Monday, 30 June 2008

Back from woolfest 2008

Well back from the Woolfest feeling tired but happy. I had a very good Woolfest and really enjoyed myself meeting lots of interesting people and and talking a lot of dyeing talk. Enys who can be seen on the stall wearing a most amazing coat enjoyed herself too and sold loads of plants after a slightly slow start on Friday when she got into a panic and thought she would be taking them all home. This year we sold all the Japanese Polygonum (polygonum tinctoria) having sold none last year but Chinese Woad (Isatis indogitica) new this year was left behind. (Which is good news for me as I get it!) What people buy and don't buy is always a bit of a surprise. This year I sold a lot of my naturally dyed merino and quite a bit of hand painted merino 18.5 micron but almost none of my new inks. In fact the overwhelming reaction seemed to be "what are they for?"- and nobody wanted to play with them whereas at Wonderwool they received an enthusiastic response. :( I sold lots of my luxury felting packs and a few of my lovely eco brooches and bits of everything else. People looked at my solar dyed fabrics and pictures and felt stoles which I am teaching next year at the UK association of Weavers Spinners Dyers biannual summer school and made appreciative comments. I don't expect to sell pictures at something like the Woolfest, although I ahve done in the past, - I bring them more to show how I use my naturally dyed fibres. My stall is a mixture of a gallery and a shop. Sometimes I wonder whether I should choose to do one or the other?

I came back with more than a few ideas. Alison Daykin of Tinctoria Dyes was telling me of a student who has done a range of colours using extract dyes containing mordants such as oak gall, myrobalan and others ( ie high in tannin) and then overdying in the other dyes. That sounds fascianting. In the evening I also had time to read my Dominique Cardon and decided to try getting the turquoise on silk using fesh polygonum leaves. I also brought a kilo of organic merino from the mill down in Devon -Cold Harbour ( I think) . It is 19 micron and very gorgeous. This Iam going to Solar dye and aim to team up with my solar dyed fabrics. I am not sure quite where this is going yet but it is going somewhere.


  1. Great photos, Helen. I'm so glad you had a good time. Sounds like it was profitable in more ways than one.

  2. Helen, your stall looks gorgeous! I wish woolfest was a bit closer - I'd have browsed your stall no end:)) maybe the inks would have sold better at an "art" festival? if other "woollies" are like me - they can't draw for saving their lives:))

  3. Thanks Leigh and Bettina. I think you may be right Bettina but they sold well at Wonderwool so I thought they might sell at Woolfest. You can just never quite tell what is going to catch people's fancy!