Have You Any Wool?

A very colourful range of fibre braids, skeins and balls of yarn and a knitting pattern laid out side by side

Oh yes!

If you follow me on social media (Twitter, Instagram or Facebook), you will have seen my post yesterday explaining that this week’s blog post would be delayed a day. If you’ve been waiting and didn’t know, I’m sorry. It will be worth the wait though, promise!

On Sunday I went to Wonderwool at the Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells. It has long been my favourite yarn show, partly because the scale of the buildings means you can move about freely and there are plenty of areas of seating as well as a HUGE number of vendors exhibiting their wares.

It was wonderful and slightly overwhelming to be back at a real live yarn show. It’s the first one I’ve been to since Yarndale in September 2019, in the ‘before times’ and I haven’t seen this many human beings in one day since then. There were people who I’ve only communicated with online before, via Zoom or social media, that I was able to talk to face to face for the first time. I think it says something about how effective Zoom and FaceTime are that it didn’t feel as though I hadn’t ‘met’ some of these people ‘in the flesh’ before.

So, as you can see from the main image, I came back with quite a haul of goodies. Let’s have a look at them, shall we?

Fibre for spinning first!

This is a wonderful braid of British Bluefaced Leicester dyed by Sealy MacWheely. It was my first purchase of the day and the colours and softness just made me grin. That and the lovely Katie who dyed it was so great to chat to. 😊 I’m thinking a chain ply would give me a great striped yarn, but I might just do a 2-ply and go for some funky barber-pole stripes.

A braid of hand dyed fibre in sections of greens, blue & bright pink lies coiled on a pale gold carpet.

This little beauty is a Merino gradient dyed by Cassiopeia Yarns. Again, it’s utterly soft and I’m going to adore spinning it. This one is definitely going to be chain plied as I want to maintain the gorgeous gradient effect from one end to the other. Maybe superfine for a lace shawl?

A braid of hand dyed fibre in a gradient that moves from grey to violet lies coiled on a pale gold carpet.

Rachael from Cat and Sparrow sold me this wonderful braid of Polwarth. The colourway is called ‘Ar Lan y Môr’ which is Welsh for ‘Beside the Sea’ and it is also the name of a traditional Welsh folk song. It was only today that I realised this is the same colourway I bought from her before via the online version of the Knit-Tea Retreat last year, which is now a yarn that Mum is gradually knitting into a cowl! Rachael is one of the people it was hard to believe I’d never met ‘in real life’ before as we’ve chatted online quite a bit and it was super to chat face to face on Sunday.

A braid of hand dyed fibre in shades of blue & sea-green lies folded on a pale gold carpet with a label around its middle.

I’d not come across Velvet Sixpence before, but this braid told me it was definitely coming home with me! Another Polwarth (SO soft and a delight to spin), I think this one is going to become something for my lovely wife, as orange is very much her colour.

A braid of hand dyed fibre in shades of orange lies folded on a pale gold carpet with a label around its middle.

So, that was the fibre – now on to the yarn!

The first ball of yarn that came into my possession on Sunday was free!! I went up to the Simply Knitting / The Knitter stand and was offered the opportunity to spin the wheel. Whichever colour the arrow landed on indicated the basket from which I could select a ball of yarn. Cool, eh? I was delighted to find this ball of self-striping Novita yarn. It’s an aran weight 75% wool, 25% polyamide which will make either some chunky bedsocks or a hat. The yarn is actually striped with three distinct shades of blue and a green, although at first glance you might think the palest blue is white. And I had a chat with Kirstie and the ladies too!

A ball of self-striping yarn in very pale blue, very dark blue, emerald green and royal blue lies on a pale gold carpet.

Now this yarn is something special. Northampton Shear laceweight yarn from Riverknits. It was lovely to meet Becci and Markus in person and chat away. Again, I encountered them first through the Knit-Tea Retreat and then followed them on social media (that sounds a bit like stalking, doesn’t it? I promise it wasn’t!). Markus joined in with our most recent KAL – Calon Cariad – and he knit his from this very yarn. The shawl was on display as part of their stall which was very exciting to see and I wish I’d taken a photo – though you can see it if you look at the Riverknits Instagram page. Northampton Shear is a single ply yarn that is 100% Shetland wool from Braunston, Northamptonshire that is spun & hand dyed in the UK. The way the dye is picked up over the natural colours of the wool is stunning, giving a really, rich layered effect.

Two skeins of dark burgundy laceweight yarn lie on a pale gold carpet.

This skein of ‘Dark Forest’ from Mothy and the Squid was one of the later purchases of the day. I love the range of greens in the yarn and also the black that stripes through it in places. Being a Superwash Merino / nylon mix this will make long lasting socks, but it is also soft and silky enough for something close to your neck.

A skein of dark green 4-ply yarn with some black in one of the plies lies twisted on a pale gold carpet.

I’d not heard of The Crafty Bird before, but the range of colours she had were lovely. This is ‘Crisp Autumn Day’. It’s another Superwash Merino / Nylon mix, but it’s a different base from the green above. It’s also slightly thinner as 100g brings a very generous 425m.

