A Trip to the Fleece Fair

I suppose, as a preface to this story, I should introduce myself. My name is Laura Gertz Runyan, and I am the daughter of Dogpatch Pix’s founder and photographer, Susan Gertz. I am a new addition to Dogpatch Pix, and will be serving as the advertising and marketing manager as well as something of a Girl Friday. You can find out more about me and see some of my work over at my website, Laurelized. It’s so great to be a part of this project and I can’t wait to meet you and your pets!

With that said, I’ll move on to telling you about how I donned my knitted hat yesterday and drove to Yellow Springs with Mom on a journey to the local Wool Gathering. The Gathering, associated with the Midwest Festival of Fibers, is an annual event that takes place at Young’s Jersey Dairy and includes many local vendors of natural fibers and hand-made crafts. Also in attendance were various guilds and groups from the area associated with everything from knitting and weaving to participation in the SCA.

Laura presses soft yarn to her face. She can't help it.

This yarn is so soft.

You may be wondering what Dogpatch Pix was doing at such an event. The answer is “shopping for supplies!” My mom has been crocheting for a while now, and has begun to make beautiful one-of-a-kind clothing for dogs! She wanted to make the products for your pet even more special, and decided we should concentrate on using local fibers only. The Wool Gathering was the perfect place to start our search. It was an absolutely beautiful day, every vendor was kind and helpful, and best of all, we got to meet some of the vendors’ animals (llamas, rabbits, and even a dog!).

We did have a few favorite vendors. Our favorite yarn came from Lisa Rodenfels’ Bluefaced Leicester sheep at Somerhill Farm. Irresistibly soft and with a lovely natural feeling, the Bluefaced Leicester wool was the most unique we encountered. Mom was crazy about it! Lisa, who is also the president of the Bluefaced Leicester Union of North America, was so sweet and answered all our questions! Also on our “loved” list was the Wooly Knob Fiber Mill, run by Matt Mabis and Jamie Stark. Aside from teaching us a lot about the process of acquiring and spinning wool, they sold us some beautiful roving made with wool from local sheep, which they had dyed in some wild colors! Last but definitely not least, we were introduced to the world of llama and alpaca wool by Lee Ann King of the Midwest Fiber Company and Cindy Ruckman of McFarland’s Llama Farm. These ladies not only had all sorts of locally-farmed wool in beautiful colors, but also sold the most beautiful crafts we saw at the Gathering all day! Mom got some nice alpaca-wool yarn from Lee Ann to try out in her dog sweaters. I bet your dogs will love it.

After a very long day of wandering through a wooly world, Mom and I got ourselves some of Young’s famous ice cream before tiredly trundling back to the car and heading home, satisfied. We had a big bag of yarn and roving, a camera full of great photos, stomachs full of delicious food, and brains full of stories to tell all of you! Now, when you buy a piece of hand-made dog clothing from Dogpatch Design, you’ll know exactly where our hunt for that beautiful yarn began.

As a side note, you might be curious about why the title of this post includes the term “fleece fair” when the actual event was called “A Wool Gathering” or “fiber festival.” The truth is that events like this have been happening for centuries and go by many names, including those previously mentioned as well as “fiber fair” and “sheep and wool festival.” It just so happens that Mom and I are currently reading the book World Without End by Ken Follett, which takes place in the 1300s and focuses on a town that is largely dependent on its fleece fair for economic stability.  We were very excited and amused to be going to an actual fleece fair after reading so much about them. Interested in some great historical fiction? Read about World Without End and its prequel, The Pillars of the Earth, at Ken Follett’s website.

Check out all the photos from our day in the slides below.

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