The St Abbs Wool Festival has moved to a new and more spacious venue in Eyemouth, which means that there is room for a few new faces in the sales halls, as well as the regulars such as ourselves. There will also be a new room especially for demonstrations and exhibitions..
Jennie Howes who organises the festival with her husband Steve says
"All of our stall holders live and work either in the Scottish Borders, Northumberland or the Lothians - a distinct geographical region. Since picking up the baton for organising the festival in 2013 I’ve become aware of the number of outstanding professional craft workers in this region and feel that St Abbs Wool Festival should be about promoting their talents and helping to stimulate long term relationships between craft workers and craft enthusiasts.
Some of the stall holders, including myself, are also part of the Sheep Tales project and as such we get involved in lots of different wool events in the region. We know that working as a group helps to raise the profile of all the individual members as well as the general awareness of the importance of the woollen industry to our rural areas, particularly in the north of England and Southern Scotland.
In light of this, for this autumn’s St Abbs Wool Festival in November, we have invited the Wool Clip from Cumbria to come across the Pennines, from west to east, as a wool craft cultural exchange. This group of wool crafters are the longstanding co-operative who organise the well renowned Wool Fest in Cockermouth and, like the Sheep Tales crafters, are absolutely invested in the importance of wool to their region.
I will be posting photos and more information over the next couple of weeks on the St Abbs Wool Festival face book page."
Here is the exhibitor list for November 5th 2016
Gill Curwen from Bapple and JoJo. Gill is a rag rug maker working as she says, in “the unusual art of the Standing Wool or Quilly Rug”. She is one of a very small number of crafters specialising in this technique in the UK, indeed in the world! She uses only sustainable and ethically sourced materials and transforms them into unique, contemporary items for the home.
Su Boyd from Big Knitting North is making a welcome re-appearance. Big Knitting North has, over the last year, established itself in Northumberland selling supplies at local wool festivals, running “pop up” shops in local craft shops, hosting “have a go” sessions for community groups and doing kids (and big kids!!) parties. So if you would like to run something in your home, community centre, the local pub your craft shop/cafe ...…wherever you want to knit..... just get in touch! Su says “This is knitting and crochet for the impatient!! It's fun, fast and definitely different…it’s knitting but not as you know it!!”
Anna Turnbull from Biteabout Arts creates delicate and ephemeral hand felted wraps and scarves, hats, bags and vessels. She also works in willow and sometimes mixes the two media to create the most amazing sculptures! Anna will be leading a workshop at the festival too - more information in the workshop section below!
Lindsay Roberts aka The Border Tart and Blue Moon Indigo, loves all things blue. She will be bringing a range of her dyed yarns, from lace weight to chunky, luxury silk and yak, to merino with sparkles. British wool fibre batts, packs of wool locks, dyed silk hankies and threads for embroidery and crewel work. Wood, mother of pearl and coconut shell buttons in abundance and bright coloured sari silk scraps and ribbons too.
Bright Seed Textiles - we'll be there selling our needle felted Harris Tweed "paintings, prints and greetings cards. Jane will also be demonstrating rag rugging. Please come and say hello.
Laura Brittain is a designer, feltmaker and teacher. She designs and makes bold and vibrantly coloured hand felted rugs, cushions, bags and baby bootees.
Marlene Brown sock knitter extraordinaire will be on hand to answer al your questions about knitting on four needles! She will also have an enormous pile of hand knitted socks in all sizes from the teeniest tiny newborn baby to the biggest man foot you can imagine! Fingerless mittens in a myriad colours are also available. Marlene will commission knit for you too - in the yarn of your choice, don’t be shy - ask her for that special pair of socks!
Sandra Nicol & Craig Finlayson from Chandlers, a recent start up woolly business in North Berwick, are also new to the St Abbs Wool Festival. Both Sandra and Craig have an eye for colour and have started dyeing luxury yarns in a stunning range of naturally inspired colours. The coast and landscape of East Lothian is evident in their beautiful palette.
Cobweb Knitwear, Mavis Clark, Shetland lace and Gansey designer and knitter will be taking part. Mavis is part of the Sheep Tales group of crafters and regularly holds workshops to teach this intricate discipline. Mavis will be holding a workshop at the wool festival - an introduction to Shetland lace knitting.
