Yarn and Fibre Festivals

Knitting is the new black.  You heard it first here.

Take the UK. A few years ago, North of Watford, there was Woolfest, the Massam Sheep Fair, Wonderwool Wales and not really much else.

‘Herdies’ or Herdwick sheep at Woolfest

Now, even here in Scotland – where perhaps the midges, and a national population of only 5.3m (to give that some context, the population of London England is about 8.7m)  would, you’d think cause slower growth – there are lots and lots of fibre and yarn festivals.  but we make up in enthusiasm for what we lack in numbers up here in the North of Britain…

So then there was Shetland Wool Week.   Then Edinburgh Yarn Festival,  and now… Perth Festival of Yarn is in its second year.  I have not been there before but am so looking forward to teaching at it in September 2017.   There will also be a Create With Fibre stall at the Festival and Lee will be selling his amazing Dinky, Midi and Scarf Looms and blending boards.  He is having trouble keeping up with demand actually but promises he will have some on sale there!

Woolfest in Cumbria in the North of England continues to thrive and I volunteer at it every year.  Just love their sheep and spinning focus of course.    The Rheged Centre, also in Cumbria now has a wee wool festival in the spring.    They showed the film Yarn in the Rheged film theatre.   I totally love that movie by the way…

As the knitters, spinners, crocheters, felt makers and weavers just keep growing in numbers,  the yarn festivals are multiplying.  All are busy and there are many, many more that I have not mentioned.

Here are my wool festival highlights this year:

Janet teaches spinning at EYF

Courses at Yarn Festivals

Lots of you come to the courses at EYF and all of their courses have filled up fast.  In fact, the second year I taught there, they started out by asking me to do two and I ended up doing five courses.  I did get to have a very quick tour round the Festival in the last 20 minutes and yes, it is surprising what you can buy in 20 minutes…  Like all of the Festivals, EYF is unique and in particular it has a very international clientele.  There were people on the courses I taught there from New Zealand, Russia, Norway, Poland and more.

And I volunteer on the Woolclip stall at Woolfest most years, (the only year I missed was when I was away doing my Knit 1 bike 1 project) and I just love Woolfest, the Woolclip and all of it.  So glad to do my bit there.  The Woolclip is the cooperative that organises Woolfest and also the shop.  Higham Hall sometimes have courses in conjunction with Woolfest and I have taught a couple of those over the years too.  Along with all the regular courses I have done there over the years, and the recently added Higham Knitting Retreats.

So this year, check out Perth festival of Yarn.  I will be there both days and am teaching spinning, crochet and weaving.  Can’t wait.

Teaching spinning, weaving and knitting is what we do…

Was just looking through the diary for 2016 and it hit me.  I have taught a lot of people.  When we started this in 1994, I had this vision of growing spinning, weaving, knitting and all things fibre and yarn all over the UK.  Kind of like planting seeds.  Well it is happening!  So I am blowing our own trumpet just a tiny bit here, just because what we do is not always evident.

Having taught many of the people who are now in their turn teaching spinning, I can see it.  Some of them have quite high profile businesses now, and some of them I have gone on to work with in partnership for many years.    See the current courses on our Create With Fibre website.

Then I realised.  I have taught over 750 people this year.    The 750 has admittedly included about 200 new weavers at two larger scale events:  A music festival  commissioned us to teach weaving all weekend, and a primary school who had me there for two days teaching nearly all of the classes….But all of the rest are in relatively small courses.  sometimes, like this week,  I am teaching three courses in a week (weaving wednesday, Indigo dyeing Thursday and beginners spinning on Saturday this week).

Often there are courses for one of the Guilds of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers.   Last weekend we were at East  Central Guild, and before that Eden Valley.  The beginners spinning is one of a series of special courses for Dumfries & Galloway Guild.

