The Whitehall Ledger - Serving Southern Jefferson County in the Great State of Montana

By Marci Whitehurst
Contributing Writer 

Copper K Fiber Festival Saturday, Sunday

 

Courtesy Photo

Pictured is Copper K Fiber Festival co-founder Kami Noyes.

Knitting or felting conversations may trigger thoughts of our grandmas or the homesteading era; however, fiber arts have made a strong comeback as a way to connect with others, natural resources, and possibly our roots.

Local artisan, Kami Noyes, has found her niche in growing, spinning, and creating with natural fibers. As a fifth generation rancher raising cattle and sheep, Kami's agricultural roots run deep. She remembers having sheep as a child. When her kids were little, she picked up a couple bum lambs for them to raise. When it came time to sheer them, Kami sold their wool on eBay. It didn't take long before Kami began keeping the wool and processing it. Today she sells fleeces, mostly to other artists, along with a variety of other fiber products.

"Sheep are highly resourceful," says Noyes. "You have the benefits of pasture management for weeds, plus the sheep themselves--which provide meat and wool." Kami raises Targhee Rambouillet sheep, which supply excellent wool.

Kami's mother and her husband, Reid Noyes, gifted Kami with her first spinning wheel once she began saving wool. Now, Kami has a studio where she spins and dyes wool into yarn.

"Spinning made me learn more about sheep," Kami said. Her knowledge base has grown into a viable business where she produces colorful threads. She even creates products like hats and scarves with the very wool she's grown on her ranch.

Noyes mills some of the wool herself, but she also has access to a local wool mill. Paul and Cheri Shaw, owners of the Montana Wool Barn in Cardwell, are able to clean wool and mill it into a raw fiber. They also card and spin wool, in addition to other services. Kami enjoys spinning and dyeing the fiber herself to create colors that model the Montana Landscape. Kami's personal line, titled the Tobacco Root Valley Yarn, is one of her favorite developments.

To see the process from beginning to end is a treasure to Kami. "It's a gift to connect to products and know where something comes from," Kami shared. "To see the lambs born and raised to adulthood for wool is a remarkable process. There is a dramatic difference between synthetic blends and pure wool. Pure wool has remarkable breathability, making it functional year-round. It also lasts a long time and the texture and feel are completely different."

Noyes is not alone in her passion. Butte native, Betty Kujawa, raises alpacas and creates fiber from their fleece. The two have teamed up to create the Copper K Fiber Festival, a fiber arts festival that not only sells fiber products, but provides classes and demonstrations.

The Fiber Festival is similar to Art in the Park--only with textile arts. In just three years, the event has grown to include around thirty vendors from various states--some as far as Iowa, Virginia, and even Florida. Peggy Downey travels from Colorado and teaches dyeing.

Admission to the Fiber Festival is free and open to the public. Classes are available for beginners to advanced artists for those that register prior to the event. More information is available at http://www.ranchingtraditionfiber.com.

Courtesy Photo

Red Apron caters the event, so food is available. Music is on site during lunch.

"This festival is more than just a place for those interested in producing fiber arts. I'd love for people to come see the vivid colors and beauty in the work," Noyes invites.

The Fiber Festival takes place in the very barn where Kami remembers lambing when she was a child. Today, the Copper K Barn is a breathtaking, remodeled event venue in a pristine location with a plethora of artistic design and color. The Fiber Festival runs July 20-21, 2019. Saturday hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Copper K Barn is located outside Whitehall at 786 Point of Rocks Road and is worth the drive!

 

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