A skein of 4-ply yarn in shades of plum, green and orange lies at an angle on a pale gold carpet.

I love Kauni yarns with the really long colour shifts, though I’ve only used their 4-ply so far. SKD Yarns sell this and it’s really quite funny to have travelled nearly 100 miles to buy a ball of yarn from people who are based less than five miles from where I live! The colours are really me. It was my cheapest wool purchase of the day, at £8.42 for 800m laceweight – an absolute bargain!

I’ve made a pair of Raggsocks from a kit from Midwinter Yarns before and they are my mum’s favourite bedsocks, guaranteed to fit no matter what her ankles are up to. So, I thought I would make another pair and this colourway is just right for her. Mr Midwinter looked very dashing in his kilt and I spoke to a lovely lady (not Estelle, but possibly her mum) who almost got me buying a sweater’s worth of their Ulligen Recycled Yarn (made from scraps of wool from the textiles industry that would otherwise go to waste) for a ‘Confetti’ sweater by Veera Valimaki. I resisted the urge (just about), but I’m sure it’s a yarn I will be using at some point – it was fab.

A plastic bag with two balls of yarn, with each of the three plies in a different colour (dark purple, lilac and white) lies on a pale gold carpet. There is a paper pattern in the bag behind the yarn and a Midwinter Yarns label on the bag.

Finally, there were some non-wool purchases – apart from the cup of tea and vegan fruit cake that were very much appreciated!

First off all, I bought a pattern from Anniken Allis and had a nice chat with her. I know I design lace shawls myself, but this is a shape I’ve neither knitted nor used myself before and it really intrigues me. The lace patterns in it are beautiful too. I think the wedge shape in the centre makes it a Faroese style shawl. Maybe I will use some of the laceweight yarn I bought on Sunday for it and make a double Wonderwool momento!

The front cover of a lace shawl pattern (Safaia by Anniken Allis) lies on a pale gold carpet. There is a picture of a cream lace shawl hanging on a brick wall and text below detailing materials, size, tension and difficulty.

As I was travelling from Wonderwool to Mum’s on Sunday afternoon, and it was her birthday on Monday, I really wanted to be able to find her a little gift from the show as part of her birthday present. These hand coiled coasters from Lilliputwight were perfect! They’re in the centre of the picture here. Unfortunately I didn’t take a separate photo of them before I left Mum’s yesterday. She is very happy with them – particularly as they go very well with her quilted placemats and the coiled rope means they have a much more ‘grabby’ surface than the glossy picture coasters she has, making them practical as well as beautiful.

A busy image with three braids of fibre, a skein of yarn and a wooden pot surrounding four dark  red hand coiled rope coasters, all on a footstool. The coasters are the focus of the image.

You couldn’t miss the amazing hand-turned pot in the picture above, could you? It’s stunning and the blue/green is from two resin inserts that were sandwiched into the wood before turning. This was a gift for Sue, my lovely wife. It was given immediate pride of place among her pen pots (which is what I thought she would use it for), though I’ve yet to show her the magic that occurs when you place a light inside the pot – it glows through the resin! The pot was from Turning Amber Woodcraft, the husband to All Wool that Ends Wool who were right at the end of Hall 2.

The same hand turned wooden pot as in the previous picture sits on a wooden bookshelf with marker pens inside. It is made of a pale wood with four vertical bands of blue/green resin inserted in the wood.

What a haul, eh? As well as talking to lots of stallholders, one of the lovely things about a show like this is striking up conversation with likeminded people when you sit down for a cup of tea. I encountered several friends during the day as well which was great – it’s always good to see some familiar faces in a crowd!

Yarn shows are also a place where you can wear your hand-knits knowing they’ll be appreciated by others for the work that has gone into it as well as the colour of the yarn or pretty shape.

A woman with blue hair and a blue dress (me) stands in front of a hedge wearing a huge hand knitted 2-colour brioche shawl in blush pink and verdigris. She is swirling it round her.

I chose to wear my Meg March shawl and got so many compliments on it. I know that knitters always want to know the pattern name of pieces they admire, so I went prepared by taking some of my Moo business cards. I’m glad I did as I ended up handing out quite a few and even sold two copies of the pattern during the day to people I’d spoken to! (Thanks Sealy MacWheely and Roy!).

It was quite a day – a real grand day out. Wearing a mask for the whole day was no problem – though I did nearly forget I was wearing it at one point when I went to sip my water – that could have been messy.

So, you can see why after that and a couple of days at Mum’s I was not really capable of writing this post when I got home yesterday evening – it’s taken two and a half hours as it is!!

The rest of today will be spent catching up with stuff, patting yarn and fibre and continuing to work on the still photos for my new online course.

Take care, stay safe and do what makes you happy, K x

One thought on “Have You Any Wool?

  1. Thank you for sharing Kath, one of these days I will get to Wonderwool. Too unwell this time . I hope to get to Shetland Wool week in September and hopefully see some Shetland Lace knitting ,but it is a bit of a logistical problem for me so we will see. I love your shawl xxxx

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