Wonderwool Wales 2014

Well I’m back! Wonderwool didn’t fail to disappoint as ever. I’m so lucky to have this fantastic fibre show just over an hour’s drive from my door. Although the fact it’s close means that I just go for the day and this makes for a very packed and exhausting day that leaves my brain whirling for several days after. This year having expanded the range of stock I was taking to put on my friend Katie’s stall HilltopCloud meant for an even earlier start than usual and a later finish because I stayed for part of the FLOCK gathering organised by my friend Dawn because it’s a great opportunity to catch up with friends – during the day it’s so busy that it’s hard to have a proper conversation.

The stallholders at a show normally travel and set up the show the day before. I wasn’t able to manage this for various reasons and was sad I wasn’t able to give Katie and her mum Elaine a hand to do this – it might not occur to shoppers just how much work even carting all the stock into the hall is let alone the work of setting it up. It can take a couple of hours minimum and often longer because unless you stick to the same format for every show, you can’t really plan the layout in it’s final detail until you get there and see how things work. My fleeces were a fairly small section of the display though so we knew that it wouldn’t take too long to fit them into the scheme and I planned to set off early in the morning after dealing with my animals and things here. Having woken an hour earlier than I needed too because of excitement (and nerves I have to confess – what if people didn’t like all the things I had prepared?) I still managed to run late thanks to an Unfortunate Overnight Incident involving mum’s sofa, my elderly dog and his failing digestive system… I bathed the dog and mum bathed the sofa and I finally set off half an hour later than planned after bolting a bowl of cereal.

We quickly slotted my stock into place in the stall and I moved my car up into the exhibitors carpark. Sadly because of being later the last spaces were at the far end on some fairly damp grass under a tree. I had no choice and the show was due to open in just over half an hour so I dubiously parked (our elderly Volvo does NOT like off road) and scarpered back down to the show where Katie was making some last minute adjustments and sorting out essentials like petty cash and business cards to divide between the three of us.

I love the moments before a show opens; there is a quiet expectant buzz amongst the stallholders as we’re all ready waiting for it to begin, the stalls all look so beautiful – the most beautiful they will look over the whole show because everything is in place, the stock is piled high and the amount of time, expertise, attention to detail and love – yes because so many of these good folk pour themselves into their craft – shimmers across every carefully laid out display.

I grabbed my camera at this point and took a few quick snaps of the stall. They aren’t the greatest pictures but you can get a little idea of what was there. 

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The whole stall, Katie to the left sorting out some last minute things

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A selection of handspun yarns by Katie and myself artfully arranged by colour by Elaine, HTC batts – a dream to spin from, the ever popular Learn to Spin kits and Katie’s dad’s fabulous wood turning. WW 2014 will go down as the year I was asked a million times what a niddy-noddy was. Well it felt like a million times. It might have only been 4 but it was in quick succession… ;0)

 

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Katie’s luxury blends (oh boy! Scrummy!) with my fleece corner

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Elaine’s (Quince Pie) wonderful bags, aprons and needle cases.

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An neat mix of all our products – Katie’s superfine shetland dyed braids, my dyed fleeces and Elaine’s Spindle cases and needle cases.

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Katie’s dress made from my Welshland and her silk displayed over the dyed and raw fleeces 

Outside it started to rain over the patient queue so they let them in a few minutes early and slowly the eager crowd seeped up the hall like a swarm of bees. Only a lot more welcome! We were at the top end of the first hall so it took a few minutes to see the shoppers but you can feel it, a show awakens all your senses. From that point on we were busy and it got more so as the morning wore on. I love being busy, I love working on stalls – I used to run a small business in our local market and the sense of providing a product that your customers appreciate and you care about never leaves so working on a fibre show is pure joy for me. I like people, I like helping people choose the colours and fibres they want or trying to find a different blend for those who want to experience something new, I love explaining how they can get the best out of them if they are unsure or coaxing them to try experiment and widen their enjoyment of this wonderful craft. And I LOVE seeing my friends!!!!! Some of my friends I’ve met through Ravelry I only get to see once or maybe twice a year and Wonderwool is usually the occasion. It’s fab… :0)

I stayed on the stall until early afternoon – once people had made their first urgent purchases and were more happy to wander and look or go off and find food and friends I escaped to do a little shopping of my own. First on my list was Nunoco – I’d been waiting to try these hand-carded fibres in stunning colours by a small business in North Wales (always happy to support local business!!) as several of my friends have shopped there. I whizzed over and met Candy and Lora and made a few purchases which I’m looking forward to spinning. As with all my WW photos, it’s not a great shot of their stall but it did look lovely.

