Wrap-up: Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival 2019
Another SVFF is in the books. I can’t believe how time flies by so quickly and we’re into October already.
I volunteered at the Fleece Sale again, mostly jurying alpaca fleeces. Working closely with our resident alpaca expert, Cheri, I learned more in-depth about alpaca fleece and breeding. One of the main goals of the Sale is education, and I took it as an opportunity to learn as much as possible about alpaca judging and discussing the finer points of what to look for and the impacts of genetics, nutrition, and care on the fleece quality.
Getting to see the 200+ fleeces as they come in is a great perk of the job. Since this was really my only fleece buying this year, I couldn’t resist grabbing a few gorgeous alpaca, a yearling mohair, and an unusual Cormo sheep cross for myself. I even managed to find a fleece with a spot! I don’t know why but I’m kind of obsessed with spots and unusual colorations. I’m going to take my time washing these over the next several weeks. It’s important to use the right tools for the job, and I like to use a detergent that is formulated specifically for wool. I’ve tried lots and I get the best results with Unicorn Power Scour or Beyond Clean which is the fragrance-free version that has the same cleaning power. If you’re interested in a short tutorial, check out my video on washing fleece. Unicorn is a small woman owned company and they specialize in fiber care products that are earth-friendly and free of dyes and phosphates.
Friday’s fleece check-in and jurying day flew by fast. We had near-perfect weather and a steady stream of fleeces coming in. Co-chairs Bridget and Tara did an excellent job organizing, and it went off without a hitch. Melissa Weaver Dunning taught her class on How to Choose a Fleece to an eager group of new fiber enthusiasts.
It was really hot Saturday and I was feeling a bit under the weather, then I got dehydrated and too much sun so I went home early. I went back Sunday for a few hours and visited some friends' booths and took more pictures.
There were some really great first time vendors that I got to meet and introduce myself to. I especially love the vibrant colors and styles of Queen’s Yarn Boutique, Black Cat Fibers , and Wool & Vinyl.
I visited some regulars and old friends, and made some new ones too. One of my favorite parts about the festival is the camaraderie. I feel like a year goes by and the conversation picks up right where we left off. There’s always some nice little moments of discovery where you see a new project in progress, or someone taking home a bunny they just adopted, or you get to taste some wine or locally roasted coffee. And of course, there’s lots of fiber to fondle!
I fell in love with this award winning Gotland sheep, Niklas, in the breed exhibit and was happy learn that Lisa of Feederbrook Farm took him home to join her breed display flock.
I said hi to the adorable Shetland sheep, Wooly Bully (he has the horns) and Honey of Phoenix Farm Fiber.
Sadly some regulars are retiring from the fiber biz and are on a farewell tour. I know we’ll all really miss their contributions to the community and craft, and especially their warmth and smiling faces at SVFF. Good luck in your next adventures, Liz, Kate, Otto and Joanne.
As I drove home Sunday through the Blue Ridge Mountains and over the Shenandoah River, I soaked in some sunshine and thought of all the colorful inspiration for Fall, and I could see that the leaves were already turning just a little bit gold.
See you next year!
Here’s some of my haul (and Bleu photobombing as usual).