Monday, August 28, 2006

Michigan Fiber Festival ~ WOW

Wow...what a great time the Michigan Fiber Festival was in Allegan this year! Soooo much to do, see, buy, really was amazing!

I spent MUCH time in the barns with the animals and this handsome fellow was my new best friend all weekend. He was so sweet I couldn't leave him alone! His name is Finn and he's a Blue Faced Leicester yearling ram. He was huge, sweet as could be and amazingly handsome :) He's owned by Beechtree Blues, a very nice couple whom I talked to about reserving his fleece. I fell so hard in love with this fellow that I want to make something out of his amazing fleece :) I'm thinking a throw would be lovely. His pen mate was also a real lover of a young ram and the ewes were gorgeous as well. This was my first experience with BFL in the flesh and I found them to be large, VERY handsome and quite docile, unlike the crazy Shetlands that were everywhere. I *like* Shetlands, but they are so much flightier than the BFL...they do have the cuteness thing going on for them though :) I also checked out some lovely Wensleydales, Icelandics, and a host of other breeds.

There were a LOT of sheep, mohair and pygora goats and a few llamas and alpalcas to see there. The sheep folk were, for the most part, very friendly and informative. Here are a few of the other critters who struck my fancy in the barn:

The curious dark-faced fellow was the other BFL ram in with Finn and the 3 lovelies laying down are the very placid BFL ewes.

This is an extremely handsome Jacob ram (another fiber I adore!) who was obviously just shorn and below is a Shetland ram who was REALLY a funny little character

OK...enough of the critters already! I went to the festival with my best friend, we are and, as usual, she looks much better than I in a photo. Anne's on the left and I'm looking horrible on the right

We camped in a tent under a pine tree and next to a gorgeous butterfly garden there at the Fairgrounds in Allegan where the festival is held. It's very cool...everyone just camps all around and you're basically in the midst of all the vendors, kinda-sorta. Folks are everywhere spinning and knitting and weaving and making baskets. We got a little damp one night when it rained really hard but other than that, the tent suited us fine :) Here's the garden, complete with butterflies!

And here's "my" Kromski Mazurka posing with the skein of fancy mohair yarn I made in my workshop:

I say "my" Mazurka because this gorgeous little wheel really belongs to Mom, who lets it live at our shop and I took it with me because it's so light (only 9 pounds). I wouldn't use it to spin novelty yarns on again because the hooks are too small. I took the Three Fancy Mohair Yarns workshop with Pat Maley and enjoyed it very much! She taught us to spin three different novelty yarns. The first one was a Pluck and Fluff yarn, where you spin and then randomly pull up fiber and kind of toss it onto the already spun single so that it wraps around and sticks out. The second one was a core-spun yarn (my favorite!). You take an "ugly" yarn, in my case a bright green 4-ply acrylic, and then tease out a handful of dyed mohair locks and feed them onto the core while you're spinning, then bind it all with thread. The top one is the core-spun.

I need more practice with the pluck and fluff stuff though. It was supposed to be the easiest but I found it kind of hard. The Core Spun was easiest for me, and while I did learn to make the Ratine, Snarl and Boucle stuff too, I didn't really finish the yarn in class. However, I AM spinning up a llama ratine right now (I can hardly stay away from it to write this blog!). It takes a long time to do either of those three so when I'm done, I'll post some info on it and pics. It's a blast to do though! The jumbo flyer assembly on my Ashford Traveller is working very well for the ratine and I'm kind of surprised. I thought I might have to get a Woolee Winder to do any of them but it's not so :)

I've been spinning a lot lately, and not knitting enough. Doing a little dyeing too so there will be more of all that to come soon but I really wanted to blog the fiber fest stuff. I didn't spend a ton there by any means but I got an absolutely GORGEOUS SUPER CLEAN dark dark Border Leicester, Lincoln, Corriedale fleece from Moonsshadow Farms in Minnesota (4.5 pounds!), a small 1 pound part of a Shetland fleece for $4.00 :) some 85% cashmere top from Little Barn, more fiber from Liz Cowdery of Linden Lane Farms (love that gal!), an ounce of hand-dyed bombyx silk from my good friend Suzanne Higgs of Hooked on Felt, some gorgeous handmade soaps, a Montadale bag of roving for the shop, and THIS lovely little thing...

A mahogany Bosworth Featherweight spindle! I can totally spin frog hair on this .35 ounce very first attempt with some of my own hand-dyed Merino/Tussah Silk yielded 26 WPI plied so while not as small as I thought it would be, still pretty small and definitely qualifying as lace weight:) It's just unbelievable how light this thing is! You can get a practically invisible single on it Thanks for making such a great tool Sheila and Jonathan! Go check out their spindles if you never have at their Journey Wheel site!

Whoa...where has the day GONE??? Ack! Well, I'd better start some dinner from my super hard working hubby so I can finish up that ratine :) More fibery fun soon!