I went to Leeds Wool Festival last weekend which was also my very first visit to Leeds although I saw very little of it except for the station and a taxi ride out to Armley Mills where the festival is held. Armley Mills is a fantastic place – originally a Fulling Mill for fulling (felting) cloth, it later became the world’s largest woollen mill. It was great to visit when the festival was on with lots of noise and bustle because every time I visit an industrial museum I think about the absence of sound and movement. In its heyday, a mill like Armley would have been unbearably noisy, busy and dusty and as much as I’d like to have that experience I’m not sure it’s something that can be properly conveyed in a museum without breaking every 21st century health and safety rule. Last Saturday though, the mill rang with the sound of enthusiastic fibre folk.
Anna Maltz was teaching, there were Morris Dancers leaping and you could take an alpaca for a walk. The sun shone bright and it was a joy to sit in the garden eating a cake or three with my travelling companions Louise Knit British Scollay and Lilith Old Maiden Aunt Green, catching up in person with the knitters and crafters I chat with online. I’m already making plans to come back next year.