Wonderwool Wales 2017

Wonderwool Wales 2017 in white text on aqua square on background of hand-dyed mohair ringlets

A sunny Wonderwool Wales!

Spring is my favourite time of year; I love the spring flowers and new leaves and (hopefully) blue skies! It’s also the time when my fibromyalgia eases and I feel able to do more without risking a flare-up. So, I’ve been looking forward to Wonderwool Wales for some time. We spent a few days in Worcester, then travelled from there to the show in Builth Wells on Saturday morning. Mr BK spent the day walking the hills near Llandrindod Wells.

Exhibitions at Wonderwool Wales

Llareggub Village Model

2014 was the centenary of the birth of the Welsh poet and writer Dylan Thomas. As a tribute, The Itchy Fingers Textiles group from Swansea created a model village inspired by the imaginary Llareggub village in Under Milkwood by Thomas. Members of the group interpreted the descriptions in the play using felt, thread and found objects to make the different buildings. It’s beautifully done!

Knitted village displayed under a glass dome

Centenary Textiles

The Centenary Textiles Exhibition commemorated the centenary of the First World War, by exploring the development of handmade knitted, crocheted and felted items during WW1. Pauline Loven c0-ordinated the exhibition; she was the costumier for the film, Tell Them of Us. The film tells the story of the Crowder brothers from Thimbleby, Lincolnshire as a tribute to their duty and the impact on those they left behind.

Knitting for the Military

During the making of this film, it became apparent just how much women supplemented the basic military uniform by knitting for men on the front line. Women knitted a variety of items including gloves, scarves, Balaclavas, sleeping helmets, wrist warmers. Knitters adapted some items for military work. There were ear openings on some Balaclavas, so they could be worn by radio operatives. And some gloves covered all the hand except the thumb and forefinger, so the wearer could operate a rifle. Women also knitted items for the injured such as bandages and chest warmers.

Knitted Womenswear

Women’s clothing also showed the changing fashions; as women became more active members of society, they began to abandon corsets: this was accelerated by a shortage of metal caused by with the outbreak of war. Without a corset, the usual shawls did not provide enough warmth, so cardigans, waistcoats and jumpers became commoner. Furthermore, these garments were more practical when working in a factory.

Long, blue hand-knit cardigan with colar and belt

The exhibition at Wonderwool showed a wide range of both military and domestic items which were knitted by more than 300 volunteers for Centenary Stitches. Take a look at this interview with some of the knitters. It’s always interesting to see knitted items close-up because you can see the stitch patterns and construction methods used. The stitch patterns, used for many of these garments such as the beautiful cardigan above, were simple, but very effective. Patterns for many of the accessories and garments are available in the Centenary Stitches book.

Spinning and Weaving

Wonderwool is a celebration of all things wool. In previous blog posts, I’ve shown you pictures of yarn, lots of yarn (see 2015 and 2016)! This time I thought I’d show you a few other things. As well as lots of beautiful yarns there are materials and equipment for all textile crafts using wool. This includes Dorset buttons, crochet, dyeing, felting, knitting, rug-making, spinning and weaving. Although I’ve never tried them, I’m fascinated by spinning and weaving. Another lifetime is needed, don’t you think?

Here, the demonstrator is using this Ashford drum carder to mix colours of dyed fleece ready for spinning. She added sparkly bits too!

Demonstration of carding using Ashford drum carder

These spinning wheels are from Frank Herring and Sons, from left to right, an Ashford Traditional wheel, an Ashford Joy double treadle wheel, and an Ashford Traveller wheel.

Three spinning wheels: Ashford Traditional wheel, Ashford Traveller wheel and Ashford Joy double treadle wheel

I liked the look of this floor loom!

Partly woven fabric on a loom


The animals are a big attraction at Wonderwool. As usual most of my photos of fibre animals came out blurred, however, here’s one of an Angora goat from the Crafty Goat Club. Confusingly, mohair comes from Angora goats, whereas angora comes from Angora rabbits!

Angora goat

And here’s some dyed ringlets from the mohair goats. I’m not sure what you do with them, but they do look gorgeous!

Mohair yarn dyed in a variety of colours


Well, I couldn’t resist showing you some yarn. Let’s start with this rainbow of Titus from the Yorkshire yarn store, Baa Ram Ewe. This year’s new colours are Brass Band, Rose Window and Heathcliff. The same shades are also available in Dovestone, their double knitting yarn. The yarn base for Dovestone is grey-brown, so the colours are richer than their Titus equivalents.

Hanks of Titus yarn in 22 colours

Here is the yarn that I bought from Wonderwool. It’s not a large amount, but just what I need for testing some ideas. Standard sock from Truly Hooked. Mini-balls of Titus in Brass Band, Endeavour, Rose Window and Coal. Knit by Numbers 4 ply from John Arbon Yarns. I could easily have bought a lot more yarn, but I’m learning to be restrained.

Standard sock yarn from Truly Hooked; Titus mini-balls from Baa Ram Ewe and Knit by Numbers 4-ply from John Arbon Yarns

I also bought a kit to make a necklace using Dorset buttons from Jen Best of Beaker Buttons. It was good to chat with Jen about Dorset buttons and her designs. Also, Jen is one of the winners of Local Superstar category of Knit Now magazine’s Knitter of the Year competition, so I’ll be seeing her soon when we all visit Sirdar Yarns in Wakefield.

Nine different Dorset buttons on a black box containing kits to make projects using Dorset buttons

It was a beautiful sunny day. I sat outside to eat lunch, along with lots of other knitters. And when I’d finished eating, I even tested out some new knitting needles! Knitting in the sunshine at a yarn festival: what could be better?

If you’d like to visit a yarn festival, then you’ll find a list of festivals and links to their websites in Dates for UK Yarn and Fibre Festivals.