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Fibre festival fosters crafting connections

Winnipeg's textile enthusiasts gathered at Red River Exhibition Park this weekend to celebrate fibres and the animals they come from. 

It was the 11th annual Manitoba Fibre Festival, connecting local fibre farmers with the crafting community in a fun, creative atmosphere. The event celebrates local textiles, animals, and fibre arts by bringing together producers, sellers, and craft-lovers all under one roof.

Alpaca farmer Laurie Owens has been participating in the festival since it began, selling yarn and other related products made from fleece from her 19 animals.

"We raise and shear our own alpacas and then we send the fibre away to be processed at different mills across Canada and then we come here and sell the items," Owens said.

She said alpaca yarn has become known as a luxury fibre product, a big difference from when she first started.

"More than 20 years ago, people had no idea what an alpaca was, and most of them called them llamas," said Owens.

She said alpacas are disease-resistant and very easy to take care of.

"You shear them once a year, you trim their toenails three or four times a year," said Owens. "Other than that they just like to graze in a pasture and eat hay in the winter and that’s about it."

In addition to more than 80 vendors selling their wares, the festival offered various craft demonstrations including ancient lace-making techniques, machine knitting, and sheep shearing. Visitors could also view a curated fibre art show.

Owens said events like this are very important for her. "We don't have a store," she said. "We are working out of our own homes off of the farm. And so coming here is fantastic because it helps promote our alpaca farms and the products that we have."

The festival will be returning next September, with exact dates yet to be determined.

- With files from CTV's Kimberley Rio Wertman Top Stories

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