Iowa Sheep and Wool Festival
This past Saturday, Jill and I attended the Iowa Sheep and Wool Festival in Colfax, Iowa. This all started with the idea that I could possibly learn to spin yarn, something that we've been discussing for months now. We were led all over the place, trying to answer the question, where does one learn to spin? Hand spinning is a fairly forgotten art, and it's not an easy one to find instructors in. Well, we visited Fae Ridge Farm in hopes that someone there might be able to teach the craft, but that proved false as the owner is in the process of moving across the country. So, we were pointed in the direction of the festival in Colfax. I was so excited to learn there was a festival dedicated to wool! Fiber art is something that I have come to love dearly over the past three years.
Classes were being offered for beginning spinners. I had picked up a drop spindle at Fae Ridge Farm the previous week, and was having trouble figuring out what exactly I needed to be doing... but was more interested in spinning on a wheel. I had no idea what to expect when we arrived, whether the festival would be intimate, or if the class would be overwhelming. I had only ever experimented a few times on my drop spindle, never really spinning any yarn at all!
When we got to the festival, it began to pour, but we quickly rushed inside one of the barns. Inside it was filled with the most gorgeous sheep! Each had a plaque with information about the breeds and how to raise them. Some were for sale (which I was totally interested in, but we don't live on a farm. Boo!)
I noticed while in the sheep barn and afterwards when we were leaving, that the smell was really comforting to me. We've only lived in Iowa for a year, but I am starting to really enjoy the smell of livestock whenever I go outside. It just feels right!
My class was super intimate; there were only five of us. Each woman had their own spinning wheel and was also above the age of sixty. The ladies all looked very surprised when I approached them, but were warm and kind when I explained how interested I was in learning. My class was taught by Kim Specht, the sweetest woman, who raises Romney and Border Leicester sheep and has won many awards for their fleece. She was a great teacher! I loved that she wasn't as concerned about the physics and math of spinning (I am so so bad at those subjects) but taught us to just feel the yarn and make our own judgements based on our own creative preferences. She let me borrow one of her wheels, and the other women let me test theirs to see which kind I might like to purchase for myself.
Oh my gosh, I had so much fun! I just couldn't stop thinking about how incredible it was that I could possibly spin my own yarn for my projects, which led me to wonder if I could learn to card wool, too! I would love to go through the entire process; we believe there is nothing better you can do for your business than to learn about every aspect, every little detail of it. Apparently while I was spinning and Jill was snapping a few quick photos, one of the women in my class whispered, "Doesn't she look beautiful? She looks so happy! Make sure you get some pictures of that!" LOL. So stinking cute.
I do not normally like bright colors, but that mossy green! I love it!
The rest of the festival was also fairly small. We read later that this could possibly be the last time they would hold this festival. At least, they are not holding another one next year. There just aren't enough vendors, artists, or volunteers. That made us so sad to hear! We loved looking at all of the fibers and finished yarns being sold by vendors. We picked up some bare wool, which I'm actually in the process of dyeing right now, for a few limited edition bonnets!
Here is the little patch I knit with the very first yarn I've ever spun! It's a little lumpy, oops, but Kim said that it was "designer yarn". Ha! It was such a wonderful experience. I am really glad I had the opportunity to learn about something, especially so quickly. Now it's time to save up for my own wheel and get to spinning! If you have any opinions on spinning wheels or know some good places to purchase one, I would love to hear all about it. I have a few ideas, but am always open to new ones!