Almonte Fibrefest and Demoing

Almonte Fibrefest and Demoing

As Ann was saying, last weekend was the first Almonte Fiberfest since 2019.

 Almonte is a small town about 30 minutes from the west end of Ottawa. In 1818 David Shepherd was given 200 acres (0.81 km2) to build and operate a mill. However, it did not go well, there was a fire and Shepherd sold to Daniel Shipman by 1821, who rebuilt the mill. In 1866 the Rosamond Woollen Mill was built to manufacture fine tweeds.  By 1850, the area had seven busy woollen mills and was one of the leading wool cloth production centres in Canada.

1) Rosamond No. 1 Mill is now a condominium

2) Left the old mill Right the Annex

3) Mississippi Valley Textile Museum Entrance

The last textile mill closed in the early 1980s. By 1987, Rosamond No. 1 Mill was empty and was considered for a textile museum. The main Mill building was located by the lower falls. It was a large, six-storey, flat-roofed, stone building. The second building was the last of the outbuildings and referred to as the Annex which had housed the mill’s office and large warehouse space. It was a stone building on two floors, both of which could be reached from ground level (it was built on a slope). It was decided that the Main mill building would be renovated into condominiums and the Annex would be the new Mississippi Valley Textile Museum.

Over the years the building has been updated with HVAC, an elevator and even bathrooms! A large number of volunteers and small staff support and run the museum. It contains a gift shop, permanent exhibits and gallery space. One of the fundraising activities to help support the Museum is the Almonte Fiberfest. (See I did get back to the point eventually!)

2022 was the 27th Annual Fibrefest. Originally held in the Museum, as the number of vendors grew larger it expanded to include other locations, now it is located in the Almonte Community Centre (arena). This year there were 69 booths (about 30 booths smaller than in 2019). The smaller number gave a wider aisle and made the arena feel less crowded. Workshops were again offered but there was no cantina this year.  While twist fibre festival was, quite noticeably, heavily loaded with knitting yarn, Almonte was more diversified having both finished goods and supplies for many of the fibre arts.

Let’s have a very quick look around then head out to see the demos.

4) Three booths with felting supplies or finished felting for sale (FiberCraft, Wendo and Starbright Curios)

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5-15) A Few Shots from Booths

Outside the arena, there were various fibre arts guilds and groups displaying or demonstrating their skills. (spinning, knitting, weaving, rug hooking, lace making, smocking and quilting).

16) West Carlton Fiber Guild (the guild just to the west of Ottawa)

 17) The Ottawa Valley Guild of Stitchery

18) Home Hospice north Lanark Comfort Crew

19) Ottawa Knitting Guild

20) Ottawa Rug Hookers Guild

 21) Ottawa Guild of Lacemakers

The arts collective Out of the Box was there but I cannot find their photo. The Smocking guild is usually there but I don’t remember seeing them this time.

22) Ottawa Valley Weavers and Spinners Guild Demo (Sat.)

Not forgetting of course is the demo for the Ottawa Valley Weavers and Spinners Guild that Ann was participating in. We had different volunteers on Saturday and Sunday, so the table display changed each day too.

23)  Part of table display on Sat and Sun

24) Pine Needle Basket Demoing

25) Part of the Sunday demo Team

Demoing is a great way to introduce the public to something you enjoy and are passionate about. It allows the public a chance to connect and possibly join your group. We have also had people ask if we take donations of books or equipment, which can help the group.

You don’t have to be an expert to demo, you don’t have to know all the answers. If you don’t know the answer to a question you can ask them to contact the guild website or Facebook page or you can ask one of the other demo people if you are in a demo team.  It’s often good to have a new weaver or spinner or felter who can say “I am just starting, this is fun, you can learn this too!” it’s important to smile and look like you’re having fun, scowling at your work is not conducive of others wanting to join you in your endeavour!

One thing I have enjoyed over the years demoing is hearing people’s stories of their mother or grandmother or Aunt who spun or wove and the descriptions of their equipment. In Almonte, I have heard stories about working in the textile mills from some of the older people attending demos.

Demos don’t have to have to be planned events with lots of people and a display table.  You can find yourself demoing when you thought you were just using your drops spindle waiting in a slow line, or needle felting while waiting for a doctor’s appointment.  If your guild or group has business cards with your web contacts keep some with your spindle or felting to hand out to anyone that seems interested. The stranger you give a card to may be a fibre friend in the near future!

If you get the chance, I hope you will try demoing, either a formal demo or a spontaneous accidental demoing. Both are fun! Keep Felting!

18 thoughts on “Almonte Fibrefest and Demoing

    1. Yes its a good show to visit, lots of differnt fiberarts represented, its hard not to want to try more out!!(no dont look at the quiting squairs or the pritty thread!!) Two of the booths had felted pincoshens but both were very differnt interpritations. one of the booths with embroidery had pincoshens too but again diferent. most of the booths had set up little vinyets which were great fun to photograph. i hope you have fiber arts shows near both of you too!! (but watch out for the quilting stuff it looks addictive!!)

