It’s been a while. I have a few entries in the works, I’m just waiting to organize the pictures. In the meantime, I thought I would write a little update.
I spent this past Saturday at the Michigan Fiber Festival. This wasn’t my first festival, my favorite is probably the Ann Arbor Fiber Expo, but it was my first trip to Allegan. I really enjoyed the festival, but from the people that told me about it, it didn’t quite live up to their hype. I saw everything from Angora bunnies to sheep and alpaca, to a very unhappy goat kid. What was really interesting to me about this festival was the competitive aspect, watching competitions about fleece and seeing the sheep and goats made it educational. My favorite, however, was the skein competition, which I entered three skeins as a beginner, since I am still in my first year of spinning.
Humphrey the camel was there, I met him in Ann Arbor last fall, and I rode his brother, Gunther at the New Boston Apple Fest. Since I’m particularly attached to Humphrey, I bought four ounces of his fur blended with Corriedale, which I’m really excited to spin soon. I’ve spun some of him before, mixed with Shetland, but the Corriedale blend is much softer. They also had a felted camel modeled after him, which sparked my interest in giving needle felting a try some time.
I bought six ounces of Columbian, because it was one of the few sheep breeds there that I haven’t gotten my hands on yet. I’ll let you know how that goes. The only other fiber I bought was a pound of raw fleece, CVM Romedale from a sheep named Phoenix. I already have some CVM roving, but Phoenix’s story moved me, so I had to buy some, and plus it’s good prep practice.
Here’s his story:
I’m looking forward to processing his wool, especially since the last wool I processed turned out to be such a nice yarn. I’ll probably wash it today. Allegan had a lot of vendors from many different states, but I stuck with supporting Michigan farmers. A lot of vendors had commercially made products, and some had exactly the same thing, which just didn’t speak to me at all, because I look for more of the crafted, locally produced things. It helps knowing the animals that you’re getting the fiber from by name!
Another fun thing about the festival was the live flax demonstration. I have friends who collect flax processing equipment, but they display it, so it was really neat to see everything in use. Flax, by the way, is a tall, grass-like plant that contains long fibers inside that after processing, are spun into linen. It was a husband and wife team, which I love, and they took the dried flax, they smashed it in the flax brake, took a scutching knife to it, and ran it through several hackles, and ended up with soft fibers that the woman spun into linen. Her wheel was similar to one of my old ones, which was interesting to see in person. They were very well informed and best of all, they let me touch everything from the flax seeds, to the boon and tow, which they let me take home. For those unaware, the tow is the leftover flax after it is ran through the heckle, it’s not as smooth, but it’s still able to be spun. I’ll let you know how that goes!
Here is the flax brake, smashing the dried outer parts of the plant (the boon):
Festival aside, Allegan is a great little city. There was a bakery/deli downtown that my fiancee and I went to for lunch that had the most delicious reuben I have ever had in my life! It has all of the small town charm that I look for in a place and it had the Kalamazoo River along the downtown area, which I loved. In case you haven’t gotten the hint, I don’t plan on living in a busy city ever!
Next time, I will take more pictures and the next festival coming up will be Third Coast, held at Wayne State University, my alma matter. Did anyone else go to Allegan this weekend? What did you think?