Sunday, 31 October 2010

My introduction to the wonderful world of yarn fairs

Yeah, this one is going to be picture heavy.

There was a yarn show I found out about a few months ago which was going to be held in Birmingham, which is closer to me than London, and a great deal cheaper. Since most of the big shows are held in London, I thought this would be the perfect time to get my feet wet and attend a smaller one - not in the least because I knew a day out would exhaust me, never mind the weekend that most people take for the bigger ones. So I duly bought my train ticket and entrance ticket and set about saving a sum of money to spend.

Yesterday was the show, called Fibre Flurry, which I got to via train, another train, and a bus, minus the help of a stupid bus driver who told me my stop wasn't on his route (which it was, as I found out when I got there and saw the bus stop listing the number of the bus I tried to take) and plus the help of some locals who were headed to the show as well and knew the way. Being a sensible person, I took plenty of money, telling myself I wasn't allowed to splurge too much and spend too much on any one skein, as well as the fact that I didn't have to spend it all. Well, I did pretty well with buying nice yarn at a decent price, but I spent all but a few pounds. Ah well. :) Some gems:

On the left is a limited edition called Trick or Treat! made for Halloween. I got all four skeins made. On the right is a wool spun from a British sheep called North Ronaldsay. They are found on the northernmost Orkney island, and were pushed out to the coastline when people first settled there. They adapted to eat seaweed! Below that picture is another 100% wool from the same booth. It was a good price and I liked the colour, so I got two skeins of it, both of somewhat different colours.

Possibly my favourite booth there was the Natural Dye Studio. I had checked out their website once and wasn't impressed, but seeing their yarn in the flesh, as it were, was really an eye opener. Dyes can and are often chemical, giving yarn a brilliant hue which lasts through the wash. Natural dyes from roots and other parts of plants (you can tell I don't know much about dyeing, can't you?) are not only better for the environment, but this husband-wife team has proved they can make brilliant colours out of them as well. I got 2 skeins of a silk and 2 skeins of a merino silk blend, both of which (thanks to the silk) show off the colours amazingly. Phoenix is the merino silk blend. They also use pure wool, which has colours I've never seen in wool before. This last little gem on the right is actually about the size it really is. It's only 80 or so yards, but I loved the feel and the smooshiness and the colour, and there are some surprisingly nice things you can make with something that small, so I got it. To be honest, I'm not sure I want to use it. I just want it to sit and be felt and look nice. :D

While some of the booths sold yarn from major companies such as Noro, Debbie Bliss, and Schoppel-Woolle, most booths were selling things hand made by the people running them. Yarn hand dyed and/or hand spun, stitch markers hand beaded, and needle holders hand sewn were everywhere. These independents are at the heart and soul of the industry, and I love not only seeing what they have, but supporting them as well. They're not even really more expensive than the yarn from the major companies, so supporting them is easy. But they're mostly online, so seeing their wares, getting to touch them, and getting an idea of the true colour of something, is a great experience. 

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