Eve Studd from Cornhill Crafts is a bit of a whirlwind crafter - she seems to be so good at making so many things! She will be selling: plant dyed wool, handmade paper, dye plants, eco printed silk scarves, hand woven bags, solar dye kits and peg loom mats. She will also have gift vouchers available for her workshops - the list is very long but includes: weaving on a Brinkley or peg loom, plant dyeing, eco printing onto paper or fabrics, shibori and rust printing…
Sue Shaw from Ewetreecraft will be selling a wide and varied display of her original and humorous needle felted wool sculptures and framed pictures.
Janis Embleton from Flight Weaving will be demonstrating at her table loom. Janis creates beautiful hand-woven items in luxurious fibres to suit all pockets, from sophisticated silk scarves and wraps for a special occasion, to tweedy wool notebooks and key-rings. All of Janis’ fabrics can be made to commission for that extra touch of individuality and exclusiveness. Janis also holds regular workshops at her studio in Swinton.
Karen Burn from Hunting Hall will be coming back to St Abbs again. Hunting Hall’s Pure Northumbrian Organic wool is a knitting yarn from their award winning wildlife friendly farm. Spun by a small mill, to 4 ply, dk and aran weights, the yarns are certified by the Soil Association through GOTS, the Gobal Organic Textile Standard. Alongside the organic yarns, there are patterns and kits available. New this year is a rare-breed Teeswater undyed creamy white yarn from their flock of handsome Teeswater sheep.
Eta Ingham Lawrie has been exhibiting her beautiful woven hangings internationally and leading workshops and classes for a very long time! They are always fresh, inspirational and you can’t help but want to touch them! Eta also makes beautiful “woolovers”, scarves, dolls etc. She always brings along a loom and weaves during the festival, so come and see her working.
Natural Born Dyers are another regular face at St Abbs. Jon says he uses natural dyes to produce a range of colours and shades on high quality yarns and fibres, with the emphasis on using British wool in the core range. He is also a wood turner and makes wooden tools for spinners and knitters, having designed the “Spurtzleur” which he describes as the easiest spinning tool to use!
Another newcomer to the St Abbs Wool Festival is Jane Hall from Pinkminis. Jane is an amazing designer/maker tailoress, making ladies clothing and accessories in wonderful wool using, amongst others fabrics by Lovat Mill and Andrew Elliot - from right here in the Scottish Borders and Harris Tweed. The items she makes are highly wearable and practical with a wee edge to make you stand out. They really are gorgeous!
Skybluepink Designs - Jennie Howes sells an eclectic range of woolly goodies and notions for knitting and crocheting. Jennie will also be promoting her new workshop schedule, so if you fancy getting up to some woolly fun, just pick up a brochure!
Alice Elsworth from Whistlebare will be selling luxury knitting and crochet yarns from her flock of Angora Goats and Wensleydale Sheep, which are kept at the family farm in North Northumberland. The yarn is worsted spun in Yorkshire and then dyed by hand on the farm. Whistlebare also produces original, contemporary knitting and crochet patterns.
Heather Waldron from Whistletop is a designer and maker of machine knit Fairisle-patterned sweaters. She began making them professionally over 30 years ago when living on the Isle of Skye. She says that after moving to the Borders, raising her family took priority, but she began to miss the smell of wool, the sound of the machine and the feeling of creating garments which people would enjoy wearing. She began selling sweaters again two years ago. Her garments are made from pure Shetland wool, hand framed on a knitting machine and sewn together by hand. She makes to order too!
The Wool Clip is an award-winning co-operative, formed shortly after the foot and mouth epidemic in 2001 – to promote and add value to local wool. There are currently 14 members, all based in Cumbria. They say, "Between us, we grow it, sew it, spin, weave and dye it, knit, crochet and felt it, hook with it, tuft with it and stuff with it. Our work focuses on colour and creativity and our aim is to share our enthusiasm for all things woollen. Our products are wide ranging from the smallest little brooches and key rings to larger garments and rugs. We have a wide selection of wonderful wool too - either coming from Cumbrian sheep (often our own flocks!) and/or beautifully dyed by members."
