We spent some time this weekend at the NJ Sheep and Wool festival. It was a smaller venue, with about 20 vendors and farms represented. The North Country Spinners were busy doing spinning classes all day and there were sheep dog demos as well. The weather was perfect for perusing the vendors and petting the fiber. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and brought home some beautiful yarns and batts.
It seemed as though alpacas and angoras were highly represented, which I was surprised at. I did notice that there seemed to be an even split between natural color enthusists and those who enjoy dye. You could easily find blended fiber as well as mixed yarns, superwash and various weights. Spindles, spinning wheels and both spinning and knitting accessories were everywhere. There was even some weaving demonstrated as well as knitting with roving, which I had not tried before. Prices ranged from just a few dollars for finger puppets or natural soaps to several hundred dollars for drum carders, vintage buttons and hand knit alpaca sweaters. Something for everyone.
I love the fiber I bought. I don’t spin as much as I would like, and thought that maybe trying some new fibers might inspire me. My first purchase was from Forbidden Woolery, an etsy seller whose fiber was a merino/bamboo/nylon blend. It is absolutely soft and the muted color combination should provide for an interesting yarn. I’ll have to do some research on the best way to order the colors.
Next I chose 4oz of two fibers from Foxcross Farm (no link)- a merino blend and a silk blend. Both are gorgeous hues that will be so nice to work with. I quickly began spinning the silk on my new drop spindle (scroll down to check that out) and it is working up nicely, despite my inability to deal with a short staple length.
My spindle was purchased at BitsyKnits, and is nothing like I’ve seen before. It’s only about 4 inches long. I thought it would be good for travelling as well as practicing spinning lace weight yarn. So far my singles are looking very pretty and consistent using the silk blend.
Now for yarn! I did splurge a bit as I REALLY don’t need more yarn, but with colors like I was seeing it was very hard to not buy something from everyone! I ended up buying from two shops, Bittersweet Woolery and Light Brown Hare.
Bittersweet’s 100% wool yarn is the red colorway, Cinnabar, which is redder here than in reality. My skeins are actually a rosy hue, ranging from mauve to magenta. So pretty and way out of my normal color palette. M was with me, so I suppose she may have nudged me towards pink just a little.
I tried really hard to stay away from the fall palette I normally buy- browns, oranges, greens, reds- but I couldn’t resist the gorgeous earth tones at Light Brown Hair. I came home with the yellow skein of Jackrabbit pictured above, which again is much more earthy than the photo- more mustard, flax, and taupe. The yarn is 100% superwash merino. The shop owner also gave away the pattern to a fantastic mug cozy with a sheepy face and a few sample size skeins to play with.
As much as I enjoyed shopping and spending, I think the most fun I had was in the afternoon with M. Nate took the two youngers to the hotel to rest and she and I poked around together. She spent her own $10 (so much for a 6yo) to take a spinning class. She got her own CD drop spindle and a bunch of fiber and after an hour lesson she was doing so well!
She also tried a wheel and a table loom- had a great time with each!
Check out her first time yarn… Very little help needed. 🙂
Thanks to the Garden State Sheep Breeders, Inc. It was a wonderful festival and I will certainly be back! I’ll leave you with some sleepy sheep. You can see more pictures from the festival at Nate’s photo blog. You won’t want to miss the 3 week old cria. So sweet…
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