Saturday, October 30, 2010


SAFF (Southeastern Animal fiber Fair) is my favorite fiber show--it's relatively small and compact, so it's easy to walk around and not so crowded that we couldn't get into every booth. It's held near Asheville, NC, one of my favorite cities. And, most importantly, there is a surfeit of gorgeous undyed and dyed fiber, tools, and friendly booth keepers.

The Maryland Sheep and Wool Show, which I attended last spring, seemed to feature the same two fiber mega-vendors in almost every booth. There's nothing wrong with their stuff (it's actually very nice), but the same large balls of identical colorways in every direction quickly became monotonous. And MDSW was also jam-packed--I had to pass by many booths because they resembled a Tokyo subway car at rush hour. Never again.

Alas, SAFF's spindle selection was small and unpolished--a big disappointment. We did meet up with The Spanish Peacock, who was perusing the wares with an eye towards having a booth next year. If he shows up, he'll surely be mobbed and sold out within an hour of the opening bell.

I did purchase a dark blue Ann Grout turnip spindle and matching bowl because the set was charming and twirled with a pleasant heft. However, the shaft was a puzzle. Made out of a fragile dowel topped with a useless hook, it was too short to be productive, although the washi-paper shim that held it to the whorl was very pretty. Washi paper not withstanding, I turned the spindle over to The Spanish Peacock, who promised to make a usable (and beautiful) shaft out of Blue Mahoe wood. When it comes home, I will post before and after photos.

As you can see, I had a wonderful time, disgracing myself at Knitty and Color and Dragonfly Fibers. I would have disgraced myself more at Dragonfly, but there was more yarn than roving, and I really don't need any yarn. But then, I didn't need any roving either, so forget about that specious argument and just gaze on the lovely photos.

From Knitty and Color, we have merino/firestar batts ...

and lovely merino roving (the top photo is merino/silk).

From Dragonfly Fibers, I bought merino/silk roving:

And I bought a few miscellaneous fiber thingies that were irresistible. The top photo is merino/angora from Frabjous Fibers. The bottom batt, purchased from a local spinnery, cost me all of $4. It's immense--more than four feet long and two feet wide--and I have forgotten what the wool is (it's very soft, but not merino). I haven't decided what to do with it yet, but it looks tailor-made for those Icelandic shawls that graduate from white to black. Given the size, I can probably knit a dozen of them from the spun yarn.

Harry, of course, spent most of the show terrorizing the animals. While it was amusing to watch herds of llamas and alpacas stampede around the barn, I doubt their owners were pleased. Fortunately, he tired of this activity fairly quickly and settled down inside a cashmere batt. I wonder if the poor lady who purchased it has recovered from the shock yet.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Echo Flower Shawl

I actually finished this little shawlette a few weeks ago, but had a Japanese Embroidery student here from England for several weeks and didn't get around to posting the pictures until today. This shawl pattern is one of those amazing designs that looks exquisite regardless of the yarn or needles used. In addition, you can make it any size you like simply by adding repeats. No advanced arithmetic is necessary to compute border stitches.

I finished the shawl in less than a week, knitting a repeat here and there when I had a few minutes to spare. Yes, it has nupps on the border and those pesky 2-into-9 and 3-into-9 increases, but only every fourth row or so, and was surprisingly easy to knit. The shawl was made with my own AK-47 20/2 silk yarn in the Grapeful colorway on US size #4 needles. I added a few #8 orange beads to the border just because I haven't beaded anything in a while and felt like picking up small round thingies from the floor.

 I fully intend to knit it again with some handspun, and I don't believe I have ever before knitted a shawl pattern twice. It's that sweet a pattern.

This is a short post, so I thought I would take the time to remind everyone that I always reply to comments so long as there is a way to do so. If you don't have a Blogger account or otherwise leave me a way to contact you, all I can do is try to reply by telepathy. This usually doesn't work well because there are mentating animals in and around our house that cause interference.

I am off to SAFF tomorrow, so if you happen to see a short lady with a pink stripe in her hair, stop me and say hello, will you?