Ealing or Essex?........ You decide!

Well that’s that! – Another year over for “Spinspired on Tour” and we’re already looking forward to 2018 - (We will hopefully be at our local Farmer’s Craft market this Saturday and that really is the last!)

It would, however, be remiss of us to not to mention the super day we had with the Romford & West Essex Embroiderers’ Guild on Saturday. A more enthusiastic, friendly – and talented bunch you could not wish to meet.

Coffee consumed and Anna was busy with an attentive bunch of needlewomen and at times you could have heard the proverbial pin drop. Notwithstanding, there were times when a hubbub of conversation overwhelmed both immediate proceedings and the dance music wafting from adjacent rooms. This was the way of it until after lunch when a fairly loud conversation broke out in the room all about the possibility of the Guild making their own movie. Parts and personalities were duly allocated from Judi Dench, Meg Ryan and Maggie Smith – it was a bit like a Secret Santa meets Scorsese.

Now I should know better, I know, but foolishly I enquired as to what genre of movie was this to be? I offered “Western” but was immediately met with more raunchy, roller coaster ideas – we settled on “Carry on up the Kantha” I think. This group of ladies had me in stitches – not for the first time this year!

Anna and I are off to see them again next year – I dread to think what they’ll come up with next. Before we left I was very kindly presented with a beautiful poinsettia and card – thank you very, very much. Both Anna and I had a brilliant day!

A healthy and happy Christmas and New Year to You all!

Anna and Keith


Back late on Monday night from a super weekend, (including the weather), in South Devon and the rest of the week spent catching up with orders. Before you know it, Anna and I are loading the car on Friday for our second outing to Festiwool in Hitchin. The Priory school certainly has better parking facilities and more space for workshops; a good move methinks. Home by 9pm. and up again at 4.30am. for the trip back to Hertfordshire. Finished setting up and nice to meet those two young ladies from the 3rd Vault yarns who were next to us – hope to see you again!

Anna had two workshops booked during the day, (drop spindling and tapestry weaving), so I was left to fend for myself! Nil desperandum – I wasn’t the only one in this particular boat as Erica, (from Debonnaire Yarns) had enlisted Scott and others to hold the fort – what lovely people they are too!

The day absolutely flew past – first catch up of the day was a post operative comparison chat with my lovely friend from The Calico Cat – great to see you back on legs as opposed to wheels – see you again soon!

Notwithstanding, a really busy day: However, a short lull at lunchtime enabled me to partake – I say partake but really I had only taken one bite of a delicious cheese roll, lovingly crafted by my wife at some ungodly hour, when I had to advise a nice fellow about rippled Ash yarn bowls. When I returned to my chair, my part consumed comestible had done a runner! I now must only assume that some litter conscious soul had removed it – the alternative can only be that some poor sap was even more peckish than me!

We arrived home at 9pm to be greeted by five ravenous cats – I know how they felt! and I thank the clever fellow responsible for Catch Up TV who enabled Anna to have her weekly “Strictly” fix.

must thank Phillippa and her team for organising another cracking Festiwool and we really look forward to next year.

The 25
th of this month sees us at Romford for an Embroiderer’s Guild workshop – an absolute pleasure working with this enthusiastic group and more Guild demonstrations and workshops across the UK in 2018.

I guess that about wraps up this eventful year for Spinspired – I’m off to my workshop to develop several new products for the future so please look out for our 2018 Diary and that now only remains for us to wish you a healthy, happy and creative New Year and we hope to see you all again soon. Don’t forget if you would like to speak to Anna or I about anything concerning wool or wood give us a call or email.

Anna & Keith


Enthusiasm in spades from Tooting to Totnes!




I don’t suffer from writer’s block - I’m not a writer; neither am I ever stuck for words when it comes to my little “show blog” from our latest adventures – this time once again in the beautiful south Devon location of Totnes. We had been looking forward to this event all year as it allows us to have a bit of a “working holiday” and to once again catch up with old friends and make some new ones!

The truth is we stay at the best “home from home” B&B in Goodrington, just ten minutes away from Totnes, and catch up with our friends there too! Incidentally, many thanks to Lynn & Nigel at the Wentworth for their hospitality, and for their brilliant efforts in distributing flyers and information to the numerous craft and fibre outlets throughout Torbay.

