Fibre and Friends

Fibre and Friends

It’s been a while since I published anything, as I have been going through quite a difficult time.  But I was determined to finish the year with a blog, so this one is a bit of an amalgamation!  Way back in April, I was lucky enough to be invited on a day trip to Wonderwool 2022 by my friend Debbie.  I hadn’t even heard of Wonderwool when she invited me, but when she told me all about it, I couldn’t wait to go!!

For those of you (like me) who have not heard of Wonderwool, it is an annual wool and natural fibre festival that is held in The Royal Welsh Showground, Llanelwedd, Builth Wells, Powys, Wales.  It was first held in 2006, ‘to promote the market for Welsh wool and add value to product for small wool & fibre producers in Wales’.  The festival has grown over the years, and ‘covers everything from the start to the end of the creative process’.  There are exhibits of sheep, raw and hand dyed fibres, yarn, embellishments, equipment, dyes, books and also finished textile art, craft, clothing and home furnishings.   Basically, it’s a felt and fibre artist’s dream come true, where like-minded people can find almost anything they need, and it instills a feeling of excitement, much like a child in a toy shop (at least that’s how I felt!) Because of the covid pandemic, it hadn’t run for a year or two, but this year was to be the first event since the pandemic, so there was great anticipation of the resuming of this popular event.


Around the same time, I had been looking for a carding machine, as I wanted to start making my own wool batts to spin.  Just before my friend invited me to Wonderwool, I had found a lovely Pat Green Carder for sale on Facebook Marketplace, and I had decided to purchase it.  However, the lady selling it (Mary Rogers) lived in Birmingham, England, so I was trying to work out when I could make the drive up to Birmingham to collect it.  As it happened, Mary told me that she was planning to go to Wonderwool, and could bring the carder with her!  Fantastic, I thought… this is definitely meant to be!!  Don’t you just love it when things just fall into place?!


Having made all the arrangements, Debbie and I took the drive up to Builth Wells for the day, and boy, was I totally inspired!  When we walked into Wonderwool, I can honestly say my eyes must have lit up!  I really did feel like a child in a sweet shop!!  There was stall after stall of beautiful fibre, yarn, and all things sheep (not to mention other types of fibre, including alpaca, angora to name a few)!!  What struck me first, was the wonderful array of colour.  There were exhibitions of different fibre craft, demonstrations of spinning and weaving, with exhibitors from all over the UK.  We also had the chance to talk to a range of like-minded people, who were happy to share their tips and techniques with us.  Wow, what a wonderful time we had!


One of the exhibitors we spent time talking to, was a lady by the name of Edna Gibson, who explained that she had spent time living in Japan being taught the wonderful art of Kumihimo, an umbrella term for several kinds of Japanese braidmaking that were unknown outside Japan until about 30 years ago.  Edna told us that she was instrumental in introducing Kumihimo to the UK.   The term Kumihimo is a composite of two words, ‘kumi’ meaning coming together or group, and ‘himo’ meaning string, cord, rope or braid.  Whilst most of us will have  heard of Samurai,  I didn’t realise that the Samurai armour plates are laced together with cords, traditionally Kumihimo braids, which are also tied around ‘obis’, the sashes used on kimonos.  Edna explained that she was taught Kumihimo by a very skilled Japanese person, and brought her knowledge back to the UK.  The looms used for Kumihimo are known as ‘dai’ or ‘stands’, and are usually made from either wood or bamboo.  All the dai are set up with carefully measured threads (as many as 80 strands of fine silk are wound on each bobbin or ‘tama’).  The weighted bobbins are lifted and moved in specific repeated sequences  to produce each type of braid. Traditionally, silk was used to make braids but today, braiders also use artificial silk or rayon.

  This is my friend Debbie, with the lovely and very knowledgeable Edna.

This shows the two types of dai used.  Apologies for the poor quality of this photo, but it was taken from one of the information boards Edna had put up…

  The top photo shows braiding on a ‘Marudai’ and the bottom photo shows braiding on a ‘Takadai’.

