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The Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair (SAFF) - a Paradise for Knitters and Crocheters
Every year, thousands of yarn lovers, knitters, spinners, and fiber fans come to the Asheville, NC area for the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair (SAFF). The three day festival is usually held in late October at the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center in Fletcher, NC (just southwest of Asheville).
The festival has a long history of attracting fiber fans in the Southeast. SAFF is (what seems like) a never-ending feast for any knitter, crocheter, spinner, or felter. The festival features two buildings of vendors, three days of workshops and demonstrations, livestock displays and judging, and great weather. For a $3 admission, you can spend hours shopping, learning, and meeting with other fiber enthusiasts. Or you can just sit, knit, crochet or spin.
The 2012 festival had over 140 vendors from across the country selling their fiber-related wares. There was animal fiber of every type for sale, from undyed animal fleeces that still needed to be washed and carded, to wool roving for spinners, to undyed yarn, to beautiful hand-dyed yarn of every color ready for use. For those not familiar with the different steps involved in making yarn, there was also a “Sheep to Shawl” demonstration by the members of the WNC Fiber Handweavers Guild, which showed the process of carding, spinning, and weaving of animal fiber into a handmade shawl.
Beyond fiber, every year there are a number of vendors selling other related products, including spinning wheels, knitting bags and baskets, handmade ceramic buttons and shawl pins, knitting needles, hand soaps and lotions, funny t-shirts, and even goat’s milk fudge (surprisingly yummy!). Also for sale are completed knitted, woven, and felted items such as sweaters, shawls, socks, and mittens. Most of these merchants are small businesses, but some large local yarn stores also have booths where they sell brand name yarn, knitting books and patterns, and other items.
The fair also offers a wide array of over 100 workshops, taught by fiber artists from across the country. Topics include everything from beginning knitting, spinning or crocheting, to more advanced subjects such as steeking a sweater, incorporating beads into your projects, dying silk scarves, designing your own patterns, and learning how to sell your finished crafts. There are also free demonstrations throughout the fair that include weaving on a floor loom, needle felting, primitive rug hooking, and using a drop spindle to spin yarn.
Fun Animal Poll
What's your favorite animal?
One of the most popular activities at SAFF is the livestock display and judging. Farms and ranches from around the area bring their alpacas, llamas, goats, sheep, and rabbits to show and sell at the fair. I don’t know anything about these animals, but they sure are cute. It's hard not to bring home a fuzzy friend or two!
For more information about SAFF, including dates for next year’s fair, visit their website at http://www.saffsite.org.
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