The weather for the weekend once more was kind and when the doors opened at 10 o’clock the look of anticipation on visitor’s faces was palpable and infectious. Now as an aside, I have always been interested and fascinated by local dialects and accents and having worked for many years in the Metropolis pride myself in playing Dr. Doolittle – at least I can still tell what side of the Thames most Londoners hail from. One particular lady and her friend were discussing whether to buy a tapestry frame or a peg loom and I asked what part of south London she originated from. “Tootin’” she replied. Bec? I enquired. “Nah… Broadway” she said - can’t win them all. Both of these delightful ladies now reside in Cornwall and had travelled to Totnes by coach that day to visit the show. Their enthusiasm for crafting was incredible. We had a great chat about aneurysms and brain tumours – that only happens at Craft shows! They left very happy with their loom and frame respectively and couldn’t wait to get home and start on them. I love that.

Anna and I have come to the conclusion that we both very much love sheep and trees and actually we couldn’t do what we do without them. If you add people and ideas you’re on to a winner!

Anyway, we were very busy on both Saturday and Sunday and we were very pleased to have the assistance of Adam and Hayley, (the prodigal and his significant), as Anna was busy talking about fleece and running a tapestry workshop. The son and daughter-in-law to be had kindly offered to give us a hand a while ago as we weren’t certain what state I would be in after a stay in the careful hands of the Norfolk & Norwich hospital – many thanks to them for fixing me and thanks too to Adam and Hayley for their help and company. Whilst I’m thanking people I must mention Caroline and Saj who conceived and made Stitch Fest South West happen, (the 2017 version was even better!), their super “Pink Shirt Squad” and any time spent in the company of other friends and especially Gem and Laura from Bristol is well spent – (“
Alright Scuttlers?”). Thanks to all of those who bought a ticket and made the effort to come and talk to us.

I guess I must close for now as we’re off on Friday to Hertfordshire for the show that is “Festiwool” and another leap into the unknown and interesting – another instalment of life’s tapestry to complete – I can’t wait!


Fibre East 2017

“Alice through the PegLoom!”

Fibre East 29th& 30th July 2017

There are several weekends in each year that Anna and I really look forward to, and Fibre East, the annual event at the beginning of the Summer holiday, held at Redbourne Community College is very much one of them. Every year it never fails to inspire us and we try our best to inspire others.

For most exhibitors, and visitors alike, much of the really hard graft undertaken by Janet and her team of “showmakers” goes unnoticed or at least unseen but without them it simply wouldn’t happen – a huge thank you to them. Once again the weather’s behaviour at Fibre East this year was very acceptable apart from a little misdemeanour when we were packing to leave! It wasn’t until we were halfway home that I decided to change my soggy polo shirt in the van. I pointed out to Anna that it reminded me of those tennis chaps who change their shirts at Queens and Wimbledon. She pointed out that my “six pack” was slightly more Carlsberg Keg shaped! – Rude!

The rain overnight on Saturday caused some flooding and delays for visitors and traders alike on Sunday morning, but “better late than never” stalwarts that they are, by 11.30 the show was in full swing again.

Anyway to be brief we had, as usual, a super weekend making new friends and catching up with old ones - simply wrong of me not to mention; Kate & Tom, Pam Jackie, Derek & Tanya, Erica, Andrew, Charlie, Az, Jen and my favourite Bristolean, Laura from Bellica Yarns. We hope to see you all again soon. To be honest, if there’s a better place to meet and make new friends we’d be surprised.

Now about Alice….. On Saturday morning an engaging little girl called Alice (and her Mum), were invited to “have a go” on one of our demo peg looms. Being young of course Alice (who I think was eight years old), picked it up in no time and then proceeded to weave away to her heart’s content. Later in the day she returned and Alice and I entered into tense “Brexit-like” negotiations regarding the purchase of a much bigger loom crafted from Tulip wood. Suffice it to say that we need her at Mr. Davis’s elbow in the coming months. To cut a long story short, little Alice paid for her loom with her own wages garnered from her Choir singing. Alice and her Mum said goodbye and I was having a crafty cup of tea in the fresh air outside sometime later and missed their return; However, they left a bag of beautiful (not slimming though!) fudge for me with a note on the bag that simply read “From Alice”. We later saw a picture of Alice in the back of her mum’s car on Facebook cuddling her new purchase. The look on her face says it all. Thank you Alice.
Love to see you all next year!

