Monday, October 4, 2010

Festival Season

The bright crisp days are here, and that can mean only one thing: it's fall, and festival season! OK, only two things, if you want to be picky. :)

Yes, in my annual autumn frenzy of festival-going, I've been to two of my favorite festivals in the last two weekends. Of course, they all seem to be my favorites, but then, they're all wonderful in different ways.

The first, the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival, in Berryville, Virginia, was moved this year for the first time to late September (to avoid a conflict with the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair). And the Fall Fiber Festival, on the Montpelier Estate near Orange, Virginia, was held as usual in early October.

Both are quite small, relative to the behemoths that are the Rhinebeck, New York, festival in the fall (or so I hear, never having been) and -- oldest and biggest of them all -- the mighty Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival in the spring. The tidy small size of the Shenandoah and Montpelier festivals, in fact, is one of their great virtues, as there's room to stroll around and browse without being utterly overwhelmed by crowds and overstimulation. And there's plenty to look at, between the shopping, the fiber-bearing animals on display, and at Montpelier, the sheepdog competitions going on all day nearby.

My experience with the Shenandoah festival this time was a bit different from past years, as I got a chance this year to help out in a small way by volunteering! Of course, that meant less time just strolling around shopping and taking pictures. So the visual souvenirs here are from the Montpelier festival. Rest assured, though, there were plenty of treasures at both festivals.

By the time the Montpelier festival rolled around, the weather had cooled, blessedly, to the point that festival-goers could actually wear some of their hand-crafted productions. I love seeing the knitters showing off their hand-knit sweaters, lace shawls, berets, and just about anything else that can be fashioned out of wool.

It was a jolly day entirely. World's-most-patient-husband was a good sport and chauffeured me on the beautiful but long-ish country drive to the festival. I browsed and shopped and wandered and chatted to my heart's content while he napped and read a book he'd brought along. I even parked myself on a picnic bench for a bit to spin some newly bought fiber just for the joy of playing with my new toys.

Oh yes, indeed there was some newly bought fiber. Some of it is here, braids of wool to spin in bright citrus colors and dusky subtle colors and whatever else was appealing. Let's see, the one on the left is a merino "pigtail" from Stony Mountain Fibers in Virginia. The two in the center are a wool-and-seacell blend from Creatively Dyed in South Carolina, and the one on the right is blue-face leicester wool from River's Edge Fiber Arts, here at the festival all the way from Michigan.

And then there were heaps of wool-mohair blend roving, which is lots of fun to spin. The orangey-tan roving on the left is wool, kid mohair, and a touch of sparkle, in the Bronze colorway from Steam Valley Fiber Farm in Pennsylvania. Charmingly, the label they provided tells me exactly which goats and sheep are responsible for the fiber, by name. So, thank you, TinMan, Neptune, and the rest. :)

The two pretty rovings on the right, one in rose and the other in a soft coffee color, are from Kid Hollow Farm in Virginia, which has provided me with many, many hours of spinning pleasure before. My tall-elegant-mom, my trim-athletic-dad, and I all have accessories or sweaters I've spun and knitted from Kid Hollow fiber. The rose colorway is called Puerto Rico, and the buff is called Chestnut. This time, I think I may spin a strand in each of the two colors and ply them together.

And that little twirly thing? Wait, how did that get in there? It's a Tom Dyak drop spindle from DyakCraft (formerly Grafton Fibers). I didn't really need another spindle, but those mischievous River's Edge ladies had it right there, where I couldn't help seeing it, with its cheery bright colors.

Really, what could I do? :)

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