The Karoo Winter Wool Festival 2023
The Karoo Winter Wool Festival served as a magnificent gathering that brought together every aspect of the wool and natural fibre value chain, creating a vibrant tapestry of artisans, creators, and enthusiasts.
From the hardworking farmers tending to their flocks and the skilled sheepdogs herding with precision, to the talented spinners transforming raw fleece into soft strands of yarn, and the meticulous dyers adding a kaleidoscope of colours, to an gorgeous fashion show in the veld, every step of the process was represented.
The festival provided a platform for these artisans to showcase their craft, while also inviting yarn lovers and admirers of all fine fibre goods to revel in the beauty and intricacy of their creations. It was a testament to the enduring love for wool and natural fibres, where every participant, from farmer to crafter, designer & admirer, was united in their appreciation for the remarkable journey that transforms fleece into cherished pieces of art.
Our early morning drive towards the Dwarslvei Farm, where the festival was held. The grazing sheep wished us a wonderful day as we passed!
Time for a road trip!
Two weeks ago, I embarked on a journey that filled my heart with joy and our car with an abundance of gorgeous yarns. Leana, one half of the awesome A Little Twisted and I set off on a road trip to the Karoo Winter Wool Festival (KWWF'23) in Middleburg, Eastern Cape. This fun-filled adventure brought us closer to the rural beauty of the Karoo, allowed us to cuddle newborn puppies and interact with farm animals, and even experience holding a chicken for the very first time.
Embracing Karoo Hospitality and Enchanting Landscapes
As we arrived in the Karoo, I was immediately enchanted by the warm hospitality and genuine kindness of the locals. Our stay on working sheep farms immersed us in the heart of rural life, surrounded by expansive landscapes and a sky that seemed endless. The crisp cold weather made us embrace our wooly winter gear, relishing in its cozy warmth while we explored the breathtaking scenery.
Top image: Our vehicle is well packed and we're on our way!
Middle image: In the late afternoon, the chickens must be put to bed! This was my first time ever holding a chicken!
Bottom Image: This cutie ALMOST came home with me...
We spent our first night at Moreson Farm, near the Gariep Dam. The next morning, we enjoyed a farm breakfast of krummelpap. So delicious and warming, we were ready for the hard work of setting up the stall that lay ahead!
The Festival that Brought People Together
The Karoo Winter Wool Festival attracted visitors from near and far, creating a vibrant community of natural fibre enthusiasts. It was a joyous occasion where Leana and I had the opportunity to meet new faces, reconnect with old friends and yarn colleagues, and finally meet in person some of our wonderful online customers.
The Market stalls were housed in this super cute barn- with straw on the floors, faerie lights and all! (Have I mentioned I LOVE Faerie Lights?)
While the festival had a Karoo focus, the organisers embraced the diversity of The Yarn Room's mix of local and imported yarns, making us feel welcome among the incredible group of vendors. We loved chatting to Karoo Moon, Aymara Yarns, EsTeresa Yarns, Botanical Nomad, Felt with Karen, AniLaine, Helderstroom Alpacas and making new wonderful friends with other designers, creators and vendors.
Leana Blom of A Little Twisted and Jalene from Made by Jalene after her awesome visit to our stall! Stay tuned to Jalene's You tube channel for the airing of her interview with me sometime soon
A Tapestry of Inspiration Unveiled
At the festival, a kaleidoscope of fabulous yarn brands, artisans’ creations, & fibre and natural products adorned the booths, each displaying inspiring samples, diverse textures, and a myriad of captivating colours.
The Yarn Room had an opportunity to showcase our favourite yarns; from Miss La Motte to Nurturing Fibres, Indie Belle, Malabrigo, Illimani, and Urth Yarns. We were thrilled that our natural fibres with their incredible stories and colours left customers and visitors in awe.
I was delighted to discover a quilting shop from Cape Town, adding another dimension to the festival's creative tapestry. (You may have noticed that we are crazy about all things craft?)
Setting up the stall is always fun. We start off with a visual concept in mind- this year's was 'Colourful Abundance'. Then we work in layers and try to experience the stall as our yarn loving customers would, to ensure the best experience for them!
Our neighbouring vendors were so kind as to lend us a blackboard for signage- I completely forgot we would need one!!! Whatever next? Luckily Leana saved the day with her precision drawing skills!
Leana and I kept warm during the market time by wearing my family's heirloom hand knitted and hand embroidered woolen sweaters from Serbia. We have never felt so beautiful, we received so many compliments and were even featured on Middelburg's tourist facebook page! #feelingfamous
Photo credit: Screen shot by our hostess Karen Southey from Southfield Cottage, the wonderful place we stayed just outside Middelburg. We can't recommend it enough! Check it out here
Beyond Yarn: Music, Food, and Warmth
The Karoo Winter Wool Festival was not solely focused on yarn; it was a celebration of the Karoo's soul and linking all the elements that complete the intricate process of working a fibre like wool. Music filled the air, and the tantalising aroma of delicious food warmed our spirits. Sipping on a cup of warm and flavourful coffee became a cherished moment of respite. And let's not forget the farm's Gluhwein, a comforting and delicious mulled wine that satisfied our senses once our work had been completed for the day.
The Warmth of a Well-Organised Festival
The festival's workshops, shearing & sheep dog demonstrations, and specialised talks geared towards farming were meticulously organised, offering a wealth of knowledge and unforgettable experiences. The love for the Karoo, farming, wool & nature was palpable in every interaction with the passionate individuals involved. As the festival marked its second year, I left with a sense of excitement, eagerly anticipating its continued growth and success.
We cannot wait to be back in 2024!
For a lovely video of the event visit here This link will take you to the official KWWF webpage. Please scroll to the middle of the page for the video.
Start Planning Now, You Won't Want to Miss the next Karoo Winter Wool Festival!
Looking back on this remarkable journey, I urge fellow yarn enthusiasts to start planning their own adventure to the Karoo Winter Wool Festival. The enchanting atmosphere, the incredible experiences, and the warm embrace of the Karoo community are simply not to be missed. As you pack your bags, remember to prepare for the potential cold weather, and don't forget to bring excellent hand cream and lip balm to keep your skin happy in the dry Karoo air.
Thanks for reading and till next time!