Bergere de France review

Bergere de France offer some stunning Parisienne designs to take your knitting to another level. Their winter magazine has a wonderful modern take on a Fair Isle design jumper and any of their previous magazines can be back ordered.

Bergere de France 2013/2014 collection

Bergere de France 2013/2014 collection

Patterns from Bergere de France can be purchased singly or as compilations in their seasonal magazines which offer great value for money.

There is something for everybody, from beginner to experienced knitter and all patterns denote the level of skill required.

Send for their catalogue and you receive comprehensive detail of their latest patterns along with small samples of the yarns attached to the relevant pages, which make a huge difference when trying to choose yarn type and colour.

The Bergere de France brochure also contains details of all the other items available via their website; knitting needles, needle sets, embroidery kits and haberdashery.


More Information Visit the Bergere de France website

Eden Arts Canopy Project

Canopy is the new project from Eden Arts which will result in an exhibition in trees & woodland across the Eden district in Cumbria in spring/summer 2013.

THE WOOLLEN WOODS: As part of the project they hope to transform the woodland of National Trust property Acorn Bank with thousands of woollen artworks (in support of the Campaign for Wool).

Eden Arts Canopy Arts Project image

Acorn Bank woods will soon be alive with little woolly creatures

People are being encouraged to make and submit woodland themed woollen artworks for the exhibition and there has been some fabulous artworks submitted so far but they still need many more.

Eden Arts are appealing to artists, craftspeople, school and groups to contribute to the exhibition – anyone can join in!

The exhibition should get a lot of media and press coverage, which will in turn raise the awareness of the Campaign for Wool and the creators of the artworks.

Anyone who submits artwork by end March will be added to the exhibition ‘Roll of Honour’. A photo of the artwork(s) will be put on their Facebook pages, along with a link to your website if you have one.

They will still accept and display artworks after exhibition opens on 6th April.

The are lots of artwork ideas on Eden Arts Woollen Woods Pinterest page and FREE patterns and a submission form on the project website at

This project follows on from our 2011/12 ‘Join the FLOCK’ wool project –

Woolfest introduces Woolyculture

Woolfest introduces unique produce show “Woolyculture” for 2013

In its ninth year, Woolfest 2013 is shaping up to be as big as ever as well as offering visitors a chance to take part in a horticultural produce show with a woollen difference.

Woolfest - Woolyculture entries

Mary Bell and other members of the Wool Clip, launching this year’s Woollycultural Show with some creations of their own

“We’ve just completed the first stage of selecting the designers, craft businesses and suppliers who will be stallholders at Woolfest this year,” says Marion Woolcott, one of the organisers.

“Demand was strong with more applications than ever so it is a hard job to decide on who will be there. We’ll have at least 12 new businesses for 2013 as we always try to keep things fresh and varied for the people who visit every year.

Woolfest is an annual highlight for many who work with wool and it’s really encouraging for us as the organisers to see how much enthusiasm there is from across the UK and beyond.”

As well as all those stalls, Woolfest also incorporates live fleece animals, including several rare native breeds, a raw fleece sale, exhibitions, displays and craft demonstrations from across the country.

A unique woolly produce show Visitors to Woolfest have always enjoyed participating in a special craft project and 2013 should be no exception. “In recent years, we’ve participated in FLOCK, making 100s of pompom sheep, and we’ve created a bunting string that encircled Mitchell’s,” explains Mary Bell, a member of the Wool Clip and one of the Woolfest organisers.

“Before that, we used to hold a sheep auction where visitors made sheep out of wool using all sorts of textile crafts and the money raised went to charity.”

“We’ve been trying to think of something new for 2013 and came up with the idea of the Woollycultural Show, a traditional horticultural competition but with a difference – whether fruit or vegetable, flower or miniature garden, all entries must be made of wool. Visitors can knit, crochet, felt or weave their entries – there’s no restriction on craft, just the usual Woolfest emphasis on wool and natural fibres.”

Visitors are being invited to bring their entries in any of the four classes along to Woolfest, enter in the morning, participate in the official judging and presentation of (woollen) rosettes and then take their creations home at the end of the day.

“We know that there will be stunning pieces on show because there are so many gifted people out there who have contributed to Woolfest in the past,” says Mary. “And we’ve been able to recruit two top judges with Pam Jago, Chair of the Cumbria-Cumberland Federation of Women’s Institutes, and Annette Gibbons of Cumbria on a Plate judging a day each.”

Further details of the produce show, the four classes and entry details are on the Woolfest website.

