Fibre fans, craft lovers and makers keen to learn techniques as varied as mapuche weaving, scrumbling and cobweb felting will be flocking from all over the UK to the 2016 wool and natural fibre extravaganza Wonderwool Wales.
Returning for its eleventh fabulous year on April 23 and 24, 2016, the annual show, at the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells, will be bursting at the seams with stalls, special exhibitions, daily demonstrations and have-a-go sessions.
Just announced, the popular programme of pre-bookable Woolschools, put together by the organisers, has something to inspire everyone, whether their interest is knitting, crochet, felting, weaving, spinning or fleece preparation. There’s a choice of six two-hour workshops, for which topics include mapuche weaving techniques. Guided by tutor Liz Beasley, students will learn to warp up a loom, create a string heddle and weave a small bookmark or coaster. For felt makers there’s the sought-after opportunity to join the talented Jenny Barnett and learn how to make a lovely little needle felt fish brooch. Felt makers can also sign up to a Woolschool with Sarah Enoch and create a ‘cobweb’ felt scarflet using wet felting techniques. Meanwhile Frances Fletcher will show her students how to use the Kool Aid dyeing process, experimenting with yarn, tops, fleece, felt, silk and other animal fibre, using different colours to produce a variegated effect and also mixing the colours to produce new shades. Alternatively, Woolschool participants can choose to design and make a beautiful tasselled bag charm under the guidance of Vicky Pritchard or join Carys Hedd and Diane Logan for a workshop in the ever-useful life-skill of upcycling old, boring, ill-fitting square jumpers into funky, fabulous, figure-hugging garments.
The 2016 Woolschool programme also includes six one-hour workshops, covering ever-popular topics such as hand carding, spinning on a drop spindle and selecting fleeces for processing. There are beginners’ sessions making crocheted flowers with Jen Best and small needle felted cupcake-shaped pincushions with Lydia Needle. Maria Lalić also introduces scrumbling, a fast and furious way to use free form knitting and crochet to create all kinds of weird and wonderful things – in this short, fun session, she will show how to make a small dreamcatcher.
Visitors are urged to book early for the Woolschools, which fill up fast, but for anyone who misses out, the show provides lots of other opportunities to learn new skills including regular demonstrations by members of the Welsh Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers and hands-on activities in the interactive area. It is part of what makes Wonderwool Wales a much-anticipated date in the calendar.
Organiser Chrissie Menzies said: “Our vibrant showcase for wool and natural fibres is an eagerly-anticipated event for fibre fans from across the UK and from abroad. We look forward to welcoming them to another fantastic event, which promises a wealth of quality exhibitors selling fleeces, yarns, spinning, weaving and dyeing equipment, knitting and crochet products, buttons, buckles and shawl pins, patterns and more. Visitors will literally be able to ‘shop ‘til they drop’! But when they are weary there will also be lots of places to put their feet up and enjoy a wide range of refreshments. There’s a lot to see and do with exhibitions and demonstrations around the show and livestock exhibitors will also be joining us with some of their alpacas and sheep. Our event was originally created in order to promote the market for Welsh wool, so we are using the occasion to promote a different breed of Welsh sheep each year, by inviting a breed society to take a stand to introduce their sheep and their products to our visitors. Last year we hosted the Badger Faced Welsh Mountain Sheep Society. In 2016 we plan to showcase the Balwen Welsh Mountain Sheep Society.”
Wonderwool Wales takes place on April 23 and 24 2016 at the Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells, Powys LD2 3SY. Opening hours: Saturday 10am – 5.30pm & Sunday 10am – 4.30pm. Tickets cost £10.00 for adults, children under 16 free. On-line booking is available, postage costs apply.
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