Keith & Anna (and Adam)

Ickworth Wool Fair 2017

Anna and I are always a little anxious about the mix of weather and being under canvas. We peer avidly and repeatedly at the ever changing forecast for Bury St. Edmunds at least a week before the event, consoling ourselves with the fact that we can’t change whatever it is. We love this fair, not least because it’s relatively close to home and Ickworth is always worth a visit anyway!

Setting up the gazebos on Friday afternoon was a bit warm to say the least. This year we decided to have our usual stall in a robust tent and an additional open style garden gazebo adjacent so that we could set up “have a go” pieces of our equipment.

Saturday dawned after a wet night, and a light drizzle looked as though it could dampen spirits for a while, but by opening time the sun shone, the wind had died away and the grass dried to give way to an absolutely cracking day. As usual, Rosie and her merry team were everywhere, acting like the London Olympics “Game-makers” – absolutely brilliant. A real delight of refreshments were available all day and we were busy from the off.

The biggest thrill Anna and I get is when we can inspire someone to think about crafting techniques and wool and decide to give it a go – you never know what you can or can’t do until you try! The “have a go” tent was a real success with visitors able to try spinning wheels, drop spindles, tapestry frames and peg looms. We’ll certainly do that again. When you can demonstrate techniques and equipment and then encourage others to try, it really makes our task easier and more rewarding. It’s also great to catch up with fellow stallholders who have become firm friends and make new acquaintances as well.

Sunday threatened showers in the afternoon but they stayed away until we had managed to get packed up and home; however, during the day it was warm and dry with a little breeze and even more visitors came and enjoyed themselves. Our grandson, Isaac, even put in an appearance and, judging from his face, we’ve another budding crafter in the making.

Super weekend, super organisation, super weather, super location. 2018? Bring it on!

NB. We’ll be back at Ickworth in October this year for the 30
th Wood and Craft Fair and do it all again – good!

Anna and Keith


Dyeing Workshop
Thank you to Pam, Jacqui, Sue, Helen and Helen for a wonderful day on Saturday. It was lovely to teach such an imaginative and enthusiastic group, and to see such stunning results.

Wonderwool 2017 or the Case of the Missing Case!

Phew! Another Wonderwool has come and gone, and Anna and I are looking forward to 2018’s version already.

Late and lost deliveries of some important items threw us into our usual rush and panic, but at about 5pm on Thursday we set off to pick up our hire van from Beccles (about 4 miles from us), ready to load that evening before a dawn chorus start in the direction of Builth Wells.
“I’m sorry”, said Joe at the hire centre, “your van’s stuck in traffic on the M25, but it’ll be here later”. Home for some tea and Joe’s going to call us later. Proper chap is Joe. Joe called at 7pm to let us know that he is going home for tea too, and will call later! True to his word, at about 9pm we collected the van and drove home to load up.

Up at 4am on Friday (my 65
th birthday), and en route by 6, we had a really good run to Wales, and arrived just before 1pm – all going well! We set up and, now pretty tired, we drove to the Travelodge at Ludlow and, after a quick freshen up, partook of a pint or two of Ludlow Gold and a cracking meal at the Selway Arms opposite. I reminded Anna that I am now retired …. Yeah right!

Super Saturday, with lovely weather and good crowds, seeing familiar faces and meeting new ones. Absolutely shattered by 6pm when we toddled off back to Ludlow. That evening was a repeat performance with more of Shropshire’s finest ale and good food. This was all going too well.

Running a little late on Sunday morning, we joined a queue of traffic behind the slowest burger van in the world which held us up further. We still managed to get to the showground by 8.30am – time enough for Anna to visit some old friends and indulge in some pre-opening retail therapy.

At about 11ish on Super Sunday, came the highlight of the weekend. A young lady (I forgot to ask her name) told me that 2 years ago she had bought a Ladybird mini tapestry frame from us and that I had explained how it worked, (I now had a faint recollection and her face did seem familiar). Anyway, she went on to say that she’d looked at our website and knew we would be at Wonderwool again, so made a point of coming to tell us that on Wednesday she had taken her first tapestry lesson.
“Well, you eventually got around to starting then?” I joked. “No, no”, she said, “ I took my first lesson as a teacher – I teach it to special needs children and adults and I need another frame”.