Woolfest 2013 takes place on Friday 28 and Saturday 29 June from 10am at Mitchell’s Lakeland Livestock Centre in Cockermouth, Cumbria.  Entry is just £8 per day (including full programme) with free entry for accompanied children.

Directions and details can be found at or on the event’s Facebook page or by calling The Wool Clip at Caldbeck on 016974 78707 during shop hours.

The Wool Clip is a Cumbria-based cooperative of sheep farmers, spinners, dyers, knitters, feltmakers, weavers and other wool workers with a thriving shop at The Priest’s Mill in Caldbeck. It was set up in 2001 to add value to local wool and to market members’ skills and products and members of The Wool Clip established Woolfest in June 2005.

Further information is available at or

Campaign For Wool – Wool House

The UK is set to see the biggest ever celebration of wool as The Campaign for Wool launches WOOL HOUSE from 13th until 24th March 2013

WOOL HOUSE will present a vision for wool as a modern, versatile, lifestyle fibre and will be hosted in the stunning West Wing of Somerset House in central London.

Campaign for Wool - Wool House flyer image

The world’s largest showcase of wool

It will feature a showcase of interiors, fashion and the world of artisan and craft making, along with a hi-tech educational suite. The Campaign for Wool has appointed Arabella McNie as the curator. She has over twenty years’ experience of working as a stylist and designer in the world of interiors.

Arabella McNie said, “I am determined to show wool as a modern fibre and visitors will see a broad spectrum from ultra-modern and hi-tech to highly luxurious and more traditional. There are some amazing fabrics and flooring and Wool House will showcase some stunning room sets which will really show the difference that wool can make and inspire greater use of the fibre”.

The event has invited leading interior designers to offer their vision and seven individual rooms will show how the design community uses the fibre extensively within their work. Exclusive room sets from Donna Wilson, Ashley Hicks, Josephine Ryan, Anne Kyrro Quinn, Mary Fox Linton of Fox Linton Associates and Kit Kemp will feature alongside a huge wool art installation commissioned by the Campaign from the acclaimed Dutch tapestry artist, Claudy Jongstra.

Other features include a unique 100 feet runner designed by Cristian Zuzunaga in association with Brintons that will represent international carpet manufacturers and a runner designed and made by Roger Oates. Additionally, rug weaver Jason Collingwood will take up a working residence as his studio is recreated in Wool House and he will weave on a table loom throughout the period showing the heritage of industry skills to the public.

The entrance of Wool House will be styled like a grand country house, with a carpet inspired by a classic marble floor tile pattern and created by Alternative Flooring Bespoke. Unique pieces will embellish the house including Shauna Richardson’s unusual ‘crochetdermy’ Bear that has previously been exhibited at the V&A which will take pride of place in the entrance of Wool House. While Andy Warhol influenced sheep head images will be displayed on the walls of the hall.

A series of wool-led designer talks, events and a programme of activities with interactive workshops will be held during the course of the event. A special educational and innovation room will feature tablets that cover everything from sheep to manufacturing and all types of products.

There will be three rooms dedicated to fashion, including a space showcasing fine woven fabrics and live tailoring while two others will celebrate the importance of wool in the fashion industry.

Bridgette Kelly, The Campaign for Wool’s project director said, “It is the most expansive venture the Campaign has seen to date as it looks at all the key uses of wool under one roof and shows the amazing versatility of the fibre and its potential to be both stunningly beautiful in use and yet incredibly practical too”.

“We want to make the most of this wonderful opportunity within the fabulous location that Somerset House offers and we will truly shine the spotlight on wool. There really will be a plenty to see and do at many different levels.”

The Campaign for Wool, whose Patron is HRH The Prince of Wales, is funded by the British Wool Marketing Board, the Woolmark Company, Wool Council of New Zealand and other wool organisations across the world including those in South Africa, South America, Norway and the USA.

Wool House, World-Wide-Wool will be open to the public from 13th to 24th March 2013 and entry is free.

For more information visit the Campaign for Wool website 

Unravel – Festival of Knitting

The Unravel Knitting Festival 2013 takes place on Saturday 23rd & Sunday 24th February 2013 at Farnham Maltings, Surrey.

Take part in workshops, hear a range of talks, see demonstrations and be inspired by artist commissions.

Purchase yarn, buttons and other knitting accessories at the marketplace, solve your knitting quandaries and even enter your favourite item into ‘Best In Show.’

Get your knitting needles and crochet hooks out and join them for two days of knitted fun!

For further information and to book your tickets visit the Farnham Maltings website.

Woolfest 2012 a great success

The incredibly wet weather and localised flooding did not keep the thousands of visitors away from Woolfest in the Cumbrian Lakeland town of Cockermouth.

