Sarah Jane Humke

The life of a traveling, reading, writing, spining and knitting shepherdess.

Woolfest Week August 17, 2011

Malin, Barbro and Tini all flew to London to join me in an adventure up to the Lakes District to attend Woolfest in June (BTW, there is a picture of the 4 of us in the photo gallery on the Woolfest site:-)).  The day that everyone flew-in was pretty laid-back.  Lots of knitting and a little bit of drum carding!

Tini making batts

Thursday we left bright and early for “The North” (that’s what all the signs say when you are heading North here).  The car was well packed and the journey took less time than expected due to lack of traffic.  I kinda decided that the ladies needed to visit Hill Top, Beatrix Potter’s home.  A visit to the Lakes District isn’t really complete without it in my opinion because of all the work that she did in preserving the area and the famous Herdwick Sheep breed.   

On the way to the cottage, we saw some of these lovely rare sheep doing their thing in a field with a handy parking area so we could stop and take some pictures.

I also caught a shot of the elusive Malin on holiday:-)

We then went to find our cottage, which was sort-of on the other side of the mountains.  However, it was a great deal for the 4 of us so we weren’t in the mood to complain too much:-)  When we got there, after a really lovely drive through the District, we found fresh scones with clotted cream and a bottle of wine in the fridge to greet us! The cottage had 2 bedrooms, a sitting room and kitchen and a bathroom.  Really, it was just about perfect for the 4 of us for the weekend!

The sitting room (you can't see the fireplace but there was one!)

The Kitchen

Bedroom #1 with the beautiful stone wall

Bedroom #2

That night we went down the road to a local pub and got fish and chips for dinner then came back and knit around the fireplace until bed.  The next morning we were all up bright and early in order to get into the festival first thing.  We got there before it opened and waited in que with a lot of other lovely fiber folks from all over the country.  One of them took a lovely photo of the 4 of us.

All of us were wearing the mini shawls that I had been knitting in the weeks prior.  From left to right:  Barbro in her Alyssum designed by Marleen knitted in Noro Kureyon Sock, Tini in her Peacock Shawlette by Kitman Figueroa in Wollmeise Twin (that ironically she had given me a few years prior!) Me in my Simple Things by Mary-Heather Cogar in Skein Queen Entwist  and Malin in her Holden Shawlette by Mindy Wilkes in Easyknits Twinkle.

Once we were inside, it was a mad rush to the fleece tables.  Now really, how often do you read about a mad rush to fleece tables??  Oh how I love wool festivals!  As you can imagine, there wasn’t a whole lot of picture-taking going on as the fleece area was decimated pretty quickly and we were all surrounded by 2-3′ bumpers of bags of raw wool:-)  I got (ahem) rather a lot of fleeces and the ladies got a few too.  I think that at one point we had 20 fleeces in the back of the car!  Here is a picture of us on the 2nd day at one of the fleece sorting tables:

Special thanks to Knit Magazine for sharing this photo with us. You can also find us on page 47 of issue #40:-) (Yes, we are everywhere looking like we are having fun!)

After we had done a thorough going through of all the fleeces we started taking in the actual event.  Not a lot of pictures of this either as there was a lot of fondling of yarn and wool and oohing and ahhing over the different types and colors of yarns and equipment for sale.  We met-up for lunch as we had brought sandwiches and fruit because I remembered how long the ques were at the food places years past.  After lunch, we all moseyed off in our own directions again, meeting-up randomly throughout the venue.  At the end of the day we all went to the Spin-in where we had dinner and met a lot of new folks.

That night we pretty much crashed at the cottage, admiring each others purchases and (trying) to pack all the fleeces into bags and such.

Saturday was a more leisurely morning as we didn’t feel the need to be at the grounds first thing.  We drove in and stayed until a little after noon, meeting up with some friends and checking out some things that we may have missed the first day.  That afternoon we went to the main Lakeland shop in Windermere for a late lunch and to do a little shopping.  On our way back to the cottage, we found another perfect spot to take some photos of Herdys with a parking spot nearby.

When we got back to the cottage, Malin realized that she had dropped her Holden shawlette on the ground during our Herdy stop.  So, into the car Malin and I went to rescue the shawl.  However, we decided to take a different route back that I had vetoed the first time it was suggested by the GPS unit as it just looked kinda crazy.  It was.  Malin was taking pictures of it all and even did a video at one point to capture the full insanity of it.  To say that it was some of the more interesting driving that I have ever done (and I have done some interesting driving in my life!) would be a gross understatement.  There was a warning of a 30% incline and decline on this road before we even got to the fun parts:-)  This road over 2 mountain passes was a single lane track for the vast majority of it with Herdwicks roaming on all sides and water flowing freely to boot.  There were numerous times where I wasn’t sure where the road went because we were doing 30% up and a corkscrew at the same time.  Oh, and since we were on top of the mountain was really, really foggy at some points!  I didn’t take any photos (that would have been suicide [no rails between us and 100′ drops]) but Malin did and when she has a chance to sort through them and send me some, I will post them here…

Anyway, the rescue party made it over the mountains and found the shawl right where it was thought to be and took the much less exciting route back to the cottage again as it was starting to get dark.

The next day we got up fairly early as we needed to get Tini to her flight home and we still had a full car to pack!  However, Malin and I are pros at packing my Toyota and we managed to get all 20+ fleeces plus baggage for 4 women into the car while still being able to see out the back window.  There was yarn in every nook and cranny though!  We drove back to the London area with plenty of time for Tini to make her flight out of Luton.  The rest of us then went back to the Old Chapel and unpacked the car, much to the amusement of the hubby.

