Woolfest: A Celebration of Nature’s Finest Fibres

Herdwick sheep near Wastwater, Lake District Colourful yarns on sale at Woolfest, Cockermouth Wool crafts at Woolfest 2014 Feltmaking workshop at Woolfest 2014 The Woolfest Entrance Ram

Established in 2005, Woolfest is the original British Wool Festival. A perfect occasion for fans of fleece to visit the beautiful town of Cockermouth for some wool-worship!

This cultural Lake District festival was founded to showcase the best of wool as a natural fibre and wool artistry. So if fleece, yarn and felt are your thing, Woolfest is an ideal opportunity to meet the makers and designers, learn about British wool and rare native breeds and share your enthusiasm for all things woolly.

With an established focus on creativity and quality design, Woolfest is a fascinating demonstration of the diversity of skilled craftsmanship using natural wool fibre, from traditional to more contemporary applications.

For visitors Woolfest provides an occasion to take part in many creative events, alongside enjoying numerous informative demonstrations. Additionally there is ample opportunity to buy wool-related products, from raw fleece to spinning wheels on the supplier stands, as well as some of the best and most beautiful textile creations in the UK and beyond.

Woolfest attractions for 2015 include:

  • An exhibit of sections from the impressive Quaker Tapestry – usually based in Kendal, this unique community-made artwork tells the story of all aspects of the Quaker movement – if you’ve not already seen it this Woolfest taster it will certainly inspire a trip to the Quaker Tapestry Museum in Kendal!
  • A special exhibition of work by members of The Wool Clip, including a hefted arm chair and an incredible Herdwick wedding dress, to a woollen “handbook”, from hand-spun yarn inspired by the colours of the landscape and a stunning cape that features the flora of the fells.
  • A chance for fans of Felix (aka Felicity Ford) and Knitsonik to see more of her work, buy her Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook and find out about her plans for future developments.
  • A host of textile and wool-related workshops on offer before, during and after Woolfest as well as a few suggested workshops for partners and spouses to enjoy while you are at the festival.

And if spinning is your thing then Friday evening promises an extravaganza of whirling wool with the not to be missed ‘Spin In’ – a great occasion for wool and craft enthusiasts to get together and share and spin yarns.

Over the years, the Woolfest ‘Spin In’ has developed into a rare gathering when over 100 spinners all get together – other crafters like knitters, crocheters and wool enthusiasts are of course welcome to join in too. The ‘Spin In’ tends to get started immediately after the 6pm closing of Woolfest and is always great fun and well attended, so it is recommended that you book your ticket in advance.

For dyed-in-the-wool fleece fans the range of woolly animals and raw fleece sale at this year’s Woolfest festival promise to be as varied and busy as ever. There will be 20 breeds of fibre-producing animals, including some intriguing new additions – Border Leicester sheep, Valais Blacknose sheep and two Welsh breeds, Llanwenog and Torddu (Badger Face Welsh Mountain sheep) on the Rare Breed Survival Trust stand.

From auctions of crafted sheep to presentations on choosing a raw fleece, the Woolfest programme has lots of wool-tastic treats on offer!

Other Woolfest events

There are numerous demonstrations in the Main Ring at Mitchell’s Lakeland Livestock Centre including:

  • Sheep shearing demonstrations – in 2014, David Bland demonstrated hand shearing with commentary by Will Rawling, this year’s Woolfest welcomes back Cathy Cassie at 3pm each day
  • The rare breed parade – Peter Titley from the Rare Breeds Survival Trust will talk about endangered rare sheep breeds as the various animals are brought into the Ring and shown off by their owners at 1pm each day

For Woolfest 2015, Sue Blacker of Blacker’s Yarns will be giving two presentations in the Main Ring:

  • Fleece Selection and Sorting – See first-hand how they sort and grade the fleeces which come through the mill. No two fleeces are the same, so it’s important to know what to look for in a good fleece – at 11.30am on Friday
  • Suiting Fibres to Projects – Each sheep breed produces fibre with different properties. Discover which breeds are ideal for socks and which for drapey shawls or hard wearing jumpers. Sue Blacker will be answering your questions and sharing her expert fibre knowledge – at 11.30am on Saturday

Woolfest continues to celebrate all things woolly and it isn’t just about buying and selling – it’s a great day out to discover the best of wool. You can find out more and book tickets here

Discover more about Cockermouth: Wordsworth & the woolly North West

To enjoy this Lakes cultural event and much more, book your break in the Lake District here