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South African Karoo Winter Wool Festival 2023

Greetings, fellow fiber enthusiasts! It has been a few years since I have ventured into the world of blogging, and I hope that you enjoy sharing in our latest adventure!

A welcome Banner over the main road in Middelburg, Eastern Cape

The whole town of Middleburg, Eastern Cape, in South Africa is involved in celebrating the second annual Karoo Winter Wool Festival. The banner is is printed in Afrikaans, which is a close cousin to Dutch and one of the many languages spoken in South Africa. 

I'm Jennifer, the Yarn Boss of Good Loops Yarn, and I'm delighted to share our extraordinary journey to the 2023 Karoo Winter Wool Festival. As the official North American distributor of Nurturing Fibres Yarn, we were thrilled to showcase the finest home-grown yarns spun from fibres sourced from there, the Karoo desert!

A view from space of our location on Earth!

The screen on my cellphone follows my location, a perspective from space. Every so often it takes me by surprise that I get to live in one of the most beautiful parts of the planet! This screenshot was taken on our way to Middelburg, in the Eastern Cape. 

Nestled in the heart of South Africa, the expansive Karoo region holds a special place in the world of fiber. It's where Merino sheep and Angora goats roam across vast, rugged landscapes, cared for by dedicated farmers who have honed their craft for generations.

Winter sunrise

An otherworldly landscape greets us as the rising sun breaks through the morning fog. (PS- because South Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere, we are currently in the middle of winter)

The Karoo's legacy as a hub of fine fiber production dates back to the late 18th century when these sweet & fluffy animals were introduced to the region. The Merino sheep quickly adapted to the arid climate, resulting in wool of exceptional quality, renowned for its softness and fineness. Similarly, the Angora goats found their home in the Karoo, their lustrous mohair becoming a prized commodity.

Sunset at Dwarslvei

Inspiring landscapes abound in this part of the world

The combination of the Karoo's unique environmental conditions and the meticulous care given to these animals gives rise to the coveted Merino wool and Angora mohair. Their incredible softness, natural luster, and superior insulating properties have made them highly sought after by artisans, designers, and fiber enthusiasts around the world.

Our journey brought us to the Karoo Winter Wool Festival, an extraordinary gathering that celebrated every aspect of the wool and natural fiber value chain. From the hardworking farmers caring for their flocks and the skilled sheepdogs herding with precision, to the talented spinners transforming raw fleece into luxurious yarn and the meticulous dyers adding vibrant bursts of colors, the entire process was joyfully celebrated. It was a true testament to the enduring love for wool and natural fibers, as farmers, makers, and admirers came together to appreciate the remarkable journey that turns fleece into cherished pieces of art. And to top it all off, we were treated to a magnificent fashion show amidst the picturesque veld.

The Nourse shed, where the market part of the festival was held

The market was held in the Nourse Shed, in the Dwarsvlei Farm where part of the week's events were held. Apart from shopping, visitors were treated to informative talks about sustainable farming, good business practices, sheep shearing & sheep dog demonstrations, a 100% wool outdoor fashion show. As if it weren't enough, popular singers put on a great show, and delicious food and other treats were also available. 

Entrance to the Dwarsvlei farm

An entrance remisniscent of quieter times of old, leading through a winding dirt track 7 km long. One is transported to another world, where the time crunch and urban rush seems to disappear. 

The festival provided a platform for artisans and creators to showcase their craft, while also inviting yarn lovers, crafters, designers, and enthusiasts of all things fiber to revel in the beauty and intricacy of their creations. The warmth and enthusiasm with which our selection of Nurturing Fibres yarns was received reaffirmed the beauty of sharing stories and fostering connections through the universal language of yarn.

We had a stall at the Wool market, where we showcased the most beautiful yarns we have to offer. Of course, these included the full range of Nurturing Fibres! Our stall was presented by The Yarn Room, which is our Pretoria based LYS, and our Good Loops Yarn Pretoria warehouse. 

Everyone loved our stall

Our stall was so popular, even our furry working Sheep Dog friends came to check it out! Thank you to everyone who came out to support us, we are very grateful! 

As the second year of the Karoo Winter Wool Festival drew to a close, we couldn't help but feel a sense of excitement and anticipation for its future. The love for the Karoo and farming that permeated the event was truly inspiring. We are certain that this festival will continue to grow and flourish, uniting yarn enthusiasts from near and far in celebration of our shared passion.

A woven Mohair blanket from Hinterveld in PE

Some items are too beautiful to not bring home with us! (Little handmade sheep included). Mohair & Wool blankets woven by machine in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape. 

There is a great video about the 2023 Karoo Winter Wool Festival on their website. It is bi-lingual, so there are parts in Afrikaans that you may not understand. However, I do think that it is really worth watching! Click here and scroll to the middle of the page:

Leana from A little Twisted and Jennifer

I was privileged to be joined in this adventure by Leana Blom from A Little Twisted (Left). (That's me, Jennifer, on the right). Thank you Leana for your support!

I hope that you have enjoyed joining me on this incredible journey, as we uncovered the wonders of our place in the fibre and wool value chain, shared our stories, and ignited our creative spirits. 

Perhaps you'll join us next year? 

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