Wool Gathering 2010

With a sated grin, I’m here to report on this year’s Wool Gathering in Yellow Springs, which at this point is my only fiber festival each year. I have to say that this year is the very best it’s ever been, only shortcoming being that it was impossible to do the entire place “well” in just one day, as it’s grown dramatically this year! If I’d not had my focus list, I’d never have seen even half of it, and as it was, much of what I did see was just as I cruised past. Much to my chagrin, there were many booths to which I wanted to return, but I simply ran out of time – not that I didn’t find a “few” things that did come home with me. I’ve just never had it play out that I couldn’t go back for those few special things that were sticking in my mind as “must buys” – you know, the ones you walk away from, then can’t get out of your mind later… Anyway, in addition to the increased size, I was also struck by how much “tidier” the grounds looked this year. This isn’t in reference to litter, but rather to the set up. It just had a clean and organized appearance which was nice and approachable. Somehow, they also managed to arrange for lovely weather, though the big tents in particular became extremely warm by the middle of our sunny afternoon. My biggest challenge was that this was my first major outing since I fell, and I have to confess that I arrived home last night somewhere beyond exhausted, feeling a bit like someone who has been an invalid for the past two months and tried to forget that fact for a day…Β  πŸ˜‰

I have to confess that when I arrived and saw three main tents and more, I felt a bit like an Indy driver at the starting line so neglected to take any pictures of the venue. I’m glad that I started out in the smaller livestock tent first, though. If I’d not gone then, I would have run out of time. In the past, there either hasn’t been a livestock tent or it’s been elsewhere and I’d not seen it. I could have spent several hours in there happily taking pix as I watched the goats, sheep, and llamas (and would have had better shots had I done so), but even though my time was much shorter, I had fun, and I’m SO grateful to those who brought their animals to share with us.

Shropshire Sheep

Finn Sheep – Extra fun for me to see since I bought a Finn fleece a few months ago

Tunis Sheep – VERY fun since I’d taken the notion that I wanted a Tunis fleece this year! Quite endearing with their ultra white coats and sweet brown faces. πŸ™‚

Border Leicester Sheep – Undoubtedly the “ugly duckling” here, but looking ever so dignified and intelligent, and I took quite a shine to them. They were fascinated by the children’s train ride directly outside the tent and would run to watch each time it started up. I meant to go back and get one of their fleeces, but ran out of time, so will have to contact the owner later.

Mystery critter – This pen was not identified, that I saw, and was the least cooperative of the bunch when it came to picture taking. I didn’t manage get even a half decent shot of my favorite, a shiny locked little white gal, who I could have brought home in a heartbeat if I didn’t live in the middle of town! She was an angora goat, but I have no idea what this endearing fellow is.

Llama – Definitely the prima donna of the entire livestock tent, posing and repositioning, then giving me this look like, “You are going to take another picture, of course?”

There were also alpacas and of course, a profusion of angora bunnies, but they were in the vendor tents and by the time I got to them, my camera was buried under ummm… a few things… πŸ˜‰

A definite highlight of the day was meeting up with some online friends, members of the Handprepared Fibers Group on Yahoo. What fun to put smiles and voices names!

I had a mission list – things I needed to find and some people I definitely wanted to see, and as mentioned earlier, this kept me moving. I ended up getting very little that wasn’t on my list, but I did still find some wonderful surprises!

I called The Yarn Shop in Columbus at the end of last week, and they brought my Seville pattern to the show. πŸ™‚ This pattern is a spinner’s dream! It has 6 sizes in the pattern, plus each size is written for 3 different yarn weights. It could easily be made in a half dozen ways and look totally different each time, I think. I also found a pound of black merino (with crimp this time!) to blend with my nasty no crimp stuff detailed in my Double Detour post. When I did the math, I realized I wasn’t going to get enough yarn from the 14 ounces I had (duh!), and I’m guessing the finished yarn will only be improved by the addition of some crimp anyway. πŸ˜‰ Added bonus is that I got my black merino from Ohio Valley Natural Fibers for half of the best price I’d found in my quick search online. πŸ™‚ I also got an 8 oz. black Suri alpaca batt from MOA Handknits, but I decided I wouldn’t post pix of either of those items. Somehow, black fiber tends to look like black fiber, not very interesting to see in a photo, no matter how marvelous it is in person. And the Suri is definitely that! It was delicious enough to entice be to purchase it before I finished my rounds!

I seldom spent much time at the booths that sell basic supplies and manufactured yarn lines, since I can get those items easily at other times, but while I was picking up my pattern at The Yarn Shop’s booth, these neat little charms caught my eye – and came home with me. They are called Sig’nits, and they are designed to be knit onto a project in the same fashion as beads are added. They are nice quality, and I couldn’t resist. Besides, I knew what I was doing with them about 2 seconds after I spotted them. πŸ™‚

I always have to find some little trinket to bring home for “the girls.” This year the Bleuettes got these cute little sheep from Three Bags Full. The Hittys got a surprise gift from a vendor. The tiny llama in the next picture is nearly identical to a large one I have, and it was gifted to me with my purchase from La Llama Place, a booth I spent a very long time enjoying! The llama will look ever so cute standing on their knickknack shelf. πŸ™‚

I brought home all sorts of goodies from Peru. πŸ™‚ The beautifully made knitted doll came from Cupola Alpacas, and she will go on my high shelves in the sewing room.Β  The beads, finger puppet, and llama were from La Llama Place, which specializes in treasures from Peru, as well as items from Mexico and Central America. My best treasures from that booth are…

these two spindles

and this backstrap loom and weaving, which was such an exciting find for me that I couldn’t possibly walk away and come back later, despite my resolve to complete my list shopping before digressing into other items. I just had to have it! Neat or what? πŸ˜€ I’ve been told that the piece of tubular weaving is very special stuff. πŸ™‚

When previewing the vendor list, I was thrilled to see that two Etsy sellers I frequent were having booths this year. It was definitely a high (and costly!) priority to meet them in person. I have to say that both ladies were as delightful in person as they’ve been online, and they both managed to lighten my purse a bit. πŸ˜‰

From Lunabud Knits, I bought these gorgous silk noils as a gift for my drum carder…

some yummy angelina, and one of my fleeces (hang on a minute!). She also insisted on toting my fleeces out to my car for me because of my leg, and it was NOT a short trek! She said she wanted to stretch her legs, but I think it’s more that she’s a genuinely nice person. πŸ˜‰ Whatever the reason, she’s got a customer for life!

