It’s hard to believe that Fibre-East 2018 is only 3 weeks away! Here’s another look around the Marketplace to introduce you to some more of our wonderful exhibitors. I hope you’re saving hard for what promises to be a bumper year of wonderful woolliness!

For the Love of Yarn is an award-nominated independent yarn company based in Glasgow – they will be returning to Fibre-East for their 3rd year, bringing along a wall of beautiful hand dyed luxury yarn in an rainbow of bright and cheerful colours, as well as their signature hand made ergonomic polymer clay crochet hooks. Having recently launched their newest crochet shawl pattern ‘Pebbles on the Beach’,  they will also have exclusive Fibre-East-themed kits available. Their much loved notion pouches and project bags along with their handmade hook rolls will also be coming along. Lots of gorgeousness for you to feast your eyes on here!
Giddy Aunt Yarns was established in November 2016 by sisters Claire and Janice. They produce small batches of hand dyed luxurious yarns from their homes in Comber, Northern Ireland. They love experimenting with dye techniques and bases to create colourways which range from soft muted tones to vibrant neons. In addition, they supply Chiaogoo needles and hooks, Soak laundry products and various other accessories including their own range of denim project bags. Looks like the perfect place to top up your stash!

Woolmouse is a family consortium, producing hand dyed yarn under the label ‘Lovehandyed’, wooden shawl pins, stylish but sturdy craft aprons, project bags and purses, gift items as well as textile-themed cards. They are really excited to be working in collaboration with the designer Ruth Dorrington on a range of knitting patterns designed especially for Lovehandyed yarns which will be launched at Fibre-East. Very exciting to be part of the launch of a new range of patterns, so make sure you go along to take a look!

BasketBasket are very old friends of Fibre-East and will be bringing a mixture of handmade styles from Ghana, Madagascar and Morocco.  Virginia was lucky enough to spend time with some of the artisans in Madagascar last year learning more about the whole basket/bag making process.  The artisans are farmers first but can make some much needed income from making these products.
The bags are all made from palm trees that grow in the wild, so a completely sustainable product.  The majority are made with woven raffia panels – the branches are cut with the boughs used for building roofs and the leaves are cut into thin strips before being dried.  Another group of artisans then wash the raffia, in a stream near their village as very few homes have running water, bashing the raffia hard on stones to flatten it into wide strips before dyeing.  Dyes are manually mixed which is why it’s hard to get the same colours each time and then the dyed raffia is dried on the ground in the sunshine.  A different group of artisans then weave the raffia into panels on handlooms.  This can only be done during daylight hours as none of their homes have electricity.  Roughly 250g of raffia is used to make a 180cm x 62cm panel and takes a day to weave.  Palm panels are also woven and both panels are then cut into shapes for the bags and sewn together (by sewing machines) at another family home.  The leather is the by-product from meat production (zebu cow) and is sewn as handles and trim.
So many people are involved in the whole process which makes each item unique and provides a much needed income to some very talented artisans. If you’d like a beautiful basket to store your current project in, or better still to use as a shopping bag at this year’s show, make sure you visit Virginia at the colourful BasketBasket stand.

Home Farm Wenselydales is a 500 head flock of rare breed sheep kept for their fleece and wool. They sell this online, complimented with an exclusive range of patterns or through various specialist shows that occur throughout the year. Jayne has shared with us how their lambs are weaned. It’s absolutely fascinating. Read on to find out how her year has gone:

‘This year at Home Farm Wensleydales, despite the dreadful weather conditions that faced us from November until Easter, we had a tremendous lambing season.  We are delighted to have increased our slaughter free flock with the addition of a further 130 beautiful lambs and two new fields.

Lambing started at the beginning of March and ended mid April (with the arrival of a surprise lamb –  a result of an over-energetic ram who can clearly jump the high fences!!) and this is followed 4 months later with weaning.

I personally find the job of weaning our lambs very emotional.  This crucial time must be managed carefully to avoid stress to both the ewe and her lambs, although the lambs seem to find it more stressful than the ewes!  Minimising the stress and easing the process are very important factors on our farm both for the welfare of the animal and the quality of our wool.

Without our intervention, weaning would occur naturally at approximately 6 months of age.  We aim to wean at 4 months when the ewes milk has naturally decreased and there is less risk of her developing mastitis.

We take the ewes to a different area of the farm for a few days to allow her milk to dry up completely.  This only takes 3 or 4 days and the lambs are left in their familiar surroundings with all of the other lambs who have been with them since birth.

Once the ewes’ milk has dried up we return them to their groups and they are not separated again until winter when the lambs are fed a special diet to help them strong through these long colder months.

Keeping Longwool Wensleydale Sheep at Home Farm Wensleydales is an entirely different process to keeping sheep for meat.  There are many factors that will affect the quality of the wool that we produce and stress during weaning is one of the highest.  We cannot have any weakness in the staple or wool break in our premium fibre.

When we have successfully weaned our ewes and lambs we can look forward to a healthy flock growing luxury fibre for our wool and fleece customers.’

Thank you so much Jayne for sharing this with us. If you’d like to see the beautiful fibre for yourself, make sure you visit Jayne at the show.

Our last vendor for today is Knit One, a shop in Leicester City Centre selling popular brands of yarn. One of their unique and popular items are their Crochet and Knitting Kits.

Their Crochet shawl kit at £15 is always popular …available in many colours. They also have a number of Crochet cushion kits ranging in price from £12 – £21…also many colours to choose from. As well as this, they have a WYS Gems shawl kit at £26. They always bring a good selection of Lang yarns and will also have some new stock and kits to show case at the show. So head over to the KnitOne stand for lots of lovely kits at very reasonable prices.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look around the Marketplace. There will be another blog post soon with a last look at some of this year’s exhibitors. If you’ve already starting writing a wish list, why not buy your tickets in advance so you can make sure that you’re one of the first to get to your favourite exhibitor’s stand? You can get your tickets here so don’t delay!