Custom Colourway Yarn for 2019

Each year we challenge a local dyer to create a custom colourway exclusively for the Manitoba Fibre Festival, using our ram’s head logo as inspiration. The original artwork for the logo, by Gerry Oliver of Spirit Sands Farm, has provided a richness of colour depth and variety.

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Our past dyers have been Hilori Thompson of Hilori’s Magical Yarnorium (2016), Daria Rakowski of Cloud9 Fiberworks (2017), and Tammy Ivanco of Manjusha Fibre Arts (2018).

We are delighted to announce that Allyson Schneider of Dye for Ewe is creating our 2019 custom yarn. Many of you will have seen Ally’s work at fibre festivals or at your local yarn stores. She has a passion for self-striping yarn! We can’t wait to see what she is cooking up for us. The yarn base is called Snug, a fingering weight yarn, 80% superwash merino and 20% nylon. Here’s the “before” picture:

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Ally clearly hasn’t lost her enthusiasm for dyeing yarn!  Dye For Ewe was born out of a desire for rainbow self striping socks and a homeschooling experiment gone right.  Ever since that fateful day, Ally of Dye For Ewe has been learning to colour yarn through trial and error and dyeing up a storm, now with quality acid grade dyes.  Her inner mad scientist, armed with a warping mill and fueled by podcasts, loves to take colours some consider to “clash” and smash them together!  She still wears her original rainbow socks.

Watch for Ally’s blog post in mid-summer explaining her process and revealing the new colourway.

One Nation Exchange

We welcome to our Festival market place this year One Nation Exchange, a unique and inspiring social enterprise that began as an intercultural collaborative art project in Winnipeg’s North End.

Here is their story, from their website:

Inspiration: The city of Winnipeg has the largest Indigenous population of all major Canadian cities. In 2014, Manitoba welcomed the highest recorded number of refugees per capita in Canada.  This same year,  a North End drop-in for mothers and young children hosted “First Nations, All Nations: Setting the Table”: a sharing circle/art project to bring together indigenous mothers with their newcomer neighbours.

Conversation: Once a week for 6 weeks, 15-25 women gathered in Turtle Island Neighbourhood Centre to meet, enjoy cultural foods and learn phrases from each other’s languages.  We shared childhood stories, values we were taught as children, and dreams for own sons and daughters.  We spoke, wrote, sculpted and drew.

Creation: Professional printmaking artist Karen Cornelius integrated our stories and drawings into a beautiful “One Nation” emblem.  This emblem was silkscreened onto a tablecloth for each women’s home, symbolizing the belief that how we “set the table” together today will determine the atmosphere around the table when our children sit down to join us.  We collectively embroidered and beaded two of these tablecloths.

Celebration:  Upon completion, approximately 100 community members celebrated this project together at an outdoor “Bread and Bannock Fest” featuring indigenous and African drummers and Canadian singer/songwriter Nathan Rogers.

Expansion: This same emblem was silkscreened onto fabric panels and sewn into striking canvas bags as varied and colourful as the women themselves.  Sewing machines were purchased, women were offered free sewing instruction, and these bags began to be be produced for sale in the community.

Women trained in sewing the bags were given kits to sew together over the summer, along with new sewing machines and the opportunity to purchase them at a reduced cost.  The Canadian Museum for Human Rights began selling One Nation bags in their gift boutique, while consumer demand continued in the greater community.

Mitchell’s Fabrics provided fabric at greatly reduced cost, EQ3 Furniture generously donated discontinued fabric rolls and leather samples, and Levy’s Leathers contributed a commercial leather sewing machine.  The dream grew larger…

One Nation:  With the assistance of SEED Winnipeg in 2016, we further developed our vision for a social enterprise focused on creating opportunities for intercultural exchange, training, and employment for women representative of Canada’s diverse cultures.

On International Women’s Day 2017, our not-for-profit incorporation papers were submitted and One Nation Exchange was born.

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Liz Boily  volunteers with O.N.E. to organize their market sales and is also a regular at the Manitoba Fibre Festival. She is happy to be introducing the women and the products of O.N.E. to other Festival visitors this September. This is what Liz has to say about the project:

“Having moved between provinces a couple of times this past decade, a sense of community and belonging has become very important to me.  After three years in Winnipeg I can say that a large part of community for me has been volunteering with One Nation Exchange. My involvement has brought me connections not only with the women and children in the program but with other people in Winnipeg.

Every hand-made item purchased from One Nation Exchange comes with two tags. One explains the symbolism of the One Nation Emblem.  The other says: “Your neighbour made this for you”.  It immediately connects you with the maker of your item and the larger community that supports the One Nation Exchange program.  A community that includes  the volunteers who teach the sewing program and prepare our bag kits, local businesses who assist in providing materials and retailers who sell O.N.E. items, and other local organizations that offer referrals for new program participants and business ideas.  The hope for cultural unity expressed in the emblem speaks to so many people and your support means that message is spreading.”

