Have you ever given thought of the “sheep to shawl” idea? By that, we mean have you considered all that it takes to take the woolen fleece from a sheep and turn it not only into yarn, but to also convert it into a piece of artwork or a beautiful garment? If so, you will want to book a visit to Townsend this spring.

Celebrating Ten Years of Fleecy Fun and Inspiring Art

April 12-14, 2019 is the tenth annual Smoky Mountain Fiber Arts Festival. It is three days of family-friendly fun, demonstrations and classes, displays featuring animals who kindly give their wool to turn into art and garments (including live llamas, Angora rabbits, goats and sheep for everyone to meet), and a large marketplace of artisans offering their wares.

Celebrating a decade of community support, the event is held at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center in the heart of Townsend and is popular with those unfamiliar with fiber arts as well as experienced spinners, weavers, and others.

Classes Available Each Day

If you have ever wanted to learn more about turning raw wool into something else, this is the ideal time to do so. Every single day of the event you can sign up for classes in spinning, learning about weaving, felting and looms. There are classes emphasizing natural dye making, tapestry weaving, garment making and lots of fun techniques including Shibori dyeing with indigo, tying Celtic knots and more! There is even a fashion show!

A Shopper’s Dream

If you would rather just enjoy the end results of the process and buy beautifully and locally made goods, there are scores of vendors making everything from woolen garments and objects to other products like paintings, skeins of wool that you can turn into items of your own, and more.

Presented by the Townsend Artisan Guild, serving as the voice of art on the quiet side of the Smokies, it helps to promote awareness and education in the arts. The festival is but one of the many events, workshops and festivals that the Guild presents every year. By attending and supporting the group, you can actively support the area’s artisans and aspiring artists. The Guild has a gallery at 7719 East Lamar Alexander Parkway, Townsend, TN, but the event is (as noted) at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center also in Townsend.

And while you are at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center, you will want to take a look around and learn more about it. With a mission of celebrating “the cultural heritage of East Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains region. [With] gallery exhibits, educational programs, demonstrations and festivals [to] guide you on an historic journey through time to visit the diverse cultures of Townsend and Tuckaleechee Cove”.