I spent the weekend participating in the second Shenandoah Fiber Festival in Berryville, Virginia. The first festival was held in late May 2006, and I brought an antique "barn loom", set it up and wove on it. I also had a display of antique textiles and did a little spinning on the great wheel.
This year I decided to focus on spinning and to demonstrate point spinning on various types of hand spindles and on the great wheel. When I arrived Friday afternoon to set up my display, I discovered that the festival was giving me a double space, so I went home and filled the van a second time with more fiber!
I used one table for a Touch Me fiber display, and also set up a displays of cotton, alpaca and wool spinning. I brought a variety of roving for sale, some sheepy puppets and some Peace Fleece knitting needles.
I read in the local paper a few years ago that Mr. John Friant was growing cotton in a community garden out on the triangle where the bypass meets Route 7 in Berryville, and I contacted Mr. Friant to ask if he had any plans for the cotton from these plants. He was surprised to hear that spinners would be interested and excited to have his cotton for hand spinning, and offered me the whole crop from his 4 plants.
Mr. Friant also plucked much of the cotton from the bolls and pulled seed out of much of the crop, and when I came to pick up the cotton, he told me how time consuming it was to remove the seeds. He declared that there must be a gin somewhere in Virginia where you could obtain cotton with the seeds already removed.
And while it took over a year, he did find a gin and he called me up this summer to say that he had ten pounds of ginned cotton for me! I took special care to focus on cotton spinning in my exhibit, and Mr. Friant came out to the festival to see me spin his cotton. He later went out to the garden and pulled up two of the cotton plants and brought them back to the festival to add to the display. I'm sorry I didn't get photos of these - they were 6 feet tall standing on their roots, and had flower buds, flowers, immature seed pods and mature, burst bolls of cotton all on the same plant.
I had a great time spinning cotton on the Miner's head and wool pencil roving on the bat head on the great wheel, spinning on hand spindles and meeting and talking with folks all weekend. It was also nice to see the festival grow - there were more than twice as many vendors this year.
I also came away from the festival with a small fleece - a four pound first clip from a romney/border leicester lamb from the Dell Acres Farm in Edinburg, Virginia. My plan is to spin it up into a fine yarn and knit a faroe style shawl!