Dye, felt or spin: Locals to put on two-day fiber arts festival

Mike and Linda Gooch bring together local artisans focused on fiber arts to share their expertise on June 13-14

Dyefeltorspin (dye, felt or spin) fiber arts festival

When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m., June 13-14

Where: Happy Valley Alpaca Ranch, 4629 Happy Valley Road

Admission: Free

More info: Linda or Mike Gooch, 681-0948.


For their second time, Mike and Linda Gooch are bringing together local artisans focused on fiber arts to share their expertise. About 14 vendors from the Olympic Peninsula will demonstrate the different aspects of processing fiber from alpaca, llama, sheep and rabbit.

“I hope it will help educate and expose people to fiber arts so they can learn what possibilities are out there,” Linda said. “These animals have a lot of uses.”

The first of the two-day event is centered on fiber arts, whereas Sunday is devoted to shearing. Throughout Saturday, participating vendors will be spinning, weaving, felting, sorting and carding fibers. Among those demonstrating their trade is Sequim resident LauraLee Deluca, owner of Phoenixx Fibers.

For 35 years, working with a wide array of fibers has been Deluca’s livelihood, with spinning be her “first love,” she said. One of her favorite fibers to spin is from dogs, specifically golden retrievers.

Another vendor is bringing a loom to create a Tibetan rug and another is a recent resident of Sequim from Chile – a region where alpacas originate, along with Peru and Bolivia

“We have a lot of great people coming,” Linda said.

Shifting from methods that manipulate fiber to the harvest process, all of Sunday will be spent shearing the alpacas at Happy Valley Alpaca Ranch. Similar to Saturday, both Linda and Mike intend for it to be an educational and fun experience.

“We encourage people to help and participate,” Mike said.

Food will be available throughout both days, including fruit, vegetables, gourmet sausages, hotdogs and gyros. Also, while discovering the wonders of fiber arts, a guest fiddler from Port Townsend will walk the ranch and play music for all those to enjoy.

Since moving to Sequim 25 years ago, Mike and Linda have transformed their residence into a destination location and alpaca ranch including a small store. Together they’ve raised alpacas and llamas for 18 years and have met thousands of visitors from 23 different countries throughout the evolution of their ranch. Most recently, the Gooches incorporated lavender into their vision and have more than 240 plants.

“I really enjoy meeting the people that come and visit,” Mike said.

For many visitors, exposing them to the herd of 16 alpacas and one llama is a novelty, he said. “Most people know what they are, but not a lot about them.”

The fiber taken from alpacas is some of the softest, lightweight and warm material, Mike said.

“Each strand is hollow, similar to that of a polar bear … it’s seven-to-six times warmer than sheep’s wool,” he said.

For Mike and Linda, running the ranch and caring for their alpacas is somewhat “therapeutic,” Mike said, and hopes it can be a place of relaxation for visitors as well.

“Being here slows you down,” he said. “It allows you to get back to nature,” he said.

Although the ranch store and tours are available by appointment year-round, during Saturday and Sunday, June 13-14, the property is expected to be bustling with activity, creativity and be a gathering place for those learn and show an age-old trade. Admission is free and those attending are encouraged to enter to win a gift certificate to the store filled with a variety of fiber-inspired creations and the chance to win one yard of garden-ready composted alpaca manure.