  1. Thank you for the trip to Almonte Jan, what beautiful stands and stalls. I suppose it’s a good job I wasn’t actually there otherwise my enormous stash would have been added to, but I’d have liked one of those colourful baskets. Those Teeswater locks were beautiful – more Mer hair?
    I know what you mean about impromptu demoing. I used to carry a small crochet project, or some tatting, with me when on train journeys. I have had peoples eyes riveted on me, (especially when tatting as they couldn’t actually see what I was doing) and tunisian crochet would puzzle many of them. It’s almost as good a way of getting to know people, as having a dog along with you.

    1. i am glad you enjoyed the show! (it is cheeper to visit this way!) Yes the Teeswater locks will add to Mer hiar.
      i was at an Alice Cooper concert sitting at the end of a row. the security gards at the arena levle kept grouping by the stairs and stairing in my general direction. i susupect the conversation was “you go invesitgate”, “no you go”, “i dont want to find out!” “Send him!” someone got the short staw and was sent up to see what i was doing. i was useing my drop spindle wating patently for the concert to start, but from there prespective i was floating a disk and stick up and down.(they coundnt see the yarn) i got to demo to the brave security gard and he had to go back and explain it to the others. i hope Mr. Cooper didnt find out he apealed to the spinning demographic!!!

    1. i am glad you had fun too! Yes Demoing is a great way to meet new fiber people! (some of whom did not know they were fiber people!) Have fun and keep felting! and spinning, and weaving, and embordery, and basketry…….

  2. Thanks for the visit to what looks like a great Fiber show, nice to see more diversity and less yarn 😉

    Demos are fun even though I haven’t done any for a while. People always ask the weirdest questions.

    1. Thanks Ruth!
      Yes some of the questions can be perpelxing.
      while spinning -“look she is making wool”(the sheep did that), “oh its the sleeping beauty wheel” (i have a flyer its not a spindle wheel!), “look its the rumple stiltskin wheel” (i am spinning on great wheel which has a spindle…). the best was “why dose the wool go from white to blue to white as your spinning?” this man was paying close attention but didnt quite grasp the path of the fiber onto the wheel, i had a blue drive band. i got to stop the wheel and show him the orifice and how it all was working. i have a cuple direct drive wheels so no drive band that gets some odd looks too so i again get to explain the macanics of how it works.
      you also get realy good questions too, “is all wool the same?” “dose wool only come in white?” “can you spin things other than wool?” “How dose that work?” “why do the wheels look different are they doing diferent things?” and i love the “that looks so relaxing” (yes it is and you could do this too).
      the good questions usualy outnumber the odd ones.

    2. I was once asked if the sheep had to be killed so that I could have its wool!

  3. Jan it was lovely to get a sneak peek into the festival, to see the various products & to see all the guilds too. I probably would have spent hours watching & asking questions of everyone.

    Unplanned demos – Chicken scratch embroidery whilst waiting in various places or visiting in hospital got lots of interest, but the best was crocheting on a plane….the wooden crochet hook fell & rolled forward – the air stewards had been totally fascinated & when they realised the hook was lost, 2 of them were on hands & knees lifting peoples feet 🤪. Hook found, laughter all around, work continued.

    1. i am glad you enjoyed the visit to almonte Fiberfest! i dropped off the photos to the Museum yesterday and took a lot of photos of the permenent dispay and some of the building so you may get a tour of the annex later.

      Plane demoing sounds like a captive audiance! i love the group participation aspect of loosing and finding your hook!! that is a very creative way to draw in your audiance. It sounds like it was a fun flight!

  4. Thank you, I enjoyed reading about the show, and it does seem to be a wonderful weekend to see and experience a wide variety of crafts.

    1. Thankyou! i hope if you are in the area next year you will consider dropping in. (there were alpaca in 2019, so maybe they will be back next year!) its a lot more fun to see such a deversified show, something for everyone and you may accidently start a new pashon! (Opps!)

    1. Thanks Ann! when have i ever snuck up on anyone with a camera?… oh you, yesterday. (the cookies were delishous!) its lots of fun to take picktures, and the venders at fiberfest seem particularly good at makeing little Vinyets in there booths just wating to be found and captured, (more fun that pokamon).

  5. Almonte is one of the best festivals in the area. I always look forward to it and Jan captured the event perfectly. Thank you. The festival was a little quieter this year than in years past, but people are just starting to come out again and they really enjoyed meeting fellow addicts. I had great conversations with people at the demo. Thoroughly enjoyed my time there.

    1. i agree, Almonte is a realy well balanced festival, Finished goods and suplys in lots of diferent fiber arts.
      I am sorry i missed getting a shot of you demoing over the weekend!! i do have photos of previous years that you had a booth with hand spun yarn and batts of fiber. i am hopefull you will be selling more batts for picture felting in November at the Guild sale

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