Edna’s braiding…


As you can imagine, it was hard not to go on a full-out spending spree at Wonderwool!! There were so many beautiful fibres on offer, not to mention everything else!! I haven’t crocheted for many years, but was inspired by a beautiful pattern, by Janie Crow called ‘Mystical Lanterns’.  I ended up purchasing both the pattern and the yarn!  It’s a work in progress, but I’m enjoying the process!

These show some of the exhibits on show at Wonderwool.  Hopefully, my scarf will turn out as lovely.


There were so many exhibits and stalls, too many to include here, but this will give you a flavour of a few of the exhibits on show…

  To be honest, I was so busy choosing fibre to purchase, I didn’t take any photographs of the actual stalls!!


At the end of the day, I met up with Mary and her friend, to collect my drum carder.  It was lovely to share a coffee and a chat with her, and she was able to share the history of the carder with me.  We parted the day friends who share a passion for fibre, and agreed we would definitely meet up again at next year’s Wonderwool!  We shared a ‘selfie’ before we left…


As I mentioned, I haven’t posted for a while, due to going through a very difficult period in my life, which resulted in me not having the energy or inclination to do any fibre craft whatsoever, so I had not actually even tried out my new carder until quite recently.  But when I felt able to resume my spinning, I found it really helped me in a very mindful way.  I particularly found that spinning brought me a sense of calm and peacefulness, with positivity and joy.


My first project was back in October, hence the autumnal colours!  I put together a collection of merino fibre of different colours, with one part of bamboo in a dark shade.  I weighed the fibre first, as I wanted to make two batts of fibre that I could spin ready to weave with.


Having never used a drum carder before, this was all experimental but in the end, I was really pleased with how it turned out…

I didn’t want to blend the fibre too much, as I wanted to have the different colours come through when I spun it.  Also, I’d heard about people ending up with ‘mud’, so that was something else I wanted to avoid.  Having blended my fibre to reflect my need, I then proceeded to spin it….

This shows the difference when using a flash (on the left) verses no flash (right).

Once I had filled my bobbin completely, I proceeded to wind it into a ball, so I could ply it from both ends of the yarn.

This is the finished yarn, once it was soaked to set the twist, thwacked and dried…

  I’m quite pleased with the results.  I also feel that my spinning has improved a bit since I posted on her last time!  I’m looking forward to weaving with this yarn over the Christmas holiday period.  Hopefully I will be able to show you the end product in my next blog!

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a happy, healthy 2023, from Lisa and Alex 🙂


21 thoughts on “Fibre and Friends

  1. Welcome back Lisa. I am so happy that you are feeling better!

    Wonderwool looks like THE best of places. A true wonderland. I am feeling quite envious here. I imagine the atmosphere was totally electric with excitement, especially given that it’s the first outing since the pandemic. So many gorgeous goodies too.

    That carder had a date with destiny when you made those enquiries. It certainly has landed in the right creative hands – your results are very beautiful. I can’t wait to see what you are going to do with the yarn. (Just am in love with those colours).

    Thank you for introducing me to the art Kumihimo. Like many I had never heard of it. The weaving looks so complicated and you have made a really great contact in Edna. Do you think you might like to learn some techniques from her.

    1. Thanks Helene, it’s lovely to be back! It’s been too long!!!

      If you ever get the chance to go to Wonderwool, I would definitely recommend it. The atmosphere is so lovely, and everyone who attends are fellow crafters so it is a wonderful place for making new friends and contacts, learning new things and to indulge our passion for all things fibre.

      I would love to learn more about Kumihimo. It looked so complicated, it would take quite some time to master I imagine but it’s something to think about, definitely!! I felt we were very privileged to meet Edna there, particularly as she is such an iconic figure in the UK Kumihimo world. It was definitely one of the highlights of the day.

  2. So sorry you’ve been having such a hard time but lovely to see you back & getting better.

    Woderwool does indeed sound like a dream event for we wool-fanciers. I was lucky enough to go to Woolfest in Cumbria a few years ago which had a very similar set-up & I found completely thrilling. I also have a similar second hand drum carder tale: for sale at a good price but in Leeds (about 250 miles away). Happily, I’m originally from Leeds & my Mum still lives there so she picked it up for me. No fibres are safe when I get it out of the box.

