The beginning of October in Virginia means two things to wool lovers- the Montpelier Fiber Festival and the careful unpacking of well-loved cold weather handknits.
This morning I woke to a cool, dry fall morning and put on a pair of hand knit socks that haven’t been worn since March. There’s nothing like the feel of a knitted sock. I love the way that it hugs your foot and the texture of the soft merino against your skin. In a word, lovely. It was going to be a good day.
After a short drive along country roads I found myself at Montpelier, the once home of James Madison. Situated in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Montpelier is the perfect backdrop for the Fall Fiber Festival and Sheep Dog Trials. With a little over 50 vendors, mostly from Virginia, the Montpelier Fiber Festival is a pleasant break from the madness of Maryland Sheep and Wool.
I ran into a bunch FredKNITSburg knitters, some of whom I haven’t seen in what feels like forever (we miss you at knit night). They were sporting some pretty nice handknits. A. had just unpacked her beautiful Zigzag Cowl by Mandy Powers, knit in a yummy deep brown handspun. H. was wearing her just finished Tempting by Jenna Adorno in a enticing deep purple. So many of the festival goers were wearing handknits that I came home with plenty of inspiration for my next project.
One of my favorite vendors, Misty Mountain Farm, had a beautiful collection of handpainted yarns and fiber, in addition to incredibly soft, natural-colored alpaca. After talking with Terry, the son of the farm owners, I learned that they offer classes in weaving, spinning, and felting. Be sure to check out their website for details.
While shopping the vendors is fun, my favorite part of the festival is watching the sheep dog trials. Boarder collies are amazing. They are incredibly agile and can run at top speeds of 30-35 miles per hour. The dogs appear to love what they do, chomping at the bit to begin herding the sheep around a field, through fences, and eventually into a pin, all while being directed by their owners with calls and whistles. Even if you don’t like fiber (gasp) the festival is worth attending for the sheep dog trials alone.
For more photos check out our Montpelier Fiber Festival collection on Flickr.