Monday, September 12, 2011

Home from the Wisconsin festival!

On Thursday night just past, Lois and I took off in our rented Dodge Avenger (what a name!  and what an uncomfortable car -- the windshield wipers sound like little grenades every time they move back and forth, and the seats aren't made for real bodies) and aimed for a super-inexpensive Super 8 in the southern part of Chicago, just off of Interstate 294.  Do NOT EVER stay in a Super 8 that's less than 50 dollars.  I honestly think that's the dividing line.  This one was so awful that we considered trying to find another place.  But we were exhausted.  Let's just say that, in the morning, Lois saw a pair of men's underpants in the hallway. We also chose to find breakfast elsewhere.   Enough said.

But then, of course, we found our way to Wisconsin -- and Matilda (the trusty GPS) took us to small Wisconsin towns, where we found some wonderful vintage buttons.  Here's the sort of thing we saw in one particularly nifty 'mall' in one of those small towns:

The Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival, held annually in Jefferson, Wisconsin, at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, is a truly wonderful show.  We have been hearing some sad stories about Michigan's festival -- one vendor told me, e.g., that the buildings have developed leaks so that displays and goods are ruined with water.  The Wisconsin fairgrounds are in amazingly good shape -- and, most important, the vendors are numerous and of uniformlygood quality.

A sad note:  Diane Edwards (Annie's Handspun) told me that, at the Ann Arbor Fiber Expo, she had TWO handknitted sweaters stolen.  Now, this has nothing to do with Ann Arbor's show -- rather, it has to do with a shift in our world.  Fiber people are notoriously and STILL honest, almost to a fault.  More and more, though, thieves and scam artists are zooming in on festivals.  One of them, I was told, scammed a large number of exhibitors on the last day of the Southeast festival at Asheville, NC, on the very last day, virtually the final hour, with a fake checking account and a bogus story about how she was buying for retail.  Sad but true:  Crime is increasing, and if we have to start being suspicious at our fiber-related events, it will be shocking and sad.  In our shop, we have experienced only ONE bounced check -- and it was done (you guessed it) by a scam artist claiming to be a cancer victim in need of warm hats and scarves (I fell for it and gave her a hefty discount -- she paid us with a bogus check, accompanied by a bogus driving license).   

But let's talk about pleasant things:  Such a variety appeared at this show!  I sometimes choose not to buy otherwise nice yarns from small producers because (to give one example) I don't much like tiny color runs -- they knit up looking speckly and sometimes muddy, as with this really beautiful display of yarn, done with very tiny dashes and dots of dark color on lighter grounds -- mind you, some people LOVE that effect -- it's just not my cup of tea.  I like my color runs longer, and I REALLY like yarn with surprising colorations:

....but who could pass up the gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous SOFT-SERVE just outside one of the main buildings?  We couldn't -- two really nice fellows trying to support FFA (Future Farmers of America, for all of you city-lubbers).

I didn't take too many pictures -- too busy looking at all of the possibilities -- two huge buildings, crammed to the proverbial gills with potential studio offerings.  If money were no object (it's a recession in Michigan!), I would have had to rent a truck to come back home.   Look at this wonderful scene -- a woman working fair isle from a double spooled feeder.

I bought some single-spool yarn feeders from an amazing man, the father of the young owner of Sun Valley yarns, that are MUCH better than the ubiquitous ceramic yarn bowls.  They don't break, and the yarn doesn't collapse when it gets to the outer edges.  The man who makes them (the ones I bought) is a talented woodworker who had the good sense NOT to use stain or other noxious substances -- just beautiful varieties of wood and hard-finish oil.

Here is the MOTHER of the very young, gifted owner of Ewe-Nique Yarns, with her brand-new grandchild.  In the center of the photograph, behind her, is a basket full of wonderful little scarf kits -- dyed by the brilliant young owner -- called Skeleton Scarves.  They contain ultra-soft kid mohair and an amount of hand-dyed silk.  Made on big needles in garter stitch, with occasional shots of the silk, they end up looking like froth with fossils mysteriously embedded in the body of a scarf.   SOME (not all) of my shopping bags full of wool can be seen in the left of the photograph.  I didn't get a photograph of the young genius herself.  Next time!

Finally:  Here is Larry struggling to deal with the STUFF I brought back -- Ann Reisler's big, fluffy skeins of pencil roving spun with yarn or angelina; Ewe-Nique's amazing kid mohair (hand dyed -- see the photo of her mother above); some first-shear natural gray lambswool yarn; the wooden spinners; on and on.  The scarf kits that I mentioned are in the middle of the drafting table, tumbling to the front.  Also got some really gorgeous glass buttons from Michigan's Diane Edwards (Annie's). 

Now I'm going to start another page and show you some photographs of fall in my garden!


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