Thursday, 25 August 2011

Fibre Fest 2011

When it comes to Fibre Fest, Wool Fest, and Fibre East, I am a complete novice. I never went to any such craft fairs before and didn't know what to expect when Helen, her mother and I headed down to Devon last Saturday to spend a day at Fibre Fest. It was a two-hour drive, which is perfectly fine, especially compared to how long it would have taken me if I had taken the train and bus instead. I was glad that Helen offered to give me a lift.

Having been directed to the car parking area by a number of cadettes with flailing arm, we then made our way to the area where the action was. Near the entrance were stalls selling mainly fleeces and there were a number of llamas and sheep. Knowing my tendency to be spat on by llamas, I kept a bit of a distance just in case.

One sheep in particular impressed visitors and was dubbed Emo Sheep by one of the passing men due to its fringe. It was a very nosey sheep, too, always turning to where the camera was. It must have been a celebrity among sheep.

A bit of shearing went on later in the afternoon and I was surprised to see they actually tied the alpaca (that I first thought was a sheep till a Raveler corrected me) to a stick to keep it still and stretched. That's a kind of shearing I have never seen before and I am not sure I like it either. Apparently, it is a good way to sheer them though and the alpaca didn't seem to mind. In the end, I didn't stay to watch for long, but it was interesting to have witnessed even for a little bit.

Due to the pouring rain during the first half of the day, some of us took shelter inside one of the buildings of Bicton College on whose grounds Fibre Fest took place. Luckily, the rest of the day was beautifully sunny and warm. It was just right for a bit of a rest outside with a pot of mysterious seabuckthorn ice cream. Some people described the flavour as similar to mango - it certainly has the same colour. Never having tried or even heard of it before, this was the flavour I just had to have. I was surprised by its sweetness and loved it!

It is amazing how wonderfully relaxed I felt while I was there. Though they aren't words I commonly use, blissful and serene is how I felt. Just walking around the place, looking at all the yarn, fibre and tools, talking to stall holders and random visitors, all of whom were incredibly lovely and in an equally good mood, was an amazing experience that exceeded my expectations by far.

The beautiful surroundings did the rest. Could it be any different in Devon? This was only my second visit to the area and both times I have loved what I saw. The south west of England is certainly a beautiful part of the country.

One of the three marquees was reserved for an exhibition of an entirely knitted coastal landscape complete with underwater tunnel. It may well have been the most amazing thing I have ever seen. There are more pictures of this exhibition in my album here, including all other photos taken that day.

The exhibition was in aid of the RNLI and I am sure that many visitors who saw this stunning work gave a little of what they had.
In the marquee next to the exhibition, visitors had the chance to try out drum carding with Jill aka Wrigglefingers whose workshop had been cancelled. I was immediately intrugued because I had never even seen a drum carder and had no idea how it worked or what you can do with it apart from obviously carding fibre. Jill taught me to create my own unique batt in the colours of my choice and I had a great time! If I had the space, I assure you I would have bought a drum carder then and there.

In about 20 minutes I made a 33g pure merino batt that I started spinning only a few minutes later. I named my creation Under the Sea. The colour is gorgeous and I love it. No idea what I am going to knit with it yet, especially since 33 g aren't a hell of a lot, really. However, I am spinning it very finely on one of my new spindles so I am trying to get as much out of it as I can.

I bought the spindles from Amanda of Manda Crafts and they are beautiful things from the Netherlands. I had seen them online before and was so glad they were available at Fibre Fest. The stall was very crowded when I got there, with most people going in and grabbing bagfulls of fibre almost at random, it seemed. I must admit the colours were wonderful, so I couldn't resist taking two with me as well. However, the main thing I wanted was a small 10g spindle I had seen Helen use at knit club. By the time I got through to where they were, only one was left and I grabbed it and made sure not to let it go again! I also went for a 30g spindle to replace my learner's spindle though I suspect it is heavier now and I prefer thin yarns. We'll see. So far I have not tried the new larger spindle yet.

And here are my purchases from that Saturday. It was a good thing I took a separate bag with me just for all the things I was going to buy. In the end, my large tote was full to the brim with fibre, yarn, spindles, and finally a proper pair of scissors that actually does the job. As I mentioned, I got two bags of tops from Manda Crafts that day, but that's not all. These are my treasures: the red is Spin a Rainbow (Manda Crafts) micron Falkland tops; orange is also Spin a Rainbow (Manda Crafts) Merino and Mulberry Silk tops; the blue above is a handcarded batt of Corriedale with angelina, silk, sari silk and rayon thread (Laal Bear); the plait is a Merino and silk blend (Krafty Koala).
So my spinning addiction has been fed, but I also bought three skeins just because. Oliver Twists and Artisan Yarns had such beautiful silk that I just couldn't resist. Mind, I did come to Fibre Fest with the intention to buy some silk, at least as a blend with other fibres. I just wish now that I had bought the lovely mango-coloured silk bricks for spinning from Oliver Twists, but I wasn't sure at the time if it would be easy to spin silk and decided against buying it. What I got instead are Peacock in merino and silk, Lacey Lacey in pure silk (both from Artisan Yarns) and a purple pure lace skein from Oliver Twists. Heaven! No idea what I will do with any of it, but I am sure there's something out there.

So my first craft fair of this kind was a complete success and I loveed every minute of it. Everything about it was wonderful and I didn't even mind the rain we had at the beginning. So I shall leave you with the words of a lady I met at Fibre Fest and say, "Goodbye, and may you have your very own craft shed one day!"

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