Then there are the courses for Councils, youth groups and voluntary organisations.  At the moment, a series of several weaving sessions and a wall hanging project for Maybole 500, which celebrates the town being 500 years old.   These  have been many and various over the last couple of years.  A tipi making project with ten different youth groups (that one went on for months), and weaving projects with a number of schools for example.

weaving with primary school children

And I teach at other locations.   This year I have taught at Higham Hall    four times, weaving, spinning on a spinning wheel, spinning on a hand spindle and a fibre and yarn retreat.  They have already booked me for next year if you fancy a retreat…  The workshops for Scottish Fibres  have gone on for years.   Two a year usually, although this year we have added in extra ones, one on spindle spinning and one on weaving.   And we do them at yarn festivals too.  Look out for us at Perth Festival of Yarn this year.

Beginners spining for Edinburgh Yarn Festival

Then there are the fibre and yarn Retreats at The Old School.  They are completely awesome.  Only in February/March and October/November each year, because The Old School gets very busy and cannot fit us in at other times.  So who wouldn’t want to come on an exclusive Retreat at a 4 star, rather special, quirky and unique guest house?  With wood burning stoves, panormic views and each of the four bedrooms a whole, lovingly restored classroom.    Did I say it has 9.8 on Trip Advisor and a Taste Scotland award?

Oh, and I do a few ‘cosy courses’ courses here at my home each year.   We are just about to launch our 1-1 bespoke retreats at our place, so it is an exciting time.

nattural dyeing course chez nous

Yeah, like I said, courses are what we do…

Higham Hall Knitting and spinning retreat

April 2017 has been a busy month – nothing new there then!

A knitting and spinning Retreat at Higham Hall in Cumbria, English Lakes. This was a new venture.  Although I regularly deliver courses for Higham, this was  the first Retreat I have done there and I am sure it will not be the last.

An absolutely brilliant time and Higham let us use their sitting room with it’s wood burning stove.   We were knitting, crocheting and spinning. Not all at once you understand but people  chose what they wanted to focus on.  We did a wee project as usual.   this time it was mug hugs or cosies.

mug cosies was the project this time.

 

 

And courses for Wigtown and Eden Valley guilds of weavers, spinners & Dyers this month too.  An ‘Improve Your Spinning’ course at Wigtown and Silk Spinning at Eden Valley.    We stayed in the Lakes for a few days and had the very great pleasure of visiting the Camping Barn near Keswick  and having a good old knit, natter and cake eating afternoon with Sarah and her friends!

There will be another Retreat at The Old School in October 2017 by the way… They of course are our regular Retreat venue.   Only four rooms, but they can accommodate a couple of camper vans and day places are available too.

Spinning and Weaving Courses Chez Nous

One of the things I love to do most is have people to visit.  We live in a plain wee street in a lovely bungalow in a simple Ayrshire village.  Our back garden is a real surprise, as we grow a lot of veg in a relatively small space and are actually WWOOF hosts too.  (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms).

Simple living has always been a part of what we do and we decided years ago that living in a village was more sustainable and a better life than being in the hills (as we were previously).   So we have a modern, well insulated bungalow, solar panels, a wood burning stove, grow veg and live in a place with three buses an hour, people around during the day and hills in every direction.  Yes, we still have the hills.  You can set off and walk in any direction from here.

So it makes perfect sense to have ‘cosy courses’ in our living room.  People love them and the numbers are smaller – often 3 or 4 people but certainly no more than 5, depending on what it is.   Hubby makes soup for us and we eat around the kitchen table.

The most recent course was a ‘flexible’ two day spinning course.   Beginners on day one and improvers on day two.  You could book for one or both days, and all levels except complete beginners can come to day two.

Local accommodation is available and we also have a spare room where you are welcome to stay.  You can have a wee peek at our house here we are air bnb hosts.

Oh and we also do one to one tuition, anything from half a day to two days and stay the night!  Your very own micro retreat chez nous, in other words.

To see the current course list, visit Create With Fibre.