Chuffed or what!!! Sometimes, just sometimes, the world is a lovely place! The above tale will stay with Anna and I for a long, long time because it’s effect far outweighs what ensued.

Yes, the inevitable snags – I’d forgotten to pack my ear defenders so was submitted to temporary threshold shift caused by the loon from the Wool Zone and his community singing! Love you mate – (crikey how does Julie mange?). Three words of note to the compere – you were fabulous!

Whilst packing up the van, Anna discovered that I had left our suitcase in the car park at Ludlow and we had to return to collect it. Eventually we set off for the East Coast at 9.45pm and arrived home just as out son left for work on Monday morning. (Note to self, stay in Ludlow on Sunday night too!)

Monday was spent in a tired daze – unloading, unpacking etc. However, we managed to meet our friends at the local in the evening, drink a bit more ale, win the raffle
and the pub quiz to support our local church roof! Incidentally, we had to have a team name and, as my mate is an anaesthetist, we were the “Spin Doctor’s” (see what we did there? love it).

The rest of the week will be busy fulfilling orders, answering the emails and phone calls, and getting ready for a dye workshop for 6 lovely ladies on Saturday.

All in all, a typical, brilliant Wonderwool weekend, and it remains for me only to say:

    Anna and Keith



    Royal Norfolk Show 29th & 30th June

    I was asked to join members of the Diss Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Guild at the Royal Norfolk Show to help with their “Sheep to Shawl” challenge. The aim was to shear a sheep, spin the wool and weave it into a wrap by the end of the day.

    The Norfolk Horn Ewe was shorn at 7.30 am and spinning commenced soon after. A team of spinners spun and plied the wool straight from the raw fleece (known as spinning in the grease) and then 2 weavers set about weaving on rigid heddle looms.

    I was lucky enough to be on the Wednesday team and to meet Prince Charles, who visited the Rare Breeds Survival Trust tent and spoke to us as we were spinning. He noticed that I was spinning in bare feet and I explained that I couldn’t spin in Wellies (an essential footware choice in the very muddy conditions).


    The challenge went well apart from a warping problem with one of the looms, which held things up somewhat. One half of the wrap was finished by the time I had to leave and the second half had been started and I’m sure the team who were able to stay on worked hard to finish the second half. The hope was that a completed wrap would be auctioned of at the end of each day in aid of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.

    Wonderwool in Builth Wells 23
    rd & 24th April 2016

    Well! After another fantastic weekend we looked back at our blog from last year entitled “Wonderwool Christening” It served as a reminder to just how much we’d enjoyed a tremendous show on our inaugural visit. We seemed to spend much of our time last year telling the uninitiated crafters and traders alike that this show is the best show of the year. We can now confirm that that opinion has not changed. We’ve been to some good shows – indeed we had another first for us in February at “Textiles in Focus” in Cambourne near Cambridge and this too was brilliant – we’ll certainly go back there as well in 2017 but Wonderwool is just so enjoyable for us. It may be the accommodation and excellent food and ale at the Selway Arms, possibly the beautiful countryside that is so apparent – it all helps.

    The thing that makes this show so good is the superb organisation and enthusiasm of the “showmakers” and volunteers, coupled with the friendliness and anticipation of the visitors. They really are a friendly bunch!

    Once again the sun shone against the Met Offices advice and forecast and it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. Nothing gives us more pleasure than talking to similar minded folk and being able to help and moreover inspire and develop their ideas and aspirations – just brilliant!

    Guess which show we’ll be booking first for next year if they’ll have us?

    A huge thank you to Chrissie, Andy etc. one word – Superb! Thanks again.

    Anna, Keith and Adam


    Our Day is Mad(e) in St. Ives!

    Up at 3.45am! Or “stupid o’clock” as my son refers to it, quick shower and having partaken of the lightly boiled egg, thence onward to Cambridgeshire!

