Friday, 31 August 2012

Tunbridge Wells Festival

Last Sunday I was sitting in the middle of the street in central Tunbridge Wells spinning, much to the curiosity of the general public. No, I hadn't gone completely mad, I was taking part in Tunbridge Wells Festival

This festival is a new event started by Stephen Mason, a local businessman and Chief Executive of Trinity Theatre in Tunbridge Wells. Profits go to a number of local charities, notably Hospice in the Weald. Some of the roads were closed to make way for the many attractions, there were craft stalls, a stage with live performances, street entertainers and fairground rides for the children. 

Having a niche business, I don't do many general events but I decided to support the Tunbridge Wells Festival. We were fortunate with the weather, the day before it poured and I was rather worried but on Sunday the sun shone and the crowds came out. 

I had a lovely day, sitting in the street spinning. A couple of small dogs took fright at the movement and a few children thought it would be fun to grab the turning wheel. Many people who stopped for a chat had never seen a spinning wheel in action. There were the usual reactions: 'how do you sew on that?' 'is that a spinning jenny?' 'look at that lady knitting!'

I was spinning a silk/baby camel blend and I heard many parents carefully explaining to their children that this was sheep's wool. Note to self, when spinning in public - stick to wool. 

I haven't spun much silk, the next day my hands felt puffy, does anyone else find spinning silk hard on the hands? What reactions do you get when you practice your craft in public?


  1. Note to self: you can't educate everybody but you will reach one or two who 'get it'.

    Was your tongue cut out and you were only able to mime? It's okay to ask questions of the demonstrator. There you go - wear a sign around your neck that says, "I would love to tell you about what I am doing."
    Maybe stamp it on your forehead!

    Glad it was sunny and there was no wet camel to smell.

  2. I did a lot of explaining! I think it's a shame as a society we have lost touch with where food and clothing comes from.

  3. Looks like a lovely day.

    I always like to try and make eye contact, but reactions can be mixed depending on where you are - from those interested in the mechanics of how the wheel works to mothers talking of Sleeping Beauty to some that recognise yarn!
    Always nice to have a few that get it, and are thrilled if you offer them the chance to try it; especially children and you give them a length of yarn they "helped" produce.

  4. Quite a few people asked where the point was that Sleeping Beauty pricked her finger on.

  5. I love spinning in public. When I was in the UK I participated in some demos with my wheel, but here I have only been out with my spindle. People always stop and ask what I am doing, and if I let them kids love trying to spin. In this part of Chile spinning is not very public, but with wool, weaving, and felting becoming more popular, that might change!