Saturday 4th June 2016 was another great day at the ever growing and popular Woolfest at Armley Mills, Leeds Industrial Museum. Armley Mills, once the world’s largest woollen mill, a sunny day and all things woolly attracted a huge attendance and provided a perfect setting for a very successful event for the team at Armley Mills.
The interest and enthusiasm in the heritage significance, along with the increase in hand knitting and creative and traditional crafts, was inspiring.
With a queue of people who wanted to talk about Yorkshire Textiles, and in particular Armley Weave, the day went by too quickly. The yarn used for the Yorkshire Textiles project at Armley Mills, using luxury ‘eco’ British wool yarn developed by Laxtons yarn spinners of Guiseley, was as usual an energising talking point. Our use of vintage looms to create limited edition weaves with historic reference was a popular inspiration for many art, textile and fashion students attending the day.
It is not only the creative crafts that are the centre of attention at Woolfest. There is a genuine interest in the entire process from sheep, fleece to finished product and plenty of wool know-how and insight from those attending. The very popular film ‘Addicted to Sheep’ recently shown by the BBC was screened in the beautiful 1920s mini-cinema during the day. There were lambs on the lawn at the museum entrance to greet visitors together with the friendly alpacas keeping crowds of children fascinated.
Workshops were held throughout the day for all levels of skill and ability. Amongst the carefully selected stalls we were impressed by the vibrant colours of hand-made rugs, children and babies’ fairisle knits and innovative digital printing on wool.
The interest of visitors was also sparked by the industrial machinery and looms housed at the mill. This includes the 1930 Hattersley loom, developed in Keighley, West Yorkshire which is used for the Armley Weave and brought back to life by the Yorkshire Textiles project at Armley.
There is huge pride in the region’s role in production of wool, woollen-based textiles, cloth-making and tailoring generally and its historic significance. There is also a growing awareness of the textile resurgence – or as Vince Cable recently head-lined at the Manufactured Yorkshire event – ‘the importance of the growing quiet revival and re-shoring of the UK textile industry’ (see also Textile Jobs to Boost Yorkshire).
Campaign for Wool, (Patron HRH Prince Charles), along with the British Wool Marketing Board have been key in the national and international promotion of the use of wool in recent years. This has also encouraged an interest not only in the value and many uses of wool but the processes behind production. We have been proud to undertake prominent projects that have been part of Wool Week in the UK over many years.