Gilleoin Finlay Coull from Woolrush Yarns describes herself as a craftsman in wool, who is inspired by fibre and the colours and shapes of the natural world. Gill will be bringing her hand spun yarns, patterns, shawls, accessories, hand made Dorset buttons and Fibre Gems jewellery.
George and Louise from Yarn Garden create hand dyed yarns in solid, semi-solid and variegated colourways focusing on fine yarns - cobweb, lace weight and 4 ply. The dyeing process at Yarn Garden is focused on minimal impact on the environment, using non-toxic dyes and mordants. Yarn Garden also sell kits for knitting, crochet and weaving, plus a great selection of hand picked wool craft books.
As you can see from the above poster, the very popular, twice a year St Abbs Wool Festival is moving to Eyemouth on Saturday November the 5th.
We will be taking part, but I know Jennie is still finalising the final line up of makers and woolly artisans. As I understand it there is going to be a lot more room, so Jennie is also hoping to organise some half day workshops.
You can get a taste of what the event is ;likely to be like by having a read about the exhibitors who took part in this year's April event. at www.skybluepink-designs.com
You can also follow the event on facebook
St Abbs is a really lovely place and of I very, very fond of it. But Eyemouth has a brilliant Italian fish & chip shop called Giacopazzis which also sells homemade ice cream. So although I am a bit sad that the event is leaving St Abbs I shall endeavour to make the best of it, if I can decide what flavour to have.
My pictures are created from needle felted Harris Tweed collages and I've been collecting Harris Tweed and yarns to use in my work for about 10 years now.
Harris Tweed - I have been up to visit Harris and Lewis and I can strongly recommend a visit to the Harris Tweed Warehouse at Tarbet on Harris. The warehouse is 5 minutes from the where the ferry lands and I bought £400 worth of tweed within half an hour of being on the island!
You can also by Harris Tweed online readily enough online, either in small pieces or by the metre. I buy my tweed by the metre as I use so much of it. Also as it's hand woven, if I really like a particular pattern or colour, I make sure I buy a few metres as it may never be woven again. I tend to buy my tweeds from www.harristweedisleofharris.co.uk and www.harristweedhebrides.com I also buy direct from weavers and I share the posts of a couple of weavers on my facebook page when they have new tweed to sell via facebook.
Wool Yarns - All the details in my pictures are added in wool yarn and all the rough edges on each individual piece of tweed are also edged in wool yarn. Everything is needle felted into place by hand with no stitching.
I have built up a fair old stash of different coloured yarns and I am pretty fussy about what I use. My all time favourite yarn is called "Iro" made by Noro. This is a fabulous, really chunky, multi-coloured wool and silk yarn, which has very sadly been discontinued. I also use a fair bit of various weight Debbie Bliss Tweed Aran wool yarns.
The colours I really struggle to get are very pale greys, which I use quite a lot to edge clouds and waves on the sea. I need something that is very chunky and not too white, as a strong white is too bright and doesn't look very natural when I get my pictures scanned for creating prints and cards. I did have some very nice extra chunky Debbie Bliss yarn, but I've nearly run out now.
So I decided to get my friend Jennie Howes of Sky Blue Pink Designs to hand spin some yarn to my exact requirements and it is just perfect for the job. I bought some light grey Suffolk and some light grey Shetland fleece at Woolfest and Jennie has spun some lovely chunky yarn for me. The Shetland is a slightly warmer colour than the Suffolk, which is great because the cooler Suffolk recedes slightly when I use both yarns together. Unfortunately you can't really see this effect from my photo above, but I am well chuffed with the results.
I would strongly recommend commissioning your own yarn, if you just can't get exactly what you want commercially. Or I suppose you could learn to spin yourself. Unfortunately I just can't get the hang of it and I'd rather leave it to a professional like Jennie.
Both Jennie and I will be at Yarndale at Skipton in a few weeks. So if you're there please come and have a chat. We'll be on stand 164 near the Littondale Entrance cafe and Jennie will be on stand 152 near the Lairage cafe.
I am a Northumberland based textile artist and I create needle felted paintings with Harris Tweed and wool yarns.