    I admit that I prefer summer fairs when we can set off in the light, but the autumn and winter shows have a magic and anticipation of their own. It was a foul wet and windy journey and was barely light when two hours later we arrived in St. Ives. It’s our third show here and we really look forward to this one in particular. Makit Lace shows are always so well organised and attended by some of the nicest and most knowledgeable crafting folk and exhibitors; In fact, even the sun shone later in the morning making a brighter day for all.

    It’s so nice to meet up again with familiar faces from Roseground, Lacewing, Crafty etc. and to make the acquaintance of “Beaker Button” who was next to us. She’s a real trooper and if you need to know anything about Dorset Buttons she’s your girl. I suspect that you’d have to surgically remove the needle from her hand as I suspect she makes these buttons in her sleep! Amusingly she reminds me of Phillipa from Wheeldale Woolcrafts who I think was born with a needle in her hand and never seems to stop! It’s always a little rushed and stressful setting up tables at a show, but these hardy folk always have time for some wisecracks and a laugh. Better still they will always find some time to help if needed.

    One of my first customers of the day approached me with a familiar “Spinspired” bag and asked if I could help her re-warp one of our mini tapestry frames. This I gladly did and enquired whether she had encountered any difficulties – “No” was the response, “I’ve done this” and this lady produced a completed tapestry from the bag that was absolutely beautiful. “Wow!” I said, “That’s brilliant” – she went on to inform me that she’d been inspired by the view of the Lleyn Peninsula in North Wales viewed from Mochras whilst on holiday this year – stunning. I asked her if I could take a snap of it to put on our little website gallery and she agreed so here it is. Thank you Corinne, it’s beautiful and you made my, and Anna’s day!

    As I said, it’s great to meet up with old friends and fascinating testing your memory on other familiar faces that we meet at other shows throughout, and over the years - long may it continue.

    The day went so quickly with hardly time for a sandwich or cup of tea or coffee. Thankfully, we had time to draw breath at 3pm when the 25
    th Anniversary cake was cut and shared around and the day was over before we knew it. Thoroughly enjoyable and we drove home in the dark arriving in time for more tea and “Strictly” – see you next year if not before.

    Keith & Anna

    Harley Davison
    s, Leaking Gutters & the VW Van Debate!

    Yes, yes I know it’s a bit of an odd title for my little update on the 2nd Bristol Wool Fair – held at Easter Compton last weekend, (11th – 13th September 2015), but it’s what I’ll probably remember most. Well, that and the Vikings, felt balls and the Knitting Swede! I guess for the sake of some kind of order I should start somewhere near the beginning.

    As both of my regular readers will know, Anna and I embarked upon our little business adventure only a couple of years ago and as such have only managed a handful of two day events. So, the three day fair at Bristol was a “leap in the dark” for us. I should point out at this juncture that we have thus far enjoyed them enormously and look forward to our little “working mini-breaks” across the country. In fact, last year we were invited to the inaugural Bristol Wool Fair but it coincided with our family holiday in the West Country so we compromised and spent our first day as visitors at this event and vowed that this year we’d be there!

    Clearly, as our business grows and we develop new (and old) ideas our stock levels increase and for a three day event we have to transport a lot of equipment. We now both have large estate cars and last year we added a trailer to increase our carrying capacity. For a three day event, even this increased payload seemed inadequate as on Wednesday evening we crammed both trailer and car to the brim before setting off early on Thursday morning for the trek from East to West.
    I know it’s a bit of a man thing but just before leaving I took my usual cursory check around to discover a large box of tapestry frames that we’d overlooked and then spent another hour re-arranging both car and trailer to accommodate them! Hmmm!

    The journey was thankfully uneventful, well signposted and on arrival we were met with some good organisation and a really great space to display our wares and to demonstrate some of the things that we like to do. The truth is that there was tea and coffee on tap almost next to us so happy days! Setting up our stand was equally uneventful and good fun.

    Now I should at least inform you that overnight accommodation regarding these events, has been resolved for Anna and me; a number of exhibitors choose to “camp” and I should tell you that after leaving Venture Scouts nearly 50 years ago that’s where my halcyon “under canvas” days should have remained: However, several years ago, a number of my sea fishing friends and I decided to take a long weekend fishing in Dorset – and take the wives camping!
    I will not dwell on these escapades – but safe to say that any casual onlooker could easily be confused into thinking that they had just witnessed an episode of “The Golden Girls” – “Carry on Camping” and “Last of the Summer Wine” in one go! I digress.

