Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Magic Carpet of Another Kind

I'm having quite a bout of armchair travel.

So many people seem to be on Spring Break this week; I've been roaming without leaving my seat. But I'm back now from mentally flying around the streets of exotic destinations in a Google-winged Barcalounger. I've found travel daydreams nearer to home.

While loitering in a bookstore the other day (world's-most-patient-husband being elsewhere in the shopping center on another mission) I came upon this wonderful book. I really should not be loitering in bookstores. It leads to nothing but trouble. :)

Truth be told, the title didn't sound that exciting to me. But the pictures on the cover beckoned, "come inside, come inside." Those colorful skeins of yarn! That row of sheep weathervanes! And the subtitle touched all the right bases: knitting, spinning, and festivals.

Opening it up, the first thing I saw was the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival. OK. Done. Sold.

It really wasn't fair. It's almost time for Maryland Sheep and Wool, the kick-off of the festival season, and I've been trying to damp down my excitement. Not enough to skip it entirely, mind you, but just to go and soak up the scene, and keep the acquisitive urges to a minimum. With all the supplies in my house as yet unknit or unspun, what I really need is to bank the fires, and just let the hot coals burn down for a while.

That was the plan. And then I opened the book, and its pages fanned the flames back to life. What the book does is profile the major fiber festivals around the country, starting with my familiar and beloved Maryland Sheep and Wool and moving on to the festivals I have only read and daydreamed about -- Rhinebeck, the Black Sheep Gathering, the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair. On and on. Photos and descriptions of each one and what makes it different and special. What it looks like, smells like, what you can find there. Oh, my.

Never yet have I traveled farther than a few hours in a car for a knitting or spinning-related event, but if I manage to hold out for another year, it will be no thanks to Ms. Joanne Seiff, the author of this insidious book. Nope, she's no help at all. Imagine, though, the dream assignment she got in creating this book. Go to all the fiber festivals. Seek out and enjoy the most wonderful things about them. Talk to the exhibitors and customers. Capture some trophies to bring back. And write about it all afterwards and savor the memories.

The book offers more, though, than just the festivals. It has short sections on lots of topics related to enjoying the fiber arts: the food of the festivals; improvising your own knitting and spinning tools; spinning for speed; hooking a rug from wool scraps; multicolored yarn dyeing; helping on shearing day. And it has a number of very appealing patterns for knitting and crocheting. I'm finding myself particularly drawn to the Fishtail Vest, a restrained design with a lace pattern decoration representing the salmon of the Pacific Northwest. The vest design is by Terri Shea, the author of the book on the Norwegian Selbuvotter mitten tradition, and quite a few other talented designers have contributed.

In my mind, I'm now swooping from one corner of the United States to another, visiting all these events, taking it all in, riding on a flying carpet of dreams called Fiber Gathering.


Robin said...

I've seen that book on Amazon and wondered if I NEEDED it. I think maybe I do!

Joanne said...

Well, it was actually a lot of travelling. :) Sometimes I got sick of airports...and I missed my dogs and my bed!

Thank you so much for all your kind comments about the book! I'm so glad you like it, and I'm double glad that you felt like you were travelling while sitting in your armchair!

What I like best about the fiber community is how small it is. Good to meet you. Best wishes--and hope to see you at a festival soon! Joanne

Anonymous said...

Ohhhh, I think I need that! Thanks for sharing.