hurrah! woolfest weekend! We camped in Buttermere, on a lovely site, complete with herdwick sheep, chickens, and superb views of the fells.


And yes, there were moments of sunshine!

Woolfest was super. The atmosphere was really unpretentious and friendly and there was a wonderful range of things to look at and be inspired by: rare breed animals; spinning and weaving equipment; a fabulous variety of yarns and fleeces from small producers; and beautiful handmade objects from artists and craftspeople. I particularly liked Jane Cummins‘ unique bags — in which the smooth, pale surface of turned birch contrasts beautifully with the bright colours of fuzzy merino felt.

I have a soft spot for Alpacas, and the pair on show were particularly nice.


and here’s its lovely phizog:


There were also some super-curly mohair-producing goats from Crookabeck farm, which Tom suggested had a cremaster-like appearance.


And many examples of my favourite sheep – the Herdwick


they always look happy. I did try to get a pic of the lambs – both the herdwick and the almost bear-like (and very friendly) coloured ryeland…but they just wouldn’t stay still!

The laughing hens stall looked good enough to eat:


…and the colours at the house of hemp stand were wonderful:


I had set myself a purchasing limit, and (ye gods) actually stuck to it. First, I bought 600g of undyed grey shetland dk from Susan Russell at Woodpark Wool. Susan had a super range of different wools and wool-blends, all from her own flocks of rare-breed sheep.


It is exceptionally soft and springy and the fleece has a lovely subtle range of colours in it. This wool deserves some serious stitchwork to show it off at its best! Hence, I shall use it to fashion my own version of last autumn’s infamous Pringle yoked sweater which I intend to be a bit lighter, and even more swingy than the original.

I then went to the other end of the yarn spectrum and gravitated towards the gorgeous cobweb mohair from the natural dye studio.


This yarn is a glorious concoction – feather-light, unbelievably soft – quite delicious. The colour is much more mauve-y than in the picture. Really lovely. I have a little cap-sleeved top with picot edging and a lace panel in mind for it….

Really, it was something of an effort controlling myself at the natural dye studio stand – everything was so completely delectable. I had to mutter ‘Alpaca-silk sock yarn is UNNECESSARY’ several times to prevent my gathering up armfuls of the stuff. I noticed several other women had, like I, taken on a zombie-like appearance at this stand. Hands were reaching out automatically for the blue-faced leicester 4-ply, eyes glazing over at the silks and hazy mohairs. I swear I saw one of them salivating.


Finally, I came back down to earth with three balls of this cheerful stuff from the wonderful woolclip (for whom three cheers for organising such a fantastic show):


I looked at it, and it said “mittens” back to me.

We celebrated my purchases and toasted woolfest with a pint of Dickie Doodle at the Bitter End in Cockermouth.

On Sunday we climbed Haystacks, High Crag, and High Stile, with a damp and misty ridge walk inbetween. Heres the view west from Haystacks. Those ominous looking clouds dumped their contents on us minutes later. Still a great walk though – the fell architecture surrounding Buttermere, Ennerdale Water & Crummock Water is really quite spectacular.


3 thoughts on “woolfest!

  1. Also, I wanted to ask permission if you wouldn’t mind my posting a picture or two, especially of your Scotland Mountains (I may already, by accident, as I often search images on google)on my blog. My blog is not public searchable, only by invitation, and I would give you credits. I just love the photos you take, and well, they inspire me, and that is precisely what a blog should do for us. I would understand if you flatly say “NO!” … but I just love the mtn vistas you walk (past and future tense !). ~Jen ( )


  2. Kate, I am so in awe of your life ! Those Mountains !!! Oh my heavens, you, they, all of it… leave me dreaming of Scotland. I am in awe, yes, even though you are ~or maybe including that you are~ recovering from a stroke, and have so much inner beauty and intelligence, and so much grace. Grace could be one word that you personally invented! I know I may sound like a dream-struck American from far away. But as Yeats puts it “wandering through hilly lands and hollow lands until time and time is done”… well, that pretty much encapsulates my fascination with the mountains and the woods (in which I live), and you and I are so much the same this way, I can tell from your photographs. I wish I could send you some photos of my mountains. I suppose you could peek into my blog, which isn’t near as artful as yours, and heck, I don’t use such a nice camera, and put plenty of junk in my blog, but I really would like you to see the mtns I am from. Actually, the header for my blog was taken outside of our house, on the back deck, facing NorthWest, toward the upper Napa Valley, oh, about St. Helena , CA. Anyway, I am continueing to peruse over your blog, as the morning hours wane. Much Love to you on this lovely April morning, Jen from Mt Veeder CA.


  3. i love all the pictures and the links and the animals and the tale of your walks. and nearly screamed when i saw mushy peas on the menu of the bitter end.
    but smoked haddock and leek pie as well as dickie doodle sounds very damn good.


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