would have been a waste. Aren’t the animals sweet? Felted mussels, who’d have thought it?

My only criticism of Woolfest is that it is just not geared towards crochet. Not at all. There was one stall that sold crochet hooks, including Tunisian crochet hooks, there was Inside Crochet magazine stand (selling magazines) and then these two blankets as part of another stall. That was it. It’s not a crocheter’s event. The only yarn for crocheting really was Laughing Hens. In one way it was a shame because there wasn’t anything I could buy, but on the other hand it meant I didn’t feel guilty about not spending money. It was a treat to go on the trip and I didn’t have anything surplus to spend.

This is a clever idea though, pantone-style yarns. This is John Arbon Knit by Numbers

I did actually buy some yarn from this stall, although not the Knit by Numbers yarns. I bought three skeins of Alpaca Merino Nylon in the dk weight for £3 a skein. I was very taken with all the natural coloured yarns I saw so I was pleased to get some. It’s nice to get something a bit special and it’s nice that I could afford it. I appreciate that a great deal of work goes into spinning and dying all the yarns that I’ve shown you here today but they’re all so out of my pricerange. I think if I was a good knitter, and I was going to make something lovely with some yarn, I would save and splash out but apart from that I really can’t justify £24 on a skein of yarn.

At 5pm the coach left and too us home. The only downside of coachtrips is that you’re governed by when they leave. I could have been ready to leave at half 2 or 3 really. Plus it was nackering fighting your way through the crowds! We found a sofa in the end and had a nutritious snack of jaffa cakes and a good old natter (love nattering with Rach actually) before a final look round the stalls.

I even managed some crochet on the way home, before I fell asleep.


It was a really fun day and it was great to see so much – dyeing, spinning, weaving, looms, buttons, roving, carding, hanks, knitting, skeins etc but I would have parted with more money if there had been some more mainstream yarn there too. It didn’t cater for crocheters and the focus was really on yarn for shawls and socks, as well as things like spinning and dyeing equipment that is harder to come across in shops. Unless I become a lot better at knitting in the next year I personally would give 2012 a miss, because it was a long way and a very long day (almost 9 hours on the coach in total) for not a lot of products that I could buy. I recommend going though, but personally for me I think I am more likely to get my yarn online like usual, and perhaps go to Create in Ilkley to get some Ba’Tat yarns. I was most taken by the Ba’Tat yarns out of everything there so I’m pleased that they are local and nearby.

If you get the chance to go though, you should do, it’s a great experience.

Here are some tips for you if you do go:

– Be prepared to queue for 20 mins to get to the loos

– the vegetable lasagne was immense

– don’t take a lot of bags round with you, you will not be able to move and it is hard work carrying everything for 6 hours

– take lots of cash as most stalls don’t take cards and there is no cashpoint there

– walk around first before deciding what you want to buy

– there are lots of people who were very er, enthusiastic about Woolfest. So enthusiastic that they lost all sense of manners and personal space. Don’t become one of these people because you just look rude. I really hate being shoved around in crowds particularly when people would normally have manners in a different situation. Politeness and consideration go a long way.

– wear comfy shoes :-)

Ok then, let me take you on a virtual trip to Woolfest. Perhaps it will make you want to go next year?

Woolfest is located in Cockermouth in Cumbria and has been running since 2005. I went on the couch trip organised through Baa Ram Ewe in Headingley. I have only been to Baa Ram Ewe a handful of times, but Rach is a bit of a regular at the knit night (Thursdays, in case you fancy it) and is good friends with the Baa Ram Ewers so when she asked me along I thought, yeah, why not.

So the coach left at 8am and we had been estimated 2.5 hours to get there. This turned out to be a slight underestimation as we didn’t arrive until 11:30.

Hello, my name is Heather and I’m having an identity crisis as I thought we had to write our Ravelry names on our badges but nobody else did so I had to sneak another one. Didn’t wear either of them in the end.

It was rainy and misty weather but actually very beautiful for it. This is Ilkley Moor around 8:30 am.

Loads of people (Rach included) were knitting on the bus. This was not surprising given that it was a trip organised by a knitting shop to go to a knitting festival ;-)

I didn’t feel like doing any hooking on the bus so I just took photos, munched on tomatoes (still loving these by the way) and admired the view from the window.

I definitely need to learn to smile in photos.

Apparently I actually DO look like this in real life though … we stopped for a wee break at Tebay services and as I was loitering looking shifty whilst waiting for everyone else, who should recognise me but Hazel from Quietly Stitching! I was very surprised: she called out “Heather!” but I must have looked very blank (frantically trying to place her, wondering if she is perhaps a cousin from my dad’s sprawling side of the family haha) because Hazel then said “Little Tin Bird? I’m Quietly Stitching!” and then it all made sense. How lovely and unexpected! I felt very famous and a bit chuffed that I hadn’t even needed my identity-crisis badges. Awesome.

Gradually the countryside became more lumpy and pointy which I took to signal that we’d arrived in the Lake District. It was very Scottish actually and made me want to go back to Glenelg for another honeymoon.

