To Wonderwool, or not to Wonderwool?

That is, indeed, the question.

I have a dilemma. Wonderwool Wales is wonderful. But sometimes it isn’t quite so wonderful, and I don’t know what to do about this year. I have to make up my mind soon, and I think I know which way I’m tending…

wonderwool 2012a

This is my dilemma in more detail, in the hope that spelling it out might help me determine what to do. In the autumn a few of us decided we’d like to go to both the Saturday and the Sunday this year, and a provisional booking has been made at a B&B convenient for the showground. We now need to pay up, which means I need to decide if I’m going – or if I’m not. And I honestly can’t make up my mind.


Firstly, the reasons why I might not go.

Although my health is now well on the way to full recovery, it’s still a bit fragile. I’m trying to put that to one side, though, as a lot can change between now and the end of April. Next, last year’s Wonderwool was problematic. It was freezing, and not just cold, but bone-chillingly, mind-numbingly, purse-clenchingly, freezing. I know that’s out of anybody’s control (and if it is down to anyone reading this, kindly ensure no repeats for this year, thank you), but the catering situation was dire. Cold weather equals a need for hot drinks, unfortunately, and the catering stands were utterly overwhelmed. A friend and I waited in shifts for coffee and a cake – we couldn’t face the long queues outside for hot food, and couldn’t get anywhere near more filling inside options – and it took us over 45 minutes. Frustrating and exasperating.

Then I feel that the show may be getting a little unbalanced. I’ve been for loads of years now (I missed the very first one, but that’s all). There really are a lot of indie dyers, and it seems to me that every year there are more and more. Now, many of my friends are indie dyers, and I dearly love a luxury single skein, but I’d like to see more variety, more stalls where you can buy enough for a garment without either breaking the bank or dealing with colour matching problems. There are a few, and they are almost always mobbed, so I’m evidently not the only one who feels this way.


Plus, of course, there’s the fact that I have the willpower of a maggot. My stash isn’t enormous by comparison to some, but nonetheless I’ve had stash problems (some yarn has been in my stash so long that it’s rotted, possibly due to conditions while all my stuff was in storage a few years ago), and really need do to knit up what I’ve got. I have just discovered some alpaca, for instance, that I bought at WW four years ago. How on earth can I justify going and possibly buying more? Given that I won’t be able to resist?

I mean, who could?


And there’s the expense factor in addition to the maggot-willpower factor: travel, the B&B, two days’ entry, plus all the general stuff I’ll just have to buy.

Positives? Well, the reverse side of all of the above. It will be life-affirming. It might not be cold. I might be able to get something to drink, something to eat and manage to find somewhere to sit down with my friends. There might be new and different stalls (and I don’t mean more people selling things which aren’t really remotely wooly or related to craft). I might be able to resist buying enough stash to soak up the Irish Sea, and I might win the lottery.

Then there’s the craic factor. The people, from the minute the doors open (which is when you stand the best chance of investigating things like which spinning wheel suits you the most).


People you haven’t seen for ages. People you’ve only spoken to on the phone or have only met in the virtual world. People you last saw two hours ago in the car but who have bought lots of exciting things since at stalls you somehow seem to have missed, and who can point you in their direction. People who can help with wooly problems, whether spinny, knitty or sheepy. People whose enthusiasm for what they do or sell carries right over and inspires you too.

There’s the rich variety of stalls (no, not those selling handbags). They can point you in all sorts of directions, make you consider – perhaps – more dyeing experiments, or working with different materials.


I suppose it’s the inspiration factor. Colour, colour, colour and more colour. Textures. Natural fleece colours. Alpaca in all its variants. Silk – and what silk. More unusual things like bamboo, hemp, milk protein. Buttons: contemporary, vintage, ceramic, bakelite, bone, pearl… Books, books current and books out of print; back issues of US magazines…

Option 1: go, and stay over, and de’il tak the hindmost.
Option 2: give it a miss this year and come to it fresh in 2014…
and maybe, just maybe, there’s an
Option 3: go for one day, on the Sunday, with other friends who aren’t intending to stay over.



21 thoughts on “To Wonderwool, or not to Wonderwool?

  1. karibu57

    I know what you mean so well Kate, feeling same about catering (it’s become worse over the last couple of years) and stalls (becoming too same-same). I have decided to give it a miss this year for those reasons. Also it’s Stitch Nation year and that I love..and then there is Fibre East which I want to investigate this year…and I wish I was closer to Unravel in Farnham…You see, I won’t really miss Wonderwool (or will I?) Good luck in deciding 😉

    1. kate Post author

      I was beginning to wonder if it was just me, and I’m quite relieved to find it isn’t! I’m still havering (it’s close to my birthday, and it’s been suggested that it turn into a birthday weekend), but am coming down on the side of — no, I still don’t know. Maybe I need another fibre festival to try – I’ve not been to Woolfest…

      1. karibu57

        I hate to say it, and I know I will be cursed by many, but I hated Woolfest. Even more cold and drafty and stalls very tight together so you can’t really see things (unless you are into fights). As you are a spinner you might like it more. I heard so many good things about Fibre East and think I am almost decided that I will go there this year. As Jamie says:” Try something today (this year in my case)”.

        1. kate Post author

          You’re not the first person I’ve come across who feels like you do – the lack of space seems to be a persistent grouch, as does mud (but that can’t be helped, really). Fibre East is looking good – though possibly far too tempting on the the fleece front… and I already have three waiting for better weather in the greenhouse. Er, you can’t really wash them indoors. Well, you can but, boy, do you get complaints.

  2. ohdebs

    I vote for option 3. Its the best of both worlds Kate.

