I like to buy most of my yarn at festivals. Why? Because they are so much fun and the selection is so much bigger and better! I have a few favorites that I drag my family to every chance I get. If you see a wool and sheep festival advertised, don’t think that it’s just yarn! These are some of the things you will see: (not every festival has all of these items but a good selection of them)
- more yarn
- and even more yarn
- livestock from which the yarn comes from (sheep, alpaca, goats, rabbits)
- patterns for all types of fiber art projects
- books on fiber arts
- knitting supplies like knitting needles (vintage and new), stitch markers, yarn needles and anything else ever invented for knitters
- spinning supplies such as: fleeces (animal fibers straight of the animal and not processed at all), combs and carding machines (to clean the animal fibers to get them ready to spin), roving (wool that is ready to spin), spinning wheels (without the sharp spindle, so no worries about a spell making you sleep until your true love’s kiss), drop spindles (spinning by hand without a machine) etc.
- weaving supplies like spooled yarn, looms, shuttles etc.
- crochet supplies like hooks (not much else needed for crocheting…)
- rug hooking supplies
- felting supplies and felted animals
- pre-made kits – typically includes pattern and yarn/materials needed
- pre-made garments – sweaters, gloves, mittens, socks etc. from all over the world
- beads to decorate your knits
- handmade baskets
- handmade soap
- shawl pins
- ceramics – especially yarn bowls, tea cups etc.
- wood crafts – especially yarn bowls, cutting boards etc.
- buttons – new and vintage
- vintage crafting tools
- AND ON AND ON
Not impressed? How about these:
- AWESOME food – lots of local food trucks and vendors, lots of variety and dessert options too (a lot of festivals have vendors that use lamb in their offerings to create a full circle experience)
- gourmet food gifts – cheese, wine, chocolate, jerky, olive oils, coffee, teas, fudge, dips, anything made from apples (at the fall festivals)
- cooking demos
- herding dog demos
- programs for kids
- buy livestock
- seeing everyone else walking around with their handmade garments
- help from the vendors if you have a question about a pattern or yarn
And most importantly:
Like me, you might just be overwhelmed with all the colors and designs. Just breathe. Don’t forget a notebook to jot down the flood of creativity that comes with every festival.
Here are the festivals I have experienced and love:
MD – Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival – West Friendship, MD
Howard County Fairgrounds
May 6 – 7, 2017
This is the biggest festival in the country. Plan for two days and bring lots of money! This festival is about 25 miles outside of downtown Balitmore, lots to do!
NJ – Garden State Sheep Breeders Festival – Lambertville, NJ
Hunterdon County Fairgrounds
September 9 – 10, 2017
This is a smallish festival but it has grown since the first time we went. It is my personal favorite because it is small and not overwhelming. Does not have all the amenities listed above but is a great place to start if you want to try out a festival for the fist time. A few minutes away in the little downtown portion of Lambertville are some great restaurants, antique shops and a view of the Delaware River. Across the bridge in Lambertville is New Hope, PA, a hip and artsy town that is famous for its cultural attractions. At the festival you are very close to where George Washington crossed the Delaware on December 25, 1776 and other historically important sites. Make a weekend trip out of it, lots of fun things to do.
NY – Sheep and Wool Festival – Rhinebeck, NY
Dutchess County Fairgrounds
October 21 – 22, 2017
This is a huge festival, you will find everything listed above at this one. Great views of upstate NY when driving there, crisp fall air, excitement in every building and tent. Great destination for cultural activities, restaurants and some interesting historical sites nearby – Franklin D Roosevelt’s home in Hyde Park for instance. Book your hotel a year in advance, this one is so big that all the nearby rooms are booked!
Planning a festival trip requires a little forethought, both for your comfort and for your wallet.
- For comfort make sure you are dressed appropriately for the weather and drink plenty of water, you know the drill.
- For your wallet make sure you have a plan for what you want to buy or else you
will buy everything you touchmight come home with more than you thought. If on a strict budget, do not even consider bringing a credit card. Most of the vendors are equipped for credit cards.
Of course remember you need to save some of your money for food, you can’t eat yarn.
This year (2017) I went to the NY Sheep and Wool festival by myself. First time without family. I sped through it twice, that’s how fast I am and how slow my family is… sorry, love you all anyway. One thing you might want to consider before going, make sure you know where you receive emails whenever you make a purchase with one of those “Square” credit card machines that are used with smartphones to make up a mobile credit card machine. This year I received a text from my husband saying, “Are you buying as much as the Square emails suggest?”
Darn it, I was caught. And that was after only a few purchases. “I’ve seen five so far” he said. I recounted some things I remembered buying, my short term memory is terrible so I have to dig deep in the bags to remind myself. Then he commented, “Just confirming it’s real”. Oh it’s real alright. It is a lot of real BEAUTIFUL YARN! I spent a lot of money, but then had to remind myself that that is the only time I buy yarn all year, so dividing by 12 gave me an idea of what I need to make monthly to cover my yarn habit.
***Update: See these posts about my more recent trips:
Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2019
New York Sheep and Wool Festival (Rhinebeck) in 2019