Saturday, September 25, 2010 to northern Michigan!

Today, I got in the car late in the morning and drove to West Branch, Michigan, where the often neglected Northern Michigan Lamb and Wool Festival happens every year. What an amazing drive! The skies were threatening rain most of the way, and on a couple of occasions made good on the threat -- and the air is now cold. But I also witnessed the most astonishing celestial show of elegant grays, cream tones, blues punctuated with roiling, boiling charcoal. I was wishing I could get out of the car and knit something that looked just like that layered, linsey-woolsey sky -- summer becoming autumn, almost -- not quite. (My students have never heard of the old fabric linsey-woolsey, so don't feel badly if you have no idea what it was....only historians like me get all excited about things like that). In a week, autumn will insist upon itself. For now, the heavens are full of resentment and indecision.

The festival was interesting but a little bit odd. I was surprised at the number of yarn shops with booths full of manufactured yarns; I don't remember seeing booths like that in past years. And roving, spinners, spinning wheels were everywhere -- many more than in the past. In fact, it reminded me a lot of the expo at Ann Arbor in that respect, though bigger. In Michigan, it's fairly clear to me that spinners and makers of roving are outnumbering knitters and crocheters at the festivals, at least for now. Allegan was showing the same tendency, though on a lesser scale.

Nevertheless....I found some of my favorite people. Rita Petteys of Yarn Hollow promised to contact Larry about a trunk show, so I decided to wait before acquiring some of her lovely, lovely skeins. And then I found Kim Leach (Happy Hands Yarns) and Riin Gill (Happy Fuzzy Yarns). They share more than the word "Happy," so I hustled Kim away from her booth over to Riin's booth. They HAD to meet. They share a kind of eccentric eye for color -- never predictable, always elegant but whimsical. Both have a way with names ("Brown Eyed Girl" for one of Kim's; "Duck" and some other amazing names for Riin's.) Kim took one look at Riin's stuff and understood what I wanted her to notice -- not just the similarity in sensibility but the great skill with color. I hope they become friends -- that would make me very happy.

I came away with a pile of limey lightweight wool from Kim, some stunningly beautiful lace-weight alpaca, a pastel combination that I've not seen in her repertoire, and some delightful wool-tencel. From Riin, I gathered a few skeins of ravishingly painted orange, plum, red fingering weight yarn. Not many. I still have lots of her yarn. But I couldn't leave them there.

All of it now hangs on the new studio wall that I'm going to give over to new acquisitions. Larry will make signs indicating where they came from (in this case, the Finger Lakes Fiber Festival and Northern Michigan Lamb and Wool) so that people can see what's happening month to month and maybe grab things before they merge with the larger collections.

In the meantime, I am in desperate need of sleep! I hope to dream in technicolor.


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