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June 2013

Black Sheep Gathering, June 21-23

logo_Black_Sheep_GatheringFor fiber enthusiasts in  the Pacific Northwest, you might want to consider a trip to Eugene, Oregon this weekend for Black Sheep Gathering. On the agenda is a sheep show, an angora goat show, a wool show and sale, mohair show and sale, fiber arts contests, a sheep to shawl contest and a spinner’s lead contest. And that’s just for starters. Add a 100 vendor marketplace and one of the best selections of workshops around and you have a major fiber happening.

Online registration for workshops closed June 8, but festival goers can still sign up during the festival if space permits. Here is a quick look at the offerings:

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nancy O, Ridgefield, Connecticut

nancy0facadeToday’s interview is with Nancy O’Connell, owner of nancy O, a LYS with something extra, located in Ridgefield, Connecticut.

Can you tell us a little bit about your shop? What is the atmosphere like? Is there anything that makes your shop different from other yarn shops?

nancy O is a full service knitting and yarn boutique, which is also a gift and fashion boutique. The shop is housed in a a lovely antique building which dates back to 1790, and has been lovingly restored, featuring a large entry way with an open staircase. Turn right, and enter a world-class knitting boutique, where an amazing hand-picked assortment of yarn and fibers grace the large stately fireplace, with a knitting lounge around another fireplace, where you can snuggle up and peruse the large knitting library, visit with friends, or simply knit to your heart’s content. Turn left, and you’ll find wonderful assortment of girts, baby boutique, beautiful sweaters, and accessories. Many are hand-crafted, or reflect the fibers, colors and textures found in the yarn boutique.

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Sheep is Life Celebration: Festival and Workshops with Navajo Master Artists

navajologoThe 17th Annual Sheep is Life Celebration is a Navajo festival which recognizes the special role of Churro sheep in Navajo heritage. According to Dine be Iina (The Navajo Lifeway), “Navajo philosophy, spirituality, and sheep are intertwined like wool in the strongest weaving. Sheep symbolize the Good Life, living in harmony and balance on the land.” Festival events include Sheep to Loom Activities, Felting, Storytelling, Diné Foods and Agricultural exhibits, Sheep and Wool Clinics, a Navajo Weaving Sale, and the Sheep is Life General Store.

Workshops with Navajo master artists run June 17-21.  Topics include: Navajo Weaving, Navajo Sash Belt, Horse Cinch Weaving, Native Plant Dyeing, Hand Carding and Spinning, Felting a Sheep Herder Hat, Felting a Scarf, Sheep Herding Basics, and Butchering Sheep & Preparation. Continue reading “Sheep is Life Celebration: Festival and Workshops with Navajo Master Artists” »

The Navajo and the Massacre of Churro Sheep


Churro Sheep

The Churro, a hardy breed of Old World sheep, has long been identified with the Navajo. In fact, in many ways,  the story of the Churro since their arrival in this country is the story of the Navajo. The breed was decended from an ancient sheep of the Iberian peninsula, and was first brought to the Americas in the 16th century by the Spanish. By the end of the 16th century, the Navajo had acquired the sheep  through trade and raids. The Churro thrived with the Navajo in the American Southwest, and became an abundant source of food, milk and weaving fleece for their now famous blankets and rugs.

The Churro flocks grew and by the 1800’s, shepherding was as much a part of Navajo culture as was farming.  But the new country was expanding west, and by the mid 1800’s, the Navajo had come into the crosshairs of the US government. Seen as  impediment to western expansion, the Navajo were deported from their native lands by the US government in 1864. Know by the Navajos as The Long Walk, they  were forced to walk at gunpoint for 450 miles from their native land in Arizona to western New Mexico.  Over 200 people died during the traumatizing 18 day trek. Nine thousand people were settled in 40 square acres. The Navajo flocks of Churro sheep were left behind and destroyed.