Crowds flock to Woolfest 2012

Crowds flock to Woolfest 2012

Extended this year due to exhibitor demand, the event was sensibly housed under the cover of Mitchell’s Livestock Centre and packed wall to wall with wool suppliers, manufacturers, spinners, dyers and associated crafts.

A huge seletion of natural and dyed yarns at Woolfest 2012

A huge seletion of natural and dyed yarns

For the knitter, a huge range of luscious hand dyed yarns were available in sumptuous blends of fleece, silks and other fibres.

Felt makers and felt making suppliers provided a wealth of colours, tools and finished goods.

Bags of untreated, newly shorn fleece awaited the eager artisans who could dye, spin and blend their own yarns.

Armed with cones, balls and skeins of yarn, the next visit would be to the vendors selling patterns; Anything from a pair of socks to books of stunning designer creations by the likes of Jennie Atkinson.

We could even meet the animals, the source of these wondrous yarns. Many rare breeds of sheep were on display, including the

Rare Breeds on show at Woolfest 2012

A chance to meet the animals

diminutive North Ronaldsay breed from Orkney to Angora rabbits, goats and Alpacas.

Lots of advice was on tap with demonstrations of spinning, felt making, dying and even the ancient craft of Luceting (making your own cord).

It was truly wonderful to see so many people interested in the various crafts and to speak to the exhibitors, some of whom travelled great distances to attend the event.

Woolfest 2013
The dates for Woolfest 2013 will be Friday 28th and Saturday 29th June.
Booking information for exhibitors will be available from November 2012 and visitors from March 2013.

Woolfest deservedly won the Cumbria Tourism Event of the Year 2012 award and has proved to be another successful year for the organising team from the Cumbrian Woolclip Cooperative.

More information

Woolfest official website




Flocking to Woolfest 2012

Woolfest 2012 is only four weeks away (Friday 22 and Saturday 23 June) and now in its eighth year, it is set to beat last year’s record level of visitors.

The venue at Mitchell’s Cockermouth has been expanded this year to accommodate over 160 stalls.

“Many of our regular designers, makers and suppliers will be at Woolfest again for what has become a highlight of the wool craft year,” says Marion Woolcott, one of the organisers, “but there will be over 25 businesses with us for the first time this year too.”

Members of The Woolclip Cooperative

The Wool Clip cooperative, whose members organise Woolfest with help from over 100 volunteers.


The organising team are working hard to ensure that rare breed fleece animals take centre stage, especially their role in conservation grazing and the value of their quality fleece.

“The animals have always been a highlight of Woolfest and we’re keen to emphasise the connection between the animal with the wool,” says Jan Hicks, who is responsible for the animals and the fleece sale at Woolfest. “The new space and layout at Mitchell’s means that we can spread out a bit and make more of this side of the event.”

“Cathy Cassie will be with us, demonstrating her shearing skills and also talking about her work as a Conservation Grazing Manager. The involvement of Peter Titley and the Rare Breed Survival Trust in our parades of rare breed animals also gives us an opportunity to let people know more about the threat to many of our traditional animals – and we’ll have cashmere goats at Woolfest for the first time this year too.”

Wolves in sheep’s clothing

There will also be several dogs – made of felted wool – on display.  This year’s recipient of the Carolyn Rawlinson Memorial Stall (in memory of the Wool Clip member who first suggested Woolfest) is Joss Wrigg from Allendale in Northumberland.  Joss works with raw and dyed fleece to create felted animal sculptures and her latest work, a series of dogs, as well as several Beatrix Potter characters, will be on display at Woolfest.

“I love creating recognisable forms – and even personalities – from a mass of fleece,” says Joss. “With the dogs, I wanted to capture the essence of “dog”, how they are so familiar and complex at the same time.  And there is the added irony of wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

Visitors will also see some surprising recreations of works of art in A Grand Tour, famous sculptures and artworks recreated in wool by members of The Materialistics, a group of artists and craftswomen from the Northeast.

“We have been trying to get The Materialistics’ work to Woolfest over the past few years,” explains Marion, “and several Wool Clip members have seen their regular exhibition each November at the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching show.  This year, the pieces are easily transported so it has been possible to have a selection of them at Woolfest including Van Gogh’s Sunflowers and The Scream.”

Event details

Woolfest 2012 takes over Mitchell’s Lakeland Livestock Centre in Cockermouth on Friday 22 and Saturday 23 June, opening from 10am until 6pm on Friday and 5pm on Saturday.

Entry is just £6 with accompanied children free.

