Meet The Makers

Meet the Makers – fibre festival in Orillia

Sunshine Fibre Fest in ODAS Park, Orillia on Saturday May 6, 2023

by Marie Sternberg

            What is the attraction of wool and other animal fibres? Why have we seen a recent emergence of various rural knitting festivals in south central Ontario in the past couple of years, and a veritable sprouting of new indie yarn dyers and knitters and a myriad of other textile enterprises across Canada?  Put it down to a cluster of factors, including digital overload that is causing people of all ages to embrace a slower, more thoughtful way of life.  There is a desire to get our hands working again and to meet the producers of our fibres and clothes.  Learning (or re-learning) to knit and crochet, spin and weave, sew and quilt, is one of the most satisfying activities we can pursue.  This helps us connect across the generations as we remember, and for many of us revisit, textile skills from our youth as we teach the youngsters in our lives. There are also profound mental health benefits, as producing something by the work of our own hands, with natural fibres, gives us a sense of satisfaction not found in hours spent on social media.  Working on small repetitive tasks is meditative, and not a few of us pick up our needles after a frustrating day or at lunch to reset our equanimity.

                        Inspired by Woolstock, a fibre festival in southwestern Ontario, my business partner, Sheila Klugescheid, and I decided to host a fibre festival in Orillia.  We are now in the last few weeks of preparations for our third (well, fifth actually, but due to COVID our 2020 and 2021 shows couldn’t run) annual Sunshine Fibre Fest in ODAS Park on Saturday May 6, 2023.  With vendors supplying all manner of textile tools, fibres and kits, a few animals in the barn, and some craft demonstrations, our festival started small last year.  It is now an annual event to look forward to in the spring, with opportunities to visit and learn and shop within a wonderful vibrant community of fibre lovers.  Knitting is probably the best known of the textile crafts, but spinning and weaving, crochet and traditional rug hooking, felting and dyeing fibres all have their fan base, and many of us embrace them all.  Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of wonderful knitting shows in cities across Canada, frequently attracting busloads of keen knitters and other fibre hounds from far away cities and across the border, but it is the rural and small town events that have sprouted with a vengeance over the last few years.

            Alongside the slow food movement, there has been a growing trend to avoid fast-fashion and think about the environmental footprint of the clothing industry.  Do you want to avoid micro-plastics being shed by your clothes?  Do you want to resist purchasing yet another cheap garment made in the third world under questionable labour and environmental standards, and then have it shipped vast distances while profiting the middlemen instead of the actual makers of the garment?  There’s a simple solution – buy or make clothes from animal or plant fibres, especially those produced locally.  There is nothing more satisfying than making your own clothes or receiving a hand-made textile gift.  Someone having in a baby in your family?  For many people that is the inspiration to pick up the knitting needles or the crochet hook again.  Spending time at the cottage or on holiday and want to get away from the ubiquitous cell phones and tablets and social media?  Pick up a kit and enjoy an ancient craft, and better yet, teach the kids around you how to hook a few loops or cross stitch or knit.  These are profound life-long gifts that you are passing on.

            With my desire to pass on crafts to the next generation, I have recently been volunteering with a local Grade 5 class, teaching them cross stitch.  Starting with a group of four or five students, I am always amazed and delighted to see them go from frustration at first, and then joy as the light goes on and they master their first few perfectly formed stitches.  Creating simple x’s on aida cloth, then making designs out of a bunch of x’s and stitching them, gives a sense of satisfaction that is just not found in completing the next level of a video game.

Those of us who have been “making” (the latest buzz word in this area), whether it be stitching or knitting (or crocheting or weaving or spinning) our entire lives completely understand this sense of satisfaction.  In fact, as we evolve as makers, many of us find that it is the process and not the end product that we ultimately enjoy.  The meditative and healing effect of creating something with small, repetitive motions is now well-documented.  In fact, knitting was used for men suffering from shellshock (now recognized as PTSD) after WW1, and numerous stories abound of how knitting or stitching or rug hooking has helped people heal from losses and illnesses and various mental-health issues.

            Then there is the sense of community as you join with like-minded people at a local knitting circle or attend a fibre festival and talk to the indie-dyers and spinners and yarn-producers and farmers at the event.  A little story here:  I was a vendor at an event a few years ago, and a fellow vendor and I looked around during a quieter moment.  We saw the wonderful diverse collection of festival attendees, in their brightly coloured or subtle handspun and hand knit clothes and funky hairstyles and shoes, and all the amazing wares of the vendors, and the noisy, vibrant hubbub of happy people talking to each other.  One of us said “I wish this was real-life”, meaning, we wished the rest of the world looked like this all the time, instead of mundane formal business clothing and everyone in their own personal vacuum gazing down at their cell phone.

