The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I love holidays & birthdays & anniversaries as much as anyone, but one of my favorite weekends of the year is the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival. To this fiber artist, it’s really one of the most wonderful times of the year. It’s really everything you want a sheep & wool festival to be — not too big, but not too small, dog trials & sheep  galore, and enough vendors to be really exciting. Most of all, though, after you’ve been there a couple years, you get the distinct feeling that it’s kind of like an extended family reunion. There are always familiar booths and faces and that common love of the fiber arts makes small talk easy and light.

My family has our own little ritual with this festival. My mom comes down to my house and we drive down together. Often one or both kiddos come along, but that usually depends on interest and my hubby’s schedule. This year my daughter tagged along while my son had my hubby all to himself for a dad-son day. So three-generations of ladies in my family headed down on Friday to enjoy our day.

Usually I share here when I’ll be there and I take lots of photos, but this year I went a little more low-key. As I’ve been  s l o w l y  recovering the past few weeks from whatever had inhabited my lungs, I didn’t know how I’d be feeling or how long we’d stay. And I just decided to spend the time in the moment rather than take loads of photos this year. I have, however, taken photos of the loot I brought home. That’s really the most fun anyway, right?

First though, something I didn’t pick up at the festival…

img_4389It’s my new-to-me blending board! A spinning friend and I were talking about tools and she had this beautiful barely used blending board that she offered to sell me. I jumped on it and since receiving it last month I have been doing a little playing here and there with it. I’ll show you some of my first blends soon, but I bring it up today because the exquisite craftsmanship of the Clemes & Clemes blending board led directly to this purchase at WI Sheep & Wool…

img_4391Wool Hand Carders!

I was ecstatic when I realized Clemes & Clemes would be at the festival and I resolved to make a stop. Since getting & watching the Fiber Preparation class on Craftsy, I’ve been increasingly interested in playing a bit more with color, hence the blending board acquisiton. Then another friend recently shared a video of making some very cool rolags on hand carders, so… there you go. Hand carders in my hands! And I have to say, I had great help in the booth finding my way to these carders, too.

Next in my bag of goodies was a total surprise…

img_4398A Loop bullseye bump! This was the first time at this festival for Loop and it was a great surprise for me as I’ve long eyed these very unique batts. My hardest choice in the show was picking just one, but I managed to just come home with “Down to Earth”.

Next I made a stop at Bijou Basin Ranch’s booth where I got to visit a bit with Lindy from Balwen Woodworks. She delighted my daughter because her son had given her his Lego Batman to accompany her on her adventure to Wisconsin. I also got touch all the lovely yarns — there are more and more every year — as well as talk a fair bit with Carl who took the time to tell me all about the awesome Big Bijou Bliss…

img_4395It’s a limited run worsted weight 50/50 yak/cormo blend that is just incredible. Soft, cozy, & just 100% fabulous. Hand-dyed by MJ Yarns, this colorway is called Lakeside and I cannot wait to find the perfect pattern for it.

Already swimming in happiness from being surround by like-minded friends and with my wonderful loot in hand, I headed to Bumblebee Acres. This farm is located about 2hours to the south of my house and I just love what they do. If you want to see what I mean, follow their Instagram account — it’s the perfect balance of yarn, fiber, sheep, puppies, bunnies, and idyllic farm life. If it doesn’t make you have a tiny yearning for a simple farm life in the country nothing will. And — even though I risk sounding like a broken record — these are some of the nicest, sweetest people on Earth. And they’re talented and know their yarn & fiber. I usually reserve my funds for rolags and batts…

img_4409And this year was no different. I fell in love with this 2oz batt of “Twisters & Tumbleweeds” and then found these “Ancient Oak” rolags (which came in a 2oz pack of four) and I think they’ll look incredible spun and then plied together.

And then they also had fiber packs…

And I used tremendous restraint and picked just two.

img_4400“Galinda”

and…

img_4402“Fallen Leaves”

They are also both about 2oz — I love that 2oz size when it comes to rolags & batts, so that’s just perfect — and both include a beautiful assortment of colors and textures. I can spin them ‘as is’ or I can use my new blending board or hand carders to blend them before I spin. I’m even considering blending each set separately and then plying them together once they’re spun. We shall see.

