Wool Gathering 2011

So I’m going to see what happens if I try to do some blogging. It’s been so many weeks that I almost feel like a stranger here, and, of course, I’ve not been around simply because so very much has been happening.

Today, I thought I’d share Wool Gathering 2011 (Yellow Springs, Ohio) with you. It was such a joy to be able to do something that is a special annual treat despite the strain and pressure of my current real life. It sure was hard to believe it had been an entire year since the last event! I also couldn’t believe I walked out of the house without my camera for the first time ever. I knew I was forgetting something, but for it to be my camera tells you that my brain just isn’t all here! Anyway, that means that all the pix are after the fact, with the exception of the one I shot with my phone, which turned out much better than I’d expected. Now I wish I’d have done a bit more of that. 😦 Ah, well…

In addition to the hours I enjoy chatting with vendor friends I see just once a year, time exploring new ideas and gaining knowledge about fiber and using it, and just enjoying the general atmosphere (and when I have it, keeping my camera busy…), cruising through the vendor’s area is always a huge part of the fun. πŸ˜‰ I really think I did well this year in thinking through my purchases. I saw every booth at least briefly, found virtually everything on my wishlist (except for a particular skein of commercial yarn that I was planning to buy online), and shopping carefully even came home with a few dollars (note “few”) in my purse. 24 hours later, I still love everything I bought, am enjoying the diversity of my choices, and don’t think I made any mistakes, so I’m happy. πŸ™‚ So, what did I bring home? With apologies for the pix, as WordPress seems to be rationing how many large photos I can post at once:

A carved bone shawl pin from Gita Marie. Believe it or not, I didn’t have a white shawl pin!

Paco, a new alpaca for the Hitty crew, which pleases them greatly. He’s ready to shear, and they are ready to spin! Hitty D was out in the pasture with him today, and reports he’s settling in quite nicely.

I picked up a lovely lucet made from Honduran Leopard wood from Margaret Ledrich. She had dozens of beauties from which to choose, so I finally decided to narrow my choices down to just those made from Honduran wood. That at least helped. πŸ˜‰

Wolle was a new vendor this year, and I was captivated with her yarn, which is gradient cotton thread, 4-strand, untwisted. Sadly enough, she didn’t have the colorway I was desperate to own in the size ball needed for my first choice pattern, but I’m quite fond of my Plan B, and I look forward to knitting it. πŸ™‚ I’m going to keep an eye on her etsy shop in hopes of snagging my first love sometime soon.

I needed two sets of knitting needles for immediate projects. How weird it is that I “need” needles with all those I have here! However, knitting a scarf on needles with 40″ cables isn’t a lot of fun, and since they won’t fit in my needle tote, I’d never gotten around to purchasing 35’s… The size 3 needles are Addi Lace, far from being my favorite needles, but since the only 3’s I had free when I started on the project last week were the Addis I never use, I was afraid to change brands now, so now I have another pair of last resort needles. πŸ˜‰ The 35’s, which look a LOT bigger in person than they do in this picture, are designed and sold by HPKY, another vendor who got my business for the first time this year – in a big way, as you will see later…

I didn’t have bunny fur on my shopping list this year, but when I saw this angora roving, I just couldn’t walk away from it! I love the teensy specks of color, and I think it’s going to make beautiful yarn. I meant to go back to her booth to buy some plain white at the end of the day, but I got sidetracked then ran out of time.

I barely managed to avoid buying any more alpaca fleece or fiber, which is tough, because Wool Gathering is particularly blessed with awesome alpaca offerings. However, I did finally buy my first llama fleece. Pia was the donor, and she lives at Agape Lland Llamas. I know this looks gray in the pix, but it’s really an intense black, and it’s also one of the softest llama fleeces I’ve touched. Took me a lot of years to get llama, but I think it was worth the wait. πŸ™‚

Since I’m on the topic of fleeces and waits, it’s a good time for me to confess I brought home a sheep fleece, too… BUT just one! I was deadset determined not to bring home any fleece unless it was a new to me fleece. There are usually a lot of really nice fleeces at Wool Gathering, but they tend to be from the same vendors, hence the same breeds. I figured I was going to be coming home fleece free. HAH! Lunabud Knits surprised the socks right off of me by having a yummy, even though unskirted, Texel fleece, and Texel has been on my priority list for a long time! Happiness is…

Thinking ahead, I was pretty sure my anti-alpaca pact was going to keep me safe at Tri-Valley Alpacas, vendors who have sent me home with a “few” pounds of gorgeous alpaca fleece in past years. What I didn’t successfully predict was the new assortment of other goods that were at their booth this year, nor did I anticipate the reaction I had when I put this really great little duffle tote on my shoulder. I’m a pushover for Latin American weaving anyway, and turning into a tote addict, too, it seems. It came in handy yesterday. πŸ˜‰

