A wool resurgence sparks Edmonton's Fibre Frolic festival

Taking inspiration from The Campaign for Wool, Holly Aamot wants to revive Canada as a powerhouse for wool production and is hosting Edmonton Fibre Frolic, bring together crafters, producers and experts in the local fibre-art community this weekend.

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Taking inspiration from The Campaign for Wool, an initiative led by Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Holly Aamot wants to revive Canada as a powerhouse for wool production.

On Saturday, Aamot is hosting the bi-annual market festival, Edmonton Fibre Frolic, at the Italian Cultural Centre. This festival aims to bring together crafters of all levels with producers and experts in the local fibre-art community.

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Edmonton Fibre Frolic’s organizer Holly Aamot.
Edmonton Fibre Frolic’s organizer Holly Aamot. Photo by Shelby Varughese /Supplied

Founded as a labour of love in 2016 by local dyer Allison Barnes, Fibre Frolic was created to connect a vast group of artisans made up of fibre producers, knitters, weavers, spinners, dyers and crocheters across Canada. Aamot took over from Barnes and hosted her first virtual event in May 2021.

This weekend’s market will have 38 vendors, such as Rose Hill Yarns based in Calmar, and seven ticketed workshops, which will cover topics like washing and prepping fleece, beginner beading and needle felting.

Elana Goodfellow, who obtained her master spinner accreditation from Olds College, will be teaching one of the workshops.

“She’s teaching a workshop on how to wash and prep fleece for being able to spin it. So, you have this whole picture of that from the animal to the finished sort of making a sweater and being able to wear it,” Aamot says.

Through the pandemic, people had more time on their hands for DIY projects. They managed to stay connected using online platforms like Zoom meetups to share patterns, tips and new creations. And with this surging interest came an increased demand for fibre products, the main supply of wool coming from sheep farmers in Alberta, Manitoba and the rest of Canada.

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“There’s been this huge desire for people to be able to unplug and do things with our hands,” says Aamot about the growth of the community in recent years and the ability to virtually connect. “There’s been this huge revival as we’ve been sort of shifting into social media and have this platform for people for being able to share.”

Despite being a one-person show, Aamot credits support from the numerous community members, vendors and sponsors for organizing this spring’s event, like Leanna Haughian of Crafty Bones, a local crochet designer and one of the vendors who volunteered her time.

The event will be live-streamed through various social media platforms for people who aren’t able to attend in person.

“When we’re in community, then we as humans, we feel safe; and creativity happens in a human when they feel safe,” says Aamot who has instilled the event with the core value of people building connections. “It can be connecting a new crafter with another more experienced crafter or whether it’s running into each other at someone’s booth or rubbing shoulders at a workshop.

“My driving passion is that creativity comes out from community.”

The Edmonton Fibre Frolic will host a social craft evening, Maker Night presented by Numana Yarns and Little House of Macrame Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Maker night and the main festival, kicking off Saturday at 10 a.m., will be held at the Italian Cultural Centre, 14230 133 Ave. Tickets are available on Eventbrite.

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