Part of our strategy for developing the company involved not only new products but also increased marketing and social media work. Attending knitting and stitches shows on the mainland also had a role to play, our first show under new ownership in 2006 was a trip to Woolfest at Cockermouth in Cumbria.
Woolfest is a celebration of natural fibres and all things wool related. J&S was invited to attend the festival by the organiser’s members of the Wool Clip, a Cumbrian cooperative, in 2005. Their aim is to celebrate all aspects of wool; from hill farming and rare breed fleece animals to the latest craft techniques and creations, an ideal event for our Real Shetland wool and products.
Catherine and I travelled down to the inaugural event on our own, which in itself was a bit of an adventure. We hired a fairly large vehicle which we crammed full of yarn, fleece and product. Our first impressions on arriving in Cumbria were an appreciation of stunning scenery, mountains and lakes.
In the 2006 event we were ably supported by the parent company. They delivered our stand goods to us from their base in Bradford and helped us set up. This was a huge plus for us as now we did not have the strain of coping on our own; we appreciated the help from Curtis Wool Direct. I also had an opportunity to meet with one of the parent company’s key woolman who I would be working with from now on; a valuable connection. We took a selection of our yarns, design kits and other products, as well as fleece and combed tops. Woolfest was an ideal “shop window” in which to show of the very best of Shetland wool and yarns.
The event took place in the Cockermouth auction mart, space was not a problem and the open plan building made it quite airy, which was a godsend in what was a fairly hot month of June. We met lots of likeminded people from around the globe, made new friends and met up with a lot of old acquaintances.
I met up with members of the mainland Shetland Sheep Breeders Society and of course their sheep. It was relieving to see that the high standards of breeding set up by the Shetland Flock Book Society were in good hands on the mainland.
We found the trip quite rewarding although it was a fair distance away and came at the start of our wool season, however it was worth the visit to what is one of the most beautiful parts of the UK.