The third weekend in October is the Autumn Fiber Festival in Mansfield, Ohio. Despite its proximity to my parents, I had never been to the Autumn Fiber Festival. The last couple of years we went to the Great Lakes Fiber Festival in Wooster, but I missed that this year. I needed some roving – I used up my historical colors demonstrating this summer – so Tom and I made time to visit.
This year was the 10th Autumn Fiber Festival and it was good-sized. It was held in the Arts and Crafts Building at the Richland County Fairgrounds. There was a gun show in the Fairhaven Building at the same time and the parking areas were packed. I’m not sure which show had more people, but it wasn’t just women at the Fiber Festival and men at the gun show.
The vendors at the Autumn Fiber Festival were packed into their space. On the one hand it is good to feel like the space is filled to overflowing. On the other hand, it was crowded and noisy. I’m sure the vendors would have liked to spread out a bit more. Most of the vendors were from Ohio and I was surprised and pleased to see the variety of wools grown locally. There were four alpaca farms from just Richland County! Vendors also came from Indiana, New York, and Ontario Canada, but most were much closer.
Although I was looking for roving, I took time to talk to a variety of vendors. The Malabar Farm Fiber Guild had items for sale and several members demonstrating. Tom and I both talked to Ed the Wheel Healer. He repairs all kinds of spinning wheels but also builds great wheels. Many antique spinning wheels get passed down without all the parts for the mother-of-all. Without this main piece, you aren’t going to do any spinning. Ed says that the reason so many are missing is because Grandma stored it in a special place away from the rest of the wheel. When Grandma died, the mother-of-all was lost.
I was searching for roving in a natural color or dyed with natural dyes. Although there were quite a few dyers, they used chemical dyes. I finally found Brette Souci at Grumpy Goats who was selling yarn dyed with pokeberries and goldenrod. I bought a skein of the goldenrod. Her roving, however, had felted in the dying process so it wasn’t good for spinning.
I found some natural colored roving at Gwen Erin Fibers. I got eight ounces in a variety of colors to make a variegated yarn. Gwen warned me that the fibers were better for needle felting than spinning, but I think I can make them work.
I also talked to Joyce Lewis at the Yarn Shop booth. The Yarn Shop in Columbus was my favorite local yarn shop and I was very sad when it closed. I haven’t found one that is as good to replace it. Joyce still has some things available online and takes special orders. She also does a few festivals a year but she is, otherwise, retired. I really miss her shop so it was good to see her at the Autumn Fiber Festival. I wasn’t, however, able to talk her into opening a yarn shop in Westerville.
The Autumn Fiber Festival was a very interesting place to explore for a couple of hours. I saw lots of interesting things and purchased a few things I need. If I can’t make it to the Great Lakes Fiber Show, this is a good alternative.