Saturday, 6 August 2016

Fibre East 2016

First of all, I just want to say what a fantastic time I had at Fibre East this year. I have never been before but it is definitely going on my list of events to visit every year. I decided to take my mum along as she loves creativity but hasn’t discovered the joy of fibre just yet. Fibre East is based in Bedfordshire, a short taxi or bus ride from Flitwick station which is easily accessible from London. It is based in a beautiful school with large grounds providing perfect outside space to take a break from yarn overload.

The event was split into separate areas, each named after a breed of sheep – Jacob, Leicester, Romney, Shetland, Cotswold and Herdwick. As I wandered around, it was lovely to see happy yarnfolk milling about with lots of yarny goodness in their bags. Each section was full to brimming with stunning yarn from pastels to glittery to variegated colourways of every possible combination. Interspersed between the skeins were spinning wheels, looms and bundles of fluff and multiple other kits and tools. I don’t think I have ever seen so many spinning wheels in one place in my life! And the casual ease with which they were used was awe inspiring. 

My first stop on my pre-planned tour was Shetland, an area specifically for guilds. If you’re not in a guild, I would definitely recommend joining one. If you want to know why guilds are a good idea, let me describe my journey into ‘Shetland’. Within seconds of entering the front door, my mum was whisked off by a lady to try rag rugging while I was enticed to by the North Herts Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers (WSD) to try the shiny 8 shaft loom sitting on their nearest table. I think they may have noticed me staring at it longingly haha. I was shown how to move the shafts to create various pattern wefts and then completed one repeat of a pattern I forgot to ask the name of, I think it had rosepath mentioned in it somewhere. I was then pulled away by mum to watch a machine knitting demonstration by the Guild of Machine Knitters. Their shiny machine created rows and rows of stitches with such speed! Far more elegant than the machine sitting forlornly in my home. Like the WSD Guild, I was provided lots of advice, not only freely given but also with a true passion for the subject. It has also helped solve the mystery of why my knitting machine doesn’t work which was a huge relief. Each guild member had a badge with their Ravelry username on it so you can find like minds on the website. After their summer breaks, I am planning to visit a WSD guild and the machine knitting guild so I can further my very basic knowledge. After another chat with the Bedfordshire Guild of WSD, Mum and I headed out the door to the rest of the show and lots of yarn!
 Amidst the sea of skeins and balls of yarn, I spotted the above sign. Great advertising for the stall and also wonderfully creative. Just below this were a mother and daughter duo who were teaching spinning on a spindle and spinning wheel to show how the lovely fluff could be used from their stall. Have to admit I was a bit mesmerised by all the colours and how casually they chatted to customers while spinning.
Its difficult to describe quite how much there was to see. Each section of Fibre East was full of different products and I think there was something for everyone. For me as a beginner spinner and weaver, it was great to have an event that didn’t have such a heavy emphasis on knitting and crochet as there are plenty of shows out there for those already.

During our wander around I of course had to buy a few things…. Each purchase came from one of the many independent small businesses on show.

Grendel Yarn from Hooligan Yarns

Grendels CV,

The above yarn came from a tiny smallholding based in Nottinghamshire run by a lady called Di. Each ball from Hooligan Yarns is spun from a single sheep and comes with a card introducing you to that sheep and their personality. My yarn was from Grendel, a very handsome sheep and this direct knowledge of the origin of the yarn will make the end project that I make from it very special. Also, while I was browsing and choosing what to buy, Di’s mum taught mine the basics of knitting and she’s been doing a little bit every day since. It is this gesture and that of the next stallholder that made the day special and gave the event such a welcoming feel. It also shows you never know where or how your creative journey might begin.

My next purchase was a pretty turquoise drop spindle that came with two types of fluff to spin.

From Wild Craft, the spindle is light and with a little practice, easy to use. Noticing my interest in their stall, I was given a free lesson in how to use it and how to pull out the fluff into yarn using a method called Park and Draft. After a good ten minutes of learning, I happily purchased a spindle and can’t wait to get started with it and see what I can make.

All in all, Fibre East was a fantastic experience and I cannot wait to attend next year. As I gain confidence in my new hobbies, I am looking forward to visiting more and more events like this around the UK with my next planned event being the Great London Yarn Crawl in September ( More on that soon! 

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