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)
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!