Together with a friend, I visited the annual Wool Festival in Joure last weekend. We had a great time and (not entirely unexpectedly) saw LOTS of wool. There were bundles of curly locks, bags filled with raw fleeces, and cleaned and carded batts of wool from specific Dutch sheep breeds, like Texel, Dutch milk sheep, Kempen heath sheep and Dutch piebald sheep.
There was also wool from many other breeds of sheep, single or in blends, undyed or dyed.
I remember a time, not so very long ago, when I could only get raw Texel fleeces, and later some merino from Australia. It is amazing how much the wool landscape has changed over the past decade or so, and how much more local wool is available and appreciated now.
I don’t know why, but there was no sheep shearing this year. There were other fleeces walking around on four legs, though.
Don’t they have the sweetest faces?
There was also wool in the form of yarn, of course – machine-spun and hand-dyed, hand-spun and dyed and hand-spun in natural colours.
And then there were things made from wool. Adorable hedgehog mittens, Scandinavian and Latvian inspired mittens, and felted and woven items (click on images to enlarge).
Among all the animal fibres, there was also one plant fibre present: flax. “The Frisian Flax Females are spinnin’ flax into linen” the notice board, decorated with a bundle of flax, said.
Very interesting! Spinning flax into linen is very different from spinning wool into yarn. The flax fibres are kept from tangling by placing them on a distaff. On the rack to the right of the spinner you can see a few of the towels woven from the hand-spun linen.
The spinner keeps her hands close to the flax on the distaff and feeds the fibre onto the spinning wheel in short drafts.
And do take a closer look at the spinner’s traditional cap.
More information about flax, and how it is spun and woven can be found on one of the spinners’ website. It is in Dutch, but if you have Google as a browser, you can right-click on the text and have it translated.
And then, in the midst of all the hustle and bustle of the market, a quiet corner with an elderly couple. She is spinning and he is keeping her company.
They are both made from wool, needle felted and wet felted. And they are part of the project Gewoan Minsken (Frisian for Simply People). Artist Lucie Groenendal portrayed the people living and working in a care home by felting, drawing and painting them.
These are just two of them, with to the right in the photo above a work called Helping Hands. More about this beautiful project can be seen and read on the artist’s website.
I’m ending today’s post with the answer given by one of the people portrayed to the question what makes life worth living:
“Look for the good in people, enjoy the things you do, and know that growing old is a search for a new balance.”
PS: The general website of Joure Wool Festival can be found here, and a list of participants here.