woolfest!

hurrah! woolfest weekend! We camped in Buttermere, on a lovely site, complete with herdwick sheep, chickens, and superb views of the fells.

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And yes, there were moments of sunshine!

Woolfest was super. The atmosphere was really unpretentious and friendly and there was a wonderful range of things to look at and be inspired by: rare breed animals; spinning and weaving equipment; a fabulous variety of yarns and fleeces from small producers; and beautiful handmade objects from artists and craftspeople. I particularly liked Jane Cummins‘ unique bags — in which the smooth, pale surface of turned birch contrasts beautifully with the bright colours of fuzzy merino felt.

I have a soft spot for Alpacas, and the pair on show were particularly nice.

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and here’s its lovely phizog:

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There were also some super-curly mohair-producing goats from Crookabeck farm, which Tom suggested had a cremaster-like appearance.

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And many examples of my favourite sheep – the Herdwick

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they always look happy. I did try to get a pic of the lambs – both the herdwick and the almost bear-like (and very friendly) coloured ryeland…but they just wouldn’t stay still!

The laughing hens stall looked good enough to eat:

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…and the colours at the house of hemp stand were wonderful:

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I had set myself a purchasing limit, and (ye gods) actually stuck to it. First, I bought 600g of undyed grey shetland dk from Susan Russell at Woodpark Wool. Susan had a super range of different wools and wool-blends, all from her own flocks of rare-breed sheep.

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It is exceptionally soft and springy and the fleece has a lovely subtle range of colours in it. This wool deserves some serious stitchwork to show it off at its best! Hence, I shall use it to fashion my own version of last autumn’s infamous Pringle yoked sweater which I intend to be a bit lighter, and even more swingy than the original.

I then went to the other end of the yarn spectrum and gravitated towards the gorgeous cobweb mohair from the natural dye studio.

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This yarn is a glorious concoction – feather-light, unbelievably soft – quite delicious. The colour is much more mauve-y than in the picture. Really lovely. I have a little cap-sleeved top with picot edging and a lace panel in mind for it….

Really, it was something of an effort controlling myself at the natural dye studio stand – everything was so completely delectable. I had to mutter ‘Alpaca-silk sock yarn is UNNECESSARY’ several times to prevent my gathering up armfuls of the stuff. I noticed several other women had, like I, taken on a zombie-like appearance at this stand. Hands were reaching out automatically for the blue-faced leicester 4-ply, eyes glazing over at the silks and hazy mohairs. I swear I saw one of them salivating.

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mmmmm…..

Finally, I came back down to earth with three balls of this cheerful stuff from the wonderful woolclip (for whom three cheers for organising such a fantastic show):

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I looked at it, and it said “mittens” back to me.

We celebrated my purchases and toasted woolfest with a pint of Dickie Doodle at the Bitter End in Cockermouth.

On Sunday we climbed Haystacks, High Crag, and High Stile, with a damp and misty ridge walk inbetween. Heres the view west from Haystacks. Those ominous looking clouds dumped their contents on us minutes later. Still a great walk though – the fell architecture surrounding Buttermere, Ennerdale Water & Crummock Water is really quite spectacular.

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