Woolfest 2011

For a number of years my sister Rachel and I have attended Woolfest and thoroughly enjoyed it. This year was going to be a bit different. At the 2010 event I was ‘persuaded’ to join the Guild of Long Draw Spinners, mainly because they meet quite close to where I live. I would add that I have had great fun with the Guild over the last year.

So this year it was only natural that I would volunteer to help on the stand. I was very excited to find out that David and Val Bryant’s Great Wheel would be there, but more than a little daunted to realise that I may have to demonstrate spinning on it!

In addition to the Great Wheel, by some happy coincidence, we had four very different wheels demonstrating three types of tension: my Ashford Traditional (Scotch Tension); Heather’s Ashford Scholar and Babe Fiber Starter (both Irish Tension) and Rachel’s Timbertops Mowbray (double drive). Anyone would think that we had planned it.

The stand was beautifully decorated with various items that Norma and Janet had produced. As the weather was warm Rachel was persuaded to part with her cardigan to add to the display. Hand spun yarn from Norma and Rachel hung above the knitted bench. The Woolfest organisers had sent out the call for knitted bunting with which to decorate the Auction Mart. Our stand had the most beautiful bunting, supplied by Norma, flags interspersed with little hand-knitted sheep. They drew much comment and more than one person wanted to buy them.

Heather’s Babe was a great hit with a number of visitors, with its funky
decoration. But the Great Wheel was the star of the show. It seemed especially to appeal to the male visitors to the show. Janet gave us an impromptu lesson on how it worked and before long Rachel and I were getting quite competitive as to who could produce the longest thread. A lot of visitors were encouraged to have a go, either on the Great Wheel or one of the modern wheels. The knitted bench was great for this, enabling the demonstrator to treadle the wheel, whilst the visitor was able to concentrate on getting the ‘draw’. We were really pleased at the number of people who showed an interest in both the technique and the technicalities of how the wheels worked. Nearly 90 leaflets were handed out and one new member recruited.

Because the stand was so busy (we were handily opposite the Ewes’ Milk Ice Cream), the time flew by and before we knew it, it was time to pack up and come home. It was lovely to see a different side to Woolfest and benefiting from Janet, Norma and Heather’s knowledge and expertise.

I had always enjoyed being a visitor but, although being on a stand is hard work, I think I enjoyed this year more!

by Caroline Turner