What a Wonderwool it was

Fibre fans from all over the UK, as well as visitors from Europe, Australia, Canada and the United States flocked to the ancient market town of Builth Wells for this year’s Wonderwool Wales (April 23 and 24.)

The annual extravaganza celebrating Welsh and British wool and natural fibres also showcased products and textile techniques and traditions from across the globe, packing out three halls at the Royal Welsh Showground.

As the event has grown, to accommodate 220 stalls selling quality wares, so too has its international reputation. Now in its twelfth year, featuring workshops, demonstrations and fascinating textile exhibits, this year’s show attracted well over 5000 visitors, including a hen party and a group of 13 fibre enthusiasts from Ontario who planned their trip to the area to coincide with the show.

A participant in the Mapuche weaving Woolschool. Photo: John Teale

Contributing to the international flavour, there was the unique opportunity to learn about Mapuche spinning and weaving from two experienced weavers from Chile. They demonstrated their traditional skills on añañuca’s stand throughout the two days of the show, helping añañuca to win one of the show’s “best stall” prizes. On other stalls, visitors could also learn about Saori weaving, which originated in Japan and buy beautiful Qaria Cashmere fibres and yarns from Afghanistan; artisan products from the Ukraine; tribal textiles from China; clothing made with textiles from Africa; textiles and clothes from Asia and recycled yarns from India and Nepal.

Liz Beasley, from añañuca led two Woolschool workshops teaching the art of Mapuche weaving and other Woolschools included Bee Weir showing how to spin yarn using a traditional Mayan technique. There were more topics, too, from perfect plying to beautiful beading and daring design. For felting enthusiasts, there was talented needle felt artist, illustrator and sculptor Jenny Barnett showing Woolschool participants how to sculpt wool fleece into a charming little spring lamb. Pat Johnson led a Woolschool teaching a quick and easy way to make 3D wet felt pods and the seeds to fit into the pod.

Knitting poppies at Wondrwool Wales Photo: John Teale

Community collaboration was a real feature of this year’s show. In Hall 3, decorated by metres of yarn graffiti created by more than 140 knitters and crochet and craft enthusiasts, there was the chance to take part in the show’s latest community textile project. Visitors were invited to make a poppy to contribute to the total of 887,858 needed for a ‘Curtain of Poppies’, an installation at Wonderwool Wales 2018 to mark the centenary of the end of the Great War and to commemorate each person from the UK who died serving their country.

Costumer re-enactors promoting the “Curtain of Poppies” appeal on the Sheepwalk. Photo: John Teale

Costumed re-enactors and Curtain of Poppies at Wonderwool Wales Photo: John Teale

By the end of the show, the poppy count stood at just under a thousand but thousands more are needed! Individuals and textile groups are being encouraged to crochet, knit and create lengths of poppies. Instructions and details are available on the show website and include several different patterns; a crochet design, two different knitting patterns and there’s even instructions for weaving a poppy.

The woven poppies are lovely and easy to do and they’re a great way to get children involved too.

Contributions are needed by the end of December, with details of where to send your completed poppies to at the bottom of the Wonderwool information page.

Time to break out the red and black acrylic me thinks?

For more details visit www.wonderwoolwales.co.uk  Like Wonderwool Wales Ltd on Facebook or follow on Twitter @wonderwoolwales

Photos used with kind permission from John Teale