We haven’t made it to Rhinebeck (which was this past weekend), but we went to our local fleece festival, the Woodstock Fleece Festival (aka Woolstock) in Woodstock, Ontario, the weekend before. Some friends joined us so we had a nice little field trip out to the country to buy some beautiful fibres!
I made sure to wear my Convergence Top, and it was great fun to see people wearing their own handmade pieces. When we stopped along the highway for a bathroom break near Cambridge, we saw another group of women wearing handknit tops and sweaters; we were checking their pieces out while they looked at ours.
The Woodstock Fleece Festival occurs on just one day, Saturday 14 October, 2017. There was an $8 admission fee to the fair, which was located on the Woodstock Fairgrounds. It’s been an annual festival since 2008, but this was the first time any of us have visited. The fair was spread out over three barns and the grounds had lots of parking.
The over 100 vendors at the festival included local fibre growers (sheep farmers, alpaca farmers, bunny and goat farmers), fibre mills, yarn stores, yarn dyers, and of course, the caterers! Once lunch rolled around, we got some soup (gluten free, dairy free) from Soup Surreal located in one barn. We sat at the long communal tables and enjoyed each of us got a different flavour of the hot, filling soup and bread.
The Woodstock Fleece Festival also ran workshops throughout the day. Some of the workshops included spinning, felting, naalbinding, beekeeping, weaving, rug hooking, indigo dyeing, and candle making. These all cost extra and participants had to register in advance, so we didn’t partake (this year).
A few book sellers were selling craft books at the festival, and I brought some home. I bought some discount books that I’ve been checking out from our local library and renewing repeatedly, so I knew they were good ones. I find it rare if a book has more than five patterns that I like, so I quickly scooped these up.
We are rather shy and don’t like to make small talk, but on of our friends is quite chatty. This friend was talking to an alpaca farmer and shared some of his info tidbits with us. One of the most surprising is that an alpaca doesn’t need lots of room. Seven alpacas can fit on one acre outside, and can fit in one of the barn stalls. It’s good that they like to be close together, and alpacas can even die from loneliness. It is also relatively cheap to feed alpacas (maybe we will one day raise alpacas for their fleeces!). The alpacas soft coats are shorn in the spring so that they can regrow their coats for winter, and they need their nails clipped occasionally throughout the year if they live on soft ground.
Demonstrations also took place throughout the day, including a llama obstacle course, alpaca shearing, and angora rabbit grooming, The photo above is the llama obstacle course, which sounds hilarious and unfortunately we missed it.
This was the alpaca nail-clipping and shearing demonstration. The demonstrators put the alpaca on this contraption to immobilize it; one of the farmers often say they just use a plain table, but the soft fabric makes this look more comfortable for the alpaca.
The lace-making demonstrations by the London Lacers was one of the most awe-inspiring demos. These women had dozens of bobbins and were making lace the old fashioned way – completely amazing!
There were some beautiful samples of rug-hooking, too. It didn’t look too hard and some of the vendors were selling kits with gorgeous designs. Perhaps this will be another hobby for us in the future!
Not only were the wool skeins stunning, but the samples were marvelous too!
I ended up buying quite a few skeins of yarn. I had a shopping list of lengths, weights, and fibres that I plan to make into items for our Etsy shop. Wellington Fibres was on my go-to list, as I wanted to buy some of their lovely vibrant mohair skeins. I think I stocked up with enough supplies for the next year! I also picked up some breed-specific yarns, including Rambouillet from Linc Farm and The Gaynor Homestead; Corriedale and mohair from Canadian Ewe; Targhee from Northern Bay Fibres; and alpaca from Oakridge Farm.
Visit the Woodstock Fleece Festival next October: