There I was standing behind my Higgler stall on a sunny afternoon at Tynemouth market, face screwed up a little confused as I valiantly attempted to knit my very first, very holey new scarf. I’d taught myself how to ‘knit’ the night before on YouTube and managed to dig out my old wool and needles from 8 years ago.
I was spurred on by lots of smiling faces as people strolled through the station, one of which was Hollie who happened to be busy planning the knitting festival, WoolNEss that was happening a few months later. She kindly invited me along and I jumped at the opportunity to take my new hobby to the next level.
Cut to the first event when I had yet again forgotten how to knit. That didn’t matter, I was welcomed with open arms and a glass of prosecco as I arrived at the Lit and Phil. My new friends chatted away without missing a beat no need to even look at their needles. It was a very different story for me. It was there and then I set my new life goal: casually make fabulous wool jumper while watching Line of Duty and still understand the plot. No more guilty binging on Netflix for me – I will become one of those multi-tasking masters that I see before me. One of these masters was Lucy - the brain behind the WoolNEss festival.
We talked about the wellness benefits that knitting has and how it has positively affected her life and was the inspiration for the festival - hence the catchy name! Knitting has been proven to help improve mental health so if you’re looking for a bit of a mood booster then grab a cuppa and give it a try!
The next day I headed to the main event at the Centre for Life. The room was filled to the brim with creative talent. I came across Helen Hardy Art who used free motion embroidery to make beautiful pieces that practically pop out of their frames. I was stopped in my tracks by a gorgeous felted Frida Kahlo. Helen Edwards who created the piece explained she usually makes a few big pieces alongside each other as it takes so much energy and focus to create each one. When you take a look at her work you will fully understand.
After my time spent weaving in Guatemala you can imagine how excited I was to meet the talented Janis from Flight Weaving who was weaving beautifully intricate pieces using a loom right in the middle of the festival! I spent some time listening to the Feral Spinner who is an intrepid and wilderness spinner. I didn't even know that was a thing but I was intrigued. She forages for materials she can use to spin and then knits with it. Pieces that tell stories of the beautiful places she wanders?! Urm... yes please!! After spending the year travelling to meet talented artisans and learning about different craft techniques my search has certainly not stopped as I continue to meet creatives across the UK.