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Wonderwool Wales 2024 attracts visitors from around the globe

THE Wonderwool Wales event will be held at the Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells on April 27-28.
Wonderwool Wales is the premier Wool and Natural Fibre Festival in Wales.

First held in 2006 to promote the market for Welsh wool, the festival celebrates the green credentials of Welsh wool and its versatility.

Tickets for the 18th show, which traditionally attracts more than 6,000 visitors, can be purchased online in advance at https://wonderwoolwales.ticketsrv.co.uk . There will also be tickets for sale at the gate costing £12 per day or £22 for the weekend. Young people aged 16 years and under have free admission.

Overseas visitors will be travelling from as far away to Australia, America and Canada to attend this year’s Wonderwool Wales, the award-winning show that celebrates all that’s great about Welsh wool and natural fibres.

“A group of around 20 people will be jetting in from America and Canada with Rowan Tree Travel and one lady from Australia has arranged that her trip to see family coincides with our event said director Chrissie Menzies .

This year’s event will see nine Woolschool afternoon workshops each day which has required the organisers to book extra space on the showground. Some of the Woolschools, which give visitors the chance to learn or perfect their skills with help from an expert, are already sold out. Book places online by the Wonderwool Wales website.

The event covers everything from the start to the end of the creative process – from exhibits of sheep, through raw and hand dyed fibres, yarn for knitting and crochet, embellishments, equipment, dyes and books to superb examples of finished textile art, craft, clothing and home furnishings.

For those seeking creative inspiration, there will be demonstrations and have-a-go sessions hosted by some exhibitors.

The workshops include ‘An introduction to drop spindles with Marianne Larcombe and Jo Glenn’, ‘Improving your spinning with a drop spindle with Freyalyn Close-Hainsworth’, ‘Wet felted leaf brooch with Svetlana Lilley’, ‘Drum carding with Jill Shepherd’,’ Macrame dream catcher with Alice Thomas’, ‘Botanical dyeing and Shibori resist techniques with Siân Lester’, ‘Backstrap weaving using rigid heddle with Helen Deighan’, ‘Introduction to needle-woven tapestry with Joanna Helm’ and ‘Needle felted busy Mr Mole with Steffi Stern’.

The event started by predominantly featuring wool and wool products, the showcase has broadened to include a whole range of natural fibre items, including alpaca, mohair, angora, hemp, flax and silk. The organisers aim to expand the show each year with new ideas, whilst maintaining the standards, ethos and enthusiasm of the festival.

Initially set up with European funding via the Welsh Assembly Government by Glasu, the LEADER+ Programme in Powys, since 2009 it has been run by a small group of part of the original steering committee and who formed Wonderwool Wales Ltd, (a not for profit company), to ensure the show’s continuation.

Other popular features are expected to be the Sheep Walk Fashion Show and some new street food caterers will provide a wider menu for show visitors.

Last year’s Sheep Walk Fashion Show

One of the star attractions this year will be an engaging Flock2Flight display of static and flying wet felted and needle felted birds made by fibre artist Janna Turner and two friends, Alex Johnstone and Deborah Taylor Dyer.

Shepton Mallet based Janna, who runs Flocks2Felts, and Alex are no strangers to Wonderwool Wales. Janna was project lead and felting advisor and Alex contributed with others to a special, eight-metre long exhibition entitled Alice in Wonderwool in 2022.

The eye-catching, hand crafted interpretation of Alice in Wonderland installation featured an array of captivating characters, all crafted from felt and fibre.

“It promises to be another memorable Wonderwool Wales, with all 220 places for exhibitors sold out and another 10 on the waiting list,” said director Chrissie Menzies.

Wonderwool Wales 2023 Bursary winners Jade Carey Holt, from Aberystwyth and Kay-lee Davies, from Capel Dewi, near Llandysul, will also be exhibiting their work on stand C1.

New exhibitors are the Museum of Welsh Textiles from Knighton and Glamorgan Smallholders’ Great Glamorgan Sock Project, which involves members making a pair of socks from each sheep breed in the county.

“We are encouraging all visitors this year to make their own beanie or hat to engage our supporters and add a little bit of colour and fun said Menzies.

Stewards will be awarding vouchers to the best hats on both days.