Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival

A doll made from raw wool, with a rough body shaped in white wool, a "dress" of green wool, red "hair" and darker green "wings."Saturday morning, we drove down to Canby for the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival.  Canby is just south of Portland, so it was just far away enough to be a pleasant drive on a sunny day.

Now, this was my first real fiber festival, so I don’t have any grounds for comparison, but it seemed pretty big to me.  Lots of tents and tables, all full to bursting with fiber in every form and type of preparation and in a rainbow of colors, plus tools for spinning, knitting, weaving, and dyeing.  Off to one side was a barn housing dozens of fiber-bearing animals – goats, sheep, alpacas, and rabbits – for the “flock” part of the festival.  There were workshops and competitions of all types, and at noon I met several podcasters I’ve been listening to for some time.

I have to admit, it was more than a little overwhelming.

That’s probably why I only ended up staying three hours.  It was my first festival, so I didn’t sign up for any workshops, and I was so overwhelmed by the sheer amount of product that I couldn’t decide on much.  (Also, since neither of us are really working, I didn’t feel right spending much money.)  Next show, though, I’m coming with a list, or at least some fairly specific goals.  I have a much better idea of what’s on offer, too, so I should be able to look at my equipment and stash and figure out what I need to buy.  There was some gorgeous woodworking on display, and I looked at lots of spindles, shuttles, and swifts, niddy-noddies and nostepinnes.  Looms: so large!  Supported spindles: tempting!  Fancy orifice hooks: charming but not really for me.  And so on.  So much yarn, so much fiber, and it was amazing to be able to feel various kinds of wools I’ve heard about. Shetland, and Blue-Faced Leicester, and Jacob (which is gorgeous!), Icelandic, angora and cashmere and yak.

Then there were the animals!  Cashmere goats are adorable, guys.  Angora rabbits are giant balls of fluff with ears and a twitchy nose, and most of them look like they will cut you.  There were alpacas with poodle cuts, and a pair of twin nine-day-old goats, and sheep in every color that sheep come in, sometimes at the same time.

Of course, I’m sure you’re all dying to know what I did end up buying.

I was determined to go around the entire festival before I bought anything, which I failed at.  About halfway through, I made my first purchase of the day, which was for a fiber fairy for my craft room.  (That’s the redheaded doll up at the top of the post.)  Honestly, I don’t know if I made it through the entire festival or not.  I know I saw everything that was outside, and I went through a couple of buildings and up onto a porch, but there might have been stuff I missed.  There was just so much of it!

Anyway, I bought two kinds of fiber I haven’t spun yet: an ounce of undyed German angora from a rabbit named George, and a small braid of silk in a gorgeous purple and blue colorway.  A tub of white angora rabit fur and a braid of bombyx silk.The silk came from one of the tables in the barn – it seemed like most of the people who were showing animals had tables selling wares from their animals, frequently a combination of raw fibers, yarn, and finished objects.  The picture doesn’t really do the colorway justice, but it was the best one I could get.  Isn’t that incredibly vibrant for handpainted silk?  Amazing.

One of the things that really excites me about going to new yarn stores is, unsurprisingly, the opportunity to check out new yarns.  I listen to a lot of knitting podcasts, but I’ve only been knitting for a little over a year myself, so there is lots of fiber in the world that I’ve never had the opportunity to lay hands on.  After today, I have the sneaking feeling that what I need is a list of yarn dyers that I can check off!

I finally got a glimpse of some of the beautiful colorways from Crown Mountain Farms, since they were one of the vendors in the indoor area, but a building cram-full of knitters and wool isn’t exactly the place that you want to be on a hot day, let me tell you!  I did manage to test some glass knitting needles (amazing, and so fast! but I can’t really justify $40+ for a pair of needles) and I saw a pair of the Kollage square needles I’ve heard people talking about.  Those were in the Carolina Homespun booth, which I wish I had more time to wander through, but again – inside was hot!  Back outside I went, where I got the opportunity to handle some of the Barmaids‘ famous Lo-Lo bars (an abundance of scent choices meant I didn’t actually end up buying anything – maybe next time!).

You couldn’t swing a ball of yarn without hitting a spinner – they were all over the place.  I almost wished that I brought my wheel, but without a portable chair, I couldn’t have used her anyway.  There was a gal in the Portland Spinnerati booth who was Navajo plying, and she taught me a few tricks that should make it easier to do next time, though.  She was very friendly and welcoming, and told me about several local groups, including one here in Vancouver.

Then there was the Abstract Fiber booth, which I kept wandering into and out off most of the day.  I’d walk in and start pawing beautiful colorways, then remind myself that I didn’t need yarn, and walk myself back out again.  Later, I’d find myself back again, fondling roving, which, again, I don’t need any of.  Abstract Fiber is a studio in Portland, and they create absolutely gorgeous handpainted yarn and fiber.  I really can’t say enough good things about it.

There was one thing I was keeping an eye peeled for, and that was grey alpaca yarn.  The show seemed like the perfect opportunity to find something to add to the top of the alpaca handwarmers I picked up at Sock Dreams that didn’t fit as tightly as I wanted to.  Unfortunately, I’d completely forgotten to pick them up on the way out of the house that morning, so I didn’t have them with me to match, and there are an awful lot of colors of grey out there.  When I mentioned my problem, Jack suggested that I pick up something in a contrasting color instead.  I had been admiring some alpaca handspun, but decided that it might look odd next to the decidedly machine-spun yarn the gloves were made of.  Jack suggesting that I buy something to the purpose, though, was all the excuse I really needed to head straight back over to Abstract Fibers.

Now, the truth of the matter is that Jack is also a sucker for gorgeous colorways, and he tends to gravitate toward greens and blues above all else.  (All but one pA skein of blue-green sock yarn.air of socks I’ve made for him are green, and I’m working on another.  I think he might have a problem.)  No one will be surprised, then, by the skein he picked up.

This colorway is called Deep Lake, and I may have looked at the yardage in the skein and promised him a pair of socks in addition to the edging of my handwarmers.  It’s a generous skein, and it should be easy to get both out of it.

We decided to head out then, rather than standing in the ridiculously long food line, and grab a late lunch elsewhere.

Add another pair of socks to my queue and some new fiber to my bin, and call my first fiber festival a success!

~ by Amber on September 25, 2011.

One Response to “Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival”

  1. Jealous! Glad you had fun, though. 🙂

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