    Anyway, the above is a story for another day and to reiterate Anna and I now stay at a Travelodge during these crafting events to avoid wet, damp, cold and earwigs etc. It’s a bit of a compromise but as these establishments fail to provide an adequate breakfast and anyway we’d require such a meal at an ungodly hour they seem to provide exactly what we need. It also allows Anna time before the event opens to continue with her retail therapy. Indeed, we have stayed at one near Bedford, for the Fibre East show and near Leominster for Wonder Wool in Wales and this arrangement has worked beautifully – until now!

    My reader will be unaware, (and why not?) that I suffer from significant sleep apnoea – you don’t need to know this, but it’s relevant to my tale! Incidentally, my discovery of this particular ailment defies belief, contains immense hilarity, (at my expense) and is actually a nuisance on occasion. Suffice it to say that quality sleep is important to me and after several long days and a long journey I was looking forward to getting my head down. We had stopped at a recommended pub in the village and enjoyed a salad and a pint of the excellent local brew on the way back to the “quieter” Travelodge near the old Severn Crossing Bridge. (We choose the quieter ones deliberately in an attempt to replicate our own sleeping arrangements at home – quietly in the countryside of the beautiful and tranquil Waveney Valley.)

    At about 8pm. or thereabouts – showered and tea duly consumed I entered the Land of Nod. At exactly 8.21pm my peaceful sleep was violently awakened by what I initially imagined to be the outbreak of some major hostilities roughly 4 feet from our open bedroom windows. I guess I was waiting momentarily for the calming tones of Kate Adey emanating from the television, but that was not forthcoming – only an increase in the decibels from outside. Anna, who was perusing her kindle jumped from the bed and proclaimed it was 2 motorcycles. Those of you with even a scant knowledge of the workings of the internal combustion engine will be familiar with the very long stroke on Harley Davison motorcycles and the ridiculous imposition and invasion of hearing and other senses that ensue. I should clarify my position as that of a mild-mannered, even Clark Kent type of individual – slow to anger and most pacifistic in outlook and demeanour. In this instance, a red mist had already descended, no plummeted on my persona and I could also hear 2 fellows shouting at one another so as to be heard over their dreadful cacophonous machines and doubtless through their thick crash helmets and matching heads.
    It transpired that their partners had visited Reception to enquire about the availability of rooms – fortuitously for them there was no room at the inn!
    By this time, I had found a shirt, some trousers and slippers and was halfway down the corridor in order to dispel this noise and nonsense, only to be denied retribution as their infernal chariots made off noisily across the car park. Snatches only of fitful sleep ensued until the morning.

    Friday was a really busy day. We met some great crafters, and moreover lovely people, including several classes of young children accompanied by their teachers and assistants/parents, who were mesmerised by Anna’s efforts on her Ashford Scholar. These crafters of the future sat enthralled for about twenty minutes learning about spinning wheels, drop spindles and spinning sticks before being hurried along by their charges but not without being given a piece of fleece each and given the rudiments of how to make a felt ball – brilliant! We thought what a great place to take kids on a school trip.

    For those of you who were unfortunate enough to miss it, this years fair included an authentic Viking encampment complete with looms and of course the inevitable fighting. Actually, you could only tell the kids from the Vikings during mock battles as the latter appeared taller – we’re all children at heart I guess.

    These Nordic fellows would take a break from their staged bloody battles with children and appear menacingly from time to time throughout the day and then ruin their “image” by enquiring meekly whether or not we thought the staple on Oxford Down fleece would offer sufficient loft for whatever part of their armour they were fashioning. Incongruous or what?
    We had a really busy and enjoyable day on Saturday too, culminating with a lovely evening spent in great company at the Harvest Supper organised by our wonderful hosts – but back to Friday and the second part of my title!

