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A good time was had by all…

I am still tired from Saturday’s marathon Sheep and Wool Festival. But oh my: Such fun!!

Cherry Tree Hill Supersock and Cephalopod Bugga!

Cherry Tree Hill Supersock and Cephalopod Bugga!

Carla and Hope and I met up at the gates at 9am, just as the Festival officially opened. We started out at the All About Yarn tent, where Hope went a bit nuts with Shalimar Yarn. Then we got about ten feet past that tent, and I got sucked into a couple of skeins of Cephalopod Yarn Bugga! (I’m totally blaming Hope for this one. Somehow we’re having a little challenge to knit up simple sweaters using only 760 yards of Bugga!) Then I was good… for a little while.

At lunchtime, we met up with another fiber friend, Claudette, and hijacked her to join our merry band. We waited in line for gyros for entirely too long, but they were sooooo good I can’t feel too bitter about the wait.

Spindle and Fiber

Spindle and Fiber

And then we went a bit berserk in the main building. I splurged on a Golding Spindle that I’d been daydreaming about. (And I think I sort of talked Claudette into buying one, too.) And such a pretty spindle deserved some gorgeous fiber, right? So you can totally understand my next two splurges: some Handmaiden merino/silk in a beautiful deep purple and plum and some merino/silk from Chasing Rainbows (at the Carolina Homespun booth) in drool-worthy shades of blues, greens, turquoise, and purple. Hope knits gorgeous intarsia sweaters, so she stocked up on a whole rainbow full of fingering weight yarn. Carla (like me) is a sucker for pretty sock yarn, so despite her best efforts to be good, one or two skeins found their way into her bag.

Signature needles and other tools

Signature needles and other tools

I’d planned to buy a US size 8 circular from Signature Needle Arts, but while I was in line, I talked myself into getting size 7 DPNs too. (And now I’m wishing I’d gotten the size 6 DPNs as well. These needles are just too addictive…)

Buttons!

Buttons!

Sadly, Moving Mud did not have the perfect buttons for my purple sweater, but she did have some gorgeous blue and green swirly buttons that I fell in love with. I had picked up some pewter buttons at the Bartlett Yarns booth for my green sweater, but maybe I’ll put those buttons on the purple sweater, and the Moving Mud buttons on the green sweater…

Miss Babs Yet Color Affliction kit

Miss Babs Yet Color Affliction kit

I had not planned to buy yarn to make a Color Affection Shawl. In fact, I’d sworn I wouldn’t. For one thing, I have yarn for a Stripe Study Shawl (also by designer Veera Välimäki) that I’d bought at MDSW three years ago that I still haven’t finished. And for another, the Color Affection Shawl is just so popular right now. Why knit what everyone else is knitting? Ahem. Well, I went into the Miss Babs booth and made the mistake of looking over at the Wall o’ Affection kits. And of course, I fell madly in love with one of them, in her yummy “Yet” lace (merino/silk). Sigh. I’m really just a lemming at heart…

I also bought another nifty notions case, a knit fixer tool (crochet hook on one end and a knitting tip on the other), and some highlighter tape that I’d been meaning to order online. And a skein of sock yarn at Cherry Tree Hill in shades of purple and magenta and teal that was just too pretty to leave behind. And I got some yummy almond honey and creamed honey from The Bee Folks to bring home for my husband (a total honey fanatic).

Trying out the Pocket Wheel

Trying out the Pocket Wheel

I was pretty good about more expensive fiber tools. I drooled a bit over the Ashford Knitters Loom. (And I got to meet Richard Ashford, which was pretty cool!) I carefully avoided making eye contact with the Ashford Joy Spinning Wheel. I did succumb to the invitation to try out a Pocket Wheel, though. Pretty neat! I’m a long way from buying a wheel, but I’d definitely keep this one in mind.

The day had started out quite hot and sticky, and despite generous application of sunscreen, my face and the back of my neck got a bit sunburned. Then a cool front blew through and threatened rain, but fortunately it held off. Not that some rain would have dampened our spirits!

By the time I got home, I was totally exhausted. I had just enough energy to get a shower and crack open a nice, cold beer.

Now comes the hard part… resisting all the pretty new yarn and projects calling to me! I need to get a few works-in-progress taken care of first. First up, finishing the scalloped lace baby cardigan…

I hope your weekend was full of fibery friends and fun, too!

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Projects and parties and spinning, oh my!

