Spotlight on the Festiwool Team
Founder and Organiser
Philippa is passionate about knitting and crochet and passionate about introducing the younger generation to the joys and benefits that the age-old crafts can bring.
Her love of knitting goes back to her childhood, when she spent a considerable time in Great Ormond Street Hospital. She found knitting therapeutic and good for relieving boredom.
With a backgound in the organisation of exhibitions for large organisations, and a founder-member of Hitchin Stitchin', Philippa gained experience and first-hand knowledge of setting up and running a business. Attending the first Waltham Abbey Wool Show gave her the idea of running her own yarn festival.
In 2014, with help from many members of Hitchin Stitchin', Festiwool was born.
Helen often wondered why it was so difficult to source Welsh yarn when she visited the family farm in Pembrokeshire. All those fields full of sheep. What happened to the fleeces after shearing?
Starting with fleeces from the family farm, she sourced a company who would spin for her and went through the complicated process of getting the resultant yarn accredited as Welsh. Most 'British Breeds' yarn comes in natural, undyed, colours, but Helen wanted to provide for the growing market that wanted dyed versions.
Adding yarn from North Wales' farms, she developed a business plan, in 2012, and launched Woolly Chic. At the time, Helen concentrated on designing small crochet kits and dyed Welsh Yarn.
Twelve months later, there had been numerous Fairs and Shows, articles in three of the leading knitting magazines, expansion of the business - selling on-line and through Amazon - and a great response to new yarn blends and kits.
By 2015, Helen had expanded the business even more, and was providing knitting kits and teaching crochet sessions and workshops in the local area. Her experience makes her an invaluable member of the Festiwool Team.
How did a scientist become the owner of a business making and selling handmade items for the yarn enthusiast?
Jane trained as a Biochemist. After ten years, she moved into IT, initially as an analyst programmer, then as an IT business analyst. Throughout all the time she spent in a technical and scientific environment, Jane would turn to crafting as a way of unwinding. When she left paid employment some years ago, she took up knitting again with a vengeance. That led to spinning. And crochet. And weaving. And cardmaking …
Then along came Festiwool in Hitchin in 2014, and Jane decided to take the plunge, encouraged by a fellow Hitchin Stitchin' group member to take a stall and stick her toe into the ’crafty business’ water. Her wares included project bags, stitch markers, shawl pins, cards and labels, all handmade by Jane. She loved it! And did it all again the next year at Festiwool in 2015.
As a scientist and technologist, Jane brings a keen eye for detail and correctness to her role as Festiwool's Editor.
Fashion Show Co-ordinator
April has been an avid knitter all her adult life. Recently she has taught herself to crochet, and is currently designing and creating fashion accessories using jute twine.
April gained her experience in time-management and organisation through raising her four children, juggling a part-time job and obtaining a BA Hons. and MA in History of Art at UEA. She firmly believes these life skills enable her to overcome obstacles and difficulties with optimism and enthusiasm.
Pat is a teacher by vocation. She taught in Secondary schools in London and Hertfordshire for over 20 years. The move to teaching Information Technology was a natural progression from Remedial teaching, with its emphasis on analysis and breaking learning down into its smallest steps. When she took early retirement from teaching , Pat revisited her love of crafts that she'd learned at Primary school.
In 2009, a chance meeting with Philippa, led to the formation of Hitchin Stitchin'. Two exhibitions at the Living Craft Fair at Hatfield House gave various members of Hitchin Stitchin' the confidence needed to mount their own festival in 2014.
Knitting and web design are not very different. Both require patience, logic, design flair, and an understanding of what users need.