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Allegan, the Final Chapter

Well, on Sunday I had to decide which of the vendors to actually buy some yarn from. I was determined not to buy any fleece or roving/top because I’m not spinning much and not making felt much at all these days. I have plenty of roving and top to keep me busy for a while at that rate. But knitting…. I knit every day. And it keeps me sane. So yarn in reasonable amounts was in the works. But what is a reasonable amount, when you are surrounded by wonderful things?

I found some commercial sportweight alpaca in 50gm skeins for merely $6 a skein, at Carol Leigh’s booth, and bought six colors. I’m justifying that because I think I’ll use it to make a design to submit for publication. The colors were just as lovely as can be, three purples/pinks, two turquoises and one butter yellow. I just plain adore alpaca. It’s softer than soft, I prefer it to cashmere. And it is so warm when it gets so very cold here in Michigan, that it makes me happier during the cold season.

If I had been buying prepared fiber to spin, I would have certainly purchased the layered colored batts in alpaca/merino/silk (if I remember right) from Indigo Moon. My, she had incredible colorways. When spun up they looked a lot like a monet painting. Breathtaking. I did run into some friends from Spinners’ Flock guild there in her booth: Mary S., Patty and Fran. They actually spin more than I do… so they did what made sense, and took a bit of that heaven home with them.

For me, instead of spinning fiber, I bought one small skein of yarn from that booth. It was fluffy alpaca with a silk thread as a 2nd ply, about a worsted weight. She had handpainted it in hot pinks and fuschia and magenta. I actually had trouble deciding which colorway to buy, as she had a turquoise leaning toward green (my usual favorite), and a blues-and-turquoises colorway (if I remember the colors right). Very nice, but the hot colors won this time… even though lately I’ve been on a major turquoise frenzy.

At another vendor from out east (Vermont?) whose card I don’t seem to have on me, I got two skeins of a kid mohair/merino single-ply worsted weight yarn (one turquoise, one magenta). It went very well with the handpainted alpaca, and I thought originally that I’d make socks or gloves from them. However, now that I’ve done a little swatching of the alpaca/silk in seed stitch, it is screaming to be part of a hat. We’ll see… (Picture of alpaca/silk handpaint swatch with mohair/merino hanks, won’t they be nice together?)

Finally I got one skein of a cream-colored 50/50 wool/silk sportweight yarn that I hope will dye well and knit up as luxurious socks. If it does, I’ll try to get some of that to dye as one of my new handpainted yarn products, but with that much silk I have to do a wait and see approach before being sure. Either it will be soft and warm or it will be bumpy underfoot. I’m crossing my fingers.

Sunday was fun because it was a little slower in the vendor buildings. Therefore, I got to talk to some of the vendors a bit again. Saturday had been so busy I didn’t dare bother folks while they could make a sale. So Sunday was fun. I said hi to Donna Spanberger who was there with her husband in a double-sized booth. She sells books at Spinners Flock, so I often get my Interweave Knits magazine from her, and a few other special books at times. She’s a smart and very kind person whose company I enjoy. I was glad to meet her husband, too.

I also talked again to Ellen Minard of Ellen’s Half-Pint Farm. And I finally got a chance at the very end, to introduce myself to Traci Bunkers, of Bonkers Fiber. I really admire her work… her hand-dyeing as well as her amazing hats and other designs I’ve seen in magazines and books. It was nice to just go and let someone know that I really admire their work. Her colors, for the most part, are either too muted or a bit too dark for me to wear personally, although she had some wonderful teals/turquoises (Theresa/Keyboard Biologist got some of this colorway) that were very tempting.

Traci has many different types of amazing yarns she dyes, all different textures and fibers as well as colorways. That grrl must just crank in the dye studio! Ellen had a lot of handpaints (with many colorways I would love to wear) but also had some wonderful “froofy” commercial yarns and dyes in her booth… Traci had the same amount of space, but it was all hand-dyed and there were even a handful of handspun skeins available. One difference: Bonkers Fiber has rovings and other spinning fibers, but I did not see any of those in Ellen’s booth. She may offer them on her website but I didn’t see them this week.