Directions and details can be found at or on the event’s Facebook page or by calling The Wool Clip at Caldbeck on 016974 78707 during shop hours.

Cumbria Tourist Awards

Woolfest has been shortlisted in the Tourism Event category of the Cumbria Tourism Awards 2012 – result to be announced on the evening of Thursday 24 May.


The event is organised by members of Woolclip with help from over 100 volunteers.

The Wool Clip is a Cumbria-based cooperative of sheep farmers, spinners, dyers, knitters, feltmakers, weavers and other wool workers with a thriving shop at The Priest’s Mill in Caldbeck.  It was set up in 2001 to add value to local wool and to market members’ skills and products and members of The Wool Clip established Woolfest in June 2005.

Further information is available at or


Blacker Yarns

Blacker Yarns has probably the largest collection of natural yarns from a wide range of Britain’s sheep breeds in one place.

Search for British natural yarns for hand knitting and there are a number of suppliers and manufacturers in the UK. Start looking for yarn on the cone for machine knitting and the search narrows to only a handful.

Blacker Yarns image

Beautiful natural yarns from British sheep

I found Blacker Yarns whilst looking for a natural undyed yarn with a soft and luxurious handling quality, and of course it had to come from British sheep.

Instantly struck by the variations of breed, colours and yarn weights, it was clear that this was where I would find my quarry.

Blacker Yarns incredibly well presented website instantly allowed me to choose from yarn breed origin, yarn weight or type and even scoured carded fleece.

The site also has a wealth of information about the different fleeces /yarns which helps when choosing a yarn for a particular project and their use of high quality images gives a very good idea of the texture and quality of the yarn.  Videos taking you on a short “mill tour” add a friendly and welcoming touch.

Yarns are available in an extensive range of weights and include everything from fine 2 ply to chunky.

Blacker Yarns range of over 150 knitting yarns are all made from natural wool, mohair and alpaca, and all come from British sources, mostly the UK, but also the Falkland Islands.

Blacker Yarns image

Stunning, sophisticated colours


Gone are the false garish colours found in many fashion offerings from the high street.  Instead, you will find a rich palette of undyed yarns the way nature intended and coloured, overdyed yarns which retain the beauty and depth of the wool fibre, enhanced with natural stylish and sophisticated colours.

About Blacker Yarns

Blacker Yarns was created from the knitting yarns side of Blacker Designs which was launched in 2008 as a brand of The Natural Fibre Company, a specialist wool mill at Launceston on the Devon-Cornwall border.

So as well as buying British wool for Blacker Designs’ scarves, throws, cushions and blankets, they also use the wool for their own range of specialist knitting yarns sold under the Blacker Yarns brand.

The mill specialises in adding value to fleece supplied by farmers and turning it into high-quality knitting yarn which they can sell for themselves and generate a new or growing source of income from their flock.

Although wool has been spun at The Natural Fibre Company since 1991, the services have changed dramatically since 2005 when managing director Sue Blacker and her family bought the company from its previous owners.

Moving the company from Lampeter in Wales to a new home in Cornwall at Launceston on the Devon border, signalled the start of a minor revolution.

Worsted spinning was introduced in 2007, and the summer of 2008 saw the birth of an on-line shop and a dye plant. As well as matching specialist colours supplied by customers, the dye plant is also producing its own range of yarns in a range of colours carefully created to tone with the natural fibre colours.

To compliment Blacker Yarns, Sue Blacker also retails quality, knitted items, knitting kits and her range of unique patterns.

Blacker Yarns is an absolute treasure trove which knitters, weavers and spinners will keep coming back to time after time.

More information

Blacker Yarns – Premium quality, British yarns.

REVIEW: WOW: Wonder of Wool and the Art of Knit and Stitch

Cumbria is home to thousands of sheep, so it is only to be expected that at some point a major exhibition of wool related art should arrive in the county.

Rheged, near Penrith, hosts a new exhibition with the title ‘WOW: Wonder of Wool and the Art of Knit and Stitch’.

Some examples of the work on show at Rheged in Wow

Some examples of the work on show at Rheged in Wow

It features the work of 20 contemporary British artists and designers who are said to be inspirational in their creative use of wool.

The exhibition features film, photography, community projects and a hands-on making area to inspire the creative project in everyone.

Whilst we commend the idea of improving the profile of wool, sadly we feel this event clutches at the theme with the visitor left with a collection of random illustrations made by almost unmentioned artisans.

Themed but no cohesion

Situated at the top of the Rheged complex you pass a number of woollen items left behind after the opening day guerilla knitting event.  These seem quite abstract to the surroundings, especially if you do not know about the knitting exhibition going on upstairs.

