Its fun, it’s friendly and it’s filled with fabulous fibre – Wonderwool Wales is back at the Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells on April 27 and 28, with knitting, crochet and crafting workshops, demonstrations of spinning, weaving and felting and stalls brimming with temptation.
The go-to diary date for fibre fans, knitters, crochet enthusiasts and felt makers from the UK and abroad, the annual showcase of wool and natural fibres also has plenty to interest the whole family. There’ll be exhibits of live sheep and goats, the entertaining Sheepwalk (a woolly take on the catwalk), a flock of colourful crocheted and knitted seagulls (the result of a community arts project led by Vicky Harrison of Bristol’s Crafting the City) and a display of some of the thousands of poppies from Wonderwool Wales’ commemorative Curtain of Poppies which took centre stage at the 2018 show. A series of friendship banners, created by Colwinston Crafters will also be on show.
The show’s first masterclass, with 2018 British Craft Awards Crochet Designer of the Year, Jane Crowfoot of Janie Crow, is a sell-out success. However, for those who book quickly there are still plenty of other opportunities to get creative with wool and natural fibres. Join a Woolschool workshop to learn how to hand felt a cute bunny; make a wet felt merino wool bowl; weave a beautiful willow wall hanging; choose fleeces for hand spinning and yarn design; learn braiding; do block printing; knit fingerless gloves or create an up-cycled, wool Christmas Tree.
With more than 200 stalls, keen shoppers have a choice of thousands of beautiful natural yarns in a rainbow of colours; knitting, crochet and felting equipment; books, patterns and kits and a range of accessories. There are also beautiful gifts, fashionable clothing and items for the home from the wide range of stalls selling individually crafted wool and natural fibre products.
As well as the popular show regulars, this year there are a host of new stalls. First timers include Unique Yarns with their very pretty yarns, Elfn with their felted clothing and BA Textiles graduate Helen Evans of Helen Margaret Textiles, who has been given the chance to exhibit her range of beautiful woven cushions as part of a Wonderwool Wales bursary scheme.
There are also lots of new products and inspiration from returning exhibitors. For rug hooking enthusiasts, a new book, Yarn Hooking, by Carole Rennison of Hooked by Design is full of great projects. The Makerss are back again with some new needle felting designs and their new book, Making Simple Needle Felts. Multipom, with their stand full of pompoms, will also be bringing their new project book to the show.
For hungry shoppers, there’s also an exciting choice of street food from a range of vendors plus artisan food stalls in Hall 2, ice creams outside Hall 1 and stands in all the halls selling delicious teas, coffees and cakes.
Wonderwool Wales is also delighted to promote and encourage a range of charities and initiatives at this year’s show. Since 2011 it has supported Wales Air Ambulance, raising more than £5000 for the cause from the bag crèche, mini buses and exhibitions. Ravelry, who run the show’s interactive area, also raise money for the charity by selling yarn, equipment and other items donated by members. This year a knitted helicopter pattern devised by show organiser Sarah Stacey will be available from the Information Desk in return for a donation to the charity. New Wonderwool bags, designed by show steward Sarah Evans, will also be on sale at the show, with a donation of 50p for each bag sold heading to the Wales Air Ambulance. UK charity Knitted Knockers are sharing a stand with Macmillan Cancer Support to raise awareness of their wonderful work handcrafting free bespoke replacement breast prostheses for women that have undergone a mastectomy. This year the show is also pleased to support Octopus for a Preemie UK with a stand to promote their work to make and supply special care baby units and neonatal intensive care units with crochet and knitted octopus and jellyfish.
There’s also a chance to get an update on the Blyth Tall Ship Williams Gansey project, which has involved volunteer knitters from all over the world in making bespoke navy ganseys and watch hats for the crew of the Williams II – a tall ship that has been restored and refitted in Blyth, Northumberland as part of a project to recreate the voyage that discovered Antarctica. This is the fourth year that the gansey project’s leaders, Astrid Adams and Janice Snowball (also a Wonderwool Wales show steward) have been invited to promote the project at the show. Right now, the Williams II is travelling round Britain in ten legs as a training exercise for future voyages and over the past year, Astrid and Janice have also raised £2,500 to have grey ganseys and watch hats knitted for the shore based team.
Photos in order of appearance:
The Makerss: Felted items by The Makerss. Photo: Faisal Khouji
Seagull 3: One of the woolly seagulls created as part of a Crafting the City community project.
Elfn: Elfn’s felted clothing. Photo: Dimitris Koutroumpas
Helicopter 1: Pick up a pattern for a knitted Wales Air Ambulance helicopter. Photo: Sarah Stacey