Woolfest – Episode 2: It’s not yarn… it’s pre-yarn!

Disclaimer: We/I stupidly forgot to take pretty pictures of the Woolfest hall, stands and things like that. Only thing I have to share is a few pictures of cute animals. The pictures are not always excellent (understatement), but the lighting was not the best and I certainly did not want to use any flash to not disturb them. So you will have to bear with us and content yourself with a few pictures of fluffy (or not so fluffy) cutie pies.

I have been good at Woolfest. I went with the idea that I would not buy yarn. Or perhaps a single skein, you know, souvenir yarn… It is really weird to go to a yarn fair while not feeling like wanting extra yarn, but then, I am not quite myself yet, and well… Let’s not digress.

Radiance Shawl - Finished

Radiance Shawl – Finished

Although… yes let me digress just a moment, just to tell you what I was wearing at Woolfest. I think an important part of getting ready to attend a yarn/wool festival is to decide on what (woolly things) one is going to wear. I had decided a while ago that I would knit myself a cardigan, and have it finished for Woolfest. I had figured it would be a good incentive to actually make myself do it, as I always procrastinate on knitting garments for myself. It worked. Although I may have blocked it the night before heading to Cumbria. So I was wearing my Geodesic Cardigan (a laceweight cardigan with tucks on the fronts, that you wear open), knitted in the sadly discontinued Natural Dye Studio Sirene yarn: 600 m / 100g of British wool (50% Bluefaced Leicester, 50% Wensleydale). But more importantly for me, I was wearing my Radiance shawl, about which I wrote in a previous post. I think I was emotionally okay that day thanks to that shawl and to all it meant to me. And no, I don’t have a picture of me wearing them. I wish I had asked Janice to take a picture that day, but I forgot.

Back to my “not-buying-yarn-at-a-yarn-festival” thing.

Alpacas at Woolfest

Can you stand the cute?
(Alpacas at Woolfest)

So, I didn’t really want to buy yarn, and was more interested in meeting people, trying new tools (needles mostly), or simply feeling inspired by the prettiness around me. For those of you who have never been to a yarn fair, it is quite a unique feeling: you are surrounded with all kinds of “fibre-ry” goodies that you just want to touch and look at, with so many wonderful colours, textures, ideas. Fabric, tailored garments, accessories, carpets and rugs, pillows and duvets and yarn, thin yarn, thick yarn, soft yarn, coarse yarn, dyed or undyed, and all kind of fluff… All done with the same raw material: fleece. Add to these all kinds of tools for knitting, spinning, weaving, etc. Not to mention the many methods of dyeing, producing so many shades and colours, either vibrant or more subtle. So, imagine yourself surrounded with all these treasures… and at the same time, surrounded by a moving crowd of people who all share the same interest as you. It is quite unique.

Teeswater Sheep at Woolfest

Do you need another cute picture?
(Teeswater Sheep at Woolfest)

Talking about sharing the same interest, there is something I would like to mention. Something that amazes me within this fibre-world. On our way back from Woolfest, when we were sitting at the back of that bus (yes we were! you didn’t think that this drawing was fake, did you?) and asking each other, just like kids back to school after the Christmas break, “so what did you get? what did you get? I want to seeeeeeee!”, I found very interesting and remarkable that among the 5 or 6 of us who dared opening our bags, no two of us had bought the same thing. By “the same thing”, I don’t mean “the exact same yarn / brand”, no. I mean: we all bought some VERY different things, related to different parts of this fibre-world. One of us had bought a fleece clean and spin, and fibre for felting projects, another one had bought things related to weaving, another one was all about yarn, someone else had bought mostly handspun, etc. We were all at the same place, and nonetheless, all ended up with fibre goodies and tools to create objects using totally different techniques. I don’t know for you, but I find this amazing.

But I digress again…

Angora Rabbit at Woolfest

Want more cute again?
(Angora Rabbit at Woolfest)

Long story short: I have been good and I didn’t feed my stash that much 1. Honest. I only bought one very lovely skein of yarn: some handspun BFL (short for Bluefaced Leicester) from Cecilia’s Handspun. I also bought some of the things I was looking for: a wooden umbrella swift 2 and a couple circular needles to try before committing to a larger set.

First N-ply yarn - Handspun

My handspun (pre-Woolfest), first time spinning from batts and using Navajo plying technique

No, the problem lies in the fact that I have dusted and re-oiled my spinning wheel about a week before Woolfest. And I re-discovered what I like best about spinning: most of my brain somehow shuts down, and stops thinking about anything except the “fluff-to-string” process. Spinning is a wonderful method to relax, in my opinion. I guess it has something to do with the fact that I am a beginner spinner, so I need to concentrate a lot for my hands to coordinate and work together with the fibre and not against it.

Well, I am sure at this point you have a clearer idea of what I bought. No, don’t look at me like that, I have been very sensible and didn’t buy a whole fleece. I have the feeling that raw fleece processing in a flat may not be the most practical and welcome hobby.

Hebridean Batt - Lambswool

Hebridean Batt – Lambswool

Don’t get me wrong, I did buy a little bag of just a few ounces of unprocessed locks to play with (more on that in a future post). But overall, I only bought clean (but undyed) fibre, either processed in batts or just little nests of what looks like roving with lanolin.

My yarn stash has grown by 64 grams and 210 metres only. I might have overdone it on the “pre-yarn” front on the other hand…

Hebridean Ram at Woolfest

Final cute picture for this post. Cute and impressive…
(Hebridean Ram at Woolfest)


  1. Unlike a very good friend of mine, you know…
  2. For quite some time, I had borrowed the swift and ball winder from Janice. In fact, it has been so long that she had forgotten they were her toys. It was probably about time that I give them back to her, huh?
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One Response to Woolfest – Episode 2: It’s not yarn… it’s pre-yarn!

  1. Pingback: Fluff and stuff: a Woolfest haul | The Auld (Woolly) Alliance

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