Victoria on a one to one spindling lesson

What do we get up to on a knitting retreat?

The dates for our knitting & spinning retreats are filling up for this year.  Feb 2017 is fully booked.

Visit my updated knitting retreats web page to see what is still available.

http://createwithfibre.co.uk/knittingretreats.html

These retreats have just sort of grown organically.  Our wonderful Ayrshire venue, The Old School became known to us via Victoria, the neice of the owners.   She came to Create With Fibre for a one to one spindling lesson, having failed to get a place on any of the spindling courses Janet was teaching at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival.   She is a jazz singer and what with her and Fiona, who sings wonderful Gaelic songs, some wine and the woodburning stove, the evenings are the best of fun.

And then it just sort of grew and now there are four retreats a year, two in the spring and two in the Autumn.  They have become knitting, crochet and spinning retreats because people learn whatever they like and have an individual programme worked out for them.   And people just keep coming back.   You can see why!

The dining room at The Old School has been lovingly restored, just like the rest of the building.  You have a whole classroom as your bedroom!

Knitting, crochet and spinning at a Create With Fibre Retreat.

Results of a productive weekend Retrat.  Rachel and Kerrie travelled all the way from Bedfordshire for this Retreat.  Some Retreaters live just down the road though.

 

More talks and workshops

The time is whizzing by now I am nearer home and have less than three weeks to go. This workshop a couple is days ago was at Victoria Bennett’s house in Edinburgh.  She is also a jazz singer and has a show at the Fringe this year.  Last night I gave a talk with slide show at penicuik arts centre.

Today I cycled 26 miles and am now at Longniddry staying with Angela and Bill. Haddington spinners are camping in the horse field and tomorrow I am doing a wee workshop with them on longdraw spinning. Wonderful fun tonight sitting in the field!

the workshop at Victoria’s

Synchronicity, crochet and quaker meeting

Day off today and no cycling. Felt strange to be in a car as Edna and Bobby from Tarbert quaker meeting took me back the way i cycled yesterday to attend their Quaker meeting. Had a lovely time and amazing cake. Had to cancel dinner at Sally’s tomorrow as hubby Lee is going to take me to Oban so we have a day in Hand to proof tent before i head to Mull. Then lo and behold i bumped i to Sally tonight along with her sister and their menfolk. I feel like this journey is what i am meant to be doing right now if thats not too deep and trendy. And things keep happening to help me on my way. Like Pam telling me out the high winds due yesterday, thinkind i needed guy ropes and finding some at the side of the road. And now thinking what a shame it was to miss dinner with Sally then bumping into her. If i have gone all airy fairy due to spending too much time on a bicycle something will no doubt bring me down to earth with a bump!

are you bored with knitting?

do you ever get bored with knitting?
before I learned to spin I had stopped knitting altogether due to boredom but spinning changed everything.  even so called boring knitting is exciting when you see how your own yarn knits up.

Hand dyed yarns do the same, and now, many years later I find I am back to using commerial yarns again because there are so many more nice ones out there.

so now I have knitting or crochet with me all the time again.  the projects seem to breed in the night.  I start with one project but then it gets too big to take with me when  I go out, so I start something new.  then that gets too complicated to do whilst chatting so I start something for the knitting group.

but at the moment I am finishing projects.  In the last  month or so I have finished
twirly crocheted skirt for a 2 year old
doggy bootees
party cape for a 4 year old
Amalfi crocheted waistcoat

now I am working on the Romi shawl and loving it.  this shawl has a really good pattern and chart and there have been no mistakes in it.   it comes from a booklet called 7 small shawls to knit, which I bought on Ravelry and was worth every penny of its $12/£7.50.  I am using hand dyed lace yarn and it is fun to see the colours coming out.  they look different in the central panel to the way they look in the surrounding pattern which is fun.
spent most of yesterday working on it and only stopped when I started making mistakes.