Fiber Festival: What It Is And Why You Should Go

Specialty yarn spun from the sheep listed on the label!

If you are into crafting with wool, you need to attend a fiber festival!

You’ll find beautiful exhibits and tons of knowledgeable people all in one place to inspire your creativity.

A fiber festival is a gathering of natural fiber enthusiasts including people selling yarn, fleeces. and spinning and/or weaving equipment and hand crafters doing demonstrations and selling handmade wearable items.

I have to admit, we are fortunate in this area, Ohio, to have quite a few fiber events throughout the year.

Actually the local fiber festival held in Ashland, called the Autumn Fiber Festival will be coming up in a few weeks.

I enjoy going to the festivals and seeing what crafters are doing with their wool. And of course, thinking about what I could do.

Where To Sell Wool goes over the options for selling wool, from commercial to specialty wools.

A Fiber Fersival is a great place to get ideas and information straight from the source. There is no substitute for picking the wool for your new project in person.

Last year, I bought a Shetland fleece that caught my eye, this year who knows?

Here’s a huge chart I made to give you breed based fleece inspiration. If you are wondering what breed of sheep wool does what, check this out.

Fiber Festivals are also called Fiber Fairs

A fiber festival, also called a fiber fair, is a gathering of people who sell wool and other natural fiber products that is open for anyone to come and look around.

Usually there are multiple displays with vendors showing the handmade items they have for sale and the component parts they have available to make these items.

For example: a vendor might have a booth with alpaca yarn for sale.

You can buy already spun ready to knit (or weave or crochet) yarn or you could buy the item made for you, for instance ready to wear socks or a cardigan.

Fiber Festivals have a variety of displays

At a fiber festival you will see tons of vendors selling all manner of handmade items, most of which are made of wool but not all.

Some booths will contain items made from mohair (goat fiber) others will be complementary items like jewelry.

Other displays will have the items a person making crafts with wool would need like spinning wheel, knitting needles, and looms.

One of the things I enjoy most about attending a fiber festival is that the vendors usually have some of their equipment set up and ready to use for times when they are not busy with customers.

It’s common to see the booth owner showing you how to spin, weave or felt during the small breaks between customers.

In progress wet felting hat demonstration.
Hand felting a hat at the fiber festival by Felt Happiness.

I went to the Mid Ohio Fiber Festival this past weekend in Worthington, Ohio (just north of Columbus) and here are the vendors that I was able to speak with:

  • Felt Happiness by Juliane Gorman
  • Victoria Station by Vicki Brackney
  • Underhill Farm by William Churchill and Fred Stowell
  • A Mystical Farm by Jarita and Roger Thomson

Felt Happiness makes wonderful felt hats

Juliane hand felts hats and accessories from Merino wool. Her business card states “wearable art: hats for the practical and fantastical” -how true.

Felt Happiness creations are beautiful, colorful and imaginative.

Check out her website FeltHappiness.com, all the various hats are pictured (modeled by Juliane) including availability and prices.

Victoria Station has a locally sourced fleeces

Victoria Station is owned by Vicki Brackney.

Vicki has hand spun yarns and three way roving made of various long wool sheep breeds including Blue Faced Leicester, Border Leicester, Lincoln and Romney.

She belongs to a spinners guild called The Spinner’s Flock in Michigan, which allows her to source all of her fleeces from her friends in the guild.

Underhill Farm has Leicester Longwool yarn

Underhill Farm is owned by William Churchill and Fred Stowell of Hollidaysburg, PA.

They have a flock of Leicester Longwool sheep that came from the stock at Colonial Williamsburg.

Leicester Longwool is a rare breed of sheep that was imported into the U.S. by Colonial Williamsburg from Tasmania.

These sheep were very popular in the days of America’s founding, large flocks of Leicester Longwool sheep were owned by both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

Happily, these sheep are experiencing a revival in interest due to their beautiful lustrous fleeces that are loved by hand spinners and the sheep themselves being friendly and productive stock.

Underhill Farm has yarn for sale, both dyed and natural colored.

Their yarn is made exclusively from their Leicester Longwool flock (the names of the individual sheep are on the yarn label) and mohair yarns made from their goats.

The Underhill Farm website is UnderhillFarmPA.com.