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Deadline to Register for the Finger Lakes Fiber Tour is June 15, 2013


Finger Lakes Fibers Shop

Still looking for a knitting retreat for this summer? You might want to consider The 2013 Finger Lakes Fiber Tour, July 25- 28, a knitting retreat sponsored by Finger Lakes Fiber Yarn Store in Watkins Glen, NY. The Finger Lakes area is gorgeous, and the line-up of events sound great. But you need to hurry- deadline for registration is June 15, 2013.

The retreat kicks off  Thursday afternoon, July 25 with a class with KnitSpot pattern designer Anne Hanson. Titled Yarn Voyage, Anne will explore how yarn type relates to texture, needle size, gauge and drape so that knitters can make smart substitutions in their projects (boy, could I use this class!) In the evening, retreaters will enjoy a pizza party, local wines, then knitting at Finger Lakes Fibers with a 10% discount on purchases.

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YARNventure Shop Hop, June 14 and 15

yarnventureI think Minnesota has more yarn fun than any state in the nation. Here is yet another yarn event for Minnesotans: the second annual YARNventure Shop Hop!  It consists of five LYSs  southeast of Minneapolis. Shop hoppers can print out a YARNventure travel card at  home or pick one up at their first shop. They may visit as many or few shops as they like. However, if a shop hopper gets her card punched at all five shops, she’ll be eligible to win a Grand Prize worth over $500 or one of five first prizes, each worth at least $150. Additionally, each shop will give out daily prizes.

All shops will be open from 9 to 6, Friday and Saturday, June 14 and 15. Check out our interactive YARNventure Shop Hop Map for more information on each shop, and to plot your route.

And if Minnesota is off the map for you, our Fiber Events Map can help you find something fiber closer to home.

Shout-Out for The Big Sky Fiber Arts Festival, June 14-16

bigskyfestThe Big Sky Fiber Arts Festival is a 3-day fiber arts showcase in Hamilton, Montana. The line-up includes a Sheep Show, Goat Show, Wool and Mohair Fleece Show and Sale, and a Fiber Arts Showcase where artists  exhibit and sell handmade wearable or decorative art. A Fiber Stash Sale offers spinners a chance to buy and sell fleece from their stash. Spinners may also be interested in the Skein Contest (skeins must have been spun in the last year). The festival offers a terrific selection of workshops (registration ended May 30). And last, but not least, fiber lovers of all stripes will enjoy the marketplace of over 25 fiber-related vendors.

The Big Sky Fiber Arts Festival  is June 14-16 at Ravalli County Fairgrounds, 100 Old Corvallis Road, Hamilton, MT 59840. The entry fee is $10 for a 3-day pass or $5 for a one-day pass.

And if Montana is off the map for you, check out our Fiber Events Map for fiber events near you.

Crocheted Coral Reefs

Crochet Coral and Anemone Garden  by Marianne Midelburg

Crochet Coral and Anemone Garden

During my internet sojourns for this website, I have come across some interesting stuff, none more fascinating than an enormous crochet coral reef initiated by a couple of twin sister science enthusiasts, Margaret and Christine Wertheim. The hand-crocheted reef began as an experiment in their living room, and grew over the course of four years to take over their entire house. Today it is a traveling exhibit, under the auspices of The Institute of Figuring, a non profit founded by the sisters to both increase understanding and appreciation of math and the sciences.

Crochet Hyperbolic Model by Dr. Diana Taimin

Crochet Hyperbolic Model by Dr. Diana Taimin

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Liberty Alpacas, Maple Valley, Washington


Antebellum – Reserve Color Champ at Alpacapalooza

Today’s interview is with the owner of Liberty Alpacas, in Maple Valley, Washington. They are breeders of champion huacayas who sell their products directly to the consumer.

Can you tell us a little bit about your farm related to fiber arts? The type of animals and number of animals? Is there anything that makes your farm different from other farms?

We raise champion huacaya alpacas, resulting in royal fineness in a variety of colors! Our speciality is grey and fawn but have a full spectrum from light to dark colored fleeces, roving and 100% alpaca yarns from our own herd.

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