Fibrefest report…

All fibrefested out...

All fibrefested out...

Right – so many impressions, it’s hard to know where to start. It was an overwhelming feast of colours and textures, the sound of happy voices and the beam of excited & contented smiles. The weather was a bit grey and a bit drizzly, and a cool wind blew up at the car park (quite a hike from the Mill, for anyone who’s not overly mobile) but I’m glad it wasn’t sunnier as it could have become very stuffy inside the marquees.

When we arrived, at about 12.30 on the Saturday, the marquees were heaving and it was a bit of a mad crush. Next time (do we really have to wait two years?!) we’ll come down on Friday night so that we can be earlybirds and wander freely amongst the glorious colours & textures & intriguing devices, deciding at our leisure who’s got what we really, really want. Then when the stampede arrives, we’ll trot off to the workshops, which I didn’t get around to booking this year. I loved it all, especially meeting the animals & farmers, & I got everything I’d gone for, and more. I picked up a fabulous Gotland lambs fleece by arrangement, and couldn’t resist a small bag of white Wensleydale locks for dyeing, felting & spinning experiments. A big thank-you the lovely ladies of the Crochet Design & Threads of Life stall, who were so encouraging to me with my whacky double-ended ideas and my two friends, who are new to crochet. From them I got two double-ended Tunisian hooks, one rigid, the other with a cable, to add to my collection. From The Mulberry Dyer, an honest-it’s-not-Kumihimo wooden disk, with stand and bobbins. From the Threshing Barn, a new modern bobbin for my elderly Louet (so I can ply at the same ratio I’m spinning at – I already had two) and a circular weaving kit. I didn’t mean to buy that, it just refused to leave my hand. I enjoyed the swapshop, picked up lots of inexpensive yarns from a variety of inspiring stalls and the Mill’s own bargain bin, some rather more expensive (but scrumptious!) ones too, and a little gold Angelina, learnt to knit without needles at the WoolFish, bought some chicken buttons from Injabulo & a packet of Madder from Jane Deane. Best of all, a little upright rigid-heddle LeClerc loom from the Swapshop… happy bunny here! But we had a go with the sock-knitter and oh dear, I think I need one of those too…

Over it all, the mill is an insistent presence; a tall & slender but sturdy redbrick chimney soars into the sky like a fairytale tower, roofs jumble at odd angles and little pathways beg to be followed under mismatched windows and zigzagged cast-iron stairways. The river murmurs along the back of the mill, with abundantly productive kitchen gardens running from the mill buildings down to the water’s edge; the millstream is channelled to the front and streams down into the massive waterwheel. Inside, mellow light filters through dusty windows, racks and shelving down into serried ranks of wooden bobbins and iron spikes. Machines whirr into life, seemingly randomly, as you walk through. The repetitive clatter & thump of the working loom sounded oddly like some mad rock drummer working out a new rhythm and the operator, young, bearded and earphoned, could have been the recording engineer. In the boiler house, two great iron faces peered reflectively out of the walls; next door a massive drive wheel was looped around with gigantic cotton ropes which vanished upwards into the light through a long slit in the wall. Odd-looking valves and coils stand on metal spires like surreal samovars and there are dial faces whichever way you turn. If Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria had designed a mill, this would be it. My camera was working overtime…

Can’t wait for the next one…


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One Response to “Fibrefest report…”

  1. Caroline Says:

    Sounds great. there’s always Woolfest at Cockermouth , I think – but a lot further away

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