            When you engage in a fibre craft, you are actually connecting with tens of thousands of years of tradition.  Among other things, women’s (mostly) textile expertise helped clothe us so we could spread to colder parts of the world and helped make sails so we could explore beyond our shores.  And in producing clothes for their families, and gifts for special events, the impulse to decorate and add beauty to the simplest products shows through again and again.

            Come out and see what all the buzz is about, bring your friends and family and especially the younger members of your clan to share the life-long gift of an interest in fibre and the textile crafts.

This year’s Sunshine Fibre Fest takes place in ODAS Park, Orillia, Saturday May 6, a great road trip accessible from much of southern Ontario.  And if you can’t make it to Orillia, seek out your local fibre festival or farmers market to experience some digital detoxification!

Saturday May 6, 2023

ODAS Park, Orillia

9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Admission:  $5       12 and under $3

Third annual fabulous fleece and fibre festival featuring diverse vendors, demonstrations, live animals and more.  See the fibre animals in the barn.  Watch and try spinning, weaving, felting and other textile crafts, and see the vintage sock machine at work.  Vendors will be selling all kinds of fibres, yarns, accessories and finished items.  Lunch and snacks available on-site with vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.

 Let’s unplug!

Join our back-to-basics revolution

 for more info e-mail Marie or call Sheila (705) 423-9695                                                                                                    

Posted in EventsTravel & CultureTagged animalsknittingOrilliaSunshine Fibre FestPosted on March 4, 2020

Sunshine Fibre Fest May 6, 2023 It’s on!

We’re looking forward to seeing you all again soon at ODAS Park, Orillia. Sunshine Fibre Festival 2023 runs Saturday May 6 from 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Head on over to Eventbrite to get advance tickets. Tickets will also be sold at the door, and we will follow all municipal and provincial COVID protocols required on the day.

It’s on!

We’re delighted to announce that Sunshine Fibre Fest 2022 is proceeding full steam ahead! We’ll be in the same two buildings at ODAS Park, and open from 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday May 7, 2022.

We will be following all the COVID protocols required by the municipality and province at the time of the show.

Many of our fabulous vendors are able to return, and we also have new vendors from British Columbia and Alberta.

Advance tickets are available on Eventbrite, and tickets will also be available at the door.

Watch this space for more details.

Vendor Profile: Mariposa Woolen Mill

Mariposa Woolen Mill is a business focused on conserving heritage breed sheep and supporting local producers through the use of their fibres. We strive to produce a variety of all Canadian Wool products made right in our Mill in Oakwood, ON. 

Items we sell include breed specific rovings, batts and yarns. As well as felting supplies, Lincoln Longwool and Mohair locks, finished felted goods and felting kits. We are currently running online workshops every two weeks and also offer a variety of needle felting kits and yarn which can be picked up curbside or mailed.  Please check out our website for tickets to our workshops, kits and contact information.  

Vendor Profile: Karberry Farm

Karberry Farm is in Mountain, Ontario, that’s south and slightly east of Ottawa. Although we’d far rather visit them in person at Sunshine Fibre Fest, for now you’ll just have to check out their fabulous products online.

In addition to lovely, luxurious Shetland and hand-dyed wool, they have a great variety of goods for sale online. Great gift ideas for your favourite fibre friends!

www.  Shetland sheep, fleece, wool and more!

Karberry Farms offer shipping and curbside pick up and by appointment at a later date.

Vendor Profile: Exquisite E Yarns and Rovings

Exquisite E Yarns and Rovings is owned by Sue Needle. Sue has been an Angora breeder for over 41 years and a fiber artist for 37 years. She has been a top Angora producer for over 40 years along with being a National Wool/Skein/Garment multi time winner.  Wins have included National Best in Show winner in all categories including Best in Show Raw Angora, Best in Show Skein and Best in Show Garment. Currently her studio is concentrating on Yarns for the discerning knitter as well as luxurious art batts. Primary focus is Angora Rabbit wool from Bunny to Bonnet. Angora is the softest and warmest fiber you’ll ever feel!

To purchase angora yarns, rovings and art batts, here’s how you can reach Sue:


text:  705 321-3209

Introducing Lady Beatrix from Heartland Creations

Lady Beatrix

by Sheila Klugescheid

All in the Family

What do the Sunshine Fibre Fest Co-Organizer, Heartland Creations, and Megs Fancy Bunnies have in common? That would be a cute brown bunny named Lady Beatrix.

After many months of working during this pandemic and very little going on at Heartland Creations, I thought I needed a little extra excitement in my life and would add one more family member to our hobby farm. Anyone who knows me knows I have a passion for sheep (we have 7) and rabbits. For a long while I had 2 house bunnies, the first was an English Angora named Starbuck who lived a good long life and the second is an American Fuzzy Lop by the name of Princess Chelsea Bun.

