shuttle weaver

Having been raised on a farm, I am acquainted with cows and horses, but not sheep. We never had one ‘baa’ in our barnyard.

wooly sheep

Maybe that’s why I find sheep fascinating. References in the Bible about them are not complimentary (‘all we like sheep have gone astray’), but I love to see them with long, furry coats, knowing that furry stuff will eventually be shorn and made into clothing and other warm items.

Boy bunny

The how-to’s for taking the wooly stuff from long hair to felted caps, socks and scarves will be available at this weekend at the Jay Co Fiber Festival / Spin-In in Portland, Indiana. Portland is located about one hour north of Muncie and 1.5 hours south of Fort Wayne.

boy old lady spinner

Everything yarn-related from a multitude of animals is represented at the fair.

On Thurs, Friday and Saturday, March 10-12, crafters will show visitors how to take raw fibers straight from a sheep’s back and process it into yarn. Hint: Having seen the demo I’ll admit there were more steps involved than could be imagined!

Weaving shuttle close up

Visitors can watch a sheep shearing – it’s amazing how the sheep stands still for this, but I always wonder how the shearers keep from nicking the animal’s ears!

male spinner

Spinning wheels have always fascinated me and the festival will be filled with experts offering hands-on classes in spinning, quilting, knitting, needle felting, and something called ‘rigid-heddle weaving’.

I’m tempted to sign up for a class on Navajo Spindling. Just like the name, Navajo spinning is a method of making yarn on a type of spindle native to the Americans. It is supposedly an easy form of spinning and low-impact since it can be done while sitting down. This is the real ‘spinning’ that can't be found in a work-out room!

Another temptation for me is the Needle Felt Alpaca Hat class. As a lover of British TV series like Miss Marple, I would love to make my own warm, soft hat and look like I belong to that era! Having it made from alpaca fiber would make it even more fun! All of the materials needed to create a hat are included in the cost of the class.

A guest lecturer, Susan McFarland from Wisconsin will talk about how she has become one of the few breeders of Teeswater sheep in the US. Teeswater is a rare breed from the UK. Their wool can be used for doll hair and Santa beards and silky yarn.

shopper with skeins

Vendors selling all things fiber will be on hand, as well as food booths. The festival has grown in popularity so it fills two buildings. The cost should not keep visitors away—only $1.00 per day!

Visitors should contact the Jay County Fairgrounds for information about lodging at the several hotels in the area. Call 260.726.3366 or go to


Thurs 5-8pm

Fri 10am-5pm

Sat 9am-4pm

Jay County Fairgrounds

806 E. Votaw St.

4-H Building Portland, IN 47371