Be sure to visit the One Nation Exchange booth at the Festival and meet your neighbours.
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Volunteer at the Manitoba Fibre Festival

We are kicking off our latest series of blog posts with this greeting from Margerit Roger, our volunteer coordinator. Margerit also hosts most of our planning committee gatherings, keeping our meetings productive and the committee members well fed. If you have been to the Festival you have likely seen her welcoming smile. Help us keep Margerit smiling — sign up to volunteer soon!
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I’m a program planner and evaluator by trade and I don’t even knit all that much, but one of my absolutely favourite events is the Manitoba Fibre Fest. I was smitten the first time I walked into the hall in St. Norbert and saw a woman spinning right inside the doorway. These were my kind of people … interesting, courageous, creative people who spilled over with ideas! And then there was a whole hall full of textures, colours, projects, finished goods, dyes, and excited people getting inspired. I knew right away that this was a “gathering of the clan” that had been sorely needed by the people in attendance.
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I also got the sense that this event was going to grow. Quickly. And so I offered to organize volunteers, not having any idea that a few short years later we’d be working with almost a hundred amazing volunteers! Last year, we added a volunteer scheduling software program to make some of the organizing a bit easier, but I don’t want to give up the in-person contact with the returning volunteers and I would miss emailing to welcome the new ones. There’s a real joy and generosity in the team of volunteers that makes me smile well into the winter, and by then we’re already planning for the next year.
Well, it’s lambing season and so we’re ready to launch our volunteer drive for 2019. If you would like to meet other fans of all things fibre, or if you want to get a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to run this festival, or just want to spend a few hours helping out a really fine addition to Manitoba’s festival scene, check out the link to the volunteer application form. Details about times and assignments will be sorted out closer to the date, but we’ll do our best to honour the wishes of early applications. What I can definitely promise is that you’ll have a fun weekend and will meet a wonderful group of other volunteers.

Margerit, Volunteer Coordinator

Fill out the volunteer form and join the fun!

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Sarah Elizabeth Fibre Works

We are pleased to welcome Sarah Elizabeth from Rossland, B.C. to the Festival as a vendor this year. You will be delighted with the unique style of  locks, batts, yarns and notions she has to offer. Sarah’s class “The Textured Spin” runs on Friday morning, September 14. 

Here are some excerpts and photos from her website, Sarah Elizabeth Fibre Works: 

“I started Sarah Elizabeth Fibre Works the year after my first daughter was born. I was driven to create a business that would allow me to work from home and enjoy every precious (and sometimes exhausting) moment together. In  July 2017 we welcomed our second daughter into our fibre filled world.

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My love affair with fibre (from the crimp, to the texture, to the transformation from raw fleece to finished product) has taken me on an extraordinary journey of creation. I love almost every aspect of my business from searching out of raw fleeces to the spinning of hand carded batts, to large felting projects. I have transformed my artistic practice from paint and canvas to all things fibre.

With a focus on sustainability, environmental consciousness, and consumption with awareness, my aim is to both inspire creators, wearers and admirers as well as to create change through action. I am proud to be a part of the slow fashion movement.

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I aim to use only the highest quality fibres and yarns in my creations; from hand processed and dyed fibre supplies to one of a kind fashions, I have hand-selected my raw materials from all over the world. I work hard to make conscious purchasing decisions that recognize a need for strong local, regional and global trade practices that in turn promote resilient economies throughout the world. I focus on purchasing fleece from small scale farms, minimally processed fibre and yarns from eco friendly mills with good working conditions and, in general, from suppliers that have a strong focus on community.

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I want each and every customer to feel like they are a part of something bigger than just the fibre, yarn or fashion item that they purchase. A conscious purchase from Sarah Elizabeth Fibre works is a full circle connection; to the farm, to the fibre, to the mill, to the fabric, to the people involved in the process, to the natural world.

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I hope that this approach will fuel change. Each of these steps taken together can produce change. Change in product origins, change in consumption patterns, change in resource use, and, ultimately, the ripple effect of a safer and more sustainable future.”

Welcome to the Manitoba Fibre Festival, Sarah.

Regal Rose Rabbitry

Meet two sisters who are starting out in the entrepreneur world and promoting angora rabbits within Manitoba. They live near Neepawa, Manitoba. Their interest in rabbits started as a 4H project and has blossomed into a young business.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESRegal Rose Rabbitry is offering Satin Angora Rabbits and hopes to expand in the future with providing angora yarn and fibre. This breed of rabbit is incredibly friendly, inquisitive, calm, and provides lovely fibre to spin or felt with.

