Exploring the world of fiber, one draft at a time

My posting can be as frequent or infrequent as my spinning, so be as patient as that fiber, sitting in my stash.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

What I learned at Greencastle

No, I didn't take any classes, unless you want to include life lessons.

It was a great weekend, in all ways. The trip up was easy with several just for fun stops on the way. Setting up the booth went like clockwork, as well as taking it down Sat evening. We know the routine well, and only changed a few things about the booth, so there was less of that, 'well, let's try putting the table here instead'. Friday afternoon sales were brisk, much better than last year, and Sat was steady, but not exhaustingly busy. Friday night we gathered with our yearly group of vendors that we know, and had glasses of wine, and notes of the past year until midnight. I was barely able to crawl into bed Friday night, but fortunately it was a good bed, and I slept well.

In short, it was the type of show Ted and I like, and we left Sat evening still speaking to each other

Here though are the lessons I learned over this weekend.

1. As much as I thought I would like to have it, I do not need a great wheel. The vendor next to us had a restored, fully functioning great wheel, built in the 1780's. There was absolutely nothing wrong with it, and the wood glowed from great care. He was asking only $500. When we saw it, Ted and I talked a long time about buying it. He offered three times, saying he was perfectly happy to pay for it. He longed for that wheel as an antique, and I could only see it as a spinning wheel. So I could justify it, by it being fully functional. I just could not OK putting another 'something' into our already overstuffed house. Especially something that big. I said no to each of Ted's offer, but he knew I really wanted it. So I learned I could say no to something I always thought I wanted, and when found at the right price, didn't buy.

2. I found out I didn't need a small, very unique, fully functional antique wheel. This was sitting right along side the great wheel. It had the advantage of being small, and only $300. It was a tiny wheel, but also had on top a lazy kate, and along side a skein winder. A full yarn factory, in a tiny 24 inches. I had to say no to myself, because I knew, as cute as it was, I wouldn't use it. That tiny wheel (and bobbins) would mean many many treadlings for a bobbin full of yarn, and that the bobbin would be full in no time at all. I wonder if it was a child's wheel. It seems just the thing for a child to be spinning right along side the mom. At one point, since we sat directly across from the wheels, Ted caught me just sitting and looking at them, and said he hadn't seem that look of longing on my face since our second date LOL But I also watched both sell, the great wheel within an hour of the price going on it, and the little wheel later in the afternoon.

3. I learned I really really like getting fiber from the processor, all ready to spin. The three large bags of fiber from Woolyknob Fiber Mill is beautiful. I will rave again about what nice work they do. I did hear one contrary comment this weekend, about a high lanolin fleece not coming back up to the buyers expectations, and then she put the caveat on it that they were just getting the mill going and may have been on their learning curve. Still, it is as I have always thought, the fresh merino and cormo fleeces really need to be wash slowly lock by lock and spun that way instead of made into roving. What I sent were two border leicester fleeces and a two hugh llama coats. The llama was a great surprise, I expected a courser roving, but it was as soft or softer than the one border leicester. I will be playing with that alot, first spinning it alone and then combining on my drum carder with some fibers, to find the best use. The two border leicester were sent at the same time to learn if processing a loose curl wool and a tight wool curl came out different. Visually, in the roving I can see no difference and I am excited about that, because I have found I do not like trying to open the tight curls by hand before washing, and it looks like this processor has no problem picking open the curls before washing. The two fleeces are different in softness, but that has to do with quality of the fleece. One fleece was a last of the bunch, $5.00 for the whole fleece deal. The other I paid $4.00 per pound for at SAFF last fall. After I spin some of the two BL, I will see how much difference there is in the yarn too.

4. I learned that even having a car full of ready to spin roving, and probably five raw fleeces at home waiting for me to work with, I could not go to a fleece fair, and not buy a raw fleece. After I set up my booth on Friday, I let Ted tend it, and I walk around for the first look at what is for sale, and what might tempt me for this years spending budget. Of course I look at all the fleeces. It's wonderful to see the colors, see the locks, feel the difference in texture of each. And I know most of these breeders now, so I have to see their new spring clip. I was doing fine almost the whole way until I got the the gal that breeds cormo. I bought a white fleece from her last year, that I am about half way through lock washing and spinning fine yarn. This year, I stopped to say hello, and check out each fleece, telling her about my love and success with her last year's fleece. I started noticing lots of lovely colors, hmm, BL colors, you know those browns that run into greys that run into a tan tip. So I start checking tags, and she not only has BL now, but has cross breed BL with the cormo. Oh oh. A silver fleece. Oh oh. I checked it out closely, yep, lovely cormo fine silky crimp, but BL color. And no tight BL locks. Just wide open cormo locks. I was doomed to dream of that fleece all night (because at first I walked away saying I had no business buying more raw fleece) So around noon on Sat, when the first lull hit, I told Ted I was going to walk around. My intention was to go and prove to myself that the fleece would have already been sold, and I could quit lusting after it. It was with mixed feelings that I walked up to her booth, and glad smiles when the fleece was still there. She had offered to split the fleece, but I really do not like to do that, for the breeders sake (how can you fairly split a fleece) and to assure myself I really do get all the good bits, I will pay for some of the not so good. It's all part of the price to me.
So I walked my wonderful sheepy smelling fleece back to the car with a smile on my face and went to face the hubby, who had been insisting we would never squish those three bags of process fiber into the car for the trip home, let alone another 6 pounds of raw fleece.

5. I learned that my hubby can not resist a bargain either, even if it is something he would never use. Our vending neighbor was selling merino roving like he was the only one to ever make it. He is a bulk vendor and probably even runs this merino in his own mill. He started with 85 count for $8 a pound and sold out of that, went to 95 count for $10 a pound and sold out of that. Ted was watching this with great fascination, he could not believe the pounds and pounds of the stuff being weighed and sold. I think he finally could not resist the call of what everyone obviously thought was an amazing deal, because when the vendor finally got out the 100's merino and marked $11.95 a pound on it, Ted said OK how much to you want, and bought the rest of the bag for me, a little over 2 pounds. So I learned even hubby can get lured into the call of a great fiber bargain.

6. I learned it was easy and hard to let go of being part of the vending scene. Yes, it was a bittersweet weekend for this reason. So much of doing this was seeing the same people, doing their same thing, year after year. It was like a little tiny support group of fiber sellers. We'd all set up with hugh anticipation, we would all ache in the knees and feet and could barely pack up on Sat. But it was always with the anticipation of there's always next year. This year, it made a great show for me, to put a 20% discount on all my fiber. I didn't tell people it was a close out sale, just acted like I was in that discounting type of mood, today only, just for you.... Some people I told this was my last year, others, I just nodded and said see you next year. Well, I probably will, just not as a vendor. I still plan to go to Greencastle, how could I not with all that fleece calling.

I told my husband as we got in the car to leave, that I would have the fiber room empty by the first Thur in April 2005, so I could guarentee a trip back to the Fleece Fair next year. He only laughed and asked where I thought I could hide that much fiber :) We did managed to stuff all that I bought into the car, it was packed just as full as when we came but with different stuff. Funny, today all I want to do is sit and spin, I just can not image why!


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