Hello lovely people!
Straight off, let me apologise for the puntastic title. I couldn’t help myself. Ever so sorry.
Let me also apologise now for what will be an epically long post, because this my friends, is all about Wonderwool!
Oh how excited I’ve been for this weekend. A customer, of all people recommended it to me about 8 months ago, and I’ve been longing for it to come around since then. The only thing that put a slight dampener on my excitement was picking up a hideous cold and being laid out for most of the week. If anything was going to get me better, it was the incentive that I needed to be able to walk around and carry yarn on the weekend. As incentives go, it’s pretty good.
It turned out to be a beautiful day weather wise. Which was handy seen as The Mother, Jenean, Mrs ATR and I had an early start. Skies were blue, temperatures were high, and I was assured I didn’t need a jacket. There was definitely a summer holiday vibe. We packed ourselves and our activities for the journey into to the car and off we set. I even managed to commandeer some space for a practical use.
Wonderwool takes place at the Royal Welsh showground in Builth Wells, a venue I know well from being a child labourer working there for a week many moons ago. It was a good job we had a vague idea on how to get there as I’m sorry to say the website isn’t as good as I’d hoped. It’s (relatively speaking) practically on our door step, but if you were coming from further afield I would have worried as there were no clear directions or advice on getting there, and none on parking. We decided we’d set off and see when we got there, all just so happy to have something that was an hour and a bit away, rather than a really really long drive. It also helped that we needed to travel along some of the most beautiful roads in the country. Cue impressive scenery..
I always forget how difficult it is to get decent pictures in a moving vehicle. I got some very nice pictures of hedges and street signs.
I did manage to get some respectable ones, but it doesn’t do the actual view justice. Just mountains for as far as you can see. This one is one of my favourites, well, everyones favourites I presume.
Theres a twisty road (What am I saying? They’re all twisty!) on the way to Brecon, which opens out so you can see the whole valley in front of you. There’s a little pull in on the corner, which is heavily frequented by bikers, but I very much advise you to take it in if you’re ever in the area. Especially if you’re the designated driver! The road has sharp bends and big cliffs, leaving too little time to really take it in. You’re deep in the Beacons by this point, and everything just feels cleaner and fresher and more alive. Much better than starting your journey on a dusty, gloomy motorway.
We meandered along until HOORAH! We saw our first sign for Wonderwool. Very small, but still significant. We also saw the mounting traffic that had been non-existent so far, so we knew we were in the right place. We then came along this sign which heightened our excitement even more..
Coaches and livestock. Not an unusual sign for this showground as I presume there’s always some sort of animal encamped here, but this meant we’d definitely be seeing some woolly friends. It would make my day if I got to see a goat. Anyway, we parked up, hastily tried to clean up the breakfast crumbs, used the on-the-way facilities and followed the crowd to where we presumed we needed to go.
Before we went into the halls, I felt we needed some sort of structure. There were three halls altogether and you could see as you walked in that it wasn’t a simple layout for making sure you saw everything. Yes, very anal, but there was no reason why we couldn’t have organised fun and see everything. We decided on a round-the-outside, then explore the middle approach. We also sensibly decided that left was our direction of choice, and boy was I glad that we did. Within three minutes, we had a sheep sighting.
These beauties were part of the Alderton Flock of Shropshire sheep. In my head, I imagine sheep looking like this. They had the most perfect faces. Apparently, they’d only ever met 2 human beings before in their life, so they were doing very well.
Anyway, shut up with all this sheep talk I hear you shout. Lets get down to the purchases. Jenean got straight in there on the first stall of the Welsh Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers with a drop spindle. This did set alarm bells ringing for me. Was it going to be so good that we just had to spend money at every stall, and more importantly had I brought enough money? Onwards.
We’d had a conversation on the journey about the Clover yarn cutter pendants. Have you seen them? What a clever idea. Something that you can carry around with you that isn’t classed as a weapon. I always worry about pulling my scissors out on the train, even though they’re the smallest pair I could find. We also theorised that because they don’t look like yarn cutters, you’d be able to take them on a plane? We need to verify this, but seen as we’ve got a holiday planned very shortly this would help enormously. As we rounded a corner we came in sight of a huge KnitPro stand and quickened our step. After milling about for a bit and Ahhing at the rosewoods, someone came across this..
The very thing we’d been talking about in keyring form! There was much merriment and mirth, followed by 4 quick purchases. I think the stallholder got quite confused selling 4 of them in a row.
