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Tuesday, 20 August 2013

FIBRE EAST - report

Those of you who attended Fibre East last year will remember only too clearly the horror of worm armageddon and the unrelenting rain. I know that the mud seeped at least a foot up the legs of my jeans and there was a distinctly damp woolly smell in the car all the way home. We bemoaned the weather but praised those stalwart stallholders who stood in their own muddy puddles for hours on end, and as we poured over our purchases, each skein a little on the damp side - we all agreed what a thoroughly great day out we'd had!

What a difference a year makes! The sun came out, there was a change of venue (Redborne Community College in Bedford) and to my great joy, there wasn't a water-logged, worm infested field anywhere to be found. Instead - and grant me a little lenience here to indulge in a Great British pasttime - complaining about the weather - the sun beat down upon sheep, stalls and shoppers alike, making us all pant a little in the unbearable heat. The marquees were like open ovens, and the main halls inside the college building were stuffy and airless . . . at one point I would have given over my entire stash for air con and a drink of something iced. We all groaned about the heat and felt slightly worried that the overwhelming aroma this year was less damp and woolly, and more hot and sweaty! BUT, as we all sat steaming in the car on the way home, we all agreed that we'd had an immensely enjoyable time - which just goes to show that in England, we moan a lot about the weather but we NEVER let it spoil a good day out!

The queue snaked up the hill, but my knitting group had managed to get right to the front!

Sue Stratford
The wealth of gorgeous yarn, delectable fibre, accessories and handmade goodies was evident on every stall - and the Show was much bigger this year, attracting vendors from as far afield as Devon (John Arbon Textiles/ Fibre Harvest) and Felt4You from Holland. I particularly enjoyed meeting Emily Wessel - Tin Can Knits and bought her book - which she happily signed. Rachel Coopey was also there promoting her new book of socks and many amazing indie dyers such as Skein Queen whose yarn tree hung with 'mini squeens' was just stunnning, Sparkleduck, The Knitting Goddess and Boo's Attic and I must also give a mention to two MillaMia stockists - The Knitting Hut and The Knitting Gift Shop. It was great too, to see Texere Yarns there, in a room in the College, with their incredible bargain cones of linen and yarn, and the p/hop stand who do the most excellent fund raising for Medicins Sans Frontieres through donations for patterns. I missed Artisan Yarns who had been on my 'must see' list but found out later that they weren't actually there due to illness.

The lovely folk from The Knitting Gift Shop and Jo from the Shinybees podcast helping out Kate on the p/hop stand 

After the initial round of shopping, we were all ready to retreat to a shady corner of the field and meet up with some knitting friends whom we had arranged to picnic with. We ate and shared our purchases and then, of course, the knitting and crochet projects emerged from each bag until we were all sat happily chatting and crafting in the sun. It was a lovely calm and relatively cool hiatus in a busy day and gave us all a chance to gather ourselves for one last foray amongst the stalls to buy up those precious items that we couldn't leave behind.

Honestly, our last meander through the stalls was rather half-hearted as we were more than a little distracted at the thought of finding some ice-cream, but we made a few final purchases (mine was some very pretty fibre from HilltopCloud which my splendid friend Helen is going to spin into scrumptious yarn for me!) and then made our way across the field back to the VERY hot cars.

Beautiful fibre
I really do love a day out at a fibre and knitting festival, and there are an increasing amount to chose from. Some of the bigger more well-established events are great for seeing the big brands that we all know and love, but these smaller shows are often the place where you can find the unusual, meet with the fabulous local yarn shop owners and designers and get to know new knitting friends. Fibre East has grown this year, but still manages to feel intimate. Come rain or shine, it'll be on my list of fabulous fibre festivals to visit next year.
(posted by Max and with special thanks to Kirsty Collins for the use of some of her photos)

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