Stalls are allocated, fleeces are doing their final growing before shearing and members of The Wool Clip are juggling running their Caldbeck shop, making their own stock and planning for Woolfest 2017 – and, in some cases, looking after their own livestock!
This will be the 13th year of Woolfest and it promises to be as varied, colourful and inspiring as ever. There’ll be the usual mix of familiar faces and established businesses as well as a selection of newer wool-based enterprises, travelling to Cockermouth in Cumbria from as far afield as Ely and Hereford, North Uist and the Shetlands.
Hellen Edwards - Textile Artist, is this year’s recipient of the Carolyn Rawlinson Memorial Stall. She’ll be bringing along a selection of her amazing felted creations, from 3D sculptures and floral extravaganzas to felted images of some familiar Northeast industrial landmarks. Find out more about Hellen here
Returning to Woolfest for the first time since 2005 will be Jamieson & Smith (Shetland Woolbrokers). They’ll be bringing lots of 100% Shetland wool in all its forms – raw fleece, combed tops and yarn weights from lace to chunky.
To the west of Shetland, Uist Wool of Grimsay on North Uist in the Outer Hebrides will be at Woolfest for the first time, bringing a selection of their undyed yarns, grown and processed on the island.
TJ Frog will be at Woolfest for the first time too. Also travelling from the Scottish Highlands and Irelands, this Skye-based business specialises in Dorset buttons and will be running a couple of demonstrations during the event to share their traditional techniques and ideas. There’s a great example on their website showing just how bespoke buttons can complete a cushion design - click here for more info.
Other businesses coming along to Woolfest for the first time include Airedale Yarns, Coastal Colours, Hannah Bass Needlepoint and Wendy’s Yarn Bowls.
Regular visitors will know that it’s always been a challenge to make the most of the “dead end” at Mitchell’s Lakeland Livestock Centre – that area at the top of Aisles I and J where you can’t simply get through to the next aisle. For 2017, the Woolfest organisers are trying a new approach, creating a more open market place area where nine businesses will have a simple tabletop display. Look out for Heartfelt Dogs, Whistling Duck Alpacas and Wickerfish Arts in this area as well as Annie Brown, Clair Templeton and Lyn Roberts.
Finally, for those wanting inspiration from overseas, Grampus Heritage will be taking over the Small Ring with an exhibition of Shepherd-Inspired Fashion, created and modelled by young people from across Central and Eastern Europe. There’ll also be a daily fashion show in the Main Ring, as well as the regular fleece talks, rare breeds parade and shearing demonstrations.
All in all, Woolfest 2017 should be as busy, bustling and bursting with wool as ever – and you can find out more at www.woolfest.co.uk.