Have you got yourself a mug of tea or coffee or perhaps a large glass of a cheeky red wine? Biscuits, cake and chocolate are optional but come highly recommended. What’s going on? Well, it’s time for another look around our fabulous Marketplace at Fibre-East 2016! Get comfortable and start dreaming about all those wonderful woolly dreams becoming a reality. It’s little more than two months now until we’ll be welcoming you to Fibre-East at Redborne Community College in Ampthill. Make sure the weekend is highlighted on your calendar – Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st July 2016.

Home Farm Wensleydales is a business built on a passion for wool. From a 500 year old farm in the Cotswolds, owner Jayne farms a flock of over 300 Wensleydale and Bluefaced Leicester sheep. By combining the soft and luxurious Wensleydale wool with the finer, lightweight fleece of the Bluefaced Leicester sheep, Jayne has been able to produce wool in both chunky and double knitting weights dyed in a range of colours which reflect the beautiful Cotswold countryside, including moss green, buttercup yellow and a vibrant lavender. They also have kits for hats, hot water bottles and tea cosies amongst other things, so well worth a look if you’re interested in a high quality, 100% British wool.

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Tall Yarns are no strangers to Fibre-East, but this year they will be bringing not only their trademark collection of linen work wear –  Layercake – but also their yarns, patterns and needles. Owner Linda told me: ‘ Our Layercake garments are comfortable and very practical yet flattering and feminine. Our knitting designs are aimed at complementing the layered looks we create with the garments. And our Soliloquy yarns are hand-dyed, with choice of lots of semi-solid and variegated colourways to allow our customers maximum freedom to create their imagined heirlooms’. They have recently launched their own yarn brand, Soliloquy, which is available in merino/silk and alpaca/bamboo blends. Perfect for crochet, you might like a souvenir skein or two to bring home with you!

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Anne Alldread is a textile artist working and living in Derbyshire. She mainly makes felt using traditional wet felt techniques to design and create 3D wall hangings, interior and fashion accessories.  She is constantly experimenting with ideas and materials and is always excited to see her work evolve through this process. Anne says: ‘I run a weekly textile group and workshops in a variety of felting techniques and I am available to give talks and demonstrations to community groups. Bespoke items can be met through consultation with the individual’. So if you are interested in finding out more about Anne’s work, make sure you find time to visit her stand and have a chat. Anne will be bringing a selection of her work to Fibre East  which will include felted wall hangings, footstools, cushions, vessels, shrugs and scarves.
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If you’ve been to Fibre-East before, you will no doubt have noticed the brightly coloured baskets on display from BasketBasket. The handmade, handwoven baskets come from Madagascar, Morocco and Ghana and BasketBasket have established strong relationships with their suppliers, ensuring their talented artisans can continue the ancient tradition of weaving whilst being paid a fair wage.   Virginia told me a little about how her most popular baskets, the round Ghanaian ones, are made. ‘The baskets come from the area around Bolgatanga in northern Ghana, hence being known as Bolga baskets. The veta vera straw is collected from the top of the grass stalks, then split in half vertically before being rolled back together in tight twists to give it strength. Bunches are put into boiling dye and then dried.  The weavers select the best straw for the various parts of the basket and start weaving from the base, working up to the rim which is then woven horizontally around to create a tube like edge.  Bits of straw are left sticking out during the weaving process and these are then trimmed off at the end. A large round basket can take up to 3 days to make – longer if the design is more complex.  The handles are made with the strongest straw pieces before the leather is skilfully applied’. I am lucky enough to own one of these baskets and I can vouch for how wonderful they are and also just how much yarn you can fit into one! If you’re looking for a place to store both yarn and projects, check out what’s on offer at BasketBasket!
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Last year, Siobhan Beaudin turned her passion of 8 years into something that she could share with the community, and SiobhanCrafts was born. Creating unique character rolags which have been a popular choice with spinners and lots of textural art batts, all one of a kind, Siobhan’s fibre makes for fun unique spins or felting projects! More recently she has started to dye some British fleece sourced from local farmers ranging in breeds such as Teeswater, BFL, Romney, Wednsleydale, Texel, Kerry Hill and Herdwick ; this fleecy pick and mix will be coming to Fibre-East, and is the perfect way to sample some new breeds. Siobhan says: ‘I love working with colours and I am rather ‘qwerky’ in the way I source my inspiration. I’ve used postcards, stickers and even Beanie Babies all as a physical colour pallet to inspire my batts and rolags’.  As well as fibre, Siobhan will have some weaving kits up for grabs at Fibre East. These are made from small skeins of hand spun yarn and other yarns and ribbons that have been tried and tested by weavers and look amazing! It sounds like Siobhan has something for everyone so make sure you stop by and say hello!

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Another newcomer to Fibre-East this year is An Caitin Beag. Marna makes beautiful jewellery for knitting and knitters; shawl pins, stitch markers, buttons. She works with a variety of materials including silver and gemstones, enamel and ceramics. If you are looking for something rather special, make sure to visit Marna. You won’t be disappointed.

An Caitin Beag (7) An Caitin Beag (2) An Caitin Beag (3) An Caitin Beag (1)

Many of our vendors might qualify for the 2016 My Country Business Awards. If you know someone who might be interested, please pass this link on to them. Entries need to be submitted by 10th June.

We’ll be back soon with more vendors to tempt you with and another chance to win a pair of tickets to this year’s show. So spread the news about how fabulous Fibre-East is and leave us a message to tell us which of the vendors we’ve featured so far has caught your eye.