Having been averse to technology I had to question my sudden rush to blog and I think I have hit on why I turned to my keyboard. It was the end of Wool ‘n’ Stuff a group of local woolly people to which I belong…sniffle…belonged…Let me tell you a little bit about this marvelous group of craft-y women.
The initial impetus to set up Wool ‘n’ Stuff had been to explore wool crafts in the ambient surroundings of Kendal Museum. The museum was facing hard times, even the threat of closure and we hoped to lend it some moral support. We gathered for the first time in the autumn of 2006 to the strains of Viking music – creating the mood for the ancient Scandinavian craft of tablet weaving – in the midst of medieval and Roman artefacts and since then we have continued to celebrate the woolly textiles that are our Cumbrian heritage, after all ‘Pannus Mihi Panis’ (“Wool is my Bread”).
While based at Kendal Museum each activity was run by a Wool ‘n’ Stuff member and between us we covered tablet weaving, drop spinning, knitting, and prodded rag-rugging. In addition the owner of ’Spinning A Yarn’ from Ulverston visited us and gave a wonderful talk on the History of Knitting. Did you know there is a North-South (class) divide in how you hold your knitting needles? Apparently Northern working knitters like the Knitters of Dent who knitted to earn a living kept one needle firmly tucked under their arm while ‘middle class’ Southern hobby knitters knitted with both needles free. Being a born and bred Northerner my mother always clamped one needle tightly under her armpit. Consequently I do the same…but I have yet to earn a penny from knitting!
The museum remained safe but at the time a reduction in staff and hours meant we had to find a new home which we did in Kendal Library where we resided for a couple of sessions – looking at different fleeces and holding a quiz on our woolly friends. So many breeds of sheep! Unfortunately we are a mucky lot and sought out our next venue the YWCA because we could branch out into the messier crafts of natural dying, felting (textile artist Annie Coxey visited us for this one), and tye dye.
In our YWCA home we held sessions on easy-weaving, tubular tablet weaving, hooked rag rugging, spinning wheels and crotchet. Thanks to The Brewery Arts Centre we were supplied with marvelous teachers and three funded sessions through their ‘Motto’ (you remember “Pannus mihi Panis”?) project.
When building work meant another move we found ourselves in the grand surroundings of Kendal Town Hall and finally we have been ensconced in the Art Room of Castle Street Community Centre where we could again indulge ourselves with wet wool crafts like felting and its beautiful cousin Nuno felting.
Wool ‘n’ Stuff-ers are a smashing bunch. Each session has been rich with laughter and probably more biscuits than are good for us. It’s been a privilege me dears.
During our years together we created a beautiful handmade archive. Our felt covered book is currently being brought up to date. Once it is looking its complete best I’ll take some photos to show you. So watch this space.
I don’t know if the end of Wool n Stuff has anything to do with this but I’ve started a ‘comfort blanket’.
Crochet is relaxing – most of the time – working round and round and round an ever growing granny square is almost meditative and starting this blanket has kept me sane over the last week. In using up my stash I am hoping to have a snuggly cover ready for the chilly winter nights.
Meanwhile back in ‘sunny Cumbria’ (yes summer’s still here) it was a very strange morning. As I toddled in to the library there was something special in the air, shops were open that would usually be closed for at least another hour, the town was very spick and span and the good folk of the Auld Grey Town were gathering along Stricklandgate.
Bunting was everywhere,
So who was it all for? The Queen and Princess Anne who visited Kendal today (thanks to ST for taking the photo for me).
It all felt very jolly. And it continued to be very jolly as I was invited out to lunch with a couple of my bestest buddies. It was well worth the climb…
No need for the comfort blanket tonight. Sleep tight.