Actually this story started 5 years ago when Mary of Megs Fancy Bunnies and I each bought a Fuzzy Lop from the same litter at a rabbit show at the Orillia Fair where we first met. Every once in a while, Mary will send me pics or I will see posts on our Sunshine Fibre Fest page (check out @ Megs Fancy Bunnies).  I have a hard time resisting her cute baby bunnies, but this email was a little different.  Beatrix was re-homed back to Mary after her owner lost their job due to COVID-19 shut down or so the story goes. Beatrix’s mom is Mary’s Forget me Knot and her dad is Mary’s buck Mickey Blue Eyes (Chelsea’s brother) so as the saying goes, double the trouble and double the fun, this approximately 8th month old blue eyed Fuzzy Lop bundle of energy now lives at our house. Beatrix loves to be petted just like her aunt Chelsea and also loves to leap from the top of her cage and land on her pillow. Her most valuable item seems to be her litter box which she sits in when anything gets too close to her cage. She is very slowly warming up to her aunt Chelsea but they still aren’t sure about one another yet and I still only let one out at a time. Beatrix did lie down and have a nap in front of Chelsea’s cage today without any thumping or nipping so maybe there is hope of them becoming friends. It’s time for me to feed the girls and tuck them in, hope you enjoy hearing a little of what I’ve been up to.

Marie and I are looking forward to hearing stories from our other Sunshine Fibre Fest Vendors about what is keeping you busy during this lock down.

Warm and Wooly Wishes from Sheila Klugescheid

Chelsea, Beatrix’s aunt

What are you doing to survive COVID-19?

It’s a Little Thing, It’s a Big Thing

What are you doing to survive the COVID-19 pandemic?  I find I am unable to focus on my small craft business, and instead I’m sewing masks.  And giving them away.  Lots of them.

I started in May of 2019, with a simple pattern I downloaded from the internet (How To Sew A Fabric Face Mask, ©, with thanks!) and that was the start.  I made up a couple of masks with scraps of quilting cottons I found quickly and loved the result.  I dug deeper and found a stash of quilting cottons from my small craft business and cut out my first batch of 50.

And then I just started giving them away, to friends and family. I made 50 at a time, always in a variety of fabrics, and continued to give them away.  My partner’s workplace is an essential service, so I dropped off a batch there, for staff and customers.  And I gave masks to volunteers and clients at the nearby Foodbanks.  To grocery clerks and customers in line when I went shopping.  I found I couldn’t take money for them – the joy was in the giving and the smiles on the faces when people got to choose from among the beautiful quilting cottons in each batch.  As my son’s girlfriend, Grace says, “it’s a little piece of art”.  I think, because of Grace’s enthusiasm and the mistake I made in bringing her along when shopping for fabric one time, she probably has the greatest mask collection of anyone I have given them to!

And after the first shut down was over, I carried them everywhere.  I took a batch along to my dentist – although the staff all have to wear the medical-grade masks at work, outside of work they could wear cloth masks.  The delight that greeted me when I took in a new batch of masks on a return visit to the dentist was the perfect antidote to the completely frustrating task of running errands for my Mum (grocery store, pet store, drug store) that day in the cold and the snow.  In and out of the car:  mask on, gloves on, lock car, head to store, sanitize hands, shop, return to car, unlock car, mask off, gloves off, sanitize hands…you know the routine!  The smiles on the faces of the dentist and the hygienists and the receptionist as they selected masks for themselves and their family – that image sustains me.  And if people want to contribute, I ask them to pay it forward, to donate to their favourite charity or help someone else in some way.

The fabrics are colourful and fun, and when I discovered fabrics with marijuana leaves on them, I bought some of that too.  There’s a whole little subset of the population, many of them younger (but not all!) that get particular delight from that fabric, and I feel I am doing my bit to inspire mask wearing among all ages.

I think we’re all just doing what we can and doing the best we can.  I have to remind myself of that.  Making a mask, wearing a mask, is such a little thing.  But it is also a big thing.

Sunshine Fibre Fest postponed until Saturday July 25, 2020

Hello Everyone
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic dragging on into April and now that it has been announced schools and events are to be cancelled until at least May 4th ,we feel that we cannot provide a safe environment for all of our vendors, volunteers, demonstrators and the general public at this time. Therefore Sunshine Fibre Fest along with ODAS Park have made the decision to reschedule until Sat July 25th, 2020.
We have devoted many, many hours to this show and are committed to providing a venue for local artisans, farmers and other vendors involved in all things fibre, as well as to provide a wonderful local event for people in the near north interested in exploring and pursuing fibre crafts.

Sheila and I look forward to seeing you at the show. Thank you to everyone for your ongoing support, patience and understanding.

Marie Sternberg and Sheila Klugescheid
Sunshine Fibre Fest