This soft alpaca wanted to be in the center of everything during the entire tour. He didn’t know that I want to crochet him, of course. :)
Things are a little bit off track around here today. That’s because I had a great little four-day trip to visit my hometown – Tucson – and my family who is there. I got back late last night and thought I’d be up bright and early to get my usual posts up but I’ve been a bit slow getting going. I’m here now with an update on the big part of my trip – the Tucson Wool Festival. Tomorrow I’ll be back with my the update about the rest of the crochet-related stuff from the trip. And I’ll be doing my Tuesday book review but it will come later in the day than usual. And then we should be back on track here. Hope you enjoy the photos from my experience at The Wool Festival!
The Tucson Wool Festival is an open house at a working fiber farm called Withers Ranch. Withers Ranch is an eight acre ranch with angora goats and rabbits, sheep (including merinos), alpacas and llamas. My mom and my sister visited it a couple of years ago and had told me about it so I wanted to check it out myself and I’m glad I did. It was terrific to see the animals that some of my favorite fiber comes from and to get a sense of what a working fiber ranch is like. The main portion of the wool festival that I enjoyed (and remember, this is the first wool festival that I’ve ever been to) was the opportunity to walk around and see what the animals are like.
I learned a ton of information on the tour as well. For example, I learned that the color of the animal’s ears is the color it’s fiber was when it was born but the fiber lightens up over time. And I learned that darker hair is coarser so for really super soft fiber you want a lighter colored animal. And I learned some interesting details about how the animals are bred to get different colors, such as that you can breed two red animals to get another reddish animal but if you breed a red and a black then you’ll most likely get black. Just little tidbits of information that were interesting to learn.
Kathy in one of her handmade creations speaking at the ranch
The Withers Ranch is operated by Kathy Withers. She started the ranch more than a decade ago and has been growing it ever since. Kathy is a fiber artist who crochets and also works in several other mediums. Her studio is located on the site and we were able to check that out plus we were able to see her shop where she has items for sale including her handcrafted garments and the handspun yarn from her animals. You can learn more about Kathy and her work from her website, blog and Etsy store and you can also connect with her on Ravelry at uniquedesignsbyk.
Also at the Wool Festival
Sheep being shorn for fiber
Gathering the wool to make fiber
Some of the yarn in Kathy’s shop
In addition to touring the grounds, meeting the animals and learning about Kathy’s work, there were some other treats at the wool festival. There were about one dozen vendors set up. They were selling wool and yarn as well as handcrafted items and knit and crochet patterns. I got three skeins of yarn but I haven’t taken photos of that yet so I’ll include that in the roundup of the rest of my Tucson trip tomorrow.
Finally, I just want to say a thanks to Kathy for opening up her fiber ranch once or twice a year so that we can all get the chance to enjoy this great experience!