Now in its 11th year, the annual showcase for Welsh and British wool and natural fibres attracts national and international visitors and exhibitors from all over the UK. It features just over 220 stalls selling quality wares and attracts well in excess of 5,000 national and international visitors to the region.
Originally set up in 2006 to boost the market for Welsh wool and woollen products, Wonderwool Wales has grown year on year to become the premier wool and natural fibre festival in the Principality. It now showcases everything from the start to the end of the creative process, from live animals bred for their quality fleeces through to fabulous finished fashions and furnishings.
Livestock exhibitors at this year’s show include Bird Farm Alpacas; Ystrad from Wales, whose traditional British breeds and their cross-bred lambs are bred for their fleeces; the Ryeland Flock Book Society, promoting the use of this ancient breed's wool and yarn; Pure Welsh showcasing wool from their flock of Llanwenogs; the Shetland Sheep Society, showing how this breed has fine fleeces in many colours and patterns; Home Farm Wensleydales, who breed Wensledyale and Bluefaced Leicester sheep for their wool and Pickwick Flock with rare breed pedigree Cotswold sheep, producing high lustre silk like spinning fleeces.
With a wealth of other quality exhibitors, the show is pure heaven for the fibre enthusiast who will find raw and hand dyed fibres, yarn in a rainbow of colours, embellishments, equipment, dyes, books and patterns.
For the fashion conscious, Purl Alpaca Designs will be showcasing their Journey Collection of stunning knitwear designs for men and women, inspired by the roaring ‘20s. Launched in October, to rave reviews, it’s the first time the collection will be shown in Wales.
Wonderwool Wales also features stalls selling superb examples of finished fibre crafts including textile art, felted items, craft, home furnishings and clothes. Other highlights include the magnificent community knitting exhibit Above and Below the Waves, a nautical nine metre by six metre exhibit which combines contributions from more than 2000 people.
There’s a popular programme of pre-bookable Woolschools with something to inspire everyone, whether their interest is knitting, crochet, felting, weaving, spinning or fleece preparation. Topics include mapuche weaving techniques, the sought-after opportunity to join the talented Jenny Barnett and learn how to make a lovely little needle felt fish brooch and a Woolschool with Sarah Enoch to create a ‘cobweb’ felt scarflet using wet felting techniques.
There’s also the chance to join a workshop in the ever-useful life-skill of upcycling boring old jumpers into fabulous and funky new garments.
The show also provides opportunities to join in with have-a-go sessions and demonstrations on many of the exhibitor stands; take part in hands-on activities in the interactive area and watch demonstrations by members of the Welsh Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers.
Once craftspeople and makers have shopped ‘til they drop, they can put their feet up and enjoy delicious refreshments from a range of artisan food producers and entertainment from the quirky fashion show, the Sheepwalk, which gives exhibitors the chance to show off their creations. If previous years are a guide, it is guaranteed to be fabulous fun. It is all part of what makes Wonderwool Wales a much-anticipated date in the calendar.
Wonderwool Wales 2016 takes place on April 23 and 24, 2016 at the Royal Welsh Showground, Llanelwedd, Builth Wells, Powys LD2 3SY.
Opening hours: 10am to 5.30pm on Saturday and 10am to 4.30pm on Sunday. Tickets cost £10 for adults and children under 16 get in free. On-line booking is available, postage costs apply.