Finding your flock: Fiber Arts Festival a success

Finding your flock: Fiber Arts Festival a success

Image Credit: Kyle Valentini

With the success of the first Fiber Arts Festival in downtown Uhrichsville on June 5, a second festival is already being planned.

“I think things are going great. It went pretty smooth, and I’m really happy to see everybody out here,” said Jessika Zontini, the owner of Pindrop Shop in Uhrichsville, who planned the event, along with the Fiber Arts Guild of Tuscarawas County.

Zontini already had some ideas for next year.

“There seems to be a lot of interest, and we hope to do it again next year and have it grow. There are several vendors I’d like to reach out to — more food and just a couple other little tweaks we’d like to make to make it run more smoothly,” Zontini said.

Zontini heard from people who attended the festival who were interested in fiber arts and wanted to learn more about them.

“It’s amazing. That’s what we were hoping for, just to increase awareness of our fiber arts community,” Zontini said.

Laura Gray is the president of the Fiber Arts Guild of Tuscarawas County. The Fiber Arts Guild of Tuscarawas County is a group of spinners, weavers, sewers, knitters, crocheters, felters, embroiderers, cross stitchers and other fiber artists who are interested in sharing their passion, learning new techniques and promoting fiber arts in the county.

There was a steady crowd throughout the day.

“We’ve had a better turnout than we ever imagined. I’ve been thrilled with the nonstop traffic,” Gray said, adding the animals, three sheep and two alpacas were a draw for the children attending the festival.

As for adults, knitting is currently the most popular overall of the fiber arts.

Gray and Zontini thanked the First Federal Community Bank for funding the festival.

“We hope we can make it an annual thing. And we appreciate any constructive feedback on what you want to see, what you loved or what you didn’t love, or what you want to see added,” Gray said.

Food at the event included East of Chicago Pizza Shop of Uhrichsville doing business under their pizza tent, as well as Ott’s Coffee and Le Macaron food trucks.

“I’ve had a steady stream of customers, a lot of interesting people, and I’ve made some sales,” said Bonnie Daugherty of the Salt of the Earth shop, which carries a variety of eclectic decorative items.

Also open during the festival was the Good Buys Variety Shop and Lovely.

Fiber artist Ashley Casteel of New Philadelphia, who sells her products under the name, The Cultured Sheep, attracted a lot of attention at her booth, where she demonstrated how to dye wool with Kool-Aid packets. No sugar is needed, but Casteel did add vinegar to help set the color along with the citric acid that is in the Kool-Aid. Although the dye is colorfast, Kool-Aid dyed products can’t be left for weeks in the sun without fading.

Casteel even mixed different flavors of Kool-Aid packets to make a variety of colors. She is a member of the Fiber Arts Guild of Tuscarawas County.

“I had been crocheting for three months before I joined the fiber arts guild. I got sucked into spinning, and it just kind of snowballed, so this is my thing now,” Casteel said.

Exhibitor Maria Hall of the Hall Family Farm said “waste not, want not” became their motto when she and her husband, John, got two alpacas for their farm. Hall demonstrated needle felting and has used the alpaca fleece to felt onto silk scarves, making them warm but still lightweight. She’s even felted soap, which allows users to ditch their washcloths in the bath. When the soap is gone, the fibers can be reused or composted in the garden.

The alpacas are easy to transport and climb right into the Halls’ minivan.

Another exhibitor, Cheryl Gordon of Kingsfold Jacobs of Shreve, displayed the raw fleece from a recently shorn sheep. She explained the process of skirting the wool, where you take out the parts of the wool you don’t want processed. Dirt is acceptable because it can be washed out, but hay, short pieces of fleece and matted fleece are not.

Debbie and Roger Thornton of Dennison were two of the many people who enjoyed the new festival.

“I like to knit and crochet, although I usually start a project and don’t finish it. I wanted to see how yarn is made,” Debbie Thornton said.

Each part of the yarn-making process was demonstrated by at least one participant at the festival. Others participating in the festival included Perennial Blessings demonstrating rug hooking and wool applique techniques, B4 Farm demonstrating yarn spinning, Gwen Erin Natural Fiber, Hiddenview Farm showing an angora bunny, Ten Cat Farm showing sheep for display, and the Scarf Project, which started in 2016 in New Philadelphia to give away scarves, gloves and hats to anyone in need.

Live music was provided by Laura Barkett, Geo and Roger, and the Kodachrome Babies.

The sunny weather contributed to the overall enjoyment of the new festival.

“I think it’s been a really good thing for the whole downtown,” Gray said.