    Hearing about all this makes me wish I was there. We don’t have anything like that that is even remotely close to where I live. At least I haven’t found anything yet. And that is probably a good thing because I have that same maggot-y willpower problem and a huge stash of yarn that keeps whispering “Hey…lady with the needles…when are you going to cast us on?” and frequently “Why are you spinning more when you haven’t knitted US?” I just cover my ears and continue on. My postman likes to tease me when he delivers yet more yarn “Just keep ordering!”

    1. kate Post author

      Option 3 is a good compromise, but might mean four hours in a car with someone (a non-wooly person who insists on accompanying their partner everywhere, presumably in case they make a sudden bid for freedom) I find quite difficult. Several of my friends are going then, or say they are, but it’s a question of who has car space. Or maybe I can forestall that by doing the driving…

      I know what you mean about the stash, but at least my postman hasn’t twigged. He has commented about plants – ‘what potatoes are you going for this year, then?’ – but not wool. Yet.

  3. caityrosey

    I’ve got a similar dilemma right now. There’s not excuse for me to go shopping for yarn, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to.

    1. kate Post author

      I thought I might be the only one… I’m still havering. My head says don’t go, but parts of my heart say ‘go on, you know you want to….’ The other parts say ‘2012 was horrible…’

  4. Guzzisue

    I’m also in the will I/won’t I camp at the moment, last years cold left me aching so much but the previous two years we have camped and had a wonderful time chatting to people in the ravelry area. If I don’t go I’ll miss meeting up with all the lovely spinners, If I do go then it means sorting out transport etc,,,,do I really need any more fleece/fibre…..xx

    1. kate Post author

      OK. If you’re like me, no, you don’t need more fleeces / fibre / sheep / anything. Sorting out transport – yup, I’m thinking about that for option 3, too. Last year was a killer, but it was exceptional. It’s the people I’ll miss most…

  5. Liz Jones

    I’m leaving my decision until the weekend – we arrive back from Australia on the Thursday before, so it depends how jet-lagged I feel. I’ve been most years, missed one when we were in Oz. Last year was so cold on the Saturday (and I believe Sunday was even colder) & as you say, the catering was the worst it’s ever been. At least I have the option of making my decision on the day – it takes me just over an hour to drive there (and through the most breath-takingly beautiful scenery around Merthyr & the Brecon Beacons).

    1. kate Post author

      You’re only an hour away – that makes the decision easier. I’ve got 2 hours over the mountains, walk around all day, not be able to get a drink or sit down, 2 hour drive back, tired. It’s also a magnificent drive but hmm….

      I don’t imagine the catering will improve significantly this year. I got a shirty response to a tactful comment I gave about it when asked for feedback last year, a reply which seemed to imply that they didn’t recognise there was a problem. I know wool is the focus, but the catering is important if you expect your customers to stay and spend (and the stallholders were complaining too – after all, they couldn’t nip off, grab a coffee, and get back on their stalls without being AWOL for hours). So packed lunch and flasks of coffee this year, I think. If I go.

  6. Elizabeth

    I’ll be going as usual, mainly for the craic of seeing people who I only get to see once or twice a year at shows (depending on if I can be bothered to leave the depths of mid-Wales.)

    1. kate Post author

      That’s what’s really tempting me…

      So at present we have one who (probably) is going, one who definitely isn’t and several undecideds. Still can’t make up my mind…

  7. knitsofacto

    I’d say give it a miss and tackle Woolfest instead, it’s really much, much better, well I think so anyway. I enjoyed Wonderwool last year but was cold, thirsty and hungry by the time I left for the two and a half hour drive home again, and I didn’t find much I wanted to buy … multi dyed skeins really aren’t my thing and that was practically all there was. And don’t forget there’s the new Yarndale in Skipton in September which is surely doable for you and may be worth a look.

    1. kate Post author

      I’d been wondering about Woolfest for a change, though I’d probably need to find somewhere to stay. I did once go up in that direction for a day to interview a top chef, interviewed the man for about two hours, drove back, had to stop at Travelodge as utterly exhausted. Would need considerably more than tow hours at Woolfest… I could certainly do Skipton, stay with my bro in North Yorks… hmm. I’m nearer to a decision!

  8. Anne

    I’m going as I missed last year and really its just to meet up with friends as I truly don’t need any more of ANYTHING!!
    But your right there are too many one skein/fibre wonder stalls atm and I think these shows need to get back to how they started but with a recession om they are grabbing at any one wanting a stall.
    I think as so many shows are popping up all over the country now this will be a very interesting year for the trade , after all we still only get the same wage.
    Personally I rather it to Woolfest which is so congested and the only attraction for me there would be fleece but I have now over the years built a list of reputable suppliers and I’m not in need of any more atm !!
    Of course our huge advantage is our motorhome so we don’t have to que for tes etc and you are more than welcome to avail yourself to a cuppa any time. We usually end up with a van full:)

    1. kate Post author

      I’m going now, I’ve been told, 😉

      I wonder what effect all the other shows will have on the Big Daddies like Wonderwool and Woolfest? I know at least one person who’s not doing WW but some of the smaller ones instead, and Woolfest has limited room plus lots of demand so can pick and choose. I agree with you about the motivation for the stall selection at WW, but find the lack of editorial control – as it were – irritating…

      I’ll be waiting outside your van!

      (Health iffy and I won’t go, of course. But I’m going to be FINE. Just in case it’s listening, I’ll be PERFECTLY ALL RIGHT. And so will you.)

      1. kate Post author

        And an update, as several people have asked – I’m NOT going, or at least I’m not staying over. A friend is using my room and I may go on the Sunday, depending on how my back behaves. I’m not convinced myself – and that’s probably just as well, given the extent of my stash.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.