Yesterday was an adventure into all things fibery! A couple members from the Frequent Fibers Club at my local library went for a drive to Rhinebeck, NY for the annual Sheep and Wool Festival.
Let me tell you there was so much to see, touch and even smell! There were over 260 vendors, not counting the food. That’s barns and barns full of yarn, wool, animals, needles & hooks, spindles, hats, scarves, shawls, patterns, books and of course people…OMG I could go on and on…It was serious sensory overload.
This is just a sample of the yarn., Every where you turned there were walls, baskets, bins, and tables full of yarns in all colors of the rainbow and every size you could think of.
We arrived at opening and immediately started shopping. I decided before going that I wanted to try my hand at spinning my own yarn. My friend Barbara who spins yarn for her online shop Kitty Mine Crafts makes awesome things and because of that I was bitten by the bug! Rather than shell out a ton of money on a spinning wheel, I decided to try a drop spindle…I’d been advised to look for a top whirl one, but I’d viewed a video on Knit Picks with someone using a funky looking crossed one, so I’d already had that in mind. In the first building, I ran across this kilted guy using that same funky looking drop spindle I’d seen in the video.
He told me it was a Jenkins brand drop spindle and that I might find one a couple barns over. Another pro to this particular spindle, which I later learned is called a Turkish drop spindle, is that if you wrap the newly spun yarn around the tines a certain way you can create a center pull ball! Sweet! My search was on.
In the second barn we found it filled with llamas, alpacas, sheep, their owners, and respective shops. Here are some pictures of the more interesting specimens.
This guy was not happy about being the center of attention…no siree bob! He gave everyone who got near his stall the stink eye. I was just waiting for the spit to fly.
This guy was pretty unusual. He has a wicked under bite. It just goes to show that you don’t have to have a pretty face to have pretty fleece!
These little sheep were playing shy. They wouldn’t let me get a good shot of them. I think the little brown one was too embarrassed to his his picture taken.
In one of the later rows of vendors we stumbled across a shop called Still River Mill. They sold interesting yarns like yakaboo (combination of yak and bamboo yarn) and dog hair yarn. I contemplated the yakaboo yarn, but decided it was too thin to make a hat (I was thinking something for Darling Hubby since it was a nice gray color) and ended up picking up a dark blue skein of the Seven Sammy’s dog hair yarn. It’s made from the hair from a Samoyed sled dog team from Cambridge, VT. It has a beautiful halo effect after handling and I’m partial to Samoyeds having had a big white one named Sheba growing up. Her long hair would have been perfect for spinning.
Also around that area we came across this cute little knitted monster. I couldn’t resist taking a picture of him.
Eventually I did find the spindle I was looking for. It was indeed a Jenkins brand (hand made by Ed Jenkins) Turkish drop spindle, made from purpleheart at 2.22 oz. I’m excited to give it a try. I know I’m not going to be perfect right out of the gate, but a girl can hope! Maybe I’ll take to it like I did to knitting. The best thing about that purchase was the other customers there that I spoke with. One was adamant about using a bottom or turkish spindle while her friend was all about the top. They both were really helpful in giving me pros and cons about the different spindles and I think I made the right choice. The one woman, Elizabeth, even gave me her card and told me to shoot her an email if I got stuck.
Now, before I could even think about trying out my new purchase, I had to get some fiber to practice with. Having not purchased fiber before it was a bit overwhelming, to be honest. There were so many different colors, feels, and blends…I really didn’t know where to start. Barbara told me to look for something with a long fiber and I did my best…I ended up getting a 2oz bag of a mix of merino from Loop Fiber Studio in a gorgeous sea treasure colorway. It’s got lots of greens and blues and a bit of sparkle. I also found a merino and silk mix, from another shop that sadly I missed the name of, that is so soft! I do remember they also had adorable 8 week old bunnies for sale. They were so sweet!…Not that I need a rabbit! lol I fell in love with the black, blues and silver of this 2oz of dyed wool. I know this will be rather difficult to work with out of the gate, but I’m holding on to it for when I get better. It was just too beautiful to resist. I think it will make a gorgeous yarn!
Aside from knitted monsters we came across a knitted critter that looked like Eeyore and a knitted moose. Both were too cute to resist taking a picture of.
Other things we saw were a demonstration of needle felting and of someone using a circular sock knitting machine. Personally, I think hand knitting is more fun! lol
There was even this funky contraption below. It was a spinning wheel created by this woman’s husband. It was called a pendulum spinning wheel…it was a crazy looking thing. Basically it had this super long arm that had a spindle at the very end that was spun around by the wheel. It seemed to me to be a version of a drop spindle laid on its side. Personally it seemed like there were many easier methods of spinning…and the amount of room that was needed was enormous…I don’t even think it would have fit in my living room!
Later in the afternoon was the drop spindle contest. There were approximately a dozen people signed up to see how much yarn they could spin in 10 minutes.
It was interesting to see each person’s method of spinning. Some preferred to sit, while other preferred to stand.
Some preferred to drape their roving over their hands and others over their shoulders. A few, along the back wall, were able to continue a full conversation while spinning…they didn’t even seem under pressure. lol
Some gave their spindle a quick flick with their hand to get momentum while other preferred to spin it down their leg. I was a bit disappointed to only see top whirl spindles as I was hoping to see all the different kinds in action, but it did give me an appreciation for both types of spindles. The winner of the contest was able to spin 16 yards of yarn in 10 minutes and there was a tie for 2nd place with I think about 13 yards. I hope that I can one day be that good. I also got to see this thing called the niddy noddy in action. Apparently that is how you can wind your spun yarn into a skein and know how many yards you made. I may have to get one in the future…lol
And the day wouldn’t be complete without a picture of me wearing a big fluffy, fuzzy wool hat. I think it suits me! lol
Here are a couple pictures of some of the other random animals that really had nothing to do with fiber arts…they were just there to keep the kids entertained in the kids zone :) The red kangaroo seemed to be posing…He was sexy and he knew it…lol
This was a ginormous bunny. I think it was a Flemmish Giant. He was also in with a big tortoise.
Overall we had a fun day with beautiful fall weather. We couldn’t have asked for a better day, especially at the end of October. The sun was shining, the weather was warm and not too humid. There was a ton to see and by the end of the day we were all a little overwhelmed and a lot tired from all the walking. I’m looking forward to maybe going again next year. Maybe by then I’ll be an accomplished spinner and can broaden my horizons even further! One can hope, right!