Wonderwool Wales 2024 “one of the best ever” shows

Exhibitors and visitors were united in describing the weekend’s successful Wonderwool Wales 2024 as one of the best ever shows.

 

The award-winning two-day event,  which celebrates all that’s great about Welsh wool and natural fibres, attracted around 6,000 visitors, with the bulk attending on a bumper Saturday

 

Held at the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells, the show exceeded 4,000 advance online ticket sales and there were a lot of tickets sold at the gate over the weekend.

 

Overseas visitors travelled from as far away to Australia, America and Canada, including a party of 18 booked with Rowan Tree Travel.

 

“We probably had our best ever single day attendance on Saturday and everyone, exhibitors and visitors alike, loved the show,” said Chrissie Menzies, Wonderwool Wales director. “The feedback was very positive.

 

“There were some really interesting new stands, selling lovely things and exhibitors had made a big effort. The show ran very smoothly thanks to the 30 plus stewards who worked so well together over the weekend. We really appreciate their efforts.”

 

Wonderwool Wales had around 220 exhibitors, including 40 newcomers, and costs around £120,000 to stage. New exhibitors are Gary Jones Ceramics from Leintwardine, Phoenix Pottery from Conwy, the Museum of Welsh Textiles, Knighton and the Indian Block Print Company from Bicester.

 

Another newcomer was Glamorgan Smallholders’ Great Glamorgan Sock Project, which involves members making a pair of socks from each sheep breed in the county.

It was ceramic sculptor Garry Jones’ first Wonderwool Wales and he pledged to return after receiving so much positive feedback from visitors. “I don’t think I have been to a show where I have received so many compliments,” he said on Monday. “I came away from the show so happy.

 

“I have more than covered my costs and the telephone has been ringing and emails pinging this morning. Around 95 per cent of the people I spoke to were creatives who appreciated the time and skill that goes in to my work. The show had a wonderful feeling about it.”

 

Many of the American visitors made a beeline for regular exhibitor Erica Downs from Debonnaire Yarns in Rutland, who is originally a New Yorker. “I love Wonderwool Wales because the energy here is always really good,” she said.

 

“The show attracts people from all around the world and I have been exhibiting here for so long that I have people coming back to see me every year. It’s an incredibly well organised event.”

 

Siobhan Beaudin, owner of Siobhans Crafts, Warrington, was another happy exhibitor. “It was a great show, the atmosphere was amazing and the customers were all so friendly and chatty. It’s such a well organised show and we loved our time vending there.”

 

One of the most popular exhibitors this year was ‘Flock2Flight’, an engaging display of felted birds created by fibre artist Janna Turner and two friends, Alex Johnstone and Deborah Taylor Dyer.

 

Both Shepton Mallet based Janna, who runs Flocks2Felts, and Alex were no strangers to Wonderwool Wales. Janna was project lead and felting advisor and Alex contributed to an eye-catching Alice in Wonderwool exhibition in 2022.

 

This year’s display featured colourful birds which included mechanics to make them fly. There were a small flock of swallows flew in circles, a zipwire peregrine falcon, a mechanical pelican, a flying flamingo and phoenix, owls, bird marionettes and hand puppets.

 

Money donated at the display and around the overall show will be donated to the Wales Air Ambulance and Ukrainian charity NGO Molotok, Wonderwool Wales’ adopted charities.

 

“We had a lot of positive feedback to the display,” said Janna. “We were very busy on Saturday and it was lovely to see people walking past and then stop in their tracks when they saw the birds. The fact that we allowed people to interact with the display was a key point.”

 

This year’s event saw nine Woolschool afternoon workshops each day, giving visitors the chance to learn or perfect their skills with help from an expert.

 

Another popular feature, the Sheep Walk fashion show, kept the audience entertained on both days. Visitors were encouraged to knit, crochet or make and wear their own beanie or hat to add colour to the event, with one of the Wonderwool stewards awarding vouchers to the best hats on both days.

 

Wonderwool Wales 2023 Bursary winners Jade Carey Holt, from Aberystwyth and Kay-lee Davies, from Capel Dewi, near Llandysul, exhibited their work and were delighted to return to the show, which originally inspired them.

 

Wonderwool Wales was first held in 2006 to promote the market for Welsh wool and to add value to products made by small wool and fibre producers in Wales.

The show celebrates the green credentials of Welsh wool and its versatility as a material for creative crafts, designer clothes, home furnishings and more.

Wonderwool Wales covers everything from the start to the end of the creative process. Exhibits of sheep, raw and hand dyed fibres, yarn for knitting and crochet, embellishments, equipment, dyes and books can be found alongside superb examples of finished textile art, craft, clothing and home furnishings.