It’s less than a week now until this year’s Fibre-East – are you excited? Only six more sleeps! And the coming days will be extremely busy ones for Jan and her team of volunteers as they get everything ready for you. The marquees arrive on Wednesday and then set up begins in earnest on Thursday morning, with the exhibitor spaces being marked out in each space, tables and chairs left ready, signs put up and the whole site yarn bombed!

Whether you’re an old hand at visiting fibre festivals or perhaps Fibre-East is your very first woolly event, we thought that a quick guide to visiting Fibre-East would be useful and get you in the mood for a fabulous festival of fibrous frivolity!

Getting there

Fibre-East is held at Redborne Community College, Flitwick Road, Ampthill, Bedford. The postcode for sat navs is MK45 2NU. Make sure you enter via the south school entrance – look out for lots of colourful bunting and Fibre-East signs. There is loads of parking, and there will be people on site to guide you to a suitable parking spot. Blue badge holders have a specific area and will be directed to it as required. If you are travelling by public transport, the nearest station is Flitwick. A bus service runs from the station to the school on Saturday only, or you can take a taxi.

What to wear

The forecast for the weekend is for dry, sunny weather! But keep an eye on the forecast and bring suitable clothing for sun/cold/wind/rain!!!  The vendors are all inside, either in school buildings or marquees, but you will have to go outside to move from one area to another. The halls and marquees do get very warm. Layers are always good so you can cool down or warm up quickly and easily. Also, wear comfortable shoes as you will be spending lots of your day on your feet, walking around. Nothing worse than sore feet! Sun cream and a hat might be useful if you’re planning on sitting outside to eat lunch or watch the sheep show too.

Do some planning in advance

Take a look at the complete list of vendors here and click through to their websites, jotting down any you are particularly interested in. Then you can make sure that you pay them a visit when you’re at the show. Take details of any patterns you are interested in making, such as yarn weight and yardage, so you can buy yarn with a particular project in mind. Take swatches of fabric or yarn for button matching too! Look back at some of the recent blog posts where exhibitors have shared some of the things that they will be bringing along with them.

The Marketplace

The marketplace is spread out over a number of marquees and halls within the school. Each one is named after a different sheep breed. The vendors will be listed in the show brochure you will be given when you arrive, so you can check out where to head to first. You can mark any favourites in your brochure to revisit later in the day, and don’t forget to pick up any cards or leaflets from vendors you’re interested in for future reference.

There are one of two changes to the published Marketplace because of late cancellations and bookings. Home Farm Wensleydales have moved into Herdwick; their space in Leicester has been taken by Butterfly Hair.

Money

Set yourself a budget and try to stick to it. It’s very easy to get carried away with all the wonderful things on sale and before you know it, you’ve blown your entire yarn budget for the next couple of years! Take cash with you (vendors will love you if you have change too!) as there’s no cashpoint on the school site. You may be able to use a card with some vendors if they have machines and the wifi is working, but to avoid disappointment, cash is the best option. There are cashpoints in Waitrose and NatWest bank in Ampthill and in Barclays bank and Tesco in Flitwick.

Meeting people

If you are hoping to meet up with friends, why not join the chat in the Fibre-East group over on Ravelry to find out who’s coming? Wear your Ravelry badge if you want people to know who you are! There’s also a lot of excited chatter over on our Facebook group, so you might like to check it out.

Toilets

Being a school, there are quite a lot of toilets available, but be prepared to queue. There are also disabled toilets which use Radar keys. We will have keys at Fibre-East, but if you have your own, you might like to bring it with you to save waiting for a volunteer to come to your assistance.

Accessibility

There is ramped access to all areas.

Bags

Bring plenty of bags for carrying home all your lovely purchases! There is usually a bag creche in the Farm Animal Sanctuary tent, located in a small marquee on the field. In the past, they have happily looked after your bags for a small donation.

Enjoy yourself

As with any event of this kind, it can get busy and crowded at times. If it’s all getting a bit much for you, take a break and go and sit somewhere for a few minutes. Watch one of the sheep shearing shows or just sit and people watch for a while. We want you to have a good time at Fibre-East! If you need any assistance during the day, please speak to one of our volunteers. You’ll be able to spot them as they will be wearing hi-vis jackets. They will be more than happy to help you.

Show Specials

Lots of the exhibitors will be having show ‘specials’ and some great deals. In addition, some of them have offered discount vouchers which will be available in our newsletter, coming out very soon. Sign up to receive it here.

Beyond the Marketplace

Always a great crowd-pleaser, Michael will be entertaining us once again with his sheep shearing show – the Sheer Sheep Experience. Expect lots of banter and useful information too. There will be numerous shows throughout the weekend so do try to catch one. It’s nice to take a break from all the shopping and relax on the grass.

A number of Guilds will be exhibiting at Fibre-East and will be more than happy to tell you all about their crafts. All kinds of skills including weaving, spinning, felting and more will be demonstrated. It’s a great chance to talk to people if you’re interested in learning something new so make sure you go and visit them.

If you’re interested in spinning, representatives from BritSpin will also be at Fibre-East this year.

BritSpin is the first ever UK based 4-day spinning event which will take place over 4 days of 11-14 October which coincides with Wool Week and Shetland Wool Week.

At Fibre-East in 2017 – spinners were chatting and said how nice it would be to have something here in UK that would also raise money for charity…..

Taking it on board – Jan started chatting to others behind the scenes. After a few months of discussing it all and how it would work, the announcement was made earlier this year.

The idea is for up to 10 spinners to form a team. Each team member is invited to donate a minimum of £5 to the The Association of Air Ambulances Charity via www.virginmoneygiving.com/BritSpin.

More information can be found about forming a team at www.britspin.org.uk as can businesses who might like to sponsor a team or even form a team of their own.

It is all about raising funds for worthy charities, fun, friends and challenges – the latter can be personal ones or something from a list of challenges being created by the BritSpin team.

There is no registration fee and BritSpin has secured sufficient funding for the foreseeable future and receives nothing at all from this fun 4-day event.

BritSpin can be found at

Ravelry  – the best place to keep up to date and post results at the end of the weekend together with photos…..at least one team member will need to be a member of Ravelry – it is free to join. It is also where the ‘challenges’ will be listed.

Facebook

Twitter: Britspin @BritspinUK

Instagram: #BritSpin

There are currently twenty teams signed up, but there’s room for more. So please speak to someone on the BritSpin team if you’re interested in either joining a team or starting one of your own.

Exclusive Fibre-East goodies

A number of coasters and enamel pin badges featuring Baaaarney, the Fibre-East sheep, will be on sale at the show. They are seriously gorgeous and we expect that they will be very popular!

There’s still time to get your tickets in advance and save queuing on the day. Click here for more information. Online ticket sales close at 1700 next Wednesday. Make sure you have the date in your diary – Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th July at Redborne Community College, Ampthill, Bedford, MK45 2NU. Don’t forget to sign up to our newsletter too as there will be some fabulous discount vouchers to use at the show. We’ll see you there very soon!