Sunday, October 08, 2006

Fall Fiber Festival at Montpelier

Well, let me tell you first of all that the soil of the Piedmont is still red.

So is the mud.

Second of all, it was absolutely great fun and I will go back next year. There are a couple of things I will do differently:

1. I will bring more money. The deals are outstanding and there are many.

2. I will attend both days regardless of the weather. Venders on Sunday reported that turnout on Saturday simply came prepared for the rotten weather and were also prepared to shop.

3. I will take at least one workshop. Maybe two.

4. I will bring my spindle and sit down with other spinners and get pointers from folks who know more than I do and attempt to addict those who don't know better.

Anyway, I went by myself.

For me that was perfect. I didn't have to wait on someone drooling over something in which I had no interest. I was able to spend as much time as I wanted where I wanted and not feel guilty that I was holding someone else "hostage" to something in which they had no interest. Call me anti-social, I just prefer to shop alone no matter if it is for a car, clothes or fiber.

I spent time talking to a couple of sheep breeders. Really interesting information and I left them wishing I could fence in my property and raise a half-dozen for myself. Romney sheep are really darlings and can be used for both fiber and meat.

I visited every single vender and fondled lots and lots of raw wool, roving and yarn. I also got to admire a lot (surprisingly more than I anticipated) handmade socks, sweaters, shawls, and other clothing most of which was very reasonably priced and beautifully made.

I got to pet an alpaca. These guys are so CUTE. I had no idea that their eyes were so... human... I was going to say ET like... but I seem to remember that ET's eyes were modeled after a human being.

I watched one round of the sheep dog trials. If you have never had the opportunity to watch these amazing animals at work, it is worth the trip even if you do nothing else (like shop). I will keep an ear/eye peeled for more of these trials. This was worth the trip all by itself.

So what did I buy?

I will post pictures later of all my new stuff but here is a quick run down.

1. I bought a braid of teal colored merino blended with tencel. This stuff is "ooo la la" to feel. I'm going to enjoy spinning and knitting it.

2. I bought a darling little fairy figurine that has bendy arms and legs and feathers for wings.

3. I bought four ounces of heavenly soft and silky fawn colored alpacha roving. I'm going to blend this with some merino roving and make something for my dad.

4. I bought 22 ounces of bubblegum pink mohair locks. This will also probably be blended with some of that white merino roving and made into something for one of Ken's granddaughters. I think that blend would make really nice socks, too... so I may save some for that.

5. I bought a Bosworth midi spindle (great deal on this, by the way). While I should have "test driven" this, I didn't but took on faith it would work well based on all reports I've been given. Turns out I was correct in this thinking.

6. I bought 2 Fall Fiber Festival of Virginia Coffee mugs. Like we need more coffee

7. I bought a set Wool Child Hand Cards. Also a better deal than what I've seen on the internet and no shipping.

And finally, I had to buy the hand cards because I bought:

8. Eight and one-quarter pounds of black raw fleece from a Rembouillet Ewe named Kate who lives with Jackie Woodell in Elkton, Virginia.

So I came home (after a stop at my mom's house since she can appreciate this stuff) and laid out Kate's fleece on a tablecloth on my front lawn just so I could get a really good look at it.

Ken was so amazed at this, he took pictures.

The upside is clearly sunbleached a bit and to my untrained eye seems pretty full of hay bits. The underside is deep black and the whole fleece is just wonderfully soft, silky, curly and springy and leaves my hands wonderfully soft from the lanolin.

I'm seen here picking out the worst of the VM and chunks of what are clearly sheep droppings. Yummy!

And here I've pulled the fleece into 8 sections and am preparing to wash about a pound of the raw stuff in my tub. I used dawn dishwashing soap. I should probably have waited to add the soap until AFTER all the wate was in the tub because I ended up with a lot of suds.

And here is the mud. We are talking some really dark water.

I was afraid I would end up with a completely light brown fleece (not that that would be a bad thing, but I fell in love with Kate's fleece because the majority of it was black.

There is/was a real unflattering photo that Ken took of my backside as I was leaning over the tub. I will spare my dear readers that photo.

In any case, I used soap at the beginning with hot tap water for the first washing. Then there were 6 rinses. Yup, six times I had to rinse before the water came clear.

Mom loaned me her nylon laundry bag for this job.

Only 7 more pounds to go.

I did wash a big handful in cold water with Dawn and rinsed with cold water and it seems to have come out pretty well.

I've laid out both the handful and the pound on a window screen to dry. In a day or two when it's nice and dry I will find out if I prefer the cold or hot wash. I suspect I will stick with the cold water simply because I really like the feel of the wool with a bit of the lanolin still in it.

In any case, as mom said, I got enough of some really soft wool to make two or three sweaters for the cost of less than one, so I can live with some extra VM and a bit of sun bleaching.


Barbara said...

I bought a very dark charcoal polworth fleece with reddish sunburned tips. I found that I could cut 1/2 inch of the the very tip off and get a much darker yarn from the fiber.

Leaving the sunburned tips on gave me more of a tweed than I wanted from this. Also, the sunburned tips broke more than the rest of the staple and caused some nepping in the carder and the combs.


Robin said...

Sounds like you had a GREAT time and made the trip worth your while. What a haul!!!! Looking forward to seeing what Kate's fleece becomes!

Mary said...

How interesting! I admire anyone willing to go to all that trouble to get the fiber they want. Me -- I'm lazy, so I think I'll leave all the hard work to the professionals and take my yarn already processed, thankyouverymuch! But I must agree with you regarding shopping at the fiber festival by yourself -- I love doing that! I just hate driving long distances alone, so I will shop with friends so as to have travel buddies! And I do learn a lot by going to those things with friends, so it's worth it, I think.