On Friday Sally headed for the North Pennines Wool annual event held at Lanehead, Weardale. With a love of crochet and all things woolly this was the perfect way to spend the day. I had promised to help Ruth, of Textiles Through Time, with her fire for her natural dying demonstration. Ruth worked hard all day and produced all sorts of shades of wool from a variety of ingredients including :
weld – yellow, indigo – blue, alkanet root – purple, dried onion skins – yellow/orange.
Having got the fire going, I enjoyed the rest of the exhibits and could have spent a small fortune on the most beautiful of wools. I limited myself to 100grams of 4 ply black shetland and cheviot wool from ‘Woolie Bat’ and 125 grams of locally hand spun shetland wool dyed in shades of blue, purple and khaki. Natural Born Dyers also had lovely wool for sale but as they sell their wool in a shop in Blackfriars in Newcastle I can easily buy it at another time.
I couldn’t resist the bone buttons or wooden crochet hooks being sold by Moondance Wools who also had some beautiful knitted and felted items for sale.
Paul from the Halifax Spinning Mill (a commercial manufacturer of natural fibres from fleece) gave me a much-needed refresher on how to spin with a drop spindle. There were also professional spinning and weaving demonstrations and a few fleeces were auctioned. Some of the fleeces did not make their reserve price and it is easy to see why it costs farmers to shear their sheep.
The local MP came to present the awards for the North Pennines Gansey competition. A gansey is a personally unique design for jumpers originally used to identify fishermen if they were washed ashore after their boats foundered, grim but practical.