After paying your entrance fee (£2.50 adult) you enter the exhibition space and are confronted by a grey spider’s web of interconnected woollen covered speakers recounting farming tales and sounds. Called ‘Hürd’ the installation is the work of Knitsonik.

Moving on and into the space proper, you have black and white photographs in frames, garden seats covered in wool and a collection of small pompom sheep which you almost stand on, as you progress through the clinical white walled arena.

Best for last

Passing a wool body suite hanging from the ceiling, speared with knitting needles (Craft Kills by Freddie Robins) and a pile of grey knitted bones only confirmed our feeling of an exhibition clutching at the theme.

Some hope was restored as the finest work seems to have been saved for the end of the exhibition. A full length felt coat and a fine hand knitted shawl showed off the medium to a very high standard.

The coat is a classic old school apprentice test piece as it features many skills to be found only from the seasoned craftsman or woman. Cream felt is cut in an Edwardian style and finished off with what appears to be a Herdwick trim of leaves.

Two-ply laceweight merino wool had been used to create the magenta coloured shawl. The two part interwoven leaf design is highlighted by fine beads, making the garment a true luxury product.

Looking back through the exhibition space we considered what to take away in our thoughts. Yes, the exhibition introduced us to wool being used as house insulation and yes, colourful items can be made from yarn. But do we know where wool comes from and the processing of it from sheep to consumer and why sheep are important to the local environment and culture, possibly not.

Unsuitable for some

We feel we must at this stage mention one element which we feel needs a word of caution.

To your right as you enter the main body of the exhibition is a small darkened room with the almost clichéd video presentation so prized by exhibition organisers.

Only staying to watch a few minutes of the film, we were faced with two woollen characters fighting in a stop-motion animation. One then walked away and, using a saw proceeded to cut off his own leg.  Random strings of red wool symbolising blood leaking from the incisions.

To some, this is no doubt a technical masterpiece, but we felt this jarred with the otherwise family suitable event.  We would have preferred to see a warning notice before entering the area to indicate that it may be unsuitable for some viewers.

Overall impressions

Sadly, our overall impression of the event was poor, as it lacked cohesion and explanation. Small notices and a clipboard full of printed sheets do not encourage viewer interaction or satisfy the lust to know more about the works.

Many of the works would have felt quite at home entered into a local country fair or village show.

Your thoughts

Have you visited the exhibition, are you involved then let us know your thoughts via the comments area below.

Other reviews:

Delicate Stitches wrote : – It was great to see so many different pieces and approaches but it did mean that the exhibition didn’t really feel very cohesive, the common thread being the material rather than the concept.

More details

Event: WOW: Wonder of Wool and the Art of Knit and Stitch

Where: Rheged, Penrith Cumbria

Weblink: Rheged

14 Jan 2012 – 15 Apr 2012

Time of Event: Open Daily 10.30am – 4.30pm

Admission £2.50 (concessions £1.75) • Children under 16 free

Featured artists include: Max Alexander, Carréducker, Susan Crawford, Stewart Easton, Fine Cell Work, Felicity Ford, Fay Godwin, Kate Jenkins, Rachael Matthews, Steve Messam, Deirdre Nelson, Kate Pemberton, Trevor Pitt, Celia Pym, Freddie Robins, Annie Shaw, Amy Twigger-Holdroyd, Hazel White, Rich White, Donna Wilson, Joss Wrigg, The Wool Clip.

Sheep wanted in Cumbria to join the flock

Help is wanted in Cumbria to create a flock of 10,000 sheep for an art installation later in 2012.

The Flock project is the latest mass involvement arts project organised by Eden Arts.

Help make 10,000 sheep for Cumbria

Help make 10,000 sheep for Cumbria

Organisers are looking for children and adults to create thousands of woolly pom-pom sheep!

Stuck for something to do at half-term or during a wet weekend  – then download the information sheet and templates and get making sheep.

Every sheep will have a different face, fleece and texture and thousands of them are needed for the project.

Join the Flock

Schools, groups, organisations and individuals are all invited to take part by making sheep & flocks for the installation, which will be displayed in 2012.

The project’s aim is to encourage creativity and collaboration, while raising awareness and celebrating the sheep farming & wool industry.

Organisers suggest participants use sheep’s wool to make their sheep – as it is 100% natural, sustainable and biodegradable. They advise against using yarns containing 100% synthetic wool.

Originally the project called for 10,000 sheep. However, we notice on the website this has been revised down to 5000, with only about 1500 submitted so far.

Further Flock details

Download the sheep making kit – (.pdf)

Further information sheet – (.pdf)