Yesterday was the Homespun Yarn Party, and it was a blast. It’s a small indie fiber fest, and it really does feel more like a party than a festival. My partner in crime had to cancel on me at the last minute, and I considered (for about twelve seconds!) just staying home and knitting on the sofa (which is generally a pretty good way to spend a rainy day in my opinion). But then I came to, thought about what I’d be missing, and hopped in the car.

Plus, I admit it… I wanted to show off my new finery! I finished both the Haruni shawl and the Lanesplitter skirt over the weekend. (More details on both to follow.)

I’d noted on the HYP website that they were offering free drop spindle classes. I’d purchased an Ashford Turkish drop spindle and some lovely fiber last summer at The Mannings, but hadn’t worked up the nerve to actually test it out. Since I was on my own yesterday, I grabbed it on my way out the door and threw it in my bag. The first class was just starting when I arrived, so I decided to shop first and catch the second class later.

The thing I love the most about fiber festivals, and the HYP in particular, is getting to talk to each of the vendors about their products. It’s one thing to buy some lovely yarn in your LYS or online, it’s quite another to get to talk to the person who spun it or dyed it or raised the alpaca it was came from! These are people who love the fiber arts so much, they’ve made a career out of it. They’re all so happy to talk about what they do and why they do it. Even if I hadn’t made a single purchase, just talking with them was inspiring.

But yes, I did made a few purchases. I told myself that since I had time to shop quite leisurely, I could circle the room once without buying anything, just looking. If something called to me so strongly that I kept looking back across the room at it, then I’d go back and get it. Yes, this approach meant that I might miss out on a few things. (I heard that there was a long line at the door before the HYP officially opened, and lots of things disappeared within moments. But there was still plenty to choose from when I got there, so I wasn’t sorry to miss the worst of the crowds!)

Sock yarn is usually my downfall, but it takes me so long to finish a pair (when I keep interrupting them to knit sweaters) that I have quite a stockpile already, so I told myself it had to be a really unusual, special skein to come home with me. There was a gorgeous skein from Ashton Studio Arts that I would have scooped up, but alas, it was already in someone else’s hands when I spied it. (They assured me that they’d be at MDSW with more skeins in that colorway.) That Clever Clementine had some lovely fabric bowls, but they were mostly sold out by the time I got there, so I’ll be keeping an eye on her Etsy store.

Neighborhood Fibre Company, Studio Worsted in "Easterwood"

My camera hates dark colors! Much prettier in person. (Neighborhood Fibre Company, Studio Worsted in "Easterwood")

My big splurge was at the Neighborhood Fiber Company booth. She had several skeins of her Studio Worsted (superwash merino) in a colorway named “Easterwood” which is an absolutely gorgeous dark green colorway with hints of dark blue. While I was admiring the color, Karida told me that she actually dyes the yarn periwinkle first, then over-dyes it with the dark green to get the gorgeous shading I was admiring so. When I looked closely at it, I could see hints of the periwinkle in the blue sections. I hemmed and hawed (how many sweaters’ worth of yarn do I already have waiting in my queue?), but then I decided that I couldn’t leave it behind, so I purchased two skeins (800 yards) for a top-down lace sweater with 3/4 sleeves. 

Drop spindle & fiber

Look, Ma! I made yarn!

Then I made my way over to the drop spindle class. Because it was later in the day and the crowd was thinning out by then, I was the only person who showed up for the second class. Can’t argue with getting a hands-on private class! I’ve been admiring this gorgeous bundle of merino and silk fiber since I purchased it, but I was too convinced that I’d ruin it to try actually spinning with it. But in no short order, Lauren had me drafting and spinning with my drop spindle. Yay! It’s not the most gorgeous yarn ever spun, but I’m having a blast experimenting with thicker and thinner yarns. Of course, my fiber obsessions didn’t really need any help. Now at festivals I’m going to have to go in all the booths that have spindles and roving, too. Oh, dear…

One of the other neat aspects of the HYP is its location. Historic Savage Mill is a former textile mill that has been restored and converted into an artisans’ village. The shops are truly unique, and I enjoyed poking around in them almost as much as the HYP itself! One shop that I made sure to visit was Bead Soup. I purchased some very pretty beads there last year (which were similar to but smaller than the ones I used on my Haruni shawl). This year I picked up some pretty glass, stone, and silver beads. Not quite sure what I’m going to make with them yet… stay tuned!

The day turned out to be pretty terrific. Learning to spin was a huge plus for me, and probably something I wouldn’t have done if I’d been with friends. All-in-all, it was a great experience. I’ll definitely be back next year!

If you’re a knitter, have you tried spinning? Is it as addictive as it seems to be??