Tuesday, May 9, 2006

MDS&W 2006

[Still struggling with Blogger.]

Rather than rhapsodize about the nice weather on Sunday or adorable livestock or perky knitbloggers or pit lamb sandwiches or the Modern Yarn carpool, all of which are lovely to be sure, I'll cut to the chase: my favorite purchases at MDS&W 2006.

Yak, yak

This splendid chocolate brown and light gray yak down is from The Fold. For the moment it goes into stash; when I get up to speed spinning [har], it will turn into something for DH.

The Fold also had ¡vicuña! down, which I've heard about, but never seen nor petted before ($225 per ounce; petting free). I have experienced The Legend! HOWEVER, they did not have any Socks That Rock yarn, because there was a yarn riot. Thundering hordes of binge buyers descended like wolves on The Fold on Saturday and cleaned them out in the first ninety minutes of the festival! Their entire stock gone in an hour and a half – 800 skeins! – none left for me. Toni Neal kindly took pity on me (or maybe she wanted me to stop wistfully petting the ¡vicuña!) and gave me a nifty Blue Moon Fiber Arts sample card with all three weights of STR attached. There was a binge-buying yarn riot at Koigu, too. I can't tell if that's a sign of unsustainable faddishness and a raincloud of boom-and-bust looms over the horizon, or something else. Surely not sour grapes.

However that may be, I'm taking my first spinning class from Stacey Rothrock in a couple weeks and (perforce) decided to forego buying yarn in favor of stocking up on roving and advice. I was certainly radiating gormless newbie spinner vibes instead of kickass experienced knitter vibes – previously, I've had only positive experiences with MDS&W vendors, but this year discovered they can vary as much as LYSs. One somewhat snooty vendor had cute snack packs of 30 colors of Merino roving, all unmarked and going for different prices (eyeroll – I'm not that gormless). The friendly and helpful folk at Cloverleaf Farms had clearly labeled roving in big yummy braids like challah; I picked some lovely blue Blue Face Leicester. (Colors are not true – that's the same photography towel background in each photo.)

Merino roving snack pack   Blue <br />Blue Face Leicester roving

Curiously, some spinners advised a newbie to try longer staple fiber, such as Merino, while others advocated shorter staple fiber, such as Corriedale or Blue Face Leicester. I'm told longer staple fiber is easier to spin, but newbie-spun yarn can fall apart more easily; shorter staple fiber is harder to spin, but holds together better through the irregularities of newbie spinning. (Experienced spinners feel free to comment.) I punted and got some of each. It's a bit worrisome, though. If the worst of all possible permutations occurs and spinning just doesn't work out, I'll have to f-f-f-f-felt the stuff.

The thundering Saturday hordes also snapped up all the totebags, which were particularly nice this year, and all the nice colors of T-shirts. But they overlooked the excellent cashmere laceweight at Hunt Valley Cashmere, a Maryland vendor, and the wool cobweb at Mistralee Farm Studio. So I got a sear-your-eyeballs marigold yellow tee (for visibility while bicycling) and some really fine yarn for some really fine prayer shawls. The yarns pictured are about 400 yds per oz (about 325 m per 25 g).



At the end of the day, while staggering back to the car, I noticed a woman wearing the most amazing crocheted dress, with cream and tan triangles, toting a gi-normous amount of fleece. The colorwork, shaping, and design details were masterful. Could it have been a Xenobia Bailey sighting? I'm a great admirer of her work, but have never seen a good photograph of the artist. While the rest of us plodded on the crowded walkways, tired and sheeplike, said mystery woman cut across a mowed field, striding out strongly and purposefully. I like to think it was Xenobia and that was revealing of character.

Indefatigable Kristen drove the MY carpool all the way there and back again, with Paige navigating and Katie, Christina, Jen, and yours truly tagging along. There was no singing "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" (mercifully), but there was sparkling conversation (mostly about hot guys), Katie's mom's delicious cookies (said to be Toll House, but I suspect a secret ingredient), seven-grain bagels, donuts, a box of joe, a half-gallon of iced tea consumed by one person (with consequences), and beef jerky that smelled like salami. Now that's a full service LYS! With thanks to all, it was an excellent road trip and (after several restorative naps) I'm looking forward to the next one.

11 comments:

stacey said...

I can't wait for the class at MY! I'm sorry I missed you in Maryland, dad and I were in Barn 3 and I could not get a breather on Saturday :o) Don't feel bad about the Socks that Rock yarn...even I could not get any and I was three booths away!
See you later this month!

trek said...

But it was fun and you will go again next year -- even if The Fold sells out before you arrive!

Katie said...

:) glad you liked the cookies, and i had a great time with you!

Nanc said...

I think you may have repeatidly called me a "thundering horde." I don't know how I feel about this, maily because I have some of the STR, Koigu, and vision-friendly colored t-shirt. (Petra got the loverly tote bag.)

I need orange said...

People are going to tell you to start your spinning with different fibers, because people tend to recommend their own favorite......

I always recommend that people start with wool, because wool just *wants* to be twisted into yarn. My only recommendation beyond that would be to maybe not start with the extremes -- not the very finest, not the ongest/strongest. Something more midrange might be easier.

Oh, wait, I have another recommendation -- the preparation of the fiber can make a lot of difference. You want something that drafts easily (roving that has been sitting around can start to felt itself just sitting there, and can be a LOT harder to draft). Dyed roving may also be harder to draft. That doesn't mean it isn't wonderful, in the end, it just means that you may need to pre-draft it (just loosen it up and start pulling it out -- reduce the diameter by half, maybe?).

Also avoid anything with vegetable matter in it. Great big chunks of vm (like bits of straw) may fall out as you spin, but smaller bits tend to stay in, and then itch you to death later........ A roving that won't draft easily may still be worth having, but I have spent as many hours as I will ever spend picking the vm out. Not doing that again; life's too short.

I need orange said...

oops, that was not the Longest/strongest.....

Ina said...

Nanc: This is an example of the tragedy of the commons. However charming and decidedly un-thunderous STR fans may be individually or in small numbers, when in the aggregate and faced with limited resources, they become a horde. That thunders.

I Need Orange: Thanks for the helpful advice. It's good to know roving can felt itself. I have fear of felting.

--Deb said...

It sounds like you had a great time--and good for you for starting to spin! I'm sure the lessons will be helpful--I've been spinning for a year and a half and have never had one, but would like to. Spinning is a lot harder to stop and figure out as you go than knitting is. Knitting, you can pause and hold it in your lap while you think, "If I insert the needle like this and wrap the yarn . . . no, that's not right." But spinning is dynamic--by definition, it's moving and once you get past the initial park-and-draft stage, you don't have the luxury of just stopping to think, you have to go by instinct and feel . . . all of which is good, but definitely easier with somebody telling you things like "loosen up your tension a little."

Did that make spinning sound scary? Because it wasn't supposed to! If I could figure it out on my own from books, think how much faster it will go with a real, live teacher! The most important thing is that spinning is FUN. You're going to love it.

dragon knitter said...

my socks are DONE! (happy dance!)

i mailed them this afternoon, and i'll post a pic of them as soon as my camera & my computer decided it's ok to speak. thanks for be ing a sista!

dragon knitter said...

oh, and i will say this: i took spinning lessons, and my teacher taught us with merino. her thinking was, if we could spin merino, we could spin ANYTHING. so far, that has held true. i've spun silk & buffalo, and while different, they weren't hard to do. go with your gut, though.

tina said...

Isn't the Hunt Valley Cashmere amazing!! That was the greatest trip ever.