Saturday and Sunday at Woodfest Wales were bright and busy, until it started to rain on Sunday afternoon when everyone packed up early and went home. Many thanks to everyone who took part and helped to spread the word about handspinning and weaving. We all had a good time (I think!), and some of us were quite hoarse from all the talking. Thank you also to our friends from the Clwyd Guild who came along to help on Sunday - thanks to Gill for the photos.
A quiet-ish start to the Woodfest Weekend - hardly a surprise as it was a weekday in term time. As you might expect, there were a lot of older people and children under school age - and dogs of all shapes and sizes. In fact, you could rename the event Dogfest.
A steady trickle of people made their way to the Woodcraft marquee, and could hardly miss the Abergele Guild stand right by the door.
As always, people were fascinated by spinning and spinning wheels: by the fact that something as light and fluffy as fleece can be turned into a strong "thread" just by twisting; by the ingenuity of whoever invented the spinning wheel; by the way the thing works with a simple treadle, drive band and braking system. And, as always, everyone had their own story: the man who was born in a woollen mill in mid-Wales; the lady who knits for her grandchildren and talks to them on Skype; the two lads (on a school outing?) who knew all about drop spindles - "the Romans used them"; the ladies who always wanted to learn to spin; the men who remembered their mothers/aunts/grandmothers spinning and knitting many years ago.
Several people were bold enough to have a try at using a drop spindle, with a bit of help. "Bottom hand pinch, top hand pull, top hand pinch, bottom hand let go and move up to meet top hand, and I'll look after the spindle for you". Or in the cases of several very tiny children, "You spin the spindle and I'll stretch the wool for you". In all cases the intrepid spindlers went away with a small length of woad dyed yarn and a sense of achievement.
Bigger crowds are predicted for the weekend, so let's hope the weather remains fine.
A gloriously hot June day - possibly a bit too hot - finds Val, Alan and Alison at Gwrych Castle Open Day.
Gwrych Castle is a slightly odd place: a Victorian castle-residence-folly which has been semi derelict for years. If you look it up in Wikipedia you read that it is a hotel and leisure centre. It isn't.
I am not entirely sure who actually owns it ("EPM UK"), but the Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust is doing stalwart work to maintain and restore the site http://gwrychtrust.co.uk .
They kindly invited us back after last year's successful gig, and we had a prime site on the upper terrace. This had the benefit (as the estate agents say) of a spectacular view across Abergele to Liverpool Bay. There was also some welcome shade as the sun swept round to its' zenith.
Val and Alan came in their camper van, which provided a windbreak and tea-making facilities in one. Thanks are due to Jenni F. for lending her gazebo; all in all we had a very comfortable, even luxurious, pitch.
Although visitor numbers were perhaps a little lower than expected, we had lots of interest in our spinning. People came from all over the U.K. - most were on half term holiday, and many were staying in the campsite at the bottom of the hill.
Our friends of JuMu designs were weaving away behind us; the mediaeval knights and their retainers were battling away below us, and conjuring, fire-eating and stilt-walking were all on display.
Val brought her prized Scandinavian wheel, a present from one of her sons who carried it personally (in his rucksack?) all the way from Denmark. It isn't in working order yet, but Alan has plans for it. Val was spinning Jacob's fleece from the farm park at the bottom of the hill - very appropriate to the time and place - and I kept in with the mediaeval flavour by drop spindle spinning woad dyed fleece.