I’ve always found the Fiber Optic shop on Etsy to be a wee bit overwhelming, but I have to say that Kimber Baldwin’s booth is exponentially more so! At shows she has items that never make it to Etsy. ‘Nough said? I took Catenary along with me so I could show her what I spun from some of her fiber, and I came away with seven times as much as I’ve already spun – and that was with seriously slapping my hands!!! This BFL should keep me busy for at least a little while. I know what I’m doing with all of it, but it’s going to take a bit of thinking and planning to execute. Stay tuned! πŸ™‚

Of my three remaining goals, one I didn’t accomplish, as I could not find any black dyed BFL anywhere. Another was to buy A (as in one) fleece. I have to confess that I more than made up for the lack of black BFL. Somehow or other, my “fleece” multiplied and I brought home:

1. Okay, my first fleece was an accident. I had several possibilities in mind, but none of them were Cormo x Romeldale lamb. Of course, if I’m not going to buy something so delectably lamby delicious, I shouldn’t look, right? This came from Denise’s Fleeces, and I’ve managed to mislay my receipt, so I don’t know how much it weighs, just that it’s soft and crimpy and wonderful…

2. My second fleece was a traditional buy for me, and one I’d considered ahead of time. The first fleece I ever bought came from Jackie Deems of Amazing Grace Farm (and was actually two fleeces, since I was unable to choose just one.) This year’s fleece came from Sarah, a white Shetland, and weighs 4 pounds. I’d gone with white in mind, since I’m going to be doing some dyeing this coming year. My tendency to buy colored fleeces sort of handicaps me there… πŸ˜‰

3. By the time I found this fleece, I was nearly to the end of the third and last tent, and scanning ahead, I’d not seen any more fleeces anywhere. Since I obviously wasn’t going to have my Tunis (sigh…), I decided I “needed” this pretty BFL fleece, donated by Emma, and sold at the Wool ‘n Wood booth. I “tried” to buy a colored fleece, but just kept coming back to this appealing 2 pounds, so ended up with a third white fleece. I justified it to myself by saying that it’s SO different from the other two, and preparing and spinning different fleeces will be great experience for me. πŸ˜‰ With 3 fleeces – and still thinking I was going back to grab that Border Leicester – I was most definitely done fleece shopping – or so I thought…

4. But while hanging out at the Lunabud booth, I mentioned that I’d hoped to find a Tunis fleece, but no one had any.Β  Moments later, she was pulling from under the table, a Tunis/Targhee cross, which she was selling for a friend. She had several, but since I’d gone looking for a Tunis, I took this one, as she assured me that it leaned much more toward the Tunis than the Targhee. I felt SO guilty buying yet another fleece, but since I’d gone after a Tunis… And this one was the biggest of them all – somewhere around 5 pounds! Obviously, I’m not likely to run out of fleece this winter, but storage space is another story!!! In my defense, at least all four are distinctly different… πŸ˜€

And now I’m down to one last booth to share – one that was on my list to visit early. I’d decided several months ago that this was the year I was buying my wool combs from Ben, and I wanted to make sure he didn’t sell out or anything crazy like that before I got to the booth.

I do love his combs! They pack together in a compact, locked kit when not in use, then everything comes apart and the perfect economy of the set is evident as each piece has a second purpose. On top of that, he builds them from walnut and cherry and other lovely woods, then sells them for a very competitive price. Such a delight!

The really big surprise for me was that it paid off for me to get to his booth early. I almost inevitably save it for last, as I’m often buying a large, awkward item, but the combs were small and would fit in my pack, you see… They netted me an early bird bonus though, and I’m grinning from ear to ear over this find!

He’d built two pickers, then decided not to make any more. I now own one of the two! A picker was on my fantasy list for someday, but the combination of the large size and matching price made that seem a bit unlikely to happen. Ben’s small picker was VERY affordably priced, and its compact size is perfect for me, not to mention that it’s pretty! If you want to get in touch with Ben, he has an Etsy shop, though it never has anywhere near all the wonderful items he makes. You can convo him and ask about his hackles (next year for me!), skein winder, drying racks, marudais, and more. Tell him I sent you… πŸ˜‰

As thrilled as I am with my booty from Woolgathering this year, this and the backstrap loom are the stars of the show for me, both wonderful finds that were only untouchable fantasies for me until the moment they materialized so unexpectedly. Then I topped it all off with one of my all-time favorite desserts, a hot apple dumpling with cinnamon ice cream at Young’s Jersey dairy. Happy day for sure! πŸ˜€

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Drooling…seriously drooling…if you slip on a puddle…it’s drool…Going to show Bekah the animals tomorrow! Thanks for sharing so I can drool!

  2. I think your mystery sheep is a Jacobs. There were Jacobs sheep in a pen with some Angora goats and next to a pen with a family and their rabbits. I hope that helps! It was great to meet you!


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