Wool and woolly animals at Wonderwool

Wensleydale sheep wearing a daisy chain

All about wool!

Wonderwool Wales is a celebration of wool, from different sheep breeds, and other animal fibres, such as alpaca, angora and mohair. As well as yarn for sale, several exhibitors have their fibre animals on show. These were on my must-see list, so let’s start with them.

Woolly animals

The Angora rabbits from Bigwig Angoras were unbelievably fluffy. Don’t you just want to cuddle this one?

Large white Angora rabbit

The Wensleydale sheep from Home Farm (Arlescote, Oxfordshire) were wearing daisy necklaces.

Wensleydale sheep wearing a daisy chain

These Wensleydale sheep from Ystrad (Brechfa, Carmarthenshire) have different colour fleeces. You can see a variety here, as well as a lively lamb.

White Wensleydale lamb between Wensleydale sheep in a variety of colours

These stately Alpacas are from Bird Farm (Llanwnnen, Ceredigion).

Two alpacas, one with tan hair and one with black

The Shetland Sheep from the Shetland Sheep Society (Kings Lynn, Norfolk) didn’t stay still long enough for a good photo, so instead here’s some Shetland fleece, showing a variety of fleece colours.

Bags of Shetland fleece in different natural colours

Yarn from different fibre animals

This was my second visit to Wonderwool and this time I was organised. I’d downloaded the floor plan from the Wonderwool website and researched exhibitors. I had one list of yarn to buy for planned swatches and designs, and a second list of yarn to look at, with a view to buying some at a later date for future designs.

Blacker Yarns

Last year I bought some British breed yarns from Blacker Yarns to use for Woollen Woods. This year I wanted some of their yarn for swatching.
Tamar Lustre Blend is the newest yarn made by Blacker Yarns. It is spun from Teeswater, Wensleydale and Leicester Longwool, so has a good lustre as well as a nice drape. It’s available in both 4-ply and double knit in the same colour range. I’d love a hank of each of the colours!

Wooden shelves holding balls of wool arranged by colour

I also wanted some Blacker Swan. This yarn is a blend of Falklands Merino, Cornish Blue-faced Leicester and Shetland moorit from Somerset. The colours are named after the wildflowers which grow in the Falkland Islands. It’s a very smooth and soft yarn which I’m looking forward to testing. Again, it’s available in 4-ply and double knit.

Wooden shelves holding balls of wool arranged by colour

John Arbon Textiles

I used Viola, a Merino double knit from John Arbon Textiles, for my Durham sweater published earlier this year. Viola is gorgeously soft and the colours are beautiful. I’d love to knit something in each of these!

Hanks of yarn in muted colours hanging on grid wall

However, this year I wanted to test Knit by Numbers for a new design. This yarn has the same yarn base as Viola. There are fifteen colour ranges, each of which is available in six shades, going from dark to light. Fortunately, I had an idea of the colour I wanted otherwise I might have taken all day to choose!

And this year John Arbon Textiles have brought out Knit by Numbers in 4-ply. It’s available in the same colour range as the DK and makes a striking display.

Wooden shelves showing Knit by Numbers yarn arranged by colour and value

Whistlebare

Whistlebare‘s mohair yarn caught my eye last year; I wanted to have another look. Whistlebare yarns are spun from the fleeces of their Angora goats (mohair comes from Angora goats, whereas angora comes from Angora rabbits) and Wensleydale sheep. Their yarn (Yeavering Bell) is available in 4-ply, double knit and Aran weights. The colours glow beautifully – almost like stained glass. I’d love to use this yarn; I’ve got some ideas to work on then I’ll know which weight and colours to buy.

White fabric covered shelves holding hanks of brightly coloured mohair and wool yarn

Last year, Cambrian Mountains Wool had a stand showcasing yarn that they were developing for knitting and weaving using wool sourced from the Cambrian Mountains Region. They also showed the winning projects, made using their yarn, from a competition they ran. A year on and they have further developed the knitting yarn and launched their 4 ply and double knit at Wonderwool. The yarn is soft and squishy, in a small range of colours.

I also visited Baa Ram Ewe to have a squish of their new yarn, Dovestone, which is spun from dark brown Masham blended with Bluefaced Leicester and Wensleydale. This is available in the same colour palette as their other yarn, Titus, but dark brown Masham gives the colours a richer tone. I’ve been working on some designs in Titus, which is a blend of Wensleydale, Bluefaced Leicester wool and UK Alpaca, so I bought a few hanks for the final samples.

Hand-dyed yarns

There is something special about hand-dyed yarn. Maybe it’s because most hand dyers produce each colour in small batches. Maybe it’s the variety available: solid colours, semi-solids, self-striping or variegated. One of the joys of shows like Wonderwool is being able to see the actual yarn. All so tempting!

This colourful yarn was dyed by Verity, from Truly Hooked, who is based in Nottingham. Yes, that’s right, I go all the way to Wales to look at yarn dyed a few miles from where I live! There are quite a few colourways here that I’d like to sample.

Colourful hanks of hand-dyed yarn on a grid wall

I first came across Eden Cottage Yarns a few years ago at the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate. I’ve just knitted a new design using Oakworth 4 ply wool in Buddleja and Dahlia (more about that in a few weeks). I was keen to refresh my memory of their range so I visited them and started a list of yarns and colours that might be suitable for future designs. The yarn that they were selling at Wonderwool was mainly beautiful subtle semi-solid colours; all very spring-like.

I discovered Triskelion Yarn via Twitter, so I wanted to see their range of hand-dyed wool yarn. Whereas yarns from Truly Hooked were multicoloured and those from Eden Cottage Yarns were subtle semi-solids, Triskelion yarns were vibrant semi-solids; lovely rich colours. I think that Triskelion were the only hand dyers with yarn covering a complete colour wheel.

A few surprises!

I started this post by saying that Wonderwool is a celebration of wool. That also includes fleece and everything you need for spinning, weaving, knitting, crochet, felt-making, dyeing and any other wool-based craft.

I found Joe’s Toes near the Sheepwalk. What a great name for a company that makes felted slipper soles and kits! Their slipper soles are available in ten colours; you can also buy uppers or knit your own. Some of their slipper soles are going on my Christmas list. That’s forward planning!

Felt in many colours precept to make slippers

I also bought some herbal tea; not quite what you’d expect me to buy from a wool festival! There are many different herbs in this tea; they are grown in the Carpathian Mountains in Ukraine. Natiliya from Experience Ukraine was also selling honey, pysanky (decorated eggs) and woollen products from Ukraine. I was lucky to visit Lviv a few years ago; the costumes in the Ethnography and Art Crafts Museum were beautiful.

Natalya from Experience Ukranine with her Ukranian textiles

Did anyone else visit Wonderwool? What did you enjoy?

Meanwhile, time to have a cup of that herbal tea and sit down while I plan some new designs.

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Nicki Rochead

    Looks like an amazing day. You are definitely right about the cuddleability of that rabbit. I’m off to explore the Joes Toes website, thanks for the tip.

    1. Being Knitterly

      I’m sure you’ll love Joe’s Toes; the only difficulty is which colour soles to choose!

  2. Nataliya

    Thank you for featuring me in your blog. And I hope you enjoyed herbal tea! It’s truly unique)

    1. Being Knitterly

      Hi Nataliya, the tea was lovely! I enjoyed seeing your stall. It reminded me of our visit to Lviv. After arriving, we wandered around the city centre and came across a craft market. People were selling woven and embroidered textiles, matryoshka, pysanky, carved wooden bowls and jewellery. It was fantastic to see traditional crafts still being to make things that are typical of Ukraine.