Category Archives: softness

Wonderwool – A Colourful Yarn

On a recent visit to the Wonderwool Wales Festival in Builth Wells, I was intrigued with the journey that wool takes from the sheep to the finished article, whether it was knitted, crocheted or weaved. The myriad of shades of wool and fibres, was a pleasure to behold wherever I turned in the vast halls of exhibits. I have always admired the gentleness of sheep and the way that they graze peacefully in their surroundings. This contented mood is, I believe, reflected in the woollen industry and it is easy to see why it is so therapeutic to work within.

My first “port” of call when I arrived was to Hall 3 where the azure ocean filled “Above and Below the Waves” installation had been orchestrated by Alison Murray from Devon. I loved the vibrancy of the turquoise ocean oozing with sea scuttles and boats. As I walked through, on dry land, the brilliant shades danced over the waves and the undersea rocks to change them into completely different shades. All the items on display had been knitted, crocheted, weaved or felted with love and patience by 2000 generous people to raise funds for the worthy charity RNLI.

Sarah Enoch has a heart for the Felting Workshops that she runs under her banner of www.calonwlanfelt.co.uk in my home town of Llandeilo. It was interesting to speak to Sarah as she has a vast knowledge of the felting process. She spends her time working for her workshops and she said that preparation is key. She loves dyeing wool and started five years ago. Before that, she worked for the RSPB and in conservation and this may have fuelled her passion for the lovely piece of work that she had displayed – the Dinefwr Oak.

I then spent time on the Cambrian Mountains Wool Stand.  See www.cambrianwool.co.uk. I loved how the colours of the wool sourced from the Cambrian Mountain area were created to reflect the area’s industrial heritage. I spoke to Jude Howards who told me that they are keen to promote wool from this area as it is excellent quality. I loved the different shades and I picked up a sample of some of the colours represented. Shades of “Slate” and “Gegin” and Hafan” certainly reflected the industrial sense but “Welsh Red” created for me a homely atmosphere; visions of a comforting blanket that one might associate with a Mamgu’s parlour!

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I could not leave the show without a visit to a button stand. The one I visited was www.textilegarden.com. There were so many interesting buttons. Should I choose the flowery purple ones or the earthy green ones?  Despite my love of colour, I opted for a large silver heart button and two small silver daisy buttons. I had no intention of sewing these onto a garment but would thread them onto a silver chain.

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Spinning wheels were everywhere with foot tapping exercises going on. I wondered whether it would send me to sleep if I used one, or would it have been good exercise? One or two spinners confirmed that it was relaxing. I think my patience would have run out long before I had a ball of wool to show for my efforts! However, I stood for a while mesmerised by the actions of the bright wool accumulating onto the spindle.

To complete my visit, I attended the Sheep Walk where brave models paraded vivid and cheerful items that were available to purchase. I left the event giving a friendly pat to a beautiful curly Wensleydale sheep and whispered “thank you for the yarn – it was a good one!”

Wonderwool – Who loves wool?

A visit to the Wonderwool Wales Festival in Builth Wells was a thrill for me as I have always loved sheep. I was brought up around sheep and I love the softness of their wool. They are gentle creatures and I love the way that they graze peacefully.

Waiting in the queue to “spin” into the event, I met up with some ladies who are passionate about wool. This was the 11th show but for me and others, it was a first. IMG_6318Carol, from Llanberis, was a member of the Gwynedd Spinners, Dyers and Weavers and had travelled with Cerys from Anglesey. Cerys said that she was going to be looking at fibres and some modern spinning wheels. She would also be connecting with guest speakers for the meetings that she organised.

Standing next to Carol and Cerys, with a sparkle in her eye about wool, was Lesley who had travelled from Walsall. She wanted to buy a bobbin for her wheel (a spinner then!) and a shuttle for her loom. So what else would they do? Have a good look around was the answer; they all agreed that the event had got bigger over the years but they stressed how important it was for them.

Another lady from Walsall, was Pat. She loved everything from knitting and spinning to beadwork and weaving. She also loved Dachshunds evident from the very stylish buttons she was wearing on her coat. Today she was going to look at broomstick crocheting.

Jayne had a passion for knitting, crochet and needle felt. She described this as “stabbing wool” but the image it conveyed to me was painful. I had no wish to kill off any wool marauders so I would not be learning about this craft any time soon. Her eyes lit up as she explained that needle felt was using fibres to make anything; almost soft sculpture. Jayne was hoping to buy something colourful but she was not sure.

Mel from Lyme Regis had travelled up the day before and was staying in a B&B in Erwood. This was her first time and she was happy to look around and would probably purchase some knitting wool. Her daily tasks were weaving in the day and knitting in the evening. Sounds like a good plan to me. Mel also had crochet-athons with her friends. She was keen on neutral shades – biscuit and fawn colours and would look for some Alpaca which was soft.

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Soon I was talking to Meriel Fuller, a writer. She combined her love of writing, which she tended to do in the mornings, with her passion for creating items from wool – working on these in the afternoons. Very good time management! She was looking forward to woolly surprises.

Later, whilst sipping a well earned coffee, I spoke to Marie, another visitor from Anglesey. This was her first visit to the wool show and she was very passionate about fibres and yarns especially knitting and tapestry. She had bought some pastel knitting wools and thought that she might go back and purchase a pansy pin cushion that she had her eye on! She said “I have been knitting since I was 7!” She added, “It is therapeutic!”

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The gentle grazing of the sheep in meadows and hillsides up and down the country had united all these women with their love of wool. It was a pleasure to have a “yarn” with them.