Saturday, August 20, 2011

Michgan Fiber Festival

Today, I drove up to the Allegan Fairgrounds, for the Michigan Fiber Festival. There were four in our group: Jess Wesel & her daughter; Denise Pluta, and me. We had a splendid time, and all behaved fairly well. Our goal, of course, was to Buy Yarn (with the sub goal Not Too Much).

This is the only skein I bought - it is Sea Pearl, a fingering weight, merino/tencel yarn, from Briar Rose Fibers. I went to the festival this year with a plan: buy enough fingering weight yarn to make the Camping Half-Circle Pi Shawl. Within 10 minutes, I saw some yarn that would have worked, and almost bought that. Then I liked some yarn at the Knitting Notions booth, and I think there was a third booth I considered.

Then we reached the Briar Rose booth (we'd been at the festival not quite an hour), and the shopping began. They have lovely yarn, and usually their booth is packed with people and total craziness, but today it was still fairly calm. I saw this yarn, and fell in love. Then, Jess discovered that they also had silk hankies, and she and Denise and I each bought some.

These are also called mawatas. Each one is a single cocoon, spread out into a square. These mawats have been dyed various colors (and I managed to pick out one in a color totally different from the other hankies - I'll have to try to blend that with the others).

What looks like one hankie actually can be separated into multiple thin hankies. And then, amazingly enough, you can knit with them. I have enough to make (I hope) a pair of simple mittens. The Yarn Harlot describes the process here and here. I will probably do some additional internet googling before I tackle this project...

We also helped Jess' daughter find something to buy. She was looking for an idea for her next 4-H knitting project, and settled on a kit to make a pair of lacy fingerless mitts. 

I have to tell you about the yarn that got away. After we finished going through the green building and the white building (names that are descriptive, if not imaginative), we wandered through the outside vendors, and watched a demo of sheep herding, and had a bite to eat. We headed next for the barns, where I discovered a gorgeous yarn by Maple Creek Farms. It was an alpaca / bamboo blend, called Cheyenne, I think, as soft as you can imagine. It would have been wonderful for the half Pi shawl, but - already having the lovely Briar Rose fiber in my bag - I resisted. (Note to Self: next year, look for this booth early in the game.) But, I have no regrets about the yarn I did buy. Above all, my goal at Fiber Fest is to buy yarn that I wouldn't be able to find at our local stores, and I did that again today, so I am happy.

I think I've achieved that goal each year I've gone. The first year I went to Fiber Fest (2008), I bought yarn from Knitting Notions (still in my stash), from Blue Moon Fiber Arts, and from Maple Row Stock & Wool. I used the Blue Moon Fiber yarn (Woobu) to make a shawl. I finally started a project with the Maple Row yarn:

This is the swatch I knit; now I'm working on the Cerus Scarf pattern. This is knitted lengthwise, instead of widthwise, so each row takes a long time to knit!

On my next Fiber Fest visit (2009) I bought yarn from Heritage Spinning & Weaving, and from Briar Rose Fibers (that day, their booth was utter chaos). Both are still in my stash, although I have settled on a shawl pattern for the Heritage yarn. Now all I have to do is wait for it to reach the top of my queue.

I think I did well to limit my purchases today. Really, my stash is sufficient that I could knit for a long, long time without buying any yarn - but it's good to be prepared for an emergency! Jess and I will prepare a bit more next week, when we travel to Stitches Midwest.

I have no pictures of my companions today (clearly, I wasn't operating in blogger mode), but here are a handful of photos from the festival.

Marsha Fletcher is a fiber artist. She raises Shetland sheep, and uses their wool to make her art pieces. Today she was working on this rabbit, who is nearly as tall as she is. (He's sitting on her lap in this photo.)

Isn't this a cute elephant? Unfortunately, we could only get the pattern by purchasing the two skeins of yarn required to knit him - and that was a $100 purchase. None of us were inclined to make that investment.

A rabbit with attitude


A sweet little baby alpaca

Cheese from sheep milk
I even found something for Jim!


  1. Nothing in this post will deter me from adding to your wool collection. What's that--you call it your "stash"? I prefer to think of it as your collection. Thanks for the cheese.

  2. Ok, the baby alpaca is adorable. If Mary had gone with you, she would have brought him home.