    Your yarn looks really fabulous. Such lovely colours. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.

    1. Thank you Lindsey, it’s lovely to be back.

      I sadly haven’t been to Woolfest and I’ve just read that they have decided that they won’t be organising any more events in the future. That seems such a shame, I would have loved to have gone. But at least I will be going back to Wonderwool this year.

      I look forward to making lots with the new carder, and I will definitely show the results when I finally weave something with this wool. Thanks Lindsey 🙂

  3. Wow! What a great result with getting the carder and your batt is very pretty. The resulting yarn is fab and we’re interested to see what you weave with it.

    We enjoyed reading about Edna and looking at the photos – it would seem that you had a wonderful day at Wonderwool!

    1. Thanks Lyn, yes, Edna was a truly fascinating lady who has led a really interesting life. She is so knowledgeable, we really enjoyed chatting with her.

  4. Lisa, I know how life challenges can zap your creativity, and glad you’re feeling better. Isn’t it amazing how mysterious things can happen while you’re looking for solutions. Some of my best fiber friends have slipped into my life that way.

    I think your first batt is wonderful, and the yarn you spun, is really nice. I am not a spinner yet, but I have tried it. It frustrates me so far, but I haven’t really given it much of a chance. I will get there when the time is right for me.

    I hope you continue to enjoy your drum carder, and surprises, like Edna keep popping onto your path.


    1. Thank you Capi, yes, the way things fall into place is quite astounding! Keep going with the spinning, I’ve still got a long way to go bet I’m really enjoying the journey.

  5. Thank you for your wonderful posts and enthusiasm in supporting your Fiber Friends. I live in the USA, but love being a part of this Fiber Arts family. I love reading the blogs and seeing what my peers are working on. Thank you again for all you do!

  6. Thank you Vicky, everyone will be pleased to know how much you enjoy the blogs. That’s the beauty of the Internet, being able to connect like-minded people and bring communities together. Sharing ideas and thoughts benefits us all, and I continue to learn and be inspired by everyone involved in this blog. Having comments like yours makes everything worthwhile too, so thank you 😊

  7. Welcome back, Lisa! So good to know you’re feeling better 🙂 Isn’t it fun to start with simple fluff and end up with yarn at the end? I bet that drum carder will come in handy for the future many more times.

    1. Thanks Leonor, it’s lovely to be back. You ate so right, it’s quite magical to transform the fluff into something so pretty and useful!! I can’t wait for the holiday period so i can make some more!!

  8. What a wonderful opportunity Wonderwool is for you. I wish I was closer so that I could attend. Wouldn’t that be fun? I bet you will love your carder, it’s such fun to experiment with different fiber and different colors. Your yarn is really lovely and your spinning looks professional to me, so great job!

    I hope your life issues are resolving and you can get back to more creativity. I do think that being creative helps your mental well being and as you say, it gives you some mindful moments. Happy Holidays to you and Alex and the rest of your family 🙂

    1. Thank you Ruth, I appreciate your encouraging comment.

      If you ever do fancy a trip to our beautiful Wales, please let me know so we can meet up. It’s well worth a trip!! 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

      Merry Christmas to you and your family 🎅

  9. Thank you, that was a lovely read, almost as if I was there with you. I love the colour of the wool that you have spun. I think I will plan to go there next year

    1. Thanks Marie, I’m glad you enjoyed reading it. I would definitely recommend a trip to Wonderwool if you can make it, I’m definitely going again this April, I’m so looking forward to it!!!!

  10. I am glad you are feeling better. Its been a rough couple of years for so many. Your trip the the fibre festival sounds wonderful. I love them big or small. They inspire and lift your spirits with the possibilities. The batt and the finished yarn are fabulous.

  11. Thank you Ann, i was pleased with how the finished yarn turned out.
    Yes, I fully agree with you about fibre festivals in general. I was so inspired and excited by everything is saw there, it was wonderful!!

    1. That’s brilliant, I’m so glad you will benefit from the post. It’s well worth the trip, and you could always make a weekend break of it as it runs for two days (Saturday and Sunday). Please say hi if you see me there 😊

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