Sunday, 5 July 2009

What Jane did at Woolfest

Hello - remember me? While every other knitter and spinner who stalk the interwebs is regaling you with tales of derring do on the Tour De Fleece or the Tour De Knitalong I'm finally getting around to telling you about my weekend away at Woolfest.

I love Woolfest - it has to be my favourite UK fibre festival. The location in the Lake District is spectacular, the relationship between the festival and the surrounding environment is beautifully managed and the chance to catch up with friends from all over the country is wonderful.

All things being equal the moment I got home I would be telling you all about it but several things conspired to delay this post. Firstly the weather has been so unseasonably hot and work has been so full on all I have been capable of is flopping down on the sofa like one of Ruben's sweatier muses between meeting the needs of my endlessly thirsty garden. Incidentally I have a bone to pick with my garden. A number of plants, and you know who I am talking about Messrs Pumpkin, Courgette, Butternut Squash, Cucumber and Aubergine are fabulously lush but so far have produced nothing but male flowers - nothing in the way of fruit whatsoever. My garden is starting to resemble the terraces at Manchester United - full of males serving no useful purpose but drinking an awful lot. Has anyone got any clues as to why this might be happening and any advice about getting my idle plants back to work?

Where was I? Ah yes - in the middle of my excuses. I am also in the lucky position of having bought my first digital SLR camera and was trying it out for the first time at Woolfest. No problem there - although I'll be honest, it stayed on manual for most of the weekend but then there was fighting my way through the 300 page instruction booklet to find out how to download my photos. Turns out to be a piece of cake but it all seemed too much to contemplate in 32 degrees of sticky heat.

Posh new camera or no, I am still far too easily distracted by shiny pretties and people to talk to to create anything approaching a coherent photo essay about Woolfest but here is a bit of a look at what did catch my eye.

Firstly and quite rightly, centre stage has to go to the stars of the show - the sheep.

Take a look at this magnificent fellow with all the horns...

And this wonderfully tranquil pair of Herdwicks, the poster sheep of the Festival.

The second thing that really strikes you when you walk into the hall is the overwhelming amount of colour and texture on the stalls.

All of this was created using natural dyes.

and so was this roving rainbow

People and their incredible skills and creativity are the other abiding memory of Woolfest.

I wish I had the skills of this long draw spinner.

I hoped that some of the skills might rub off if I spent enough time in the company of the actual socks knit by legendary designer Nancy Bush. Yes, these are Nancy's very socks!!

And this gorgeous hat, knit in one of my favourite colour combinations.
I spent a lot of my time volunteering on the Kindred Knitter's Stand,teaching the odd technique, demonstrating a bit of drop spinning, playing a small part in raising £150 which we divided between Medecins Sans Frontier, Sweaters for Uganda and a local Hospice.
Of course a little shopping was done - it's such a wonderful opportunity to really see the best of what indie dyers and crafts people are producing these days - it just gets better and better. I think as well, as my skills grow that I am becoming a more discerning customer and am both able to distinguish the unique signature of an artist, but also to envisage the end product and to make better judgements about whose work best complements mine. I'll show you the things that I brought home as I use themas I want them to take centre stage rather than as a heap of stuff brought home from a weekend that was much more than just the shopping. So,if you like the work of Natalie at The Yarn Yard, Jo at Lime Green Jelly, Freyalyn and Krafty Koala to name but my personal favourites, over the next few month I will be trying to do their gorgeous work justice.
Believe it or not, finished objects are starting to fly off my needles and as I have for some reason I can't quite justify joined both the the Tour de Fleece and the Tour de Knitalong there will be much furious activity and perhaps the odd bit of terrible Franglais to be encountered here over the next few weeks. Speaking of which, something that I hadn't realised until Lime Green Jelly Jo asked about the Queen of Hearts roving that I had bought a few months ago, indie dyers are very keen to see what becomes of their work. Jo, the Queen of Hearts Roving is in the Tour Team - you will soon be seeing it again.
Oh and the Horse Chestnut sock pattern will be finished over the next week or so. Thanks to everyone for their kind words and encouragement.
I'll see you here again very soon!


Panhandle Jane said...

What an interesting post! I love your metaphor describing your thirsty garden.

Woolfest sounds and looks fascinating. I'll be awaiting further posts and pictures to see what you make.

Hat said...

I love that green and purple hat. Do you know the name of the pattern?
I was having the same trouble with my winter squash but a couple of fruits have set now - not really enough to justify the amount of metered water I'm giving them!
Am I allowed to be just a little bit envious of the great time you had at Woolfest?

Ice Princess said...

It sounds like you had a great time at woolfest.I really hope one of these days I can make it to woolfest.:o)

Aknita said...

It was lovely to catch up with you again at Woolfest. What a wonderful weekend it was.

I'm currently brushing up my Franglais now that le Tour is underway.

Deptford Dame said...

hahahahaha great comment about the thirsty males!!

Anni said...

Gorgeous yarn and fibre and love that hat. My favorite colours too.

I'm hoping to be at Woolfest next year (with my yarn). I've never been and I'm desperate to go and so jealous of everyone who went. Looking forward to seeing all your purchases.

As for your gardening problems, I'm definitely the wrong one to ask. LOL.