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Crochet Getaway welcomes Deborah S. Greenhut as a contributor to our site! Deborah recently visited the New Jersy Sheep & Fiber Festival and provided the article and photos for this week’s post.
Imagine the chance to hang with shepherds, mindfully spin, and savor the crochet and yarn craft of 86 vendors hailing from Maine to North Carolina all in one place. If you’re thinking New Jersey can’t be that place, think again. The New Jersey Annual Sheep & Fiber Festival celebrated its 23rd year in Hunterdon County in Ringoes, near Lambertville, September 9-10, 2017.
Filling four barns, the festival featured vendors, demonstrations, and classes, including adult and junior showmanship events. It was a great demonstration of everything a crocheter want to know about the creation of fiber from fleece and how to use it. Representatives from two Hunterdon County Guilds—one for knitting and crocheting and the other, for rug artisans—were happy to chat and describe the fine displayed work of their members. Likewise, Handweavers of nearby Bucks County, PA offered a friendly introduction to their crafts.
The Garden State Sheep Breeders sponsor the festival, and they’ve extended the exhibits to include alpacas, rabbits, llamas, and goats, in addition to rare breed sheep to celebrate the fiber arts. The spacious Hunterdon County Fair Grounds afforded a full-scale demonstration of sheepdog herding.
From shearing through fabrication—fleece to yarn–all the fine arts were on display here, and some appealing fusions of fiber creation and spirituality. Debra Tshudy of Bunspun chatted with me about her handspun yarns while she was spinning. The South Jersey Guild of Spinners and Hand Weavers created a large circle of spinners in Barn Number 3. Their sharing of knowledge and tips were a reminder of how much wisdom can be passed along when a circle of women creates together. Marian Ju-Scozzare was kindly donating proceeds from the sale of some of her hand-dyed yarns to hurricane relief. Her “Marianated Yarns” are hand dyed in her kitchen, and her brightly colored skeins are available from her Marianated Yarns website.
While I did not see people crocheting at the festival, many vendors offered crochet necessities—such as hooks and stitch markers, project kits, and handmade clothing and whimsies. I watched Lois Macknik handweave for a long time—she produces delicate handwoven and needle felted products for home and dollhouse https://www.etsy.com/shop/loismacknik). The designer quality Simpatico Fiber Collective, created by Julianne Targan and Rebecca Dioda, produces high-end woven, knit and spun products to swoon for! (https://www.facebook.com/SimpaticoFiberCollective/).
After a long day’s walk around the diverse exhibits, I was ready for a spinning (yarn) and yoga retreat. Or maybe a less energetic Bed and Breakfast stay in the loft above the barn at Buck Brook Alpacas in Roscoe, NY.
More Festivals in Hunterdon
Hunterdon County, NJ continues an active 4-H program, including an annual fair in August. The Rutgers University Cooperative Extension of the Agricultural Experiment Station advertises an active program for kids in Hunterdon—from alpaca enthusiasts to robotics building. In the Fall, there are still many craft and antique fairs of interest to crocheters, mostly in Ringoes (near Lambertville) and Flemington.
The festival website is: http://njsheep.net
Festivals with Vendors in Hunterdon County, NJ: https://njvendors.com/events/counties-a-g/hunterdon/
Hunterdon County Events Calendar:http://hunterdoncountyalive.com/events
Along the Delaware River: Lambertville and New Hope
Following this enjoyable visit to the Festival, I made the short drive to the hive of activity along the Delaware River consisting of the sister communities of convivial Lambertville, NJ, and its more Bohemian cousin, New Hope, PA, just a short walk across the Delaware. It’s easy to town-hop on foot between these two, thanks to a picturesque bridge, so you can choose your ambiance. New Hope has built up a dense conclave of cafés, shops, and galleries around the Bucks County Playhouse, while Lambertville’s quieter commercial district of galleries and cafés mostly lines Bridge St., leading to the crossing. Reservations are recommended for inns and restaurants, particularly on weekends.
Having indulged in the food truck fare at the New Jersey Festival, I was looking for something a little more delicate for dinner, I avoided the enticing seafood and beef entrées. The seared quinoa and black bean entrée accompanied by grilled avocado and the famous Lambertville Station Restaurant’s Coconut Bread followed by strawberry sorbet did not disappoint in the main dining room. There is also lighter fare as in the outdoor seating area along the Canal or the beautiful wine cellar, featuring Tapas, Regional Cheeses and Charcuterie and 50 boutique wines.
If it suits your palate, park in the Lambertville Station Restaurant lot. It presents a beautiful view of the river right next to the Lambertville Station Restaurant and Inn. The lot will charge you $20.00, but refund it if you dine at the Station Restaurant. Otherwise, there are street meters in Lambertville (parking app available to avoid the coins) or lots across the way in New Hope. http://www.lambertvillestation.com