In any case, I got to visit a bit here with the Bumble Acres ladies (and ran into a knitting friend in the booth, too!) and I mentioned that my daughter had purchased a Purl & Loop Wee Weaver from the very helpful folks at Mielke’s Fiber Arts— oh yes, look at this…

img_4379She’s in love & has barely set it down since she got it. It is wonderful because the squares are small enough that she finishes them quickly and after a few squares she can now do them totally on her own.

(As a direct result, I may be falling down a weaving rabbit hole, too, but that’s a story for another day).

ANYWAY, the Bumblebee Acres ladies mentioned some cool weaving examples over in the Hello Purl booth, so we went and had a look and I walked away with this…

img_4397I’m not quite ready to release it from the plastic yet — my apologies, but suffice to say it’s a 1oz mini-batt that’s got a lot of different pinks in fiber, silk, and sparkles. I’m guessing I’ll spin it for my girl to weave.

And last, but not least, with a small bit left in my budget, I went back to Mielke’s and picked up Mini Turkish made by Snyder Spindles.

img_4393Earlier this year I destashed a larger Turkish I had and I very much wanted to replace it with something more petite. This 11gram beauty fit the bill perfectly and I couldn’t help but grab a rolag my daughter had blended the day before (the colors are… interesting… very Christmas-y) and try it out. It reminded me just how much I love my little spindles and I’m so thrilled to add this little guy to the family.

We ended our day as all Sheep & Wool experiences on warm September days should, with frozen custard. Bellies full, loaded down with fiber & yarn & good times, I always return home raring to get right to it. Yes, it is the most wonderful, most inspiring, most refreshing time of the year.

And now, it’s time to get knitting & spinning & blending (& weaving…).

18 responses to “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

  1. I love your wee Turkish spindle- those are my favorite spindles, they’re so handy, aren’t they? Loops is fantastic, her batts are amazing. That will spin up beautifully!

    • I have only spun on bigger Turks and since I’ve come to love the lighter weight spindles, I really wanted to try a mini-turk. It’s so much fun!

      I can’t wait to try the Loop batt — like I said, I’ve been an admirer for quite a while. I almost went to my favorite blues, but these Earth tones — mmmmm — they won the day!

  2. I am SO jealous of you being close enough to visit the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival every year. Love your purchases and DEARLY love your daughter weaving. SO jealous and really happy you had such a fruitful visit, all three generations together even.

    • The family time, of course, was the most fun — and I agree, we are lucky that it close enough to visit every year (just about 45minutes away). This is the first year that my daughter was engaged with things — since she knits and has had a hand with the blending board and gets the basics of spinning. It was fun to shepherd her toward weaving which I had a sneaking suspicion she would love.

    • Isn’t that the truth! I have the feeling if my daughter wants to pursue it further, we will get her set up first. I have a lot of research to do, so I will be taking my time to figure out the perfect loom and perfect time.

    • It was! And my girl does knit already! And the spinning… well, she has a spindle. And we’re working on it, but it’s a slow, on-again-off-again kind of pursuit.

  3. Thank you for posting about the Wee Weaver! I just showed it to my son, and we’ve decided to get one for him. He’s going to make coasters for his grandparents for Christmas (and maybe he’ll let me play with the loom when he’s done :)).

    • Awesome! It really is great for kids! My daughter has had it just a few days and she can warp and finish her squares no problem — and she *just* gifted my mom a fancy coaster for her tea!

      She’s so into it, we’re getting her an upgrade to the placemat size for her birthday next month. 🙂

  4. I have just been watching that Craftsy class today and it made me want to run out and buy a blending board! Christmas is not far off. Have fun playing with all your goodies!

    • It was some serious introspection and self-restraint that kept me from ogling combs and hackles, too. I think for now the blending board and hard carders are plenty. Isn’t it an inspiring class though?!

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