It may seem like all the American counterpart of the knitting and spinning community spent last weekend at Rhinebeck but I say Rhinebeck Schminebeck it’ all about Bakewell Wool Gathering!
In all fairness I am saying that a bit tongue in cheek, they don’t really compare. Bakewell is a tiny UK wool festival with less than 50 exhibitors most of them independent vendors or small companies and Rhinebeck is well legendary in knitting circles. There seem to be quite a few wool festivals in the UK now I can think of at least 5 off the top of my head and they vary in size and location the reason I chose Bakewell was that it was one of the nearest ones (at about an hour and a half drive) and because it is so small.
I have never really been a fan of crowds as I am easily irritated by other people especially when they are all pushing, shoving and forgetting their manners when trying to look at the same stalls (Christmas Markets are my idea of hell!) but I have got even worse since having my children – knocking me out of the way whilst I’m trying to look at something is one thing but bumping into my girls or being rude in front of them is not acceptable in my eyes. Given that this is the case I thought Bakewell might be the perfect choice, lovely woolly goodness but on a smaller scale so I can enjoy looking at all the stalls without the huge crowds you get at other events.
As I knew I would be taking my OH and the crafty girls with me I thought a but of military precision planning may be needed to get the most out of the day without risking tantrums on anyone’s part. After hunting down a list of exhibitors for the festival I visited all their websites and made myself a list of what I wanted to buy/ was allowed to buy and also added some prohibitions on things that I definitely wasn’t allowed to buy (no merino fibre for spinning was the biggest on). Armed with my list and a pocket full of carefully saved splurge money I dragged my OH and the girls around the stalls. One circuit of the venue confirmed that shopping with non-knitters and children wasn’t going to work so I sent them off to a nearby park to entertain themselves whilst I got down to the serious business of yarn fondling.
My first stop was Adelaide Walker for 500kg of Gotland fibre and a copy of the British Sheep and Wool book. Second stop was Laal Bear to snaffle some of her yarn, I was surprised to see her on the exhibitor list as she stopping dyeing yarn over a year ago so I’d assumed I’d never get hold of any of her yarn but I bagged some sock wool in a solid turquoise colour and some variegated 4ply in shades of blue, yellow and brown. My search for a new wooden needle gauge, a WPI tool for spinning and some small stitch markers proved fruitless or rather the ones I did find didn’t quite match up with what I’d had in mind so I came home without them. Next stop was Natural Born Dyers for some 4ply high twist sock wool in a denim blue although I was very tempted by a number of their lace weight skeins. At the Low Lands Legacy stall I had a lovely chat with a Dutch man about dyeing fibres with food colouring and came away with some Wiltons food dyes in teal, royal blue and violet but I am kicking myself for not just buying the whole colour range. My final purchase was from Willo Fibres where I came away with 100g of Teeswater fibre for spinning in teal, yellow and orange. In an ideal world I would have come away with spinning fibre in a range of blue colourways but none of the stalls I came across seemed to have a selection of blues in their stock, no idea why it wasn’t a popular colour. Details of all the vendors at the wool gathering can be found here.
Here is my haul in all it’s glory – complete with Crafty Baby’s head as trying to get a photo without her stealing some of the woolly goodness to squoosh was impossible.
Another highlight of my trip was meeting James from the Dancing Geek Podcast. I still find meeting podcasters a bit weird though, it is like bumping in to someone whose diary you have been secretly reading for months and then trying to act normal around them. As I was already over excited from all my purchases and sporting a grin that a small child in a sweet shop would be proud of I didn’t chat to him for as long as I’d have liked as I didn’t want to scare him but I did make sure that Crafty Toddler got to meet him later on as she had been asking about whether he would be there all the way there. There was much giggling on her part and much confusion on my OH’s face on the way back to the car as she was telling him all about it – he doesn’t really understand the pleasure of knitting, spinning and crochet so the idea that there are whole armies of people out there that listen to each other talking about it is all a bit strange. To be fair I feel the same when he talks to me about cycling things.
My plan is to spin the Gotland fibre to make a garment of some kind – I’m thinking of aiming for a 4ply/ fingering weight and making a sweater of some kind but that will depend on the final yardage I get. As for the yarn…well…buying single skeins because they are pretty without having a clue what you are going to knit with them is perfectly acceptable right?