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I needed to get some dyes and I bought a few other bits and bobs so mostly I was just browsing and catching up with a few stallholders I’ve met over time. 

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The National Wool Museum of Wales – a place I’d be really interested to visit

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Some stunning felt making, this piece I think was Chrissie Menzies one of the organisers of WW

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And I’m a sucker for felt pictures after the felt making course I went on

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I love woven textiles, I’m not much of a weaver but one day I’d like to learn more about it and these wonderful textiles by Prickly Pear Interiors did catch my eye.

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I even saw Lady Gaga…

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….but I don’t think she saw me…

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There aren’t too many animals on display at WW but there are a few, these are Rob Harvey-Long’s award winning Cotswold sheep that he’s been selectively breeding for fine fibre over the past two decades. He came and gave an interesting talk to our guild last year.

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And Bigwig Angoras had some super cute and very placid bunnies on display. How could you not fall in love with a bundle of fluff like this?

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I hunted until I found my friend Jill aka Wrigglefingers (or our Wriggly to those who love her!) who was hard at it demonstrating drum carding for Paul Brittain of Classic Carders. It was hard to get a photo, there were so many people watching, I nabbed this one over and around somebody’s shoulder. She did a great job of selling the carders – I think lots of people will be enjoying this form of fibre prep in the coming months thanks to Jill’s infectious enthusiasm and teaching!

I made my way back to our stall and for the rest of the day divided my time between helping out and darting off as I remember yet something else I hadn’t bought/found yet. By the time the show closed we were ready for a sit down, my back was aching a little but I think it’s fair to say that we were happy with how the show had gone and were still smiling through the tiredness by the close of the show…

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Myself, Katie and Elaine at chucking out time! Taken by my friend Sarah and then I got Katie to take one of Sarah and myself. After a momentary confusion whilst I adjusted to where the camera was (brain meltdown) I remembered to gurn in the general direction of the camera with some gentle prodding from Sar… ;0)

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Katie treated Elaine and myself to tea from the show food vendors who kindly stay open for those who are hanging on after the show closes – a tasty platter of Indian samosas, pakoras etc and then a steaming takeout box of paella – scrumptious

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And then we made our way up to the building where FLOCK was taking place – a chance to sit down and catch up with friends in the warm, to spin and knit

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…or even just sit and recover with a bottle of beer if you’re Katie!! ;0)

It’s also a chance to gloat over purchases and try them out…

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my friend Fiona sitting pretty in her gorgeous hand knit cardigan and very happy with her new turkish spindle and cashmere!

I have other photos of friends too but have not asked permission to post them (won’t they be relieved!!) but I think in many ways this is the nicest part of the show – catching up with people I care about made all the more precious by the shortness of the time.

I tore myself away from them as I had a long drive back and it was getting late and driving along twisty roads at dusk when tired is never a good idea. i could have stayed all evening but I had to be sensible. Bah. When I got back to my car I found my worries of the morning about the dodgy soft ground were well founded. Despite using all my experience of driving this car on soft ground I came to rest in a rut just off the tarmac and no amount of gently coaxing was going to get me off. A few heads popped out of tents and stared at me from the stallholders who had made an early night of it but no one approached and with panic rising I got out of the car to go and test my friends love of me by getting them to push the tank out of the muddy grass. As I did so a lady walked towards me with a rope and pointed to a man who was moving his Range Rover ready to come and tow me out. I could have kissed them both for their kindness – she explained that she’d got stuck the evening before and was dreading the pack up the following day too. For the second time that day I hitched up my pale blue linen skirt to keep it clean and knelt in the mud to find the towing hook – with the gentleman’s help we located it (Volvo why oh why do you hide it in the most inconvenient place under a flap?!?) and I got towed out and back onto terra firma. I shook hands with my rescuer and thanked him and he shrugged pleasantly and said he hoped someone would do the same for his daughter in the same situation. Bless you and the lady who donated the rope – I don’t know who either of you are, I forgot to ask – but I hope you had a fabulous show in return for your kindness in helping me out. It’s not a fibre show unless something goes slightly off-plan I think!!!!!

Next year in Wonderwool Wales!

 

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