This is mostly a knitting blog. Sometimes pictures of things I've made, sometimes not. I'm a guy who knits, I usually attend a men's stitch 'n' bitch on Monday nights, and I prefer natural fibres to artificial ones. I have a love-hate relationship with bamboo yarns: I love what they can do and how they look, I hate how they are made. I've been knitting since about 2003, though I really didn't get into it until 2005, while convelescing with a broken leg. I must have discovered something good, 'cause I'm still knitting years later.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Fiber Festival of New England

This past weekend my long time friend Lisa and I trekked out to Springfield, MA for the Fiber Festival of New England. I'd never been (last year I had a commitment that weekend), and I must say, we had a terrific time. One of the best things about living in the Northeast is that we have a regular diet of sheep and wool festivals. I'd been told that this particular S&WF was small, and perhaps not worth the visit. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Unlike the New Hampshire S&WF and Rhinebeck, this was held indoors. At the same venue where our Great Commonwealth holds the Big E (more or less a state fair) in early fall, this occupied one building on the fairgrounds. A big building. Huge. Ginourmous. Wicked big. And a good thing, too, since there were hundreds of yarn vendors, fibre animals galore, spinners, weavers, demonstrations, and food that was, well, not to put too fine a point on it, vomitrocious. But other than that, it was an excellent day of yarn, alpacas, sheep, and bunnies. And hats.

Lisa modelling a felted hat with needle-felted bunny,
by Laurel Ledge Farm Fibers. Alas, she did not buy it.
There were alpacas galore, lots of angora bunnies, a few sheep, and only one llama. Well, three llamas, a mother and two juveniles, one of which insisted on nursing, even though it looked quite past the age for nursing. But what do I know from llamas?
A llama Mama, with her babies. Love her noble Roman nose!

This wee sheep we saw was a mixed breed of Soay and something else.
I wish I'd thought to photograph the sign.
I still think my favourites are the alpacas, though. They have such pretty faces, more cute and cuddly than llamas. Apparently, they're more agreeable than llamas, too.
Recently sheared alpacas. I love that there are all sorts of colours in this herd.
And we saw a demonstration of shearing an angora bunny. Apparently, most angoras shed their fur, which is combed on a regular basis. But German Angoras need to be clipped.
While it is standard to shear bunnies every 90 days, this bunny, shaved a few weeks ago, was sheared
as a demonstration. The fur is too short to spin, so it will be used for felting.
The pink thing in the left foreground is a jacket for the bunny to wear after shearing.
After wandering through the beasties, and not buying any yarn (so difficult, because it was so beautiful!), we wandered through the bags of fleeces for sale. Since neither one of us can spin, we didn't buy one, but so many of them were so pretty, and it was really cool to feel the difference between sheep's wool, mohair from goats, and the very soft hair from alpacas.
Giant bag o' fleece!
We finally made it to the big room where the yarn was being kept! Oh boy! Oh boy! Oh boy! It was divided into two sections, East and West, and I'll keep you from guessing: we never really explored the west side of the room, since we were exhausted by the time we finished the east side, and we were both plum out of cash at that point. And hungry. Let's face it, the food just sucked. But before we motored to Northampton for a delicious repast, we visited a bunch of yarn vendors!

The yarns of the Jan Marek Raczkowski Studio. Alas, still no website.

I love the yarns of A Hundred Ravens. I didn't buy anything this time around,
but took pictures of some of their colourways for a future project.
I spent a good long time speaking with the dyer, and as soon as I can afford it,
I shall buy some of their gorgeous yarns.
The Periwinkle Sheep had some absolutely wonderful yarns,
saturated colours, and made me part with some of my cash.
Periwinkle had on display this shawl, which caught my fancy, so I got yarns to make it.
This is Death of the Moon, by Josh Ryks. It can be bought on Ravelry.
I shall buy it and make it for someone for next Christmas. 
The other thing of note we saw while at the FFofNE was a sheep shearing demonstration. I'd seen one a couple years ago, but it's always interesting to see one again.

It was very cool to watch while the sheep was sheared. He actually almost never moved his legs, but rotated the sheep around while he sheared it.

I had such a terrific time at the Fiber Festival, and only bought seven skeins of yarn, a subject for another post.

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