Fiber, Fiber Everywhere

Meet my newest skein of handspun yarn! I’ve decided that from now on I am going to name my yarns after poets and poetry, because I can. I’m calling this one “Ammons,” because its colors remind me of Ithaca in autumn, and our patron saint of poetry at Cornell was Archie Ammons — I discovered poems like “The City Limits” in my freshman fall, and I continue to associate Ammons’ work with everything that is lovely about autumn. As I mentioned earlier, this skein was a little under-spun, in a slightly misguided attempt to correct for the over-spunness of my first skein, but with the other half of this Targhee top I think I’m finally hitting the sweet spot.

Yesterday my friend Shayda and I hit up the Southern California Handweaver’s Guild’s Weaving and Fiber Festival, the only fiber festival in southern California that is open to the public. (TNNA has yearly events around here, but they are only open to professionals.) It was our first fiber festival, so we didn’t have a lot to compare it to, but I got the sense that it was on the small side. It was also, unsurprisingly, catering more to weavers than to knitters or spinners, but we found plenty to occupy ourselves.

This was the main room, somewhat depopulated because the fashion show was just about to start up in one of the other rooms. There were also a few smaller rooms — which got pretty jam-packed full of people at some points — and another room about this size that mostly was for the stage and seating for things like the fashion show and the auction, neither of which we stayed for.

Here’s a shot that Shayda snapped of me perusing the wares at the Capistrano Fiber Arts booth in one of the smaller rooms. I think the skein I am fondling here (is “skein” the right word to use when you’re talking about fiber and not yarn?) is the exact one I ended up buying later. We sadly neglected to get a photo of the Slipped Stitch Studios booth, where I convinced Shayda that she needed pattern magnets for chart knitting, but I was thrilled to meet the proprietor since it’s one of my favorite Etsy shops. Her pattern magnets are truly indispensable for anyone who knits from charts, and her project bags are lovely — I have one myself, and I bought one for my partner in a Ravelry swap that I participated in over the summer.

After our shopping, Shayda and I settled into the circle of spinners and knitters on the patio that turned out to be mostly made up of members of the Greater Los Angeles Spinning Guild — an organization I’d been curious about, but their meetings sure do take place at 9:30 AM on Saturdays. 😦 They were welcoming and informative, though, and we passed a pleasant 45 minutes or so with them. Shayda knit:

And I tried out my brand-new spindle:

Any spindler will tell you that you can’t have just one. I was on a specific mission to buy a spindle suited to help me spin lightweight yarns, and I found a lovely handmade one just moments after coming through the door. Here it is up close, along with some 50/50 silk/merino fiber from Twist, Yarns of Intrigue in Manhattan Beach, CA:

I’m kind of stunned at how well this picture came out. Thanks, new camera! The camera doesn’t get all the credit, though — with this set of photos, I finally figured out how to manage the southern California sunshine so that things are well-lit but not washed out. I was so impressed with myself, in fact, that I used this shot to make a new header for this blog — if you’re reading this in RSS, click through to admire it in all its rudimentary-photoshop glory!

The above fiber captivated me immediately — it was one of the few things that I put my hand on the moment I saw it and didn’t let go until I was paying somebody for it. (I do love me some earth tones.) Most of the other things I bought were the result of more deliberation, and not purchased until Shayda and I had made a sweep of the whole festival and then took a second pass to actually buy. The Twist yarns booth (not to be confused with the Twist Collective magazine) was particularly seductive; in addition to that fiber, I also bought this skein of Twist Sparkle, a silk/merino/nylon blend with flecks of real silver throughout:

Believe it or not, this was the only skein of yarn I bought. Everything else I bought was fiber. This was partially because the festival, as I mentioned, catered largely to weavers — so a lot of the yarn there was being sold in giant weaving cones and/or was too heavy and rough to use for most knitting purposes. But there was plenty of very nice knitting yarn, too! The main reason I bought mostly fiber instead of yarn was that fiber is significantly cheaper — in addition to having lower price tags for the same amount of fiber, I figure when you do the calculation that goes “number of hours of enjoyment I get out of crafting with this divided by dollars I spent on it,” fiber comes out leaps and bounds ahead because of all the time you spend spinning it before you knit with it! But uh, I may have come back with enough fiber to last me for several years.

This lovely batt is from La Llama Wear, llama ranchers from Apple Valley, CA. I’ve never spun from a batt before, but I’m assured that it’s just like spinning from anything else. This is, yes, mostly llama wool. I’m excited! I was consciously trying to buy a wide range of fibers so I can get more experience spinning and start to figure out which fibers I like more and why.

Here are my final two acquisitions. On the left is that Capistrano Fiber Arts fiber that I was fondling in that photo up there. Their etsy shop is currently in “vacation” mode because they’re going to have to re-inventory everything now that the festival’s over, but I strongly encourage you to return in a few days; their fibers and yarns are gorgeous! (That seems to be true of most of the etsy shops I’ve been linking to, actually.) What I settled on was a 50/50 blend of superfine merino and bombyx silk; I just love the boldness of the purple, green, and red colorway. On the right is a blend of 50% mohair, 30% merino, and 20% angora from Cheltenham Cottage — this one sucked me in mostly on the basis of feel; it’s the softest thing ever! I believe that Mariepaule raises the angora rabbits herself, which is pretty awesome.

All in all, it was a good time. Shayda seemed particularly impressed at seeing so many fiber enthusiasts in one place, and I had to agree. I spend a fair amount of time in the online knitting community, so I’m used to the idea that there are zillions of likeminded people out there, but there’s a difference between typing your enthusiastic comments to one another from your isolated computers and actually giving and receiving compliments in person. It was remarkable to be able to say something like “I just want to keep petting your fiber forever” out loud to somebody and have them smile proudly instead of calling the cops. This community — it’s a strange one, but it sure is friendly.

5 thoughts on “Fiber, Fiber Everywhere

  1. Pingback: Finishing Bonanza «

  2. Pingback: Beginnings «

  3. Pingback: Mission Accomplished «

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