Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Small, but perfectly formed - the third North Pennines Wool Event

The North Pennines Wool Group held its third North Pennines Wool Event on Friday 28th September in Upper Weardale, County Durham.  The small community of St John's Chapel was buzzing as the Wool Event, held in the village's two halls, both situated on the village green, coincided with the North of England Mule Sheep Association gimmer lamb sale at the neighbouring mart.  Farmers and woolly folk rubbed shoulders as the village thronged with people.  

A wonderfully warm and friendly atmosphere pervaded as several hundred people flocked to the wool event, which managed to provide something for everyone.  Highlights included demonstrations of various forms of spinning – domestic spinning wheels, great wheel spinning (with Richard Proud of Fleece to Yarn), drop spindling and 'spurtzler' spinning (courtesy of Jon Booker, Natural Born Dyers), together with demonstrations of natural dyeing (Ruth Hicken), sculptural needlefelt with the renowned artist Joss Wrigg, table loom weaving (Jan Beadle), peg loom weaving (Nickie Kirkby of Eden Gotlands) and wet felted bracelets (Ellie Langley, Fleece with Altitude).  In addition a selection of remarkably calm and friendly sheep penned on the village green entertained the visitors.

A competition to design and make a sheep from British wool was judged by celebrated children’s author and fine artist, Kim Lewis.  Kim is herself a former sheep farmer. Sheep of all breeds and woolly techniques arrived to take part in the competition, the winning entry being a sheep of indeterminate breed, but largely knitted from local Gotland wool. In addition the North Pennines shepherd and poet Josephine Dickinson gave poetry readings with a woolly, hill-farming theme.

For those in need of retail therapy, visitors had the opportunity to buy fleeces, carded wools, yarns, knitting and felting kits, knitted, woven and felted woollen products and some truly beautiful locally hand-crafted equipment, including drop spindles made by Enid Ashcroft.  

The truly unique thing about the North Pennines Wool Event is that only British wool (that is wool from sheep born in Britain) is allowed through the doors.  The North Pennines Wool Group was established in 2009 by a small group of hardworking volunteers to try to promote the little known region of the North Pennines and its wool.  The North Pennines covers parts of Cumbria, Durham, Northumberland, even a tiny part of North Yorkshire, and is the native home of two of our most spectacular wool breeds - the Teeswater and the Bluefaced Leicester and, by extension, the North of England Mule, making the presence of 3500 mule sheep (courtesy of their Bluefaced Leicester fathers) just 30 yards away truly serendipitous.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

North Pennines Wool Event 2012

Just a final few words before the Wool Event on Friday.

Firstly, please do come!

Secondly, we have tried to make everyone aware that parking will be a problem due to the Mart rescheduling a sheep sale for the same day. We'v
e tried to make contingency plans - arranging overspill parking, arranging with the local bus service to offer a request stop etc. This is all detailed in our latest (corrected!) e-bulletin - the hand drawn map is particularly useful and we've tried to highlight potential parking spots within a ten minute walk of the two halls. Don't be intimidated by the 4x4s at the Mart. If you see a parking space, just jump into it (unless it's the Golden Lion car park which is for customers only).

Our best advice is to arrive after 1pm when many of the 4x4s will have left - although if you're bringing sheep for the competition that isn't an option. Sorry - judging will be at 12.30pm because one of our judges needs to leave shortly after.

On the positive side the Mart means that there'll be lots of sheep nearby (all mule gimmer lambs), and a bit of adversity in getting to where you want to be makes the prize all the more worthwhile. We really value your support, patience and understanding.

Finally, you'll find attached to this post a schedule of what will be happening throughout the day - there will also be plenty of opportunities for British wool retail therapy and plenty of opportuities to see or join in with more informal demonstrations including drop spindling, peg loom weaving and lucetting.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Autumn e-bulletin

Apologies to all. Anyone who received the Autumn e-bulletin today may have noticed a number of errors, the most important being that the email address and the links to the email address of the North Pennines Wool Group were all incorrect and should have read Any emails sent through the e-bulletin will not have been received and you should resend them. In addition there should have been links to a map of St John's Chapel and the Weardale bus service timetable.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Third North Pennines Wool Event

Full details of the third North Pennines Wool Event can now be found here.  This year we'll be at St John's Chapel, Upper Weardale on 28th September, 10am - 5pm - with a very exciting programme.  Hope to see you there.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Make a sheep from British wool

The third North Pennines Wool Event is to be held at St John's Chapel on 28th September 2012, 10am - 5pm (full details of the exciting programme will appear here soon!).  In the meantime, to give you plenty of time to don your creative thinking caps and get out that local wool, here's a flyer to let you know that this year we're running a competition and invite you to bring your woolly creations along to the event.  We have a couple of very special judges lined up, but also hope to include all entries in a gallery on our website.  Come on, bring along your very own sheep!  You know you want to!

Monday, 21 May 2012

Upcoming Woolly Events

Apologies for the long silence.  Here is advance notice of two local wool events.

Firstly our own North Pennines Wool Event will be held on 28th September at St John's Chapel.  We have some very exciting things planned, so put the date in your diaries.  Keep checking our website for details and/or sign up to our mailing list.

Secondly, there will be a woolly event at Greenhead, Northumberland, 'Wool on the Wall', 8th July, again focussing on British wools.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

British Wool on the High Street

I'm pleased to say that this winter John Lewis got their act together and actually did offer some British made British wool products - all now reduced.  Grab a bargain if you're quick!
I can personally vouch for the jumper.  I bought it at full price just before Christmas and still thought it was a bargain.

Woolly happenings in and around the North Pennines

There are two exhibitions with North Pennines wool connections coming up or already underway.

At Rheged, Penrith, the Wonder of Wool exhibition features the work of a range of artists, including some British wool and at least one artist, Joss Wrigg, from the North Pennines.

WOW: Wonder of Wool and the Art of Knit and Stitch

A second exhibition, opening 26th February, appropriately at the Old Fulling Mill, Museum of Archaeology, Durham is Tethera, Methera, Tic, Counting Sheep, which features the work of North Pennines craftsman, Ellie Langley and uses almost exclusively North Pennines wool.