Wonderwool Wales 2017

A sunny Wonderwool Wales!

Spring is my favourite time of year; I love the Spring flowers and new leaves and (hopefully) blue skies! It’s also the time when my fibromyalgia eases and I feel able to do more without risking a flare-up. So, I’ve been looking forward to Wonderwool Wales for some time. We spent a few days in Worcester, then travelled from there to the show in Builth Wells on Saturday morning. He Who Does Not Knit spent the day walking the hills near Llandrindod Wells.

Wonderwool Wales: Mohair dyed ringlest from Crafty Goat Club.

Exhibitions at Wonderwool Wales

Llareggub Village Model

2014 was the centenary of the birth of the Welsh poet and writer Dylan Thomas. As a tribute The Itchy Fingers Textiles group from Swansea created a model village inspired by the imaginary Llareggub village in Under Milkwood by Thomas. Members of the group interpreted the descriptions in the play using felt, thread and found objects to make the different buildings. It’s beautifully done!

Llareggub Village constructed and built by Itchy Fingers Textiles group using fabric, thread, found objects and a great deal of hard work, creativity and the love of embroidery.

Centenary Textiles

The Centenary Textiles Exhibition commemorated the centenary of the First World War, by exploring the development of handmade knitted, crocheted and felted items during WW1. Pauline Loven c0-ordinated the exhibition; she was the costumier for the film, Tell Them of Us. The film tells the story of the Crowder brothers from Thimbleby, Lincolnshire as a tribute to their duty and the impact on those they left behind.

Knitting for the Military

During the making of this film, it became apparent just how much women supplemented the basic military uniform by knitting for men on the front line. Women knitted a variety of items including: gloves, scarves, Balaclavas, sleeping helmets, wrist warmers. Knitters adapted some items for military work. There were ear openings on some Balaclavas, so they could be worn by radio operatives. And some gloves covered all the hand except the thumb and forefinger, so the wearer could operate a rifle. Women also knitted items for the injured such as bandages and chest warmers.

Knitted Womenswear

Women’s clothing also showed the changing fashions; as women became more active members of society, they began to abandon corsets: this was accelerated by shortage of metal caused by with the outbreak of war. Without a corset, the usual shawls did not provide enough warmth, so cardigans, waistcoats and jumpers became commoner. Furthermore, these garments were more practical when working in a factory.

Cardigan knitted for Tell Them of Us, a film about the First World War.

The exhibition at Wonderwool showed a wide range of both military and domestic items which were knitted by more than 300 volunteers for Centenary Stitches. Take a look at this interview with some of the knitters. It’s always interesting to see knitted items close-up, because you can see the stitch patterns and construction methods used. The stitch patterns, used for many of these garments such as the beautiful cardigan above, were simple, but very effective. Patterns for many of the accessories and garments are available in the Centenary Stitches book.

Spinning and Weaving

Wonderwool is a celebration of all things wool. In previous blog posts I’ve shown you pictures of yarn, lots of yarn (see 2015 and 2016)! This time I thought I’d show you a few other things. As well as lots of beautiful yarns there are materials and equipment for all textile crafts using wool. This includes: Dorset buttons, crochet, dying, felting, knitting, rug-making, spinning and weaving. Although I’ve never tried them, I’m fascinated by spinning and weaving. Another lifetime is needed, don’t you think?

Here, the demonstrator is using this Ashford drum carder to mix colours of dyed fleece ready for spinning. She added sparkly bits too!

Demonstration of carding using an Ashford drum carder from Frank Herring and Sons, Dorcester

These spinning wheels are from Frank Herring and Sons, from left to right, an Ashford Traditional wheel, an Ashford Joy double treadle wheel, and an Ashford Traveller wheel.

Spinning wheels from Frank Herring and Sons, Dorcester: an Ashford Traditional wheel, an Ashford Traveller wheel and and Ashford Joy double treadle wheel.

I liked the look of this floor loom!

Weaving demonstration on a loom from Frank Herring and Sons, Dorcester

Fibre

The animals are a big attraction at Wonderwool. As usual most of my photos of fibre animals came out blurred, however here’s one of an Angora goat from the Crafty Goat Club. Confusingly, mohair comes from Angora goats, whereas angora comes from Angora rabbits!

An angora goat from Crafty Goat Club.

And here’s some dyed ringlets from the mohair goats. I’m not sure what you do with them, but they do look gorgeous!

Mohair dyed ringlest from Crafty Goat Club.

Yarn

Well, I couldn’t resist showing you some yarn. Lets start with this rainbow of Titus from the Yorkshire yarn store, Baa Ram Ewe. This year’s new colours are Brass Band, Rose Window and Heathcliff. The same shades are also available in Dovestone, their double knitting yarn. The yarn base for Dovestone is a grey-brown, so the colours are richer than their Titus equivalents.

Hanks of Titus yarn in 22 colours displayed on Baa Ram Ewe's stand at Wonderwool Wales 2017

Here is the yarn that I bought from Wonderwool. It’s not a large amount, but just what I need for testing some ideas. Standard sock from Truly Hooked. Mini-balls of Titus in Brass Band, Endeavour, Rose Window and Coal. Knit by Numbers 4 ply from John Arbon Yarns. I could easily have bought a lot more yarn, but I’m learning to be restrained.

Standard sock yarn from Truly Hooked; Titus mini-balls from Baa Ram Ewe and Knit by Numbers 4 ply from John Arbon Yarns

I also bought a kit to make a necklace using Dorset buttons from Jen Best of Beaker Buttons. It was good to chat with Jen about Dorset buttons and her designs. Also, Jen is one of the winners of Local Superstar category of Knit Now magazine’s Knitter of the Year competition, so I’ll be seeing her soon when we all visit Sirdar Yarns in Wakefield.

Dorset button samples made by Jen Best from Beaker Buttons

It was a beautiful sunny day. I sat outside to each lunch, along with lots of other knitters. And when I’d finished eating, I even tested out some new knitting needles! Knitting in the sunshine at a yarn festival: what could be better?

If you’d like to visit a yarn festival, then you’ll find a list of festivals, dates and links to their websites in Yarn and Fibre Festivals 2017.

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