Joure Wool Festival 2023


Last Saturday the annual wool festival Joure onder de Wol was held again. For me it is close to home, but it is so varied and inspiring that people from all over the country come flocking to it. Arriving before the actual festival started, I first paid a quick visit to the local yarn shop for some yarn for a soft toy for our grandson (more about that in another post). Draped over the back of the bench next to the entrance was a dazzling crochet blanket.

So not my taste, and yet I was fascinated by it. The techniques used are interesting and the choice of colours is also well-balanced. I wonder why crocheters often seem to have such different tastes from knitters?

Leaving the shop, my phone made that owly who-oh sound telling me that there was a message. It was the friend I was meeting up with, ‘Where are you? I’m with the sheep’. Typing ‘I’m coming!’ I hurried towards her. The sheep shearing was already in full spate.

Some sheep had already lost their coats, while others were still wearing theirs. Looking closely at the photo below, perhaps you can see the woman on the left, wearing a straw hat, pointing her finger. She is pointing out which fleeces she wants, and then the hectic catch-me-if-you-can between sheep and shepherd starts.

It’s fun to watch, although I feel a little sorry for the sheep, too. Being undressed in front of a large audience doesn’t seem like much fun to me. The next sheep waiting its turn doesn’t look unduly stressed, though.

Next, it was time to look at all the other woolly things. There was so much to see that I hardly know where to start. I’ll just pick out a few highlights. First of all there was wool – raw fleeces from many different sheep breeds…

… washed, carded and dyed rovings…

… and yarn, yarn, beautiful yarn – much of it hand-dyed, sometimes using natural dyes (click on images to enlarge).

And then there were the things people had made with wool and yarn. Again, I’m just showing a few of the highlights.

There was needle binding. Although, as with the crochet blanket, the maker had a very different taste from mine I could see the beauty and possibilities in the technique he was using.

There were felted items, both needle and wet felting. Simple yet beautiful objects, like this wild and woolly nest with eggs:

And stunning felted ‘paintings’ of the northern Frisian coastal landscape. The photographs don’t really do them justice, but I hope you can see why they blew me away (again, click to enlarge).

A beautiful woven blanket also drew my eye. Weaving isn’t really my thing, but I’d like to give making small squares using one of these hand looms a try someday.

And then there were many people who’d brought their spinning wheels. I could write an entire post about those alone, but I’ll end with just one picture – a young teenager (I promised not to show her face) spinning the most beautiful coloured thread from local wool on an e-spinner – a lovely sight to see. Young people like her make me feel hopeful about the future.

I feel immensely inspired by this day at the Joure Wool Festival and hope you’ve enjoyed it, too.

The festival website can be found here, and a list of participants here.

6 thoughts on “Joure Wool Festival 2023”

  1. Interesting point about the difference im taste (on average) between knitters and crocheters. Something that also always puzzles me is the difference in what yarn companies offer and what scores well on Ravelry. Year after year at the fair Handarbeit + Hobby in Cologne I’ve seen yarn brands offer mainly large scale pieces, knit on big needles (at least 5 mm) and in bold colours. While the top designs on Ravelry are usually finer knits in neutral colours. There are always exceptions, and especially the smaller brands often have other signatures (Rowan, Geilsk, BC Garn, for instance), but the big brands like Lana Grossa, Lang, Katia, etc. often seem to try to appeal to a different kind of client.
    The crochet designs the bigger brands offer are much more in line with the populair crochet patterns I see on Ravelry, and many of those brands work together with crochet bloggers (Scheepjes, Stylecraft, Cascade).

    • Thank you for this food for thought. I’ve often wondered who these people are, who knit with those bold and bulky yarns. I’ve seen the patterns and the yarns offered by the big brands that you mention, but personally I don’t know anyone who knits those brightly coloured items on large needles. Interesting, too that crocheters seem to be consulted by the yarn companies, whereas knitters are not. I don’t mean to say that there is always a huge difference between knitters and crocheters, though. There are also knitters who crochet (I’m one of them) and vice versa, but on the whole I do think there is a difference in tastes.

      • Absolutely, I think most knitters also crochet from time to time and vice versa. But especially those of us that strongly identify with one of these two, seem to have a shared preference.
        And about designers being consulted, there are exceptions, Melanie Berg has worked with Pasquali on the colors for Balayage and Sandnes Garn even has a Petite Knit line of colours carrying her name.

  2. Your post was so interesting to me. The “before and after” was a treat to see. I’m in awe of the lady who was clear about the fleece she wanted. Thank you for sharing your photographs and thoughts.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed reading about all these woolly things. Yes, I’m in awe, too – I wouldn’t know how to choose a fleece while it is still on a sheep.

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