The girls will have a display at the Manitoba Fibre Festival on September 14 & 15. People interested in the rabbits they currently have available for sale can contact them at   regalroserabbitry@gmail.com .

Here’s an example of what you can do with angora fibre —  at a recent workshop on raising Angora rabbits, Anna Hunter said “I spun just 40g of locally grown satin angora fibre with some Manitoba Rambouillet and it made this beautiful, soft yarn!”

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Stop in to see the Regal Rose Rabbitry girls at the Festival and learn all about the lovely creatures that provide this luxurious fibre.

Gauging Fabulous

How do you gauge how fabulous something is?

We could try a scale. On a scale of 1-10 how fabulous are these goodies that will be available at the Manitoba Fibre Festival this year?

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I’m going to go with 120.

That’s 10 for each item: sturdy cotton canvas bag, luxurious yarn in this year’s Festival colourway dyed by Manjusha Fibre Arts,  super-handy needle gauge made locally for us, and nine pattern designs that were created for the Challenge this year.

Wait, you ask, what’s so super-handy about a needle gauge? Can’t I just look at my needle and read the size?  Sure, sometimes you can. However, I know that not all my DPNs and interchangeable needles have the size written on them. I use my gauge often.

In addition to the obvious use of the rulers as well (basic measuring, gauge swatch measurements, seeing exactly how close you came to losing in yarn chicken, there is one more handy-use for a needle gauge I can show you.

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Have you ever used a needle gauge to help you choose a good needle for a particular yarn? Pulling a sample of yarn through those measured diameter holes gives you a very useful indication of how your stitches will “smoosh” or “grow” to fill a space – and that space is determined by the diameter of the needles that will be creating those stitches (assuming a basic tension and you’re not making double-loop stitches and so forth).  I find this particularly useful when assessing my handspun yarns for a project, but it also works great with commercially-spun yarns.

I made a video if you’d like to see.

Where [are] your stitches at?

There is one more week remaining in August.

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Inquiring minds want to know how your Challenge projects are progressing.

What is still on the needles/hooks/wheel/loom?

What is an FO? What needs the final step? Feel free to mark it as a finished object before blocking 🙂  We are looking for the projects that use our design challenge patterns as well as all projects inspired by our Challenge.

We want to see the WIPs and FOs so that we can update the list on our Ravelry group.  That way we can add you to our prize draws. Tag them with #mbff2018challenge on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook – make sure they are set to “public” so we can see your posts. Or send us a note regarding your Ravelry page.

The Campaign for Wool – a 2018 Manitoba Fibre Festival Sponsor

We are extremely pleased to announce our latest sponsor, the Campaign for Wool. Having the support of this international program is a milestone in the growth of the Festival. It means we are recognized as the primary focus of fibre related activities in that large geographical area of Canada between Toronto and Vancouver. The Campaign is sponsoring the 2018 Fashion Show at the Festival, featuring work from our talented vendors.

The Campaign for Wool is a global endeavor initiated by its patron, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, in order to raise awareness amongst consumers about the unique, natural and sustainable benefits offered by wool. The Campaign now operates in 12 different countries across the globe including Canada, France, Australia, Japan and the United States.TCFW_Logo_MainThe Campaign was officially launched in Canada in 2014 by Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall during an event in Pictou, Nova Scotia.  Every year since, the Campaign has worked with all levels of the wool value chain (farmers, processors, manufacturers, retailers, designers, etc.) to promote wool in general and Canadian wool in particular.   Their activity centres around an annual Canadian Wool Week where media, retail and event partnerships are all leveraged to educate and inform Canadians about the wonders of Wool. The Campaign also supports wool research and other events throughout the year that promote wool as a sustainable and renewable fibre.Prince Charles Sheep T Sandler _7063

Canadian Wool Week 2018 takes place from Nov. 2 – 11 with events in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Vancouver including our signature partnership with The Royal Winter Fair. KTP_7766

Robin & Yarn — new vendor profile

My name is Merita Robin Ferrada and my business is called ‘Robin & Yarn’.

I make wall hangings, jewelry, and clothing patches that are hand woven by me on upright looms that either perch on a table or held in my lap.
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I began weaving a couple years ago after being inspired by my friend who brought her small weaving project out to a campout. She made me a small loom and I learned how to weave from youtube. Loom weaving has since become my passion and I now have a serious yarn addiction.
My inspiration comes from a love of bright colours, textures, architecture, and the Canadian prairie and shield. What I enjoy the most about weaving is the process of making something with my hands. I find weaving to be calming, meditative, and a unique way to experiment with colour combinations and textures.
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My favourite wall hanging I have created is featured in the photo below. I love these colour combinations and I made this piece for me! The blue roving was purchased from the Blue Hills Fibre Festival in Carberry in 2017. I feel like it is a great accomplishment to create something I love enough to hang on my own wall.
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Welcome to the Festival, Merita!

