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Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Woolfest & Cumbria

We had a grea time in Cumbria last week. Because Cumbria is a long way from us we always add an extra day to this trip and do a day of sightseeing before Woolfest. On the drive up we try to stop somewhere for a bit of a break, especially if the weather is good. Dunham Massey is a National Trust property near Manchester. It's only a few minutes drive from the M6 and easy to find. It's an oasis in beautiful weather.

It's lovely to take a break from motorway driving and go for a walk around the lush gardens at Dunham Massey. The gardens are huge and there are lakes, streams and a beautiful rose garden.

This was the first time we'd seen the rose garden. I must admit the roses didn't look their best but the scent was wonderful as we walked around the rose garden.

Above and below are two of the photos I took from the rose garden. We've looked around the house a few times now but this year they'd converted some rooms to a World War 1 hospital. The house was used as a hospital during WW1 and it was interesting to learn more about life at Dunham Massey during WW1.

One of the things I love most about Dunham Massey is the deer that roam around the park. They seem fairly tame and you can get quite close to them to take photos. These deer were just in front of the main entrance to the house.

On Thursday we always have a day of sightseeing before we set up for the show in the late afternoon/evening. As our National Trust membership ended yesterday and we're not planning to renew it this year, we decided we ought to take advantage of it this year so looked for National Trust properties in Cumbria. We've been to a couple of properties here before. The weekend before we left, we watched the Beatrix Potter film with Renee Zellwegger, so we decided to make it a Beatrix Potter day.  We visited her farmhouse, Hilltop Farm, which is set in  beautiful little village near Lake Windermere.

The house was tiny and there was a ticketed entry system so we had to spend a bit of the time exploring the garden which was also quite small. There were lots of Japanese tourists there and it was interesting to watch them being thrilled by things we take for granted, like a field with sheep grazing. Living in Cornwall, every field around here is full of sheep and the sheep roam freely on the moors.

The village is full of places referenced in Beatrix Potter's stories. Above is Mr McGregor. I must admit I'm not hugely familiar with Beatrix Potter's books. I hadn't heard of her till I had kids and Simon probably read more Beatrix Potter stories to the girls than I did.

The village was beautiful and it was interesting to look around her house. There was knitting on the table in the sitting rom. And I saw two beautiful old spinning wheels, unfortunately we weren't allowed to take photos. After we looked around Hilltop Farm, we headed to the Beatrix Potter gallery at nearby Hawkshead Village. The exhibition changes every year and this year had a holiday theme. After that we headed to Ambleside for fish and chips and drove back to Cockermouth to set up for Woolfest

We had a double stall this year but still struggled to fit everything in.It's important to leave enough room for people to move around so they can access all parts of the stall. Also, there are a lot of visitors in wheel chairs and I try to be concious of ensuring that they can access everyting too.

I did 4 continental knitting demos every day which were well received. I'm working on converting as many English style knitters as possible to continental knitting. By the way my next online continental knitting course starts next week.  Every year at Woolfest, we sell more than we did the previous year. Last year was fantastic in terms of sales and I didn't think we'd improve on that. Wonderwool Wales was a bit disappointing in terms of sales this year and as I'm selling very different yarn from last year that worried me. Last year I sold my own hand-dyed yarn. This year I'm selling Lotus Yarns and Schoppel yarns. So Woolfest was a bit boost to my confidence as sales were up around 40% on last year which was amazing! We sold lots of yarn but also sold lots of patterns. A huge thank you to everyone who helped make this year so successful. I appreciate you all. And a big thank you to the Woolfest organisers, the Wool Clip ladies, who did a great job as always. I'm excited about next year.

Doing a show is exhausing and the long drive home doesn't help. We got home early Sunday evening after leaving Cumbria at noon after a quick stop at Ullswater. 

Yesterday I didn't do much at all. I finished knitting a deadline sweater in the morning. I had to finish it by 11am so I could book a DHL collection in the afternoon. I must admit I was worried about getting it done in time but I did it. So the rest of the day I relaxed. I cast on for a new design using this pretty pink Silky Cashmere Fingering which I've had my eyes on for a while. I picked up the new issue of Love Patchwork & Quilting and sat in the garden knitting, drinking ice tea and listening to podcasts for most of the afternoon.

Today it's back to reality and there's pattern writing and unpacking on the to do list. Half my lounge is full of boxes of yarns and patterns and my cleaner comes tomorrow morning so I need to get it moved. I'll try to get the yarn on the website as soon as I can and my aim is to get it all listed by the end of the week.

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