Monday, July 02, 2007

woolfest and water, water and woolfest

First, the weather watch section (unfortunately, not a patch on The Iceland Weather Report, but hey). The expected deluge just pretty much, comparatively, tinkled down - so all that nervous anticipation, all that 'blitz spirit' (and I'm never quite sure what to think about that phrase), came to naught. And though it is raining, and thundering right now, the worst of the threat is hopefully over. Which is good - for people are still underwater around the country. And much as the flooding here has been a tragedy for many people, we were relatively lucky. Nothing like the regular flooding in Bangladesh, or the current floods in Pakistan, or what happened after Hurricane Katrina.

But the 'best' news? Decimate can come out to play. For it seems that in Hull, the housing stock, both public and private, was decimated by the flood (though the council wimped out, and just went for the measly 1 in 10!).

But you all want to know about Woolfest. Unfortunately, my official photographer, Hiding Pup, had volunteered to stay at home, and pup the flood barricades (well, and there is no way I was going to be sharing a tent with him - friendship only goes so far). So, really, no pictures (though many of the same people, and animals, were there, so last year's pictures will do - the early July posts. And some of those animals are such regulars, that I swear the minute they see a camera, they start primping and preening, and checking that their locks are in place. Yes, I'm talking about you, the Crookabeck Angoras.)

Well, there was the camping - with Woolly Wormhead and her mother, Gloria, and her aunt, Paula. Fibre people all. And camping people, which is even better, for they brought the goods, the equipment, the tents, and even put up my tent for me! (I, however, arrived with 5 packs of ground coffee, wine, beer, bananas, the largest, thickest duvet around, and 36 kit-kats. I know what my priorities are.) The campsite, Graysonside, is stunning - and comfortable (actual hot, properly hot water in the showers, and cleaner that my own bathroom).

There were people to talk with, into the early hours of the morning - when fellow campers Babylonglegs and Yoshimi came a calling. And Wye Sue dropped by with her spinning wheel. And no, we did not accidentally set fire to a cardboard box in an attempt to keep warm.

There were knit-bloggers to meet (and of course I can't remember their names), and fibres to fondle. There were spinning wheels breeding (nothing else can explain how every time I turned around, there seemed to be more), and people to convert to sock knitting. There were old friends to see - those on the KCG stand, and those on KCG Trading (fortunately they seem to remember me from year to year, which is helpful, as each year I forget my membership card). And, of course, the Jamiesons stand. Which was visited many, many times. Well, they brought a lot with them, and you didn't want to make them carry it all home again, so it was only polite to walk away with a kilo (or 2 or 3 or more), of their yarn.

There were books to buy - Terri Shea's 'Selbuvotter: Biography of a Knitting Tradition', Priscilla A. Gibson-Roberts' 'Ethnic Socks and Stockings', and Veronica Gainford's 'Designs for Knitting Kilt Hose', because I am having an historical moment. (Gloriously, Gainford has her own set of knitting abbreviations, taken from a Victorian, Edinburgh published knitting book. Now I'm fine on 'O', and 'T', but do you know what 'A', 'Ts', 'P', or 'B' stand for?*) There was just a little bit of new and exciting wool to buy - just a little bit of Wensleydale, and a couple of balls of Teeswater, because we need to keep the variety of sheep breeds alive. There was one incredibly dumb purchase. Not because it isn't beautiful, and soft, and gorgeous, and a deep, rich, very animal alive brown colour, and not because the family selling it weren't lovely (come, visit the ranch, we've got room, and beer, and Texan B-B-Q), and not because it isn't always fascinating to see what a different fibre is like. But it was hideously expensive. A single skein of Buffalo Gold sock yarn - enough to make one (yes, just one) adult anklet sock. Or something else, I am sure. Perhaps something framed, behind glass, with an alarm system, to prevent theft, 'cos it ain't called buffalo gold for nothing.

My overall impressions of Woolfest 2007. Socks, spinning and felting. Gone were the innumberable hanks of variegated lace-weight which were everywhere last year. Up was the amount of roving to be had. And weaving is creeping in with just a little bit more strength. There is still a little bit of an issue with a couple of places vastly underpricing their goods - a stall may be showcasing an organisation, but when a delicately smocked child's coat dress, in hand spun, and two colours, is selling for only £35, or a beautiful, tiny, knitted and beaded purse sells for £10, it impacts on all those who are trying to make a living from their craft. But overall, Woolfest goes from strength to strength, and the members of Woolclip are keeping a close watch on the feel and identity of their festival.

And I leave you with a photo of my last purchase. A few stones from the Cumbrian felt wall (being sold for charity). Who could resist taking home a bit of dry stone walling, especially when being sold by a young girl, whose pitch includes telling you how they are 'safe stones to throw, because they won't break any windows, because they aren't actually real'. And because I wanted to see what the cats would do to them. (So far, the stones are still intact, but they have been sniffed, prodded, sat out, scent-marked, and are currently being ignored.)

And I'll see you all at Woolfest 2008.

* O - yarn over
T - knit two together
A - slip stitch, knit two together, pass slipped stitch over
Ts - slip stitch, knit 1, pass slipped stitch over
P - plain stitch (knit)
B - purl stitch