a fiber festival, distilled to pure joy

This year, my friend Jo and I spent just one day at the NY Sheep and Wool festival. The past two years, I chose to make a long weekend of it, arriving on Friday night and staying through Sunday. This year, concern for my fragile and beloved cat Amber kept me closer to home. aWe still had a long weekend of fun. Friday night, Jo and I dined with Nina and regaled her with stories of past years Sheep and Wool festivals.

Saturday morning, we left at the crack of 8AM, grabbed breakfast to go at Starbucks,  and arrived in Rhinebeck around 10AM. It was a cold, crisp morning, but we were warm in our handwoven finery. I wore the Misted Hills scarf, and Jo wore her gypsy poncho, made from bright squares of alpaca, alternating plain weave and Bronson lace.

I had a short shopping list this year.  Remember all the fiber I bought to spin last year?  Most of it is still unspun. It’s beautiful, but it’s still sitting there. How could I buy more? I don’t believe in having a knitter’s or spinner’s stash. I buy things when I need them.  Last year, I guess I needed too much.

I’m not sure why I put yarn for weaving and dyed locks on this year’s list.  I didn’t have a specific project in mind. I guess I was hoping for that sudden ray of inspiration that comes when I see yarn that catches my interest.  I have conceived and designed many a project in my head while standing in front of a shelf filled with cones of beautiful yarn.

I love the NY Sheep and Wool festival. It is so energizing to be surrounded by creative people. This is one place that we can be who we really are. People dress in their personal styles and wear unique and expressive clothing. It is the perfect antidote to the soulless and colorless muddle of blacks and neutrals that I see the rest of the year..

The festival is a homecoming, a gathering of the tribe. I saw many fiber festival friends–Yukiko, Nancy, Donna, Amy, Dawn, and Kathy. We had lunch (Artichokes French, naturellement,) with two charming ladies from the Utica region. We had our pictures taken by many, many people. We promoted weaving at every possible opportunity.

At one point, I almost bought a rigid heddle loom. It would be nice to have a way to work on a second project when my floor loom is occupied by a long warp. I just couldn’t do it.  All the rigid heddle looms had plastic parts. As Jo said, it was a question of which part would break first. For me, looms have to be solid and well-crafted. Like the trees from which they were made, their lives should be measured in generations, not years.

So, this is what I bought.

  • A Schacht cherry wood shuttle, snub-nosed and small, from Hillcreek Fiber Studio. Paper quills from another vendor in the same building.
  • An ebony wood nostepinne from The Rouge Lucette. I was really looking for a compact, all-wood ball winder, but there weren’t any. There never are.
  • Five Loop baby cakes to spin.  Where’s the fifth?  Already spun.  I know I didn’t need any more fiber, but this was my first chance to see Loop’s beautiful art batts, and besides, they are so adorable and tiny that I will have them all spun within a week or so…
  • Citric Acid, Alum, Logwood and Lac for the dye pot.  Oops, I already had plenty of logwood, and my alum supply isn’t as low as I thought. It was really Spectralite that I needed. I need to organize my dye stuff better.
  • An African market basket from a vendor in Building E.
  • A loom…

Yes, I did buy a loom. This is a double frame loom from Ed Haag of Haag Maple Farm. There are no plastic parts. It’s all cherry wood from his own land. How magical is that?

We left the festival grounds at 6PM, sat in traffic for a very long time, and we were back at my studio by 8:30 for a light supper of bread, cheese and wine. Yum.

Sunday, Nina came over and we shared our stories while we spun, knit and petted my Amber cat. Stephanie phoned us a couple of times from the festival. She had misplaced her map and just knew that we could help her find the various merchants that she wanted to visit. Of course, we knew exactly where they were!

2 thoughts on “a fiber festival, distilled to pure joy

  1. Thanks so much for posting about the loom made by Ed Haag. I wished I had bought on myself at Rhinebeck. Can you tell me how you like weaving on it and does it have good tension control. I’m thinking using it for Tapestry weaving.

  2. Hi Kris,

    I haven’t woven enough on the loom to give it a comprehensive review. The tension control is basic. SInce it is a continuous warp, you can loosen each end and adjust the tension from the middle outward. I would recommend using some thin slats of wood between the warp and the frame so that you can easily loosen the entire warp a tiny bit at a time. Even strips of mat board will work–usually available for free at a framing shop. I think it will be a good basic tapestry loom.

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