The next day we drove down to the University of Southampton’s Knitting Reference Library.  This was seriously cool, as they have a large collection of knitting books and patterns from about as far back as written knitting patterns go.  Barbro did an excellent blog post about it here but I also took some pictures.

The older magazines were amongst the most interesting

It's interesting to see how Vouge Knitting has changed!

Some of the ads were so cute!

Love the graphics on some of the covers

The ads for wartime knitting sort of blew my mind. Some of them admitted that folks couldn't get their product but said that when they could again they should use their coupons to buy their wool because it re-knit the best!


There were lots of war-time patterns.  Many of them showed how to best re-use wool from a worn-out sweater or dress.  By the end of the war, these patterns were using fabric sewn in to make up for the lack of both yarn and fabric available.  Malin has an excellent picture here showing how the magazines also had to get smaller over a very short period of time due to paper rationing.


This is how we spent most of the afternoon:

The collection is pretty big and quite well-organized.

All of these are knitting or knitting related books

More knitting related books and magazines (in the archival boxes)

One view of the pattern collection

Another view of the pattern collection. It may not look that impressive, but most of those boxes were full and heavy with a LOT of old patterns.

The next day the 3 of us went into London on the train.  First we went to the Camden Markets, which I had never been to before.  Then, in the afternoon we went to Jon of Easyknits house for some retail therapy and Pimm’s!  I didn’t take any photos of all of this (sorry) but Barbro was a regular little Robert Capa so you should check out this blog post of her’s.

That night we came home on the train with many more goodies and very, very tired.  The next day was sort-of a free day.  Malin and Barbro’s flights left in the afternoon, so that left the morning for some kool-aid dyeing and fleece skirting in the courtyard and packing of course!  That afternoon I dropped the ladies off at Heathrow for their flights home with full (though not overly heavy) bags and lots of pictures on their cameras.


Wollmeise!! Sale!! Two of the most beautiful words in the world! Together!! August 16, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 12:32 pm
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Last week I did something insane.  I mean, really, really nuts.  I woke-up at 1am to fly to Germany to visit the Wollmeise store while they were having their annual summer sale.  Yeah, I really did.  Honestly.  I even have pictures!

I took the 6am flight from Gatwick to Munich on Easyjet.  I didn’t want to check any bags, so I measured all my suitcases to see which fit the carry-on size the best.  An older Boyt bag that I have had for a while now won hands-down.

It looks as though my Boyt bag was MADE for the Easyjet carry-on allowances!

I got to Munich around 9am and promptly headed into the city to be able to catch the train to Pfaffenhofen which is a bit outside of it.  The countryside around Munich is lovely, full of orderly corn fields and farms.  It felt a lot like where I grew-up in Iowa.  Perhaps that’s part of the reason so many Germans settled in my area!  Anyway, after a short train ride, I got off at the Pfaffenhofen station:

The cute train station in Pfaffenhofen.

I was leaving the station when I saw four women all walking together, all wearing knitwear.  I asked them if they were going to the Wollmeise sale and they said yes and I walked with them to the shop.  It was an easy, pleasant walk as we took a footpath that goes alongside the waterway that goes through the town.  We got there and I was right into it!

One of the walls of wool at the Wollmeise Shop. This one was filled with really darkly dyed yarns, blacks with colors and undyed white yarns.

One of the many racks full of colorful Wollmeise yarns!


A larger shot of the same set of shelves.

Even though the sale was going on, the famous Wollmeise creatures were still on display!

Baskets full of Lace-garn were dotted around the shop.

Even with the store in sale mode, the displays were lovely.

So many colors!!!

The entire front window was one great big pile of lace-garn!

Of course I went into the famously pink bathroom! (Actually, it was my first stop!)

There were signatures from around the world.

At times the amount of Wollmeise yarn was a tad overwhelming.

The store was everything that I had been told to expect and more.  Everyone that I met there was super friendly.  Claudia had set-up picnic tables outside under the awning so that people could compare colors in daylight and so that there was more space for everybody to sit and knit and chat.  I didn’t take any pictures of this area as I was really trying to not get folks in my photos, and there were always people hanging-out out there.  I know that the shots that I got of the inside of the store makes it look empty, but I assure you, it was plenty busy the entire time that I was there.  I just tried to take shots at moments when folks weren’t in the frame.  I apologize for the quality of the pictures, but I was only using my iPhone to take them.  I didn’t want to take my big Nikon and possibly take-up precious space for Wollmeise yarn!

After I had spent my budget, I took the train back to Munich and the airport.  I had several hours to kill and by this time I was hungry and very, very tired.  I decided to get dinner at the (only) restaurant in the terminal that I was flying out of.  I got the special, which I thought was composed of: soup, sausage and a pretzel.  This was what I got:

My unexpected dinner at the airport

It was sort of surprising when the lady took the 3 sausages out of a jar and stuck them in a bowl full of hot water.  I mean, I guess that is sort-of a soup.  It didn’t taste bad, but I was glad that I had the 2 packets of mustard!  I also must’ve been dehydrated or really tired as that half liter of beer made me a tad tipsy!

Anyway, you don’t really want to see what I ate.  You want to see what I got!

This is the glamor shot of all the skeins together.

It’s really hard to see the colors of some of them because a lot of them were the really dark black-with-a-color colors.  So, for those of you keeping score out there.  I got 16 Twin, 9 100% Merino and 2 Lace-garns.  Not all of them were for me a (cough, hack) couple were for other folks:-)

Here are some more shots:

It was an interesting experience and I am deeply glad that I went.  If you are ever nearby, I would totally suggest that you go and check it out!


(Edited to fix the problems with the photographs)