Wool Gathering

I’ve been trying to figure out how to start this post, and it’s taken me several days to admit I have no idea! It seems ever so trite to say “Wow!” but… well… it rather fits! I know that many of you reading this will either be shaking your head in amazement over my naivete or nodding in passionate agreement, but for the rest of you, I’ll give just a dabble of background before I do show and tell.

Some years ago, DH and I took the girls to Young’s Jersey Dairy for ice cream, and while there, we noticed a tent set up near the building. It looked like some sort of special animal display or something, so we went over to investigate. Inside, we found sheep, alpacas, rabbits, and I believe there was a llama or two, and then there were a few people sitting at spinning wheels and tables displaying some various merchandise, much of which made little or no sense to me. Since we were homeschoolers, though, we took advantage of the opportunity to explore, watch the animals, and such. I honestly think that day might have been when the seed was planted for me to think I needed a spinning wheel, too. However, to be quite honest, I had absolutely no idea why! Fast forward a “few” years – and to give this a little perspective, my younger daughter has been married for over two years now and is well past trying to climb up the side of the pen to pet the alpacas. Somewhere in that time, I fell in love with knitting and fiber, and for the last couple of years, I’d thought back to that serendipitous visit to Young’s and wondered more than once if they’d ever done something like that again. Then this spring, I discovered Fiberworks (oddly enough, because I bought a spinning wheel…), and Arlene told me about the Dayton Knitting Guild – and through the DKG, I found out that yes, there IS an event at Young’s, and it happens every year! Ever since last April, I’ve been practically counting the days until this past weekend.

It was worth the wait! I was hot and had a horrible headache nearly the entire time I was there on Saturday. I could barely move on Sunday. I was dreadfully stiff and sore from the unaccustomed amount of walking and wool toting. But to be quite honest, I had an utterly fantastic time, and am already counting the days until next year!

The real surprise came when I got out of my car and saw not one small tent, but two extremely large tents set in a field liberally sprinkled with single booths and tents, which reminded me a bit of the courtiers lining the throne rooms in historical movies. Obviously, the event had grown a bit since I was last there. Another change is that this time I knew what things were when I saw them, and I had a very good idea (I thought) of just what I wanted to buy. Of course, imagination and list-writing didn’t hold out very long, as the vendors were way ahead of me. There was ever so much more than I’d ever dreamed. Even though I tried to be good many sellers closed booths before I was able to get back to buy what I’d decided to get from them, I had so many big plastic bags in hand as I left that I looked like I was hauling out the week’s trash for a family of five!

Here’s what followed me home (Think I’m kidding? I’m sure I have at least one complete alpaca here!) and a few other sights and delights of the day.

I think the alpacas were probably the star of the day for me. Every time I found myself petting something and thinking I might need to own it purely based on touch, it was, of course, formerly the property of an alpaca. Doesn’t hurt that they are one of the cutest things on four feet, either.

Alpaca with a princess complex

Alpaca with a princess complex

Alpaca bored with people-watching

Alpaca totally bored with people-watching

Alpaca with a secret

Alpaca with a secret

I narrowed all the delightful alpaca fiber options down to just this, regretfully leaving the adoptables for someone else :

Alpaca roving - the creamsicle fluff is baby alpaca

Alpaca roving - the Creamsicle fluff is baby alpaca

One gorgeous pound of Buttercup's raw fleece - the single most enticing alpaca fleece I saw the entire day - www.Tri-ValleyAlpacas.com

One gorgeous pound of Buttercup's fleece

This fleece from Buttercup was unquestionably the most enticing alpaca fleece I saw the entire day. I couldn’t keep my hands off it while talking to the delightful couple who owns her. If you’d like to see her, she’s the second animal down on this page at the Tri-Valley Alpaca website.

Just plain overwhelming!

Just plain overwhelming alpaca!

And this display from Frontier Fiber Mill was nearly the death of me! My head was screaming by the time I reached the booth, and the stuff was all intensely gorgeous. I just absolutely could not decide what I wanted, so I ended up taking a photo and a business card instead.

The other fiber producers that were there in the flesh were angora bunnies. No two ways about it. There is just nothing softer in this entire world!

Ready to spin angora ambrosia

Ready to spin angora ambrosia - and yes, I bought all three colors. You never know just what you'll want...

This little guy donated the fawn angora I brought home

This is the little guy who donated the fawn angora fiber I brought home

Some other wonderful rovings that are now stashed and waiting for my spinning wheel to be completed…

Indi dyed merino from Chamomile Connection

Hand-dyed merino from Chamomile Connection

Icelandic sheep's wool times 6 ounces...

Icelandic sheep's wool times 6 ounces...

Buffalo

Fluffy buff stuff - brown mostly buffalo, and the green is a buff/llama/bunny blend

Unidentified sheep's wool

Unidentified sheep's wool in colors too good to resist

And then there was this sudden craving to own a fleece… or two… and in addition to being an absolutely lovely lady, Jackie from Amazing Grace Farm is an expert enabler. It was worth going to the show just to meet her! A picture of Elaine (see fleece below) and loads of info on Shetlands as well as lots of other neat stuff is on her website. And regarding the two fleeces, I have to add in my defense that at least they are small fleeces… ;o)

Zaccheus

From Zacchaeus - a Shetland sheep and producer of fine wool. In person, what appears white here is actually a gorgeous champagne color.

And from Elaine

And from Elaine - another of Jackie's Shetlands. This is just so very soft and fine, I couldn't leave it behind!

And then I got all sorts of little odds and ends, like a hand-spindling book, sheepy soaps in luscious flavors like pumpkin spice, peppermint, and lavendar (also from Jackie), and the cutest little one yard niddynoddy from The Knit Store

My little odds and ends

Some little odds and ends - yarn is for an exchange, and I'm terribly sad there was only one skein, as it means I don't get any.

Aren't these the cutest things?

Aren't these the cutest things? The shuttle is just 2" (5cm) long, and the lucet is a minute 1.5" !

After the show was over for the day, I headed into Young’s for supper. I couldn’t believe how exhausted I was! One of their great burgers followed by my favorite hot apple dumpling with cinnamon ice cream proved to be somewhat restorative, though. “Somehow” I managed to end up sitting at the next table over from a knitter (imagine that!) who was making an afghan with a technique I’d not seen before. Suffice it to say, dinner was stretched out over a rather lengthy period of time while she shared what she was doing with me.

Magical Mosaic Knitting

Magical Mosaic Knitting

Even having watched her, this almost looks like a magic trick, and I’ve already ordered Barbara Walker’s mosaic knitting book so I can play with it some more myself. :o) Perfect ending to a perfect day of… well… Dare I? Wool Gathering!

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. We too our homeschoolers and have just discovered spinning as well. Have you ever washed a fleece? That’s where I’m currently stuck. There are so many flecks of things int he wool, I can’t imagine it ever becoming clean. Any suggestions?
    Blessings, Linda

  2. Linda, the lovely lady who sold me my Shetland fleeces said she would send me her super simple instructions for cleaning them. This will be a first for me, too, but perhaps when I get brave and report the results, it will give you the courage to try, too. :o) Stay tuned!


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