    Impressed as we were by the hospitality, proximity and food at the local we booked a table for two on the Friday evening and had a lovely meal and yet another pint of excellent local ale, (I don’t want you to get the wrong impression here – we seldom drink at all!). Anyway, when we left the wilds of the east coast the weather forecast for the weekend was not promising. As it happened, the weather did play ball and we had really good weather for all three days. The only rain we had, I say rain – I meant monsoon, was at about 2.30am on Saturday morning whilst at last, deep in slumber back at the Travelodge. At 2.54am the gutter bracket immediately above our bedroom windows gave way under the weight of the torrents. Yep! You guessed it – I was awake again. This time any further sleep was denied by what I can only describe as similar to trying to catch 40 winks whilst standing under Niagara Falls. I was getting fed up with Travelogical!

    Saturday night was peaceful and I managed to recoup some energy for the Sunday which was again busier than expected. In a quiet time however, I ventured out to buy an ice cream for Anna and chanced across the First Aid fellow. What a nice chap, earlier on in the day I had witnessed him carrying an elderly dog in an attempt to find it’s owner – I guess he’d not been too busy First Aid wise - But a very nice fellow all the same. Furthermore, this chap knew just about everything there is to know about VW vans that we are now contemplating acquiring to surmount the loading issues (the long wheelbase/camper version could just be the answer to Travelodge’s too with no canvas required) Bristol Wool Fair is in safe hands for First Aid cover with this kindly fellow. The debate that ensued, concerns whose favourite estate car is going to go to make room? More to follow…………..

    Well that about covers it so that’s all folks for now, it remains for me only to thank the superb efforts of Sarah and David Harris whose dream has been successfully converted into reality, and the attention, commitment, assistance and sheer hard work of Gemma – legend and all the brilliant volunteers. Most of all, for those of you who came and supported the fair, enjoyed yourselves, got inspired and gave us such enjoyment too. We made more new friends, so see you next year – we’ll be there!

    But what of the Knitting Swede I hear you say? If you don’t know the Crocheting Carrot have a look at her website – if you do, you’ll probably already know what nice folk Tanya and Derek are. And, incidentally if you’re lucky enough to be opposite them for three days you’ll leave having had fun and better for knowing them. Her yarn is beautiful but her dress sense leaves a little to be desired though!) Just kiddin’


    Fibre East

    “Build it and they will come”………….

    Indeed, come rain or shine those crafters will come – and despite gale force winds and torrential downpours those hardy folk turned up once again in their droves. Whether bathing in sunshine on Saturday or dodging the showers on Sunday those real troopers once again came along to what must be one of the best shows all year for both exhibitors and crafters alike.

    Other commitments meant that for us we were unable to arrive and set-up on Friday, and a 3.30am start in the midst of what seemed a hurricane early on Saturday morning in the Waveney valley didn’t bode well either. Two large willow branches had blown down over the trailer and the drive appeared to be doing lake impressions. The local lanes were badly flooded and we were at least thinking that the decision not to camp for the weekend was a sage one but the weather was appalling until we reached the A1 at about 7.30am and the clouds parted, the wind dropped and the sun shone – super!

    We were a wee bit late in setting up but the addition of the prodigal Adam made fairly light work of it and we were more or less ready by 9.30ish. Anna and I thought that we were busy last year – but we were really pleased to have Adam’s help throughout what was an exceedingly busy day. I confess that after a shower, dinner and a well-deserved pint, (well I thought I deserved it!), I was in the land of Nod as soon as my head touched the pillow on Saturday night.

    All change for Sunday which dawned mildly with very few clouds; however, by about 10.00am it was raining quite steadily and continued on and off all day. Drat! - I thought that will stop a few visitors from venturing out. Wrong! We were busy nearly all day and the time just flew past. I almost forgot what a hardy lot of souls crafters are.

    It’s true that we Brits are obsessed by the weather – I’m certainly one of them but I’m also convinced that for 48 hours in Ampthill at Fibre East time seems to stand still and nobody really notices it. What you do notice is the really good organisation, and the friendliness of all the people that we met – and I mean all of them. One of the joys for me is to see happy, if exhausted visitors finally leave the show laden with purchases and their smiles barely concealing the inspiration and ideas that they have for their next project written all across their faces. My weekend was finally complete at about 4.30pm when a small party of ladies, weighed down by their purchases, stopped to catch their breath and I asked one of them as to how they explained or justified the obvious expense to their other half? The young lady smiled at me and said “Easy – I leave them in the car until he’s gone to work tomorrow! – priceless!

    NB. I shall be checking Anna’s car more regularly on a nocturnal basis from now on!

