Thursday, July 2, 2015

Wool Festival: Cumbria 2015

Showpiece robe commemorating the year of the Sheep, Photo by Mary M Payne, Cumbria wool fest
Shown in one of the sheep shearing demonstration pens. 

I just returned from a visit to the Cumbrian Wool Festival in the lovely lake district of England.    I went especially to see some London friends and this was a singular invitation to go together to the festival and to stay in their house in Cockermouth, near the Scottish border. 

What is a wool festival?  Well, actually.... I found out what the Cumbrian Wool Festival really is not.  It is not about machine processed yarn.   None of the mainstream commercial yarn vendors were present. All of the yarns represented were hand dyed and spun. 

In fact, the festival in Cockermouth is more about the rich culture of raising rare breeds of sheep and the creativity and crafts that are derived from their wool.

 That means that there were stalls with yarns, spinning wheels, carders; unusual buttons; hand made rugs and clothing but also hand crafted  beads and fasteners; antique fabric pieces and  woodworkers making spindles, needles and wheels.  

 And of course , there was food and local country  music .    

And there were bags of wool, wool and more wool.   

Not to mention the sheep themselves...
special ones, appealing ones all quite different from one well as alpacas and angora rabbits.

Hand crafted  wool settee and pillows, photo by Mary M Payne

 Valais Black Nose Sheep  Photo by Mary M Payne Cumbrian Wool Fest

Local basket maker at work  Photo by Mary M Payne  Cumbrian Wool Fest

The Portland is a heathland breed from the Dorset area linked to
the Wessex tan-faced group of sheep.  Photo by Mary M Payne

My best photo...he's lovely, non?  Photo by Mary M Payne, Cumbrian Wool Fest

A fellow demonstrating a carding machine making batts ready to spin.  This is how the variegated yarns can be made by adding bits of different colors to the mix  Photo by Mary M Payne, 

One of the Alpaca boys (called Alpaga in France).   Photo by Mary M Payne

Teeswater Sheep with unusual lustrous coats .  Photo by Mary M Payne

He needs a scrunchy.  Photo by Mary M Payne

Angora Rabbits used for their fur.  Their fur is sheared or combed to use as yarn.  Photo by Mary M Payne

Woman trying her hand at spinning  Photo by Mary M Payne Cumbrian Wool Fest

Mary had a little lamb....  Photo by Mary M Payne

Wool ready to card or use for felting or stuffing..Photo by Mary M Payne

Silk and wool blend yarn I bought from Natural Born Dyers, photo by Mary M Payne, Cumbria Wool Festival

The show was fascinating and I did come away with luscious wool for knitting. ...but mostly I was enthralled by the variety and originality of the crafts and people involved.   Crafters are themselves a special breed.  

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