The first booth where I caved and made a purchase was also the first booth I came to after entering the gate. Basically, my reserve didn’t last as long as I’d planned for it to hold out. What I can say in my defense is that I could have very happily filled my car in the Wooly Knob tent, but managed to walk out with just one kitchen trash bag of roving dangling from my arm, so… I was affectionately calling this purchase my junk food. After spending so much time this past year washing fleeces, carding, dyeing, combing, blending, etc., buying this enticing stuff felt guiltily wonderful – fast, easy, and (stash)fattening – and I love it! πŸ˜€ This is my first Wooly Knob fiber, but what I found interesting is how many people seeing my bag grinned at me and said it looked like I’d been to Wooly Knob. I’m eager to see what I’ve been missing! I got a sweater’s worth (I hope) of the denim blue, and I’m thinking that the white with sari silk will be employed with something else – probably solid – in the end. Beyond loving it, I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the black/blue/purple/green striped roving yet.

This might be my most unexpected purchase. It also might be the item that drew the most comments from others the entire day, though I carried it around during only the last 45 minutes. I spotted this Bonnet Basket, woven by Margaret Lou Bickenheuser (contact – mylittlebasketshop at yahoo dot com) well before noon, did my drooling over it, then walked away quite certain I’d seen it for the last time. When I walked back past the booth a little after 6:00, it was still sitting there… waiting… and although I spent a good bit of time trying to convince myself that I didn’t need to take it home, as you can see, I didn’t succeed. I love the walnut inserts and the overall solidity of the basket, and it’s plenty big to hide a multitude of fiber indiscretions. πŸ˜‰

This is a bit “cart before the horse,” but it was just so perfect… In the HPKY (Hand Painted Knitting Yarns) booth, one of the very first things I saw in the entire show, but the very last purchase I made, I saw a simple garterstitch sweater that I just loved. I’m not making sweaters for myself until I can wear the size I want stay, so I’ve walked away from a lot of sweater opportunities. I’ve also favorited a lot of sweaters on Ravelry! This was my downfall. The yarn and pattern to make the sweater came home with me as a reward – my dangling carrot. When the day comes that I start knitting this, there will be a glow from my grin lighting the skies over Ohio and probably visible 3 states away. πŸ™‚ I adore the colorway, and the featherlight baby alpaca yarn (Rome) is incredibly soft! The yarn presentation is interesting. Somehow all the skeins are braided together into this big megaskein, which will definitely keep everything in one spot. πŸ™‚ I looked on Ravelry, hoping to post a link to the sweater pattern, Ilaria, but there isn’t one up there, so you’ll have to wait a while. It’s going to be so fun using this incredible yarn to do this quick knitting project. I can’t wait! (Have I said that before?)

One of the best places to spend time, IMO, is in the Benjamin Green Studio booth. If you’ve been reading my blog very long, you know I have an impressive collection of his work, including a few “rare” pieces. This year I went with the intention of adding a hackle to my line up of tools and let him know in advance. He went prepared, but ended up selling my hackle before I found his booth. Imagine my shock when he offered to sell me his own personalized hackle instead! I was very honored, and I love my new acquisition. πŸ™‚ The fun didn’t stop there, though. Having seen my wool comb photo from last year, he was horrified that I’d managed to buy the one comb that walked out of his booth with some bent teeth. I was duly provided with a comb tooth straightener, and we all had a good laugh over the whole thing. πŸ˜€ The surprises weren’t over yet, though. I’d been bugging him for several years to build a drop spindle lazy kate, and this year he came through for me with a beautifully simple design that works wonderfully and folds flat for storage. I love it! I only have one spindle loaded in the picture, but it does hold two. He also has made adapter pieces that will convert it to hold two bobbins or quills. I added an itty bitty niddy noddy to my pile off booty. I couldn’t resist its 24″ skein size. Like I said, I love shopping Ben’s booth! His only problem now is that he is going to have to come up with something new for me to buy next year! πŸ˜‰ I have an idea or two for him…

So that’s the end of what I bought at Wool Gathering – except for the typically delicious supper at Young’s Jersey Dairy, which provides the grounds where WG is held each year. What I haven’t shared is the other item that jumped into my car yesterday…

No I have no idea where I’m going to put it at this point! I’ve only been to 4 yard sales all year long, but let’s face it, if 25% of yard sales I went to always netted me things like this, I’d spend more time on the road during the summer!

Having a great wheel is a dream I’ve held for nearly 30 years, and I’m still trying to believe that it has really come true! To find one in working order and with a weasel to boot unexpectedly at a yard sale feels truly miraculous. Yesterday was one fantastic day for this fiber lover!!! πŸ˜€

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