I spent the weekend helping out with a friend at the Olds Fibre Week in Olds, Alberta. It was something we'd planned to do a long time ago, and when the date approached, the excitement increased day by day.
"Do you think we'll see any sheep?"
"I dunno. Maybe. Or maybe there will be alpacas!"
"Wow! Alpacas! Baa."
"Is that what alpacas say?"
"I'm not sure. Maybe they say 'mwah.'"
"No they don't. I'm sure they say something else."
And thus the conversations continued in the days before the festival.
I first learned about Olds Fibre Week last year from another fellow knitter who had suggested we attend a few classes. I couldn't really get it together last year to do it, and when this year rolled around, I couldn't work it all into the budget. I was still curious to find out what it was like to go to a real fibre festival, even a small one like this one, so we got involved as volunteers. Needless to say, most of my non-knitter/crochet friends didn't get it at all.
"Fibre week? Like bran? For digestion?"
"No, it's about yarn and fleece and fibre like that."
"Well, what are you doing there?"
"We're running the sock display booth."
"Oh... why are you doing that?"
It was a pretty relaxed affair - but truly exciting for me. I was so happy to be around people who shared such a passion for this thing that I do. I met people who could do things with yarn I'd never considered. I met people who raised sheep, angora rabbits, angora goats. I met a little girl who dyed - and sold - her own yarn.
At the bed and breakfast we stayed at, I walked past one of the open bedrooms where one of the ladies staying there sat, winding a ball of yarn. I told her how I'd made some great purchases that day. She invited me in to see what she had bought. My jaw dropped with all the beautiful roving she'd purchased to do her wet felting.
I touched yak fibre, bison, silk.
I watched a lady handweave tapestry on a tableloom.
I witnessed a woman literally flap her arms in excitement with the amazing fibre purchase she secured ($3 a bag!). I was so happy for her, and I told her so.
I had a chat with a gentlemen who raised angora goats about his earnest wish that fibre education be made compulsory in schools.
I touched a teddy bear made out of alpaca fluff.
I watched in awe as judges looked through bag after bag of fleece.
I was really, truly happy to be there.
And I met an alpaca.
And guess what it said to me?
It said, "Mwah."