I also saw a whole bunch of folks I knew from various guilds and knitting groups. I even ran into a couple of musician friends! I don’t dare try to list them all now or I’ll miss a good handful for sure, since it was now nearly a week ago. But the festival became a much more social thing, Saturday and Sunday. At least, during vendor hours.

I also got to meet Phyllis, someone from one or the other of my email lists. She is from Indiana but was in Michigan for some reason and so came by to the festival. I had done my best to describe how I typically dress for events of this type, and she was able to spot me. It probably helped that I was in my friend Sue’s booth at the time, which I’d mentioned was a good place to try to find me. I didn’t stay still at Sue’s booth very long at any time, but I did tend to rotate by there fairly regularly.

And I loved meeting Alice (Foxhill Farm, they had the grand prize fleece this year, and Bonnie Marie Burns bought some of their cormo yarn Saturday) and her booth-sitting partner whose name I didn’t catch, at the booth next to Sue’s. I had a little panic on Saturday night, actually, because I had showed off my finished froofy Yarn for Ewe stole to the Chicago bloggers, and then about a half hour later later I looked in my bag and found the stole missing. I ran back to the barn building (the vendors for the most part had gone home by then). I sort of frantically asked Alice and her booth partner if they had seen it, as they were the only vendors still there.

They were very encouraging to me that I might find it. After I stopped panicking I went back to where I’d showed off the stole. I took a peek under the sheets covering up that vendor’s tables. Sure enough, the stole was underneath the sheet. Whew! I hadn’t even taken any pictures of it yet! I’d just finished it during my vendor-avoiding time on Friday.

At the end of workshop time, I went to find my friends Leslie and Terri because they had purchased two gray angora goats and I was interested to see the animals. I found Leslie and she showed these lovely goats to me, they had such beautiful faces!

In the end I had to go home, and I did. Packing up the tent and my campsite went pretty smoothly, although I nearly left my chair behind. I caught myself in time, thank goodness… I really do like that chair.

I’m glad I went. I had a good time. I got to knit more than I typically am able to knit at home, even though I was wishing for a little more company especially earlier in the week. My workshop with Merike was wonderful and has inspired me to get in my dyeing studio three times this week, a record thus far. I found lovely yarn at reasonable prices- some of which I’ll use to make proposals for pattern designs, some I hope to use as a possible source of yarn for handpainted resale, and I even got a little bit of super-soft fat yarns just for me to pet and enjoy! (Photo of wool/mohair skein I dyed in Merike’s class)

I did collect some business cards, some from vendors I bought from, some I admired but did not purchase from. My business card collection is listed here in no particular order:

Foxhill Farm, Alice Field, 413/243-2558
Susan’s Fiber Shop
Annie’s Sweet Handspun, Dianne Edwards 877/537-2925
Ellen’s 1/2 Pint Farm
Aspects of Wool/Donna Spanberger (can’t read her phone number, no website)
Hillcreek Fiber Studio/ Carol Leigh 1-800-TRI-WEAV
Heritage Spinning & Weaving
Bonkers/Traci Bunkers

It was just as it should be, if it wasn’t exactly as I expected. Next year I may not go early unless I’m lucky enough to be teaching a workshop (I’m going to propose a good handful of workshops and we’ll see how it goes). But it was just fine, and I’m delighted to have gone and learned all that I did.

In the end, I did in fact meet some new people. They all were friendly vendors, rather than interested participants as I had expected (but then I sort of identify with vendors anyway, as a person who has been without a regular paycheck since 1994). As Carla says, these are “My People.” (I was quite honored to be included in Carla’s version of “my people” when we met at crochet class a few weeks ago.)

As all good tales say when they are done, “And they all lived happily ever after… The End.”

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