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  1. For the past couple of years Teri has organised an annual woolly event in our home town of Oswestry. Wonderful Wool Day started as a biannual do, in a deconsecrated chapel. We quickly outgrew that home, and to be frank it was a little chilly even with all that fluff about. The last two have been held in Oswestry’s Memorial Hall, which is much warmer, and can hold more in the way of stalls and workshops.

    2016’s WWD was a corker, and it really feels like this could become something special for a lot more people, let’s face it for the core group of helpers and attendees it already is pretty special.  We spent a bit more time looking for yarn artists and textile creatives to take a table at the hall, to show off what they’re making. As a lot of these kinds of shows are very large and quite expensive, it is a huge undertaking for the home-experimenter to produce enough stock to look good at such an event, let alone cover the costs of the stall, the display, travel, accommodation and food. We’re aiming to run a show that will enable first-timers to have a go without breaking the bank or inducing a nervous breakdown! The day coincides with a much wider weekend event in the town - Oswestry Makes! This is a festival of textile creativity, with an exhibition in our local library and displays, workshops and demonstrations throughout the whole town.

    On Sunday morning we set up as usual, our friends helping out by running the kitchen, baking cakes to sell and taking money at the door (what we would do without KnitClub I don’t know!). This year was a bit special though as Teri and I set up our first WWD Ewe & Ply stand. Our beautiful Shropshire Ply went on show for its second outing, and we had more of Sam’s highly desirable drop spindles, as well as our felting kits and fleece tops selection packs. As ever the Orphan Lamb table filled quickly with de-stashed yarn for sale or swaps, so many temptations there.

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    We had some impressive guests, including Cauldron of Colour with beautiful hand-dyed yarns; Gemmipops Designs with her laser cut jewellery alongside crochet kits, hooks and buttons; Hilda Fix from Valley Arts and Crafts with hand-produced crocheted garments, and Linda Thomas and her gorgeous hand-spun, hand dyed yarns (we have some of these for sale in the shop, worth checking out in person as we can’t list them on the website).

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    We were busy all day, and there was a definite and happy hum of people deep in discussions. The tables set out for the tea-takers and cake-eaters were filled all day as people chose to stay and work on the WIPs whilst they sampled the home baking. Whirring spinning wheels gave an extra layer of contented noise. Our yarn sold well, and again received some lovely compliments, and best of all we have started to hear what people have been doing with it. No finished garments as yet, do let us know if you have  one.

    We packed up around 4pm, a little reluctantly- no one likes to leave a good party. We did well enough on the door to ensure we can do it again next year. So, if you’re a budding fibre creative, or a wood worker developing your own range of crochet hooks, or a dyer, weaver, spinner, whatever, and you fancy testing the retail waters, email us and add yourself to the list for next year’s Wonderful Wool Day, let’s make it even better!

    Our next adventure will be StitchFest in Totnes on November 5th and 6th, in Totnes Civic Hall. Shropshire Ply will be there in all it's glory, do come along and let us know what you think of it.

    Toodle-pip!

    Becca

  2.  

    Last month we took our little shop on a Grand Outing, and ran a stand at Yarndale. We organised for good friend, and fellow wool-worrier, Trish to mind things at home whilst Teri and I, and another yarn fiend and best buddy Rachell, packed two vans with a huge amount of stuff and set off up the M6 to Yorkshire.

    That wasn’t really the starting point. As you will know, Dear Reader, we had the astonishingly good idea of producing our own yarn, and it was to be the key feature of our Yarndale display. We left this story back in July after we had dropped the fleeces off at the Halifax spinning Mill, where we were told it would be spun in plenty of time, and we’d get it well in advance of the show. Well, the best laid plans of mice and ladies in a hurry never do run smooth, and we had a number of slight hiccups. The upshot of which was that we finally got our hands on our beautiful new yarn about 10 days before Yarndale! So there it was, in massive, unruly hanks in Teri’s car, no ball bands, and very little time to deal with that as the printers were running close to the wire because we hadn’t been able to give them accurate yardage and tension information any earlier.

    untamed skeins

    It’s at times like that that you find out who your friends are. Teri and I met at a knitting group, which eventually coalesced into a strong set of good friends. We meet every Friday night for KnitClub, and we are there for each other. These fine people stepped up to the plate for us, and helped out hugely.

    Bonnie, Vicky and Trish joined Teri and I for an impromptu Knit Night a few days before the show. We spent a happy evening attaching to ball bands to hanks that we had tamed into relatively well-behaved skeins. Teri says there is still an awful lot of sheep in our yarn, and there is definitely more than a touch of Boss Girl in each skein. I should also tell you that this same group of people were fundamental in naming each of our colours, and very good names they are indeed- you must check them out on the website!

    So, skeins under control, new racks delivered, no time to have a dry run, we were off up the motorway. I confess there was a moment when, having packed the yarns, the patterns, the various props and accoutrements, Teri brought out her very modest weekend bag, and I wasn’t sure I was going to get her in!

    Then the Skipton Auction Mart hove into view, and the next phase began. As I had traded at Yarndale as Alterknitive since the beginning, we had decided to split the stand between Alterknitive and Ewe & Ply. As Rachell and I set out the latter, Teri got cracking with the woolly side of things. As you can see, she did a cracking job.

    empty stall                       shropshire ply at yarndale2016Teri at yarndale 2016

    Saturday was an incredibly busy day, we barely had time to breathe, let alone visit any other stands. Our yarn reviewed some lovely attention, and the colours were very positively commented on, a great relief I can tell you. I think I do speak for both of us when I say that I felt an enormous surge of pride seeing our very own yarn, with its own real back story, hanging on its rack in all its glory. Sunday was a little calmer, and we did get a chance to catch up with some lovely people, and maybe spend a little pocket money ;)

    Now we’re back in our woolly corner of Shrewsbury, and Shropshire Ply is on sale in the shop and on line, and we can settle down for a little while. Not for very long though, first we have Wonderful Wool Day, and then it’ll be StitchFest in Totnes! We’ll let you know how we get on.

    Toodle-pip!

    Becca.