The queue was mahoosive to get in to Woolfest and this was not aided by a coachload of women pushing in to the queue. Very rude and unnecessary and they certainly should have known better.

When we made it inside it was ab-so-lute-ly heaving with people. It was all a little overwhelming and quite tricky to move around. Very tricky. We dived straight in to the middle aisle and were greeted by Fyberspates stand. Full of lush, beautiful skeins of yarn. So pretty and tactile. The olive green one in particular was divine … it had come just a little loose from the skein and so it was possible to give it a good old squoosh and oof yes, very nice.

I had been really looking forward to visiting the Laughing Hens stand because I’ve been lusting over their Almerino Aran yarn for months, ever since I bought that crochet book back in October. There is a blanket in there made from Almerino Aran, it is just straight stripes made from half trebles but I desperately want to make it. I am even more set on it since feeling the yarn in real life, it is STUNNING, even softer than Cashmerino. And the colours! Oh, my. Take a good look at these though because these were the only balls of yarn I saw all day pretty much as the rest of it is in skeins, hanks, rovings etc.

Or in plaits like horsetails! These were on The Laal Bear‘s stand. Rach bought some purple laceweight yarn here. The colours in handdyed yarn are particularly captivating but I always think that they look nicest in a skein and that if I was buying some I wouldn’t want to knit with them, instead I’d just want to look at them and stroke them. Yeah I know, I’m a bit odd.

This stall was my favourite of the day and I definitely definitely would have purchased the dark bluey skein (the one just being touched by the pink knitting) and the turquoisey blue one. Rach bought the one that looks quite grey. It’s gorgeous. There was a scarf knitted up in that same colourway and I was SO SURE that I’d seen it before. Not one like it, but That Actual One. When I realised that it was Ba’Tat yarns it all came flooding back – they stock Ba’Tat yarns in Create! That’s where I’d seen the scarf and really lusted over it at the time. At least I know where I can go and get these yarns again, given how close I live to Ilkley.

Talk about squoosh-tastic yarns … there were a few stalls that had miles and miles of soft natural yarns hanging around. I couldn’t stop touching these, they feel diving. the chunky one that is in the centre particularly grabbed me. I’m not sure which stall the top photograph came from, but the next three photos came from Woolfish.co.uk It was £5 for 100g of this yarn and I was sorely tempted to buy some just to stroke.

More lovely laceweight yarn from Wild Fire Fibres, hand dyed and handspun by Vikki (who is 25 according to her website and evidently far more talented and enterprising than me, also a twenty five year old …) I forgot to ask before I took this photo but she said it was ok as long as I have her a link back :)

Now THESE really caught me. STRIPES! ZIG ZAG STRIPES! And the colours are ace. The photo really doesn’t do them justice. They are knitting kits from Suzie Johnson at The Wool Sanctuary and it was a little while before I could put these down and walk away. WANTIES!

Fortunately I was distracted by the arrival of Jenny – lovely to catch up :-)

And of course a wool festival would not be complete without the wool that started it all … the sheep! There were a few pens of sheep but I have just photographed the prettiest ones for you. This is a Teesdale sheep with beeeeeeeaautiful flece and a very sweet nature, she kept sticking her head through the bars for some fuss and attention.

No idea what type of sheep these are, they may even be goats. I am not sure. They have lovely curly fleeces, and ears that look very very soft.

Alpacas! I love alpacas especially after they’ve been shorn because they’re all stripy as a result. Couldn’t get them to do a standing photo I’m afraid.

Ready for some more yarn? Ok.

This is my favourite skein of the whole day. I think this may be the most beautiful handspun skein of yarn I’ve ever seen. This would definitely be one just to stroke though because I can’t imagine what a knitted item would look like with it! But it’s fab. This was made by Felt Studio UK.

23 thoughts on “Woolfest 2011

  1. Wow, all that wool!! Looks amazing. & now I want an alpaca, LOL. They are very cute. I cant knit, only crochet so I guess Woolfest wont be for me, plus its a bit far to travel from MK. Looks like you had a good time.

  2. Lizzie says:

    Thanks for the very detailed tour, I almost felt I was there. Like you, I appreciate all the hard work that goes into spinning, dyeing wool etc but the prices are beyond my range, I’ll stick to my local wool shop brands. I don’t think Woolfest is for me as I hate crowds, am not very patient in queues and dislike ignorant people who push in. A bonus for you was the excellent company of your friend Rachel and chance to catch up. X

  3. Oh phew I got really worried afterwards that I may have freaked you out lol. Well, we did leave early as dh had to get back so I didn’t get long in there but like you say, very overwhelming and folks were very rude. I must have about 7 new bruises on my boobs! You managed to get a lot more pics than me as I am very camera shy – both sides. A good day out but needed longer and more space! xx

  4. Devinder says:

    oh my god Heather how excited am i about your blog. i went to a similar thing in Birmignham last october i took my friend Annemarie who doesnt knit or crochet, bless her it was good of her to come with me. i was mesmeised with tall the yarn and could have spent a fortune but common sense prevailed.

