So, the last couple months were hell (See: “The world didn’t end“). Not only did I have my qualifying exam but an additional gauntlet of scholarly tasks leading up to it. But it wasn’t all bad. I made time to do a couple fun things in the early summer (You know, before the soul-sucking malaise of the weeks just before the qual wouldn’t permit me time to properly eat or bathe. Did I have to make things so hard on myself? Absolutely not. But I did, and the bitterness remains.).
Anyhoo, this included some lovely festivals. (I’m kind of a dork; if this is news to you, you haven’t been paying attention.) As always, I attended the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival at the beginning of May. But this time, I thought, instead of posting the same old photos I do each year, I’d introduce you to some of the new things I discovered this time around…
Firstly, there was Melissa Jean: an online store based in Marcellus, New York that specializes in handmade porcelain buttons. I know, I know: buttons are not technically a new, amazing discovery. But you see, I’m a relatively new knitter and very much still learning, so most of the time my money’s spent on buying the basics. However, I am increasingly finding, to my delight, that as my skill set expands, I am able to accumulate more advanced accoutrements. And not to be overdramatic (read: to be as dramatic as possible), my realization at that moment at the festival that I may be ready for buttons was, in a word, revolutionary. So, my partner-in-crime Sarah and I giddily snatched up as many buttons as we could hold, the ones by Melissa Jean being, by far, the most charming.
Now, this next finding was a true novelty. The booth for Loop the online fiber store had all kinds of unique textiles to look at. They had these spun skeins of batting in an array of vibrant colors that dispensed from the center, which makes the unspun fiber far more workable. And perhaps it’s just me and my laughably pitiful spinning skills (I suck), but that is a definite plus with how tricky roving is to work with. They also a bunch of other funky fibers, like these cords of unspun fiber tied together with string; the especially interesting ones had chunky beading or even Treasure trolls woven in (these things, for the young folks).
And speaking of spinning, we also had the opportunity to get a tutorial from a lovely lady at The Spanish Peacock. She showed us how to use these supported spindles that come with these lovely, divotted wooden bowls for spinning on a surface. An attractive option to the clumsiness of a drop spindle or the seemingly impossible difficulty of a Turkish spindle. I was especially taken with a deep blue one (pictured below), and I very much had to resist the urge to immediately possess it. In a dear-God-I-think-I-may-actually-die-if-I-don’t-buy-this kind of way. I just had to keep reminding myself that the grace and deftness with which she spun the thread is not included with the purchase of the spindle, and, with regard to spinning, I suck…hard.
Ah, another successful festival in the books…without the same well-worn assemblage of photos… Okay, fine, one baby alpaca photo. It’s tradition! Her name is Wanda.