Monday, April 16, 2007

Reality vs. Fantasy

When my SO and I went to the Fiber Event at Greencastle this past weekend, I took X number of dollars to spend. Among the items on my shopping list were carders and a spindle, a swifter, Addi lace needles (as reviewed on Knitter's Review), tiny crochet hooks, and maybe some roving and yarn. So the first order of business was to visit every vendor we could find.

Lucky for us, Friday was sunny if a bit nippy - sweatshirt and knit cap weather - and dry, so we wandered idly from building to building until our eyes began to glaze from all the wool. And there was lots of wool, from fresh-off-the-sheep fleeces greasy with lanolin to handspun, hand-dyed marvels. There was also lots of gear for doing something with the wool, including wheels and dyes and looms, but no lace needles or tiny crochet hooks, alas.

There were non-wool products as well, like soaps and vegan yarns and buttons and beads. There were a few vendors with finished goods, including teeny, tiny socks knit with toothpicks and transformed into earrings. (That I will have to try. I wonder if they are knit flat or in the round?) Another vendor showed me a handcrank sock machine she was using to, well, crank out scarves. These devices have been around since the 1800's, but were of particular use during World War II for making socks for soldiers. (For more info, visit this site.)

We spotted a few familiar faces from Corydon, including the needle felting folks from Big Springs Farm (whom I was too embarrassed to approach because I have not even started the project I purchased from them last October). And I fell in love with Chloe (or rather, a photo of Chloe), one of the ewes from Schacht Fleece Farm.

Fiber festivals are a lot of fun, but I also find them frustrating because I am such an ignorant neophyte! How does one know which wool to buy, how to card it and dye it and spin it? I have self-taught myself many things, with the help of good books and adequate tools, but spinning seems magical to me, woolly clouds transformed into fiber. My idea - if I bought the equipment, the spinning would come - seemed naive. I decided that I should find a teacher or participate in a workshop before investing money.

Once I decided not to buy carders and a spindle, I found it harder to part with my money at all. Sixty dollars for a swifter felt like an extravagance when I currently have no hanks of yarn waiting to be rolled into balls. I leafed through a few books, but they can be borrowed from the library or purchased online at a discount. I had tucked a couple of sweater patterns in my purse to see if I could locate yarn for them, but suffered a crisis of confidence when faced with so many choices. And besides, how could I justify buying yarn when I have plenty of projects already in the queue, just waiting for some needles to become free? (I know - I'm a failure as a stash builder.)

Finally, I spotted some sock blockers that I wanted, and that got the dollars flowing. Some handmade soap joined the sock blockers, along with a pair of wool/angora socks and a skein of Tofutsies sock yarn. Now I felt like I was contributing to the economic well-being of the event.

But we drew the line at the deep fried dill pickles.

There was not very much livestock, or if there were, we couldn't find them. Just as well, as I come away from these events pining for sheep. There were rabbits, though, big woolly rabbits that dwarf my little angora/mini-lop. It has taken me months to accumulate a few sandwich bags of rabbit fuzz, while each of the French and German angoras at the fair could easily provide many times that amount in just one molting. I tried to harden my heart against these gentle animals, but eventually became teary with longing. As we drove away, I started the litany of talking myself out of animals: I can buy all the wool I could ever want, in one form or another, from one animal or another, without actually owning the animals. With a dog, a cat, and a rabbit in my small suburban home, my ark is currently full.

1 comment:

Tavia said...

Good post.