    It was nice to see Susie from the wool sanctuary – oh i will have to drop her an email to tell her about your picture and get her to take a look at your blog. i love those blankets Susy made – oh must get in touch.

    about that almeion wool from laughing hens i have that i know exactly which one you mean. that is the one where i had troube changing colours on each row – my email to you last week. well i found out how to do it, thats for your advice but i couldnt pictue in my head, so i went onto you tube and found a really simple way. i am doing a practice blanket before i pick up that almerino one again.

    by the way i know what you mean about pushing ladies and i had ladies who snatched things from your hand – how rude some knitters are ruthless!!! i also found some knitters where very secrative if you asked them oh did you make that etc they werent willing to say but they too the compliements i dished out about scarfes they were wearing.

    i enjoyed going to the one in Brum was an experience and most of the stock from stalls had gone like ladies had never seen wool before and every where you went there was someone knitting in a cafe or on a bench or something.

    i like what you are making at the moment with the ripple what wool is that – thanks for a great blog and read. oh in Brum i met the ladies fom first 4 yarn where Lucy Attic 24 got her rico wool from!!!

  5. Wow Heather, what an awesome post! I loooooooooooooooooooooved looking at all those gorgeous photos, they made me seriously want to be there… when I was looking at those plaits of roving I was thinking “now if I was there I would have bought that….” he he! Glad to hear Ashford was representing the NZ wool industry!
    Have a lovely monday,
    love Alice XXX

  6. I was doing the Three Peaks this weekend and saw the signs for Woolfest as we drove through Cockermouth very early on yesterday morning … given the weather I wished I’d opted for that rather than hiking up mountains!!

  7. Having been to a few of these stitchy type shows now I’ve come to the conclusion that they’re not really good places for me, I have an extremely low tolerance for rudeness and people just seem to lose all sense of social manners in those situations.

    But wowza there’s a whole lot of colour there. I always go to the yarny bits of these shows but feel really lost because I don’t know what I’m doing or what I’m looking at. But I can appreciate the prettiness of it all though. Pretty pretty pretty.

  8. The woolfish, that’s the yarn I bought in Glasgow last year and made a lushious cowl from it – isn’t gorgeous? so so soft and really cheap compared to the rest! Sounds like you had a lovely day and were very well behaved in terms of yarn buying, not sure I would have done so well!

  9. Sarah A says:

    I went to a similar festival in the states a few months ago and there was a very small amount of items geared towards crochet but not much- but the yarn!! The yarn was fabulous- I will certainly go again!

  10. Wow! Good job I didn’t go. I’ve recently got zero self control!

    Did you meet Suzie of The Wool Sanctuary? I go to Knit Club at her flat once a month, she super bonkers and unbelievably funny. Don’t ask her for diet tips. She’ll tell you to chew and spit!!!

    Bless you nodding off on the bus. I had a nanna nap today for 20 mins. 4 months of only five hours kip a night and I’m pooped!!

    xxx

  11. Thanks for the tour! I bought 1 kg of that lovely chunky wool from Woolfish you have a picture of at a craft show in Glasgow last year. I have started making a chunky winter vest/cardigan with it and can’t wait to see how it will look finished!

  12. Woolfest looks awesome but I think like you the crowds would have worn thin after a while and I would have wanted to leave earlier as well. Thanks for all the lovely links to the yummy wool. I have recently ordered some undyed wool from Fibrespates that I am at some stage going to dye for myself. It is a beautiful so soft baby alpaca, cashmere, silk mix that we just cannot get in this country. At the moment I just want to hold and stroke it though :-)

  13. melissa says:

    you can crochet with that stuff too. but if you do, you just have to choose the right hook so it’s not stiff as rigor. i’m in andy’s camp, i really do not like wool either. it’s hot, itchy-scratchy. oh but some of those colors!! delicious!

  14. Gail says:

    Hi Heather, thanks for the fabby tour of Woolfest I was disappointed that I had to miss it this year due to lack of transport but thanks to your blog I don’t feel I’ve missed out on all the goings on entirely !

  15. LOL you are very funny. I was going to add a side note saying “Heather will probably say this looks nothing like me” haha but I decided to bite the bullet. xx

  16. Thanks for the lovely tour. The alpacas are so gorgeous – I’m not surprised that their wool is amazing too. The colours you’ve chosen for your blanket look so good together.

  17. Thanks for suffering so that we, who couldn’t be there, could enjoy the photos….glad you were sensible and didn’t over indulge….you must have been exhausted….I am really looking forward to visiting Create one day when over in England….seems to be a great place….and no crowds!!Thanks for showing us what is on offer.

  18. Gemma says:

    Hi,

    I know it’s been a while since you posted this so you might find it a little strange me commenting now. I’ was looking up Woolfest and came across your blog. I go to the lakes every June with my family but unfortunately we always go the week before Woolfest….this year though we are there for it. I’m a knitter but wish I could crochet, you’re lucky to be near BRE I love that place, proving good things come in small packages.
    Thank you for putting the photos on, its just excited me even more…yay!

    Gems x

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