The other Sunday I took a trip with Nicola and Jocelyn, friends met and made at the Selby Crochet and Chat group to find Wingham Wool Work. We’d heard this name mentioned by several people in connection with spinning and felting at our recent classes in Castleford and Ackworth and I’d seen their stall at Woolfest in Cockermouth in June. But none of us had been to the actual place and we were keen to find out more about what’s available there.
Wingham Wool Work has a comprehensive website where you can shop online all over the world and is also a bricks and mortar store, but one that’s very different to a typical yarn shop. Its only open two days a week – Sunday and Monday afternoon, or by appointment only. And its rather off the beaten track. When we went there, Nicola was rather insistent that we meet at her house so that she could drive and I soon realised why. My sense of direction is notorious and as Wentworth, the village in which Wingham Wool Work is located, seems to be somewhere in Middle Earth.
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The chances of me finding it, even with a Sat Nav would be slim. Its not far from either the M1 or the M18 but there is no exit to get off the motorways to reach Wentworth, so it requires a lot of wiggling and winding through smaller roads. Once there, its a real treat though so its well worth the effort of navigation. Its also close to a huge garden centre with an amazing tea room. What could be better for a Sunday afternoon outing?
We made it!
We arrived at about 2pm and at first glance, the old stone barn with the shop sign on the front looked rather small. Its down a small road off the village main street and it really is in the middle of nowhere. When we walked in, we were the only customers! We were warmly greeted by the owner, Ruth Gough, who holds the world record for the longest yarn hand spun in just one hour. She managed just 55cm short of 100 metres and the record has stood since 2011. I was interested to see when I looked for that link just now that the yarn spun by Ruth and the other competitors was woven into a Marie Curie logo to raise awareness of the charity.
Ruth gave us a quick guided tour and we quickly realise that there was a lot more to Wingham Wool Work than we thought initially. The first barn is crammed with goodies with fibre for felting, sample packs of fibre, needles, spindles, undyed yarn, dyes to dye it with, soap made from lanolin, spun sari silks and a large selection of Ruth’s hand spun yarn, which is for sale.
As you can see, shelves were piled high and not an inch of space was wasted. There was so much to look at just in this main barn. But there was more…
We went through and out of the back door into the main yarn, which contained several sheds, some with equipment and some with fibre. The fibre sheds were just amazing. One shed was entirely filled with dyed merino tops, each colour kept separate from the rest by purpose built shelves with little wooden portholes. These were designed and made by the people at Wingham Wool Work and I’ve not seen anything like them anywhere else.
All of the dyed merino is one price, so you can do a kind of pick and mix from anywhere in this shed. The plastic bags available hold 100g, or a full kilogram so you can play with colour and mix up your purchase to your heart’s content. The undyed merino is slightly cheaper, so is kept separately.
Another shed contained natural coloured tops from many different breeds of sheep, mostly British but some Norwegian and some French too. These were priced individually and you could either buy 100g bags already put together in the tubs, or break off as much fibre as you wanted.
This shed also had some mixed bags to buy that were great value – just £15 for one kilogram of fibre. Ideal for spinning practice or for blending on a blending board.
Courses at Wingham Wool Work
The fact that Ruth has World Record status hints that she is a bit good at spinning. She is also an accomplished teacher and runs different kinds of courses.
These are held over a week (Monday to Friday) in the Lake District and the entire week costs £525.00. Ruth runs a spinning masterclass and this year a felting masterclass is running alongside. Find out full details here and there is a link on how to book (I don’t know what the availability is but these courses do get booked up quite fast).
Group spinning course
This is a 2 day course held in Wentworth in the classroom at Wingham Wool Work. Accommodation is available in one of the cottages that can be rented in the village. Its ideal for someone who can spin but who wants to expand their skills and advance their techniques. Find out more about group spinning here.
Wentworth Textile Group
This is a more informal group that meets on the first Tuesday of every month. Find out more here.
I did buy quite a few bits but I’ve not got the space to talk in detail about them here. I got two new drop spindles and I’ll be showing you those when I get a bit more spinning done. I also bought some more fibre and some dyes, so watch out for what I get up with them in future podcasts and blog posts. I have to say that I found everything to be quite competitively priced and I’ll definitely be going back for another visit in the future.
In my next blog I’ll be recalling my even more recent visit to Loop, the fab yarn shop in Islington in London, a place that couldn’t be more different but that is equally fascinating and drool-worthy! xxx