2018 was our first visit as stallholders at Woolfest. I have visited a few times in the past; as a customer and also as a helper on the Shetland Sheep Society stand. I have always come away awestruck by just how creative and entrepreneurial so many people are, and inspired to do more myself.
Applying to 'do' Woolfest was a big decision: it is a multi-day undertaking requiring accommodation and paid-for doggy-care, as well as travel costs and stall fees. We were encouraged to apply for a mini-stall; an initiative run by Woolfest to encourage new and smaller sellers. I worked hard on the application and was both excited and scared to find out that I had gained a place at this year's event.
Despite still being short of stock (because my missing 16kg of spun wool is still mislaid by Parcelforce), I worked hard in the weeks leading up to the event: weighing, re-skeining; dyeing; drying; labelling ....
We set up on the Thursday afternoon and were finished quite quickly which meant we could help out our neighbouring stall-holders. Especially Paolo, as he has Long Arms Which Can Reach Things. Our stall didn't look too bad and - as we were in a bit of a dark corner - we felt we had lightened it up as best we could.
We'd booked a farm cottage about 30 minutes stunning drive away, which was blissfully quiet.
The Festival is open Friday and Saturday, and it was great to meet people who were interested in the wool and its provenance. People had questions (some challenging ones!) about sheep-farming practice and we were able to bust some myths.
The quality of the wool speaks for itself and people - some of whom expect Shetland wool to be 'scratchy' were pleasantly surprised at how soft it is.
The dyed wool went down well and people seemed able to imagine how they could work the greys, moorits, natural whites and dyed shades together. The names of the shades, and the inspiration behind them was also a great talking point.
It was exhausting and the days seemed very long - something to do with standing on concrete, I think!
It was an enjoyable event for us - we got to meet new customers (and old ones), as well as some useful conversations with other stall holders and designers. I managed to avoid buying much wool (just some John Arbon Devonia for another shawl, and some Blane Norwegian wool to finish a sweater I'm working on.
But I did buy a wee hook-rug kit in the shape of a fish. It's now finished and I love it!
On the Sunday, we ventured to the Woolclip's shop in Caldbeck which is definitely worth a visit.