Now this may sound snobbish (or anti snobbish), but I didn’t go there to buy luxury indie yarns. Obviously I would look and squish them, but I thought they weren’t for me. I didn’t see the appeal of spending small fortunes on wool blends that would annoy me because I would have to (shock horror) hand wash them. While I appreciated all the hard work that goes into these yarns, I knew they weren’t for me. Similarly, the ‘fancy’ alpacas, angoras etc. My resolve was strong. But I’m both pleased and ashamed to admit that this went out of the window. It all went downhill at the UK Alpaca LTD stand. We came across a lovely vest which looked complicated but had a deceptively easy stitch. Stroking it was my downfall. So soft! I’m not sure I’d ever felt anything so soft before I fondled that vest.
The words for the day were ‘free pattern with yarn purchase’. Which was handy seen as Mrs ATR had found a lovely baby cardigan pattern that I was forcing her to buy, but came free when The Mother bought some snuggly Alpaca for herself.
All hope was lost by the time we got to Manfield Crafts. I was doomed. We were drawn in by a lovely c2c ‘LOVE’ cushion, then turned around and saw the most beautiful colour changing c2c scarf. Lets just say some money was exchanged. I wish I’d taken a photograph of the scarf itself, but I’ll have to show you the next best thing.
Along the wall there were lost of c2c scarfs draped about the place in various sizes and colours, but this is the colour that spoke to me.
Look at the colours on them.
Such a bright, and yet soft blues oranges and yellows. The browns in the picture are actually the same colourway, just wound differently. You wouldn’t have thought the browns would complement the others, but they really make it. And again so soft and light. It’s called Amitola from Louise Harding Yarns and is 80% wool 20% silk. It’s also a lighter weight than I’m used to so using a 3.5mm. I’ve been wanting to try c2c for a long time, so I decided to take the plunge and have something exciting to work on. My plan is to recreate the scarf on show. Not as a winter scarf, it wouldn’t be near warm enough, but a nice summer/autumn number that I can flaunt around the place with its beauty. Two balls would make a decent sized scarf, but the lovely lady there only had three left of the entire stock. I couldn’t very well leave one behind could I? That would be cruel. So I merrily walked away with the three, and the free pattern, swinging my bag as I went. I’ve also been pondering on what to take on the aforementioned, soon-to-be holiday. Because it’s so light, I think it’s coming out on top at the moment.
I’ve come to learn that time is a funny animal in these places. Without even realising we’d hit 1.30PM and were hugely behind schedule. We decided to adjourn to get some lunch and rest some feet. There was lots of offer, but I plumped for a stone fired pizza, naughty but delicious and in theory less full of junk than most food vendors. It was lovely to be sitting out in the sunshine, but we didn’t have time to dawdle, we still had two halls left to see and we were running out of time!
The word for me for the rest of the afternoon has to be socks. Oh socks. Again something I’d been wanting to try for a long time but no real confidence to give it a go. Let me tell you the story..
Dotted about on various stalls, we saw lots of little bags. Some for projects, but some so that you could work while standing up and travelling. These usually took the form of something you could hook over your arm and pull yarn from. These seemed like a great idea to me! Especially for those days where I don’t manage to get a seat on the train. It’s one of my bigger frustrations. 20 minutes wasted when I could be being productive. One of these would mean that I would still be able to craft while standing and not loose the time. Two thumbs up.
As we roamed around we were seeing more and more of these bags, but I didn’t commit myself. Until I came to Bellica Yarns.
This is the best design I’d seen for the whole day. Compact and lightweight. Fits nicely over your arm without swinging round too much. You can easily fit a couple of balls in there and would be perfect for doing my temperature hexagons. I snapped one up. The lovely lady there was using one and making socks as she was helping everyone. We obviously got started on the topic. It shows you how good customer service is so important. I left there feeling informed, more confident to try and of course £40 lighter. She made it look easy and made me believe it was. She gave me info on exactly what yarn I’d need, what needles sizes and where I could find help to get me going. Never being one to do things by half, I knew I’d need to take home needles as well otherwise I’d never get started, so she kindly sent me over to a stall across the way to pick up some 2.5mms.
Yarn wise, it was one of those ‘it’s so difficult to choose’ situations. This is what I went for in the end.
I seem to be picking up a lot of pinks recently. I don’t know why, I don’t like pink. I think the combination of the pink and the grey spoke to me for this one.
This one also called out to me. It’s not as soft, but looks maybe a little bit more hardwearing? I hoped that the red and the blue will transform into a lovely sock.
