Cast On visits the British Wool Show

Written by Vanessa

The British Wool Show was founded by June Onigbanjo to support the Campaign For Wool and the British Textile Industry, whilst bringing together a community of yarners, farmers, spinners, and weavers all under one roof (or field!).

Cast On received an invite, so we sent one of our best knitters, Liz, to visit the British Wool Show on the 10th-11th August 2018. It was her first time attending the show, which was held at York Auction Centre in Murton on the outskirts of the city, easily reached via the shuttle bus transportation provided. Here’s what we got up to…

Show-goers were greeted warmly with an outdoor display, as the entrance had been yarn-bombed with gigantic pom poms dangling from the leafy green surrounding trees. Knitted streamers and bunting decorated the path leading the way to the show, in a woolly celebration.

Once inside, we were met with a huge array of stalls displaying beautifully arranged fibre bundles and an abundance of hand-spun yarns. Stalls also sold patterns, notions, and a miscellany of woollen gifts. Spinning, weaving, and looming demonstrations were taking place throughout the day, from exhibitors such as The Spinner’s Stash, The Threshing Barn, and the York Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. Charities were present too, such as the Women’s Institute, who promote crafts(wo)manship, and St Nicks, who run an Eco-Crafters Club.

We got speaking to indie dyer Emily Bannister of the hand-dyed luxury brand, Rhapsodye Yarns, who Liz had previously met at the Spring Into Wool festival in Leeds earlier this year. We discussed the nuance of buying yarn versus making things with yarn – as it turns out, the difference is not-so-subtle! Emily explained that she never asks her customers what they are planning to make with the yarn they buy because more often than not they have fallen in love with the vibrant, bold colours and are simply feeding their (often overflowing) yarn stash.

We spent the most time at the Coastal Colours stall, which sold yarn in an assortment of different blends that had been hand-dyed in spectacular colourways. The skeins were made from a range of rare and luxurious fibres, including camel, alpaca, silk, and wool – we couldn’t resist giving the bundles of skeins a big cuddle!

We also caught up with indie dyer, spinner, and self-confessed fibre enthusiast, Siobhan, owner of Siobhan’s Crafts. She was selling a quirky range of pop-culture themed mini skein sets, so we bought an Adventure Time bundle containing six skeins each representing a different character– a blue, green and white gradient skein carried Fin’s spirit for adventure, and a purple and yellow skein housed the aura of Lumpy Space Princess’s nasally sarcasm. There were also miniature loom necklace kits available, which, once woven, allow you to wear your stripy fabric creation proudly on a chain.

Lastly, no visit is complete without witnessing a performance from the Sheep Show Man and his Woolly Friends! They gave a live educational demonstration of the different breeds of sheep and the many blends of yarn that can be spun from their fleeces, allowing the audience to touch their fibres and feel for themselves.

We came home with one skein in a gorgeous autumnal blend of red, orange, and teal, plus three skeins of an un-dyed natural grey sheep’s wool, and we even got to meet the sheep it came from! Now’s the show’s over, it’s time for us to get busy knitting… See you there next year!