Friday, 19 July 2013
Report Back: Somerset Fleece Fair 2013
Last month Olly and I drove down to the Hatch Beauchamp village hall for the annual fleece fair organised by the Somerset Guild of Weavers, Spinners, and Dyers. I missed last year's event so was extra excited to go along this summer, and I can't believe how my husband indulges my new fleecy obsession. Now, I'd reckon a guess that I've spent twice as much time spindling that knitting in the last few months, but somehow my fluff stash just keeps growing! I'll admit that I'm saving a 400g bag of merino top that I got for Christmas. It's simply too lovely and fine and abundant to attempt to spin without a wheel, which I don't own!
I knowing that my stash was well past what Annie over at knitsofacto calls SABLE (Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy), I sort of promised myself that I wouldn't buy any wool products at the fair. It was accessories that I was after. At a recent one-day spinning course that I took in Wells, local teacher Mary Stanbridge recommended looking out for a distaff. For those not in the know (which I wasn't), a distaff is a freely-hanging gizmo worn around the wrist that holds your fiber to keep it from getting caught up in your spinning. I bought the one in the foreground of the photo above, and let me tell you, it's a revelation!
We stopped to chat with a few of the wool suppliers, but it was darn near impossible to ignore the two gargantuan wheels prominently displayed on stage at the far end of the village hall. When curiosity got the better of us, we sauntered over and allowed ourselves to be lured up on stage to have a go at spinning on them. Tracy and Trevor Miles taught us how to turn the great big wheels slowly around while drawing the wool out into lace-fine lengths. Tracy regaled us with the history of the Georgian Great Wheel, the product of her research and her father's fine carpentry skills. Owning one of these great creations is aspirational spinning. When I win the lottery, I'll buy a big fat house and a Georgian Great Wheel to put in it.
I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but Olly is an enthusiast and collector of vintage bicycles. Turns out his fascination with anything that has wheels and bearings translates to crafting devices, which is great for me because I'm sure by Christmas I'll be gently nudging an Ashford catalogue under his nose. But all of this is to say that we talked poor Tracy and Trevor's arms and legs off about their wheels, and we were practically tossed out of the village hall around closing time. But not before I finally caved and bought, not wool, but an alpaca fleece! I haven't done anything with it yet. I'm quite intimidated by owning half of an animal's coat, and I just haven't had a day to think about processing it in the last month, what with Glastonbury festival and then the E5 festival in London. We're off to the Godney gathering tomorrow, but hopefully I can pull out my fluffy treasure on Sunday!