Woolfest 2012 is only four weeks away (Friday 22 and Saturday 23 June) and now in its eighth year, it is set to beat last year’s record level of visitors.
The venue at Mitchell’s Cockermouth has been expanded this year to accommodate over 160 stalls.
“Many of our regular designers, makers and suppliers will be at Woolfest again for what has become a highlight of the wool craft year,” says Marion Woolcott, one of the organisers, “but there will be over 25 businesses with us for the first time this year too.”
The organising team are working hard to ensure that rare breed fleece animals take centre stage, especially their role in conservation grazing and the value of their quality fleece.
“The animals have always been a highlight of Woolfest and we’re keen to emphasise the connection between the animal with the wool,” says Jan Hicks, who is responsible for the animals and the fleece sale at Woolfest. “The new space and layout at Mitchell’s means that we can spread out a bit and make more of this side of the event.”
“Cathy Cassie will be with us, demonstrating her shearing skills and also talking about her work as a Conservation Grazing Manager. The involvement of Peter Titley and the Rare Breed Survival Trust in our parades of rare breed animals also gives us an opportunity to let people know more about the threat to many of our traditional animals – and we’ll have cashmere goats at Woolfest for the first time this year too.”
Wolves in sheep’s clothing
There will also be several dogs – made of felted wool – on display. This year’s recipient of the Carolyn Rawlinson Memorial Stall (in memory of the Wool Clip member who first suggested Woolfest) is Joss Wrigg from Allendale in Northumberland. Joss works with raw and dyed fleece to create felted animal sculptures and her latest work, a series of dogs, as well as several Beatrix Potter characters, will be on display at Woolfest.
“I love creating recognisable forms – and even personalities – from a mass of fleece,” says Joss. “With the dogs, I wanted to capture the essence of “dog”, how they are so familiar and complex at the same time. And there is the added irony of wolves in sheep’s clothing.”
Visitors will also see some surprising recreations of works of art in A Grand Tour, famous sculptures and artworks recreated in wool by members of The Materialistics, a group of artists and craftswomen from the Northeast.
“We have been trying to get The Materialistics’ work to Woolfest over the past few years,” explains Marion, “and several Wool Clip members have seen their regular exhibition each November at the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching show. This year, the pieces are easily transported so it has been possible to have a selection of them at Woolfest including Van Gogh’s Sunflowers and The Scream.”
Woolfest 2012 takes over Mitchell’s Lakeland Livestock Centre in Cockermouth on Friday 22 and Saturday 23 June, opening from 10am until 6pm on Friday and 5pm on Saturday.
Entry is just £6 with accompanied children free.
Directions and details can be found at www.woolfest.co.uk or on the event’s Facebook page or by calling The Wool Clip at Caldbeck on 016974 78707 during shop hours.
Cumbria Tourist Awards
Woolfest has been shortlisted in the Tourism Event category of the Cumbria Tourism Awards 2012 – result to be announced on the evening of Thursday 24 May.
The event is organised by members of Woolclip with help from over 100 volunteers.
The Wool Clip is a Cumbria-based cooperative of sheep farmers, spinners, dyers, knitters, feltmakers, weavers and other wool workers with a thriving shop at The Priest’s Mill in Caldbeck. It was set up in 2001 to add value to local wool and to market members’ skills and products and members of The Wool Clip established Woolfest in June 2005.