    Proper Woolly – “Proper Job!”

    Friday the 29th May saw us up with the sunrise, (we get it early being in sight of the most easterly point in the UK!) and with car and trailer loaded the previous evening, we set off on our 382 mile journey to the beautiful Devon countryside. I should point out that we holiday in Devon at least once a year so the age-old question of M3 and M27, A303 or the delights of the M4 & M5 is not a new conundrum. having endured a nightmare journey to Wonder Wool in April we were keen not to repeat the series of diversions and hold-ups in traffic by cutting across country around the Midlands! All went well until we lost our nerve on the M5 as traffic had stopped northbound and was building on our carriageway so we “jumped ship” at Tiverton and proceeded across country. The northerly fringes of Dartmoor on the horizon is much more of an inspiring backdrop than endless embankments punctuated by the “seen one you’ve seen ‘em all” service areas.

    The venue at Holsworthy Livestock Market was really good, however, unloading and setting up was fairly long-winded as we kept meeting up with old friends and having a number of chinwags. It never ceases to amaze us just how friendly and inclusive other crafters are. However, finally arriving at our lodgings at Woodford Bridge Country Club another nice surprise awaited us. Instead of the double room that we thought that we had booked we were given the keys to a lovely bungalow complete with patio and our own peacock alarm call. We also decided that to have a kettle that is big enough to make a decent sized pot of tea is a real luxury!

    The weather played ball on Saturday and we were really busy with very little time to have a look around ourselves; However, we did manage a quick peek at the animals, (loved the angoras), and purchase some of the local culinary delights on offer. These probably did not improve our waistlines but are a really good addition to any craft fair – any fair in fact!
    Sunday morning and the weather was not so great but it dried up in the increasing breeze and the visitor numbers increased as the day improved. We were really pleased with the interest in our new range of peg looms and tapestry frames and the addition of a growing range of lace knitting patterns. Overall this was a really good show for an inaugural event – very well organised and extremely informative and enjoyable. It’s so good to see a facility such as this used as a genuine multi-purpose venue and we sincerely hope that it becomes an annual event as it will be one that is in our diary every year.

    Well done Proper Woolly …….Proper Job!

    What a Wonderwool Christening!

    Our first time at this wonderful show and we were not disappointed! Apart from a diversion-ridden journey the whole weekend was great. The organisation was excellent, the support and volunteer teams superb and the “Sheepwalk” was very entertaining and extremely well attended. In fact our accommodation was really good too. Perhaps the best bit of all though was meeting like-minded individuals from across the UK. and how very friendly they all seemed to be; Of course it may have had something to do with a little retail therapy mixed with all the woollen goodies to be had and all set off in beautiful welsh countryside – even the sun came out! – can’t be bad.

    It was really good to see such a diversity of woollen things including live sheep and the helpful and positive attitude of other exhibitors. From a personal view we were really pleasantly surprised how our craft items were received and trade and enquiries left us shattered by Saturday evening. We underestimated the popularity of our mini tapestry frames but did manage to fill all the orders from the weekend and despatched them within the promised week. Sunday was a little quieter and gave us some respite and more time to spend with customers and new friends. We are now gearing up for the Makit Fair on Sunday at Peterborough and thence to the beautiful county of Devon for “Proper Wooly” at the end of the month – a very hectic time for Spinspired at the moment. For everyone who came and said hello at Builth Wells, we say a big thank you!



    Makit Lace Article

    At the end of last year I was asked to write an article for Makit Lace and Needlecraft Supplies, describing what we do at Spinspired. You can see the article by clicking on the fairs blog on the makitfairs.com website.

    National Trust Project
    At the beginning of this year, I was asked for some advice about the suitability of our hand washed and carded fleece for a National Trust project. The project involves the making of an accurate replica of an 18th century quilted petticoat. The only original example of this garment available to work from is in a poor state of repair, and apart from evidence that the fleece used in this garment is “sort of whitish”, nothing else was known about what type of fleece had been used. After some discussion with Penny King and Ian Chipperfield, who are the experts in charge of the project, we were able to supply some of our Oxford Down fleece which seemed the most suitable for their purpose. Oxford Down sheep are a rare breed today, but may very well have been more common in the 18th century.

    Happy crafting!