Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Aloha Knitters and Estes Park Wool Market

June is always chaotic at my day job during the month of June, with this year being no exception. I flew off on a 5 day business trip to Hawaii the first full week of June. Before going, I looked up local yarn shops and stitch groups on Ravelry and discovered that the Aloha Knitters (they like crocheters too) had regular meetings near my hotel on Monday and Thursday evenings.

So, fighting jet lag and a 4 hour time difference I joined the Aloha Knitters at the Ward Centers for a evening of chat and finding out  what they like to make in Hawaii. They were intrigued by my crochet (it involved the Solomon's Knot stitch) and I was intrigued by the fact that they were making shawls, scarves, fingerless gloves, and coffee cozies. I had to remind myself that when you're acclimated to a tropical weather pattern, the upper 60s and low 70s can feel cold. All I have to say to that nice group is Aloha and Mahalo for letting me come and hang out for an evening. If you're ever in the Honolulu area, consider joining them.

I had hoped to visit the yarn shops I came across, but unfortunately my schedule, the pervasive one way streets, street only parking, and my bladder prevented me from getting to even one of them.

I got home on Thursday night at midnight and after a day at home my husband and I took off for the Estes Park Wool Market. We had thought of camping but went with our intuition and reserved a hotel room. I'm glad we did because it was unseasonably cold and wet. Miserable weather for camping.

However, the weather didn't affect my ability to enjoy all the wonderful vendors and spend all the cash I had brought. I was glad that I had looked for Churro at the Pagosa Fiber Festival since I didn't see any vendors there, except LaPlata Farms, that obviously carried it.

I was glad to see Magpie Woodworks there because I needed a spindle. His tools are incredibly well crafted and he guarantees the balance on his spindles. Spindle balance can make or break your ability to effectively use one and I've found that most spindles one finds for sale these days are woefully lacking in balance. I purchased a walnut spindle from him that is perfect for spinning heavier weight yarns.

The other vendor I purchased from is actually a woman from my spinning group. Woodlake Woolies has a wide variety of exotic fibers and she introduced Pygora to me. I had never heard of it until that weekend and I purchased some type A from her that has spun up nicely. I also purchased some of my favorite mix: Silk and Alpaca.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Pagosa Fiber Festival

The Pagosa Fiber Festival is held every Memorial Day weekend in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. And that's where I was at last Saturday.

It's a cozy affair, being a young festival, and it only takes an hour to get through the vendors. But it gets a little bigger and better every year. What I think Pagosa is best for is the Alpaca and Churro fibers. There are a lot of small growers in Western and Southern Colorado who won't be able to go to the larger festivals, but fit quite comfortably into the smaller venue of Pagosa Springs.

This year I was most particularly interested in the Churro. I shopped at three booths and came away with some beautiful roving. La Plata Farms was there again. There was one booth where several Churro growers had gone in together with a wonderful variety of fleeces and roving in all colors. They were Arriola Sunshine Farm, Hovenweep Sheep, and Fat Sheep Farm. The Los Vigiles Living Trade booth was the next one over and, while she only had small samplings of Churro, what she did have was vibrantly hand dyed. She assured me that she had more of her beautiful yarn and fiber at home in Chimayo, New Mexico.

When I was loaded up on Churro, I visited the Spider Goddess Creations booth where she was selling some incredible hand painted hanks of silk and rayon. I've been looking for the perfect yarn for a future design project and hers fit the bill. So I bought four hanks that had a nice color transition from warm to cool.

In the Community Center down the road from Town Park where the vendor tent was located, we found the Navajo rugs. While we didn't attend the auction that evening, we did have a lot of fun poking through the piles and admiring the different rugs. We saw many traditional patterns such as the Chief, Eye Dazzler, Klagatoh, and Two Gray Hills.

We wrapped up the evening in Pagosa Springs with dinner at Tequila's.

My haul for the day was (clockwise) light gray Churro roving, dark brown Churro roving, Tonga basket from Zambia, white Churro roving, blue Churro roving samples, half an ounce of buffalo down, four hanks of hand painted silk/rayon, and a lovely kuba cloth from the Congo (purchased, along with the basket, at a fair in Saguache we stopped at on the way).