TEXT: REBECA SCHILLER
If you happen to be traveling to Great Britain in June take a detour to Cockermouth in Cumbria to visit Woolfest, a festival that celebrates sheep, wool and fiber crafts.
Woolfest was inspired in 2005 by the late Carolyn Rawlinson, a co-founder and member of The Wool Clip, a Cumbrian cooperative, with the aim to honor all aspects of wool – from hill farming and rare breed fleece animals to the latest techniques and creations. According to Rawlinson, “I had dreamt for years of creating a really big show celebrating wool, spinning, dyeing, knitting and all the things associated with this wonderful part of the textile world. I suggested the idea at a Wool Clip meeting and to my surprise (and shock) everyone decided to take it on. Woolfest was born.”
One of the many elements that makes Woolfest unique, but also the original British festival of wool is its attention rare sheep breeds, fleece animals and raw fleece—the root of all things wool. For this year’s Woolfest, more space will be given over to the livestock side of the event. Several new breeds are expected to join the Herdwicks and other animals taking part in the popular Rare Breeds Parade.
“Last year, the lambs were a particular favorite, especially the cuddly Greyface Dartmoor,” said Alice Underwood, one of Woolfest’s organizers, “More lambs will be present at the event this year, including Manx Loaghtan and Wensleydale, and we are delighted to also have the amazing Valais Blacknose sheep which won all the plaudits for cuteness after they appeared on BBC Countryfile last year.”
This year’s festival will include a number of tapestries on display including the Quaker Tapestry. More than 4000 men, women and children have been involved in making the Tapestry, which is made up of 77 panels in all and features all aspects of Quaker life, past and present. The exhibit will also include a discussion of the techniques and stitches used in creating the tapestry.
Woolfest 2015 takes place on Friday 26 and Saturday 27 June from 10am when the event takes over Mitchell’s Lakeland Livestock Centre in Cockermouth for those two days. Entry is just £8 per day (including full programme) with free entry for accompanied children. Directions and details can be found at www.woolfest.co.uk or on the event’s Facebook page or by calling The Wool Clip at Caldbeck on 016974 78707 during shop hours.