Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival Report

Fleece judging

This past weekend was the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds. This is the third or fourth time I’ve attended, and it’s a great time for fiber lovers! I went through all the barns and watched part of the Shetland sheep show,  the herding dog competition, the fleece judging, and the Make It With Wool style show and awards presentation. There were also lots of sheep to see, of course, and an excellent display of hooked rugs. I always enjoy seeing the many sheep breeds raised in our region at the Hall of Breeds and checking out the sheep shearing.

Sheep shearing area: Before and After comparison
Sheep shearing area: Before and After comparison

I did NOT go to the marketplace this time; I alternate festivals when I shop and festivals when I take classes. My big purchase this year was an iced latte, very welcome on a hot and humid day. While I was sipping and waiting for my class to start, I noticed that all the cool kids had nice carts to tote their spinning wheels to class and later in the day were carrying fleeces out to the parking lot. Although I am quite content to be a handspindle spinner (no cart needed), I can imagine another fleece in my future someday (I had a Jacob fleece I worked with back in 2009, big job but very rewarding).

My Saori project in progress
My Saori project in progress

This year I was so glad to take a Saori weaving class taught by Chiaki and Dan O’Brien from Saori Studio Fun in Minnesota (hey, neighbors, thanks for coming down!). Saori weaving is a freeform style of weaving developed in Japan. Our teachers had Saori looms already warped and ready to go and a table full of yarns and assorted roving and yarn “scraps” to weave with, so we got started in just a few minutes. I had brought some handspun yarn and dyed (not by me) wool locks from home, and I used a lot of those in my project as well. It was one of the most inspiring, exciting, and centering fiber arts experiences I have ever had. I love the wall hanging I made and can’t wait to do more Saori weaving this fall and winter. One of my teachers thought my weaving looked like a flower garden, which delighted me since she didn’t know I was a gardener and I was choosing my colors spontaneously.

My completed wall hanging
My completed wall hanging

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