As you may have guessed from my little ditty last Thursday, I spent some time at the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat. I actually didn’t spend much time there, just most of Thursday. You would think that I wouldn’t forget about a fiber festival all of one hour from my house, but I did. I remembered it far too late to sign up for regular classes. I thought I would just go down for the marketplace again, like I did last year, but then I noticed the mini-class list. The mini-classes were an hour and half (as opposed to three or six hours) and they spanned all kinds of topics. Most importantly, I was in time for registration. I signed up for a mini-class on hand cards on Thursday afternoon.
I arrived about two hours before my class. I went straight to the marketplace, as any reasonable person would. After all, some of those fibers would go fast! I took a walk around, looking at everything (and I do mean everything!) before doing a second round to actually buy things. It was a hard decision!
The fiber that opened the floodgates was this one, a merino/tencel blend. It was buried under some silk blends, but the colors of this one grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go. Seriously, it tried to eat my hand. I love the lighter streaks of tencel in the wool.
Then I spent a long time looking at silk hankies (also known as mawata to avoid confusion) at the Blue Moon Fiber Arts booth, along with a 100% silk colorway that was gorgeous. But ultimately, I decided that I preferred the colors at another booth. Mawata is made by soaking and stretching a silkworm cocoons in layers on a frame so that it looks a little like a handkerchief (hence the confusing name “silk hanky”). You can spin from them or stretch them out and knit with them unspun or a million other things. Recently, the Yarn Harlot wrote about knitting mittens out of unspun mawata. I wasn’t the only one to think that this idea looked fun; silk hankies were the hot item this year! I got 14 g (about half an ounce) of mawata for $5 at the Wolf Creek Wools booth. Like most silk, the color is incredibly intense in person.
I also bought some “Panda” merino/bamboo/nylon yarn in a nice spring blue, because well, why not? I really like the yarns from Wolf Creek Wools. I made a little shrug out of some merino/tencel of theirs that I bought at the Sock Summit in ‘09.
Then, I was admiring the spindles at the Carolina Homespun booth- they had a great selection. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I love Cascade Spindle Company spindles; I have four of them now, even if two are technically the same model. I really want the Little Si spindle, not so much because I want to spin on it (although I bet it spins great) but because Little Si is only a few miles from my house. I’m always on the lookout for it. Long story short, Carolina Homespun didn’t have one, but they did have some other wonderful things. I ended up getting this pretty “wristaff,” which isn’t from Cascade Spindle Co but from a woodturner in Canada.
After that, I thought I was done shopping. Except that I had a $5 coupon for any vendor that you got for registering for a class. With that coupon burning in my pocket, I was torn between some knitting needles, some undyed silk, or some fiber from Hood Canal Yarns. Last year, I bought some alpaca/silk fiber from Hood Canal Yarns which I really enjoyed spinning, even if it did take me half a year to do so. I couldn’t decide which fiber to get there,until I noticed that everything I had bought so far was a very specific blue. So, of course I bought this lovely blue fiber. To stick with the theme.
The best part was, this fiber was just about $5 an ounce. With the coupon, I basically got an ounce free! 3 oz of 75% Blue Faced Leicester and 25% silk. Yummy.
Oh right, I also had a class! I finished up shopping just in time to go to my class, be a little early, and chat with some of the other students. The class I took was on using hand cards to make rolags and punis. A puni is essentially the same thing as a rolag, but made smaller and denser and almost always with cotton. Using hand cards looks so simple, but for some reason I just couldn’t get it. All you do is brush one card across the other a few times, transfer the fiber to the other card, and repeat until you’re ready to roll. Simple, see? Why did it take me almost an hour to be able to do this thing that people have been doing for thousands of years?
I really have no answer. Except that I wasn’t the only one to have trouble, so I guess that makes me feel a little better. I did eventually get it, which made me really happy because spinning from a true carded rolag is awesome. And so fast. I see much more woolen spinning in my future. I can’t wait to try these rolags with my Russian spindle! In the picture above is a merino rolag (blue) and a cotton/silk puni.
I love going to these fiber festivals. I don’t usually go with anyone, unless Lowell tags along, because none of my friends are quite as obsessive as I am about these sorts of things. But it doesn’t matter. You can sit chat with anyone there, knowing that they share in your passion for fiber. I had a woman sit with me while I was practicing my carding and we chatted about her alpacas and I showed her what I could of carding. It’s wonderful, even for an introvert like me, to just be around all those people who don’t look at you funny when you talk about the sleeve construction of your Central Park Hoodie.
Next year, I’m really going to try to remember about the registration day.