A Mystical Farm specializes in Angora

A Mystical Farm is owned by Jarita and Roger Thomson of Missouri. They specialize in Angora goats that are lovingly raised on their farm.

Roger shears all of the goats and Jarita does all of the yarn dyeing by hand in small batches of 6-8 skeins each.

She pointed out to me something very interesting that she does when dyeing the yarns, she makes a complementary skein.

This means that the batch of 6-8 skeins contains one skein that is a bit lighter or darker than the main coloring of the batch.

This allows your creations to have borders or sock toes and heels with colors that are a little different than the main skeins but are made to match.

The complementary skein makes the colors of your entire project look great together. Short version-she eliminates the guesswork in picking skein colors.

She also spins and weaves and makes pottery. Check out their website amysticalfarm.weebly.com or amysticalfarm.etsy.com for online sales.

Hand dyed Angora yarn from a fiber artist and her Angora goats in Missouri.
Hand dyed 80% mohair yarn from A Mystical Farm.

Fiber Festivals are held throughout the year

Fiber festivals are held throughout the year all over the United States.

The majority of them tend to be in the spring with the second most popular time (at least around here) in the late summer and early fall.

If you have never heard of a fiber festival go check on the internet, just type in fiber festival then your state or even near me.

You’ll be surprised how much comes up.

I did a small test where I just started typing in various states to see what is available, since I usually only pay attention to the ones going on around my area.

Any state I typed in had multiple festivals come up in the search options.

Attend a Fiber Festival to be inspired

First off, you will be amazed at the talent some people have in the fiber arts, truly wonderful ideas and beautiful results.

It’s very interesting to me that all these people are here because something about were natural fibers attracted them enough for to start learning and crafting.

Look at the myriad of directions those interests have taken them-felting, spinning, weaving, dyeing, and direct marketing superior quality yarns from their own sheep.

The second reason is to see that this level of craftsmanship is achievable by everyday people, just like you and me, who decided to try and put it the time to hone their skills.

The third reason is that the vendors at these festivals are really friendly and love to talk about what they do and why they do it.

You can learn so much and get a solid start on what direction to go in when you decide to learn a new skill.

Frequently starting a new hobby means you will have a lot of questions and be somewhat unsure of what steps to take next.

New hobbyists need a bit of guidance from a knowledgeable source.

Ask the vendors, they know their fiber!

A fiber festival is the perfect opportunity for you to learn in person from a vendor who can help steer you in the right direction to get the results you want to achieve.

When you see something that catches your eye-ask!

For the more advanced beginner, tell the vendor what you are wanting to do and how you normally do it.

They can help you determine the best supplies to have your project turn out the way you want it to.

I always ask the seller about the best uses for a new fleece before I purchase it.

Especially, if I have never tried that type of wool before or are wanting to do something very specific with the fleece.

These folks know their stuff, ask them to help you out.

Three way roving in different colors and from different breeds of sheep!
Three way roving from various long wool sheep breeds by Victoria Station.

Fiber Festivals draw a big crowd

All kinds of people attend a fiber festival.

Some are always local people who just wonder what is going on this weekend and others are parents looking for an interesting trip to take as a family.

Generally, it is folks who are looking for inspiration for their own craft work at home or who are looking to buy a special item.

Some hand crafters are looking for a very specific fleece or color of yarn that is best selected in person so they can make sure it is exactly what they are looking for.

Other attendees are people looking to get started with wool or looking for a way to up their game.

For instance someone who has just learned how to crochet and wants to start making items that will last, so they need a supply of high quality yarn.

Fiber Festivals are free to low cost

Any fiber festival I have attended has been free, but I have only gone to the local ones so the big really famous ones I would figure charge admission.

I thought I saw $5 to get into the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, so not free but definitely not pricey either.

Fiber Festival or Sheep And Wool Show

You may also see Sheep And Wool Show and wonder why is that not a Fiber Festival? Actually, the biggest part of each event seems to be the same (the fiber vendors). The Sheep And Wool Show has animals in addition to the fiber.

I’m an animal person, so I get a kick out of the fiber animals as well as the fiber vendors and classes. Read Sheep And Wool Festival if you want to know more about the Great Lakes Sheep And Wool Show.

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