Marigold Made – vendor profile

Raia Bryan of Marigold Made is a new addition to our vendor market. Welcome, Raia!

Raia started out experimenting with plant dyes and was taken with the luminous quality of natural dyed silk. She then discovered pleating as a way to create lovely wearable shapes out of the silk. The shapes are reminiscent of items from nature: flowers, leaves, coral, the gills of mushrooms.

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She loves the playful, experimental aspect of natural dyeing, and bridging a connection between art, colour, and the natural world.

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A favorite piece would be a pair of earrings made from bundle dyed silk. The various colours turned out beautifully and the way the colours come together after gathering the silk is always a fun surprise.

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LeVerne Tucker — Last Dance Ranch –

“LeVerne Tucker and Last Dance Ranch” …. a great country music band? No, that’s our vendor profile for today! 

My name is LeVerne Tucker, and my farm/business is The Last Dance Ranch.  In 2010, I jumped rubber boots first into farming.  The adventure began with the gift of Loki, the housewarming llama .  Loki was joined shortly by several alpacas,  and my first fibre business,  Storybook Art & Fibre was born.  I am a self-taught indie dyer, an avid spinner, and a lover of all things fibre and textile.

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A farm move in 2014 sparked new beginnings on the farm.  Adjacent to a now closed, locally famous dance hall, The Last Dance Ranch is home to Icelandic sheep, and a small herd of dairy goats.  I use only ethically sourced Manitoba fibre for my yarn and roving;  soaps are made from raw goat’s milk from the farm herd. IMG_1115

IMG_1495I am passionate about local goods, and am proud to be a member of Manitoba’s farming community.  My inspiration for colour comes from daily living; this year’s colourways include Alfalfa, Weathered Wood, Rhubarb, and Big Red Barn. IMG_1491

The Manitoba Fibre Festival is an exciting, inspiring event for vendors and visitors alike, and I look forward to sharing my new work with everyone!

Spin Me a Winner

Every skein of handspun yarn is a winner in my books.  I knit up all my first yarns. They provided delightful texture to simple projects.  Even now, after years of spinning, I wouldn’t assert my spinning to be great. I have uneven parts. Those are the sections that remind me this yarn was made by hand – by my hands.  I will even grant that a lot of those “character” characteristics are a result of simply not paying attention while I spin: I spin to relax; I spin while I am doing other things; I spin for the delight of making yarn, but not to create a perfect yarn that could be mistaken for commercial-spun yarn.

All of the above is my way of encouraging folks to show us your handspun yarns, even when you think it’s “not good enough”.

Did you join in with spinners across the globe this July for the Tour de Fleece? If so, you must have at least one skein of yarn to submit to the Handspun Skeins competition.  If you did not, I highly recommend adding this event to your calendar for next year.  It’s a great way to challenge yourself to spin.  (I made a decent dent in my fibre stash as a result.)

Perhaps you have been spinning all year and have an abundance of handspun yarns gathering at home.  Be they beautiful natural fibre or fabulous dyed yarns, we’d love to see them.

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Handspun Yarns of all weights, colours, and construction are welcome!

It is equally possible that you have a stash of fibre waiting to be spun, or some unfinished projects.  You still have several weeks to spin and prepare a skein or two.

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There is always more fibre to spin.

Whatever your tool of choice is, dive into those fibres.  Don’t forget that there is a special category for yarns made from a single animal when you have access to the raw fibre.  Sheep wool and alpaca each have their own subcategory, but there is a third subcategory for “other” animals, and I don’t want my chiengora (dog fur) to be the only submission.  Angora rabbit, dog, and mohair goat are all options that I know exist in Manitoba; let’s see what you have. You only need (at least) 2 oz.

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Who could resist casting on with this merino-cashmere-silk?

Avoid the temptation to wind up that new skein of handspun yarn and use it in a project. I know it’s difficult.  I confess, I couldn’t hold off another day to cast on a new project using the yarn I recently spun from fibre I purchased this June.

I have no regrets.  I’d do it again in a heartbeat. However, if you can refrain from knitting/ weaving/ crocheting all your new handspun yarns, that would be great.  Start a new spinning project if you have to or at least save one skein if you have multiples.  You can finish knitting the sleeve of your handspun sweater after the festival, right?  Okay, I confess, I was really hoping to see that sweater knit up at the festival.  You can still spin another yarn.

Time to grab your fibre and get spinning.  You know you won’t regret it. Then submit a skein before the festival opens.  Thanks 😀

Details HERE.