I can see myself getting very obsessed by this. I haven’t started yet, but am planning to use some of the Stylecraft Head Over Heels to practice on before I start these. Either way, from that point on everything was sock yarn to me. I wanted to buy it all and make all the socks. I’m proud to say that that was the last of my yarn purchases for the day. Good things too. Himself will have a fit if he ever realised how much it all cost!
We haven’t had some animal picture for a while have we? Here you go!
Finally some goats!! And not just a regular goat, but a mummy goat and a kid!
Oh how happy I was. I’ve just realised that this goat love will have come out of the blue for you. The long and short is that Himself and I have always really wanted a garden goat or two. We’d never have the room or time, but we’d like one all the same. One day I can see us having a small holding maybe and we can expand to chickens and pigs as well. One day..
Maybe even some rabbits..
How beautiful are these guys. And the yarn was so soft, although the astronomical cost led me back away pretty sharpish.
And so fluffy. Its got me thinking though. These guys were from Bigwigs Angora and there were lots of photos of the rest of the herd. But how much fibre do you need to pull off one rabbit for a ball of wool? Let alone supply a small business. They had this picture on display..
Which shows you how much you can get from one rabbit, but surely you’d need a whole farm of them to make any difference? Answers on a postcard please.
On to hall 3.
How lovely is that bunting.
We managed to catch the tail end of one of the Sheep Walks (fashion shows) by the time we got there, but I have to admit, I was more concerned with seeing everything else. Especially the knitted map of Llandysul..
And the felt model village of Llareggub from Under Milkwood to coincide the Dylan Thomas celebrations.
We also did a bit of (blog)star spotting with the Janie Crow stall. I love her geometric designs, I’ve got a couple at home waiting to go. It was lovely to see them in the flesh and get to feel them.
Opposite her was Hanna Bass. SAL participants will have undoubtedly seen these kits before. I was very excited to see she’s brought out a Cardiff version of her City Kits. She was also selling frames, which I was very tempted by to ease the Big G pain, but knowing that I’d have to carry it about, thought better of it.
I was actually quite disappointed on the tapestry front. I was hoping to see lots of modern and/or interesting tapestries, but apart from the ones above, I only saw one other stall, and they looked like the end of a line leftovers.
On our way out I was absent mindedly waiting for someone when this caught my eye.
I’d seen these in a couple of places throughout the day and was seriously tempted. I came across this one and decided sod it! This one had a needle gauge too and was lots cheaper than the others. It’s from Ainsworth and Prin. I rarely (never) make tension squares, but hopefully this will help me to be a good girl.
But that was us done! We’d officially seen everything. With an hour to spare! The Mother and Jenean retired to the car, but Mrs ATR and I decided to have one last sweep. Just in case. You never know.
We headed back into hall one to mooch about. I finally managed to get a picture of the show office sign which was brilliant. There were people in front of it every time we passed. Lots of the stewards also had knitted and crocheted high vis vests on too! I wish I’d gotten a picture and a pattern!
I was surprised there weren’t more opportunities for silliness, but safe to say Mrs ATR and I found one! This was of course dutifully sent to our bearded gents at home.
This was from the Owl About Yarn stall where odds and ends of yarn had been stitched and framed to make a lovely picture. This leads us nicely on to our last stall where my mind was blown.
I have this chair! Two of them actually! Ikeas finest obviously, but they’re comfy, stackable and came free as one of their prize promotions. Why had I never thought to do this before?!? I know full well that anything with a hole in can be stitched into. Why didn’t I take it a step further. We had a lovely chat with (presumably) Tina who comes up with lots of ideas to use leftovers. She had lots of lovely mandalas on the wall made using plastic molds. She did have kits as well but I plumped for these.
What a simple idea. All for a princely sum of £6 something. The bargain of the day, and so clever too.
I’ve already got some ideas for my chair at home, but again, I’m trying to put off new projects in favour of finishing new ones. In fairness, too many new projects were picked up at this place. It was wonderful for sparking your imagination. The only downside is that to do new projects, old ones have to be set down. I’m trying to find a healthy balance between them all at the moment, so adding new only reduces time for everything else though. We’ll see how long it lasts anyway. I am itching to get to the socks!
I managed to get some lovely shots of the way home of mountains etc. It really helped being on the right side of the car! I’ll leave you with these as a parting gift.
All in all a very successful day, things were learnt, money was spent, imagination ignited. Roll on next year!
Much love xx