Sunday, April 17, 2011

CNY Wool and Fiber Festival

Well, I'm back.  I had a lovely time.  There were so many really nice people!  There were about 20 vendors, all with cool product.

There were also 6 spinning wheels in use that I saw.  A charming woman named Ann patiently tried to remind me how to spin.  Treadle, pinch, draft, and again.  After most of an hour, I had achieved about 12 feet of yarn, and several yards of completely ruined roving.  Ann didn't laugh at me once, which is remarkable.  She was calm and supportive the whole time.  The skill of spinning is more complex and delicate than it looks.  I saw crafters making gossamer-thin threads, and multi-ply yarns. Beautiful.  I am definitely in awe of their skill.

Amy Klee, from Stone Edge Fibers, Phelps, NY, explained quite a bit about her herd, and which types of sheep yield which types of fiber. She was pleasant and informative, and I really enjoyed getting to know her.  Her yarns were varied and remarkable, in particular due to her jewel-toned color palette.  It's stunning stuff, and though I'm allergic to wool, I'm hoping to find a way to work with it.  It's just seductive!

Chris Gilman, from A+ Alpaca Fiber Mill, showed me her wares as well.  Whe runs a small mill and dying operation in Jordan, NY.  The fibers were soft and beautiful, and for handmade product the price was surprisingly affordable.  She also possesses a unique color palette, with a variety of solids and marled colors. 

I wandered the fair for about 2 hours, and then took a spinning lesson.  I knew I was tempting fate, but I had doubled up on the antihistamines in the morning, and thought I could get away with it.  WRONG!  My hands developed hives, and I had a full-blown allergy attack.  I went in the restroom and washed my face and hands, took off my sweater to get stray wool fibers farther from my face, and sucked down some cool water.  Not enough.

I went to my car with itchy eyes, coughing and sneezing, and took a look in the rear view mirror.  Swollen red eyes.  Rats.  My fiber day was over - no getting around it.  On the long drive home it occurred to me that I probably will never take another spinning lesson with wool.  That was a mistake.  And I'll need to wash my hands often as I go through the fair, and try not to touch my face.  Because I'll be back next year. 

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