FRANKLIN — Veterinarian Elaine Painter of Bowling Green spent most of her life raising dairy cows, but she switched in recent years to alpacas because they’re easier to care for.
“Of the 34 I have, they have as many personalities,” she said.
She brought one of her alpacas to Franklin’s Gallery on the Square on Saturday for Fiber Fantasia, an event that showcased art made with fibers and demonstrations on ways to work with the materials.
Painter was glad the gallery hosted an event like Fiber Fantasia, which promoted the fiber industry and showed people a couple of the animals fibers come from. In addition to her alpaca, an angora rabbit was also at the event.
Painter likes alpaca fiber because it’s soft, warm, produces no allergies and can be used to make a variety of products, like hats, blankets, rugs and suits.
“There’s just tons of stuff you can make out of it,” she said.
Barbara Markell-Thomas, gallery director of Gallery on the Square, came up with the idea for Fiber Fantasia and thought winter would be a great time to host it.
“That’s when you think about knitting or spinning,” she said.
The gallery, a nonprofit artists guild, sells some fiber products and Markell-Thomas thought people would enjoy learning more about it.
“Fiber is friendly and soft, and it’s not dangerous,” she said.
She wanted the Fiber Fantasia event to have hands-on activities so people could try working with fiber for themselves.
“I think it’s (popular) because a lot of people really admire artwork, and I think they ache for the opportunity to try it,” she said.
Carol Switzer of Franklin likes working with fiber, particularly knitting, which her grandmother taught her.
“Sometimes it’s kind of meditative ... and sometimes you have a real complicated pattern that makes you think,” she said. “I don’t like to just be sitting. It’s something to do while you’re just sitting around.”
Some of her knitting work is on display as part of the Fiber Fantasia exhibit, and she taught people Saturday how to make felted soap using wool.
The event was good because it shows people they don’t need a lot of skill to make things from fibers, she said.
“It gives them a way to touch natural fibers,” Switzer said. “They can see the process from the animal all the way to the finished product.”
Debbie Apple sells wool and other fiber on her Warren County farm.
She enjoys spinning fiber and demonstrated how to spin at Fiber Fantasia.
“I love this gallery. I just love it,” she said. “I really wanted to support what they wanted to do.”
It’s great to see so many people interested in learning about fiber and spinning, she said.
“People are asking great questions,” Apple said. “I’ve been talking the entire time.”