Have Ewe Any Wool?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival

This weekend, it was time for another fiber festival - the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival. It's held annually in Clarke County and is a great venue. The festival is small enough not be be totally overwhelming, yet large enough to attract high quality hand-crafted goods, yarns, fibers, and fiber animals.

The drive to and from the festival is always a treat. The fall colors are finally starting to come out, so the travels up and down the mountains to get to the festival are even more picturesque than usual. I just love the quite serenity of the countryside and the majesty of the mountains.

This year, I demo'd spinning once again with the Blue Ridge Spinners and Weavers Guild. I had a lot of fun. A couple of young children (both about 4 yrs. old) tried their hand at spinning on my wheel - you can never start too young! I taught another participant how to drop spindle spin - and now she's hooked! (Our group had spindle spinning starter kits for sale at the festival complete with a spindle, instructions, and a bit of wool.)

While I was spinning, I happened to look up and noticed that someone had brought their llama into the building. This graceful creature posed very nicely for me. (This is in sharp contrast to my usual experience - whenever I'd get out the camera for a llama or alpaca photo, they turn their backs - EVERY TIME!!!!) This guy was MUCH more cooperative - though it was probably due to the fact that he was on a lead and really couldn't turn away easily rather than actual cooperation.

I visited a bit with Ellen and Kathy (Almosta Ranch Alpacas), a couple of my guild buddies from the Lancaster Spinners and Weavers Guild. I generally get to see them when they come down our way for festivals or when I head up their way for Spinning/Weaving retreats. They both had their "furry friends" with them. Both rabbits are Satin Angoras...and oooh, so soft! The one on the left hasn't had the fur "harvested" yet. The bunny on the right has been harvested, and as a result, isn't as beautiful as normal. However, I thought it was interesting to see the contrast in the two bunnies - sort of a "before and after" view. Of course I picked up some bunny fluff! It's wonderful stuff!I'm still trying to master spinning angora woth my wheel - it's quite a bit more difficult to spin than wool - it's very light and very slick.

In addition to the spinning and weaving demos, our guild had a number of gorgeous items for sale. There were hand knit bags, hand dyed yarn, hand spun yarn, hand woven scarves, handwoven shawls, hand woven towels, hand knit sweaters, baby items......you name it! Of course, I had to buy some goodies!

I pretty much cleaned Dail out of all of her luscious alpaca. All of it is hand-dyed baby alpaca. It's incredibly soft and absolutely to die for! Aren't the colors lovely?

I also purchased a gorgeous woven scarf and some elegant placemats - also crafted by my fellow guild members. There's something very special about hand crafted items. There's a human connection that's missing in the mass produced goods. Sigh....

Oh, speaking of Dail's alpacas, it was her alpaca fiber that we used for both the warp and the weft of the shawl we raffled off. All the fiber was from two of her 'boys' - Rob and Cody. Several of us spun the weft for the shawl (myself included) and two of our weavers, Beth and Sandy, wove it into the beautiful shawl shown in the picture on the left. The winner of the shawl is pictured in the photo on the right with Beth (one of the weavers). The shawl is truly a local product from start to finish. It was composed of local fiber and crafted by local fiber artists - how cool is that?

And the shopping continues.....
I picked up some yarn from Gretchen and Sue at "Solitude" - one of my favorite vendors of local wool and fiber. Since the weather is turning cold, I had warm woolly socks on the brain. I got 4 skins of Suffolk and Dorset yarn - PERFECT for boot socks! I decided on Purple, Fuschia, Teal, and Natural for the colorways. I've already wound up the purple - it's ready to go! The socks should knit up in no time at all as this is a rather bulky yarn compared to my usual sock yarn.

Of course, I couldn't resist some lovely fleeces either. I bought 2 natural white fleeces. The first fleece is from a lamb named "Q-Tip". He's 1/2 Finn, 1/4 Romney, 1/8 Border Leicester, and 1/8 Corriedale - check out the gorgeous sheen and crimp of the locks! The second fleece is from a Rambouillet ewe and a 1/2 Finn, 1/4 Romney, 1/8 Border Leicester, and 1/8 Corriedale Ram. Both are absolutely beautiful and have a fabulous crimp to the wool. This will produce a nice soft and springy yarn...whenever I get around to washing and carding it. (I'm sure DH is anxiously awaiting the smell of wool being washed....LOL!)

I picked up a bit of roving from various farms("Flock Bronsanas" (shetland), Roclans , Flying Fibers (BFL and Mosham), and Gurdy Run Farm (wool/mohair)) and a couple of patterns from Y2Knit while I was there as well. At the Barefoot Spinner's booth, I picked up a pound of lovely roving that I plan to spin and then weave into a shawl. This is, as soon as I get my scarf off of the loom....and the roving spun up! Maureen has a fabulous eye for color...and this roving is no exception! The colors are absolutely gorgeous(photo on left).

At my friend Jerry's booth, Wool Junction, I bought one of her hooked rug canvases, "Tree of Life", as well as a kit for hooking an adorable sheep wall hanging. It's small enough that even as a beginner, I should be able to complete it before next spring. She has a lovely array of canvases and kits....if only I had the time to do more!!!

After returning home, I had a peaceful evening....walking my dog and enjoying the gorgeous sunset. All in all, it was a fabulous day!


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