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So I went to the Fiber Frolic in Windsor this weekend and had a delightful time. My mother and aunt came along to keep me company, and all I can say is, “Bless them.” It takes a lot of love for someone who’s not especially interested in fiber to follow a n00b fiber enthusiast around a scorching fairground in 90-degree weather.

If you’re a new spinner or fiber farmer (as I am, on both counts), get thee to a festival! I found vendors whose booths weren’t swamped at the moment to be wonderful sources on information.  To share just a smidge of what I picked up…

Fun Facts!

Pygora goats can injure each other (and their super-soft fiber!) with their horns. If you have them removed, they’re less dangerous and less aggressive. They’re also possibly the easiest fiber animal to get into after rabbits, particularly if you stick with neutered males who are neither smelly like bucks nor inclined to screaming like females in heat. It might be a while before I’m ready for goats, but many thanks to Jenny at Underhill Fibers for taking the time to chat with me.

Turkish spindles are hard to find at fairs because they’re time-consuming to make. Jim at Hatchtown Farm said the Turkish spindle process takes about three days, as opposed to the regular spindles which he can turn out a batch of in a day. Jim also said people have a tendency to buy his spindles of eBay for absurd amounts of money because they think he’s dead. He’s not dead, and he’s still making his lovely spindles, and if you keep an eye out, you might occasionally see some Turkish spindles in his online shop.

The Haul

Of course, a huge part of any fiber festival is shopping, and a review of the take must be had. One thing I did NOT (but almost did) acquire was 20 pounds of merino for $24. Fiber farmers, this is a lesson for you: between volunteers who might not know a ton about fiber farming and buyers who are willing to believe in deals that are too good to be true, your fleece might not sell for quite what you’re intending if you don’t take charge of being excruciatingly careful with your tag writing and fleece registration. Fortunately for the farmer, one of the volunteers remembered what the farmer had meant.

In spite of the fact that I didn’t quite find a steal of a deal, I did find some lovelies. This is my Jacob alpaca fleece–I’m planning on blending the colors together and carding in about 50% merino for a more durable blend that will, hopefully, give me a beautiful gray.

Jacob Alpaca fleece, divided by color before washing--to facilitate more even blending later.

Jacob Alpaca fleece, divided by color before washing–to facilitate more even blending later.

The used equipment sale was awesome, but I kept my purchases to just this copy of First Book of Modern Lace Knitting by Marianne Kinzel.  I’m particularly excited to play with a technique for binding off lace she calls “crocheting off.” I’ve seen the effect before but had not understood what was going on with the fabric.

I was led to my final and most excellent purchase of the day by EyeAmElise, the GM of Nerd Wars. We connected at the Ravelry meetup and started chatting on the strength of having moved in overlapping social circles in college and she, also being a spinner, led me to Highland Handmades. They make absolutely gorgeous spindles that come with an absurdly excellent guaranty.

Highland Handmades Spindle & Roving

This spindle is solid cherry, weight 1.1 ounces, and comes with a stainless steel hook–I can only imagine how much less prone to bending this hook will be than the flimsy ones on my other spindles, but it feels solid. They also offer a great kit deal where they throw in some beautifully dyed Corredale roving for $5 when you buy a spindle. The true test will come once I start spinning, of course, but I suspect they have another customer for life.

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