The WI Sheep & Wool Must-See List

The Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival in Jefferson, WI kicks off tomorrow and I will be there with bells on. As in my tradition, I thought I’d take a moment to on this festival eve to share my survival guide and ‘must-see list’ with all of you. For the most part I go to for inspiration — I don’t get to any other fiber festivals really and it’s just so nice to be around fellow yarn & fiber addicts. As relaxing and fun as this event is for me, I do go into it with a plan. I could easily just say that I want to see all the things in all the booths because that’s the honest truth, but I thought I’d narrow it down to the vendors I’ve highlighted in my guidebook to make sure I don’t miss them. I’m listing their location in the Country Store East and West buildings, too, just in case you want to jot them down.

  1. Bijou Basin Ranch (Booth 616-617E): This booth is inspiring and terrifying to me all at the same time. Inspiring because there is never a shortage of gorgeousness and terrifying because if I’m not careful I could easily spend my entire budget here. I’m going in specifically (but not exclusively, of course) to check out Xanadu, their new 100% Mongolian Cashmere. At $35/400yd skein I think this might be prime gift knitting yarn, especially when paired with the freshly re-released Miya Shawl from Mari Chiba. I’m looking forward to the chance to check this yarn out in person. Also in this booth you’ll be able to find Lindy Sinclair, of Balwen Woodworks. If you’ll remember, Balwen Woodworks sponsored a giveaway here on the blog in June. Not only will Lindy be helping out in the booth, she’ll have some of her beautiful wares for sale, too. I will definitely be looking for buttons for my son’s sweater I started last week.
  2. Bumblebee Acres Farm (Booth 687E): I meant to stop here last year, but somehow missed them. I’ve been following this farm on Instagram and browsing their online shop pretty frequently, so I’m excited to see some of their unique fibers in person.
  3. Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber (Booth 732W): Of course. Of course, I have to stop in and check out one of my favorite dyers! I may have one of almost every color she dyes in my stash, but that’s only an ‘almost’ so there’s definitely room for another braid or two.
  4. Green Mountain Spinnery (Booth 739-740W): It has been another little tradition that as a huge treat I get sweater yarn here each year. Unfortunately, even though I have a pattern all picked and ready to go, I haven’t quite made it to last year’s sweater yarn. I thought about attempting to crank out a sweater during August, but I simply ran out of time. Regardless, I’m looking forward to visiting this yarn. This year I’m actually hoping to take a look at their Sylvan Spirit and Cotton Comfort yarns.
  5. Wheeler Clay Studio (Booth 776W): Last year I purchased buttons here, but there is no shortage of absolutely beautiful, locally made pottery. I’m especially excited to check out her yarn bowls and mugs this year.
  6. The Woolgatherers, Ltd (Booth 656-657E): Another local shop, this one I’ll be looking specifically at spindles. I’ll have one eye open for spindles everywhere, but I’m interested to see if they bring a selection of Snyder Spindles since I’ve been very pleased with the one I have.
  7. Yarns by Design (Booth 668-689E): This shop always has great kits and a gorgeous selection of yarns. Last year I managed to avoid buying my weight in Mrs. Crosby, but it was restraint that could be categorized as ‘heroic.’ Always lots of delicious temptation and friendly customer service here, so even though I don’t need anything specific I can’t pass up stopping.

I’ll be there most of the day Friday soaking up all the awesome. I hope you get some time this weekend to attend and enjoy, too. If you’re there Friday, give me a shout-out — I’d love to say hi!

IMG_0637

Wow.

As someone who is generally pretty introverted, the last couple days at the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival have been pretty overwhelming in the best of ways — I almost don’t even know where to start here! So let’s let the words ruminate for a bit while I show you some photos…

IMG_6320Sheep show! These were not completing based on their wool…

IMG_6327 I had never watched the shearing process before and it was nothing short of incredible.  I also discovered later that this gentleman has quite the… um… fan club of ladies at the festival.

IMG_6297This is the puppy my husband almost adopted while I was away for the day.  She ended up being a little pricey otherwise I think we’d now be a 2 dog family. Apparently this answers the question of what would happen if I’d ever take a day away from my family.

IMG_6309When I got home Friday, I realized the last two skeins Green Mountain Spinnery had of Weekend Wool in the Blue Jay colorway that I had purchased to complete my Little Wave sweater were the same dye lot as my sweater. What are the odds?!

IMG_6306I brought home some of the Knitting Sarah/Socks with Sarah customer colorway, Quick’s Point, from Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber

IMG_6353And I cast-on right away. I had started them on my Hiya-Hiya needles, but I got these Knitter’s Pride Nova Platina DPNs at the show & literally could not wait to try them. I sat down in the car and knit my sock right onto them. They are fab!

IMG_6305Of course Quick’s Point wasn’t all I brought home from the Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber booth. I grabbed an armful of fiber and am super excited to try knitting with these gorgeous silk hankies.

Now for the words…

The festival was just a wow.

First and foremost, I have to thank all the readers who took the time to visit with me. Whether you tracked me down while I was walking about or you came & found me in the Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber booth, it meant so much to me to be able to put faces & voices with the words and photos I see online. Really, you can’t imagine what a treat this was for me!

Next, I have to thank all the shops that offered (and these offers are still good today at the Festival!) discounts to my readers. One of the real joys I have writing about my craft on this blog is introducing crafters to amazing supplies & tools that are perfect for them. I’m a true believer that every crafter and even every project is unique. I feel truly lucky that I have the opportunity to try so many different yarns and fibers and tools. Not everyone is interested in everything I do and my personal favorites aren’t always going to be yours, but I like to think that by feeding my own love of variety I help readers to find their own ‘perfect fits’. The right needles that have the perfect tip, yarn that feels just the way you’ve always dreamed it should, eco-friendly practices that you feel good about supporting, or sometimes just a single artist who really loves their work, treats customers with kindness, and creates a color palette of fiber you never want to live without — whatever you are looking for, I love that I get to play a little role in helping you find those things that make your craft that much more fulfilling in your life. And I so appreciate that there are shops that support me in that and — for example — offer generous discounts to help make it easier to get their items in your hands.

If this wasn’t enough, I also got to meet some wonderful people this weekend that I’ve worked with, exchanged many emails with, and yet never met in real life.  I got to have a really great visit with the wonderful instructor and special events coordinator from Cream City Yarn & the owner of Sheepish Yarn Company, Jennifer Donze. We had an awesome discussion about sock construction and she told me all about how she teaches her Sock Club — seriously, it sounds a-ma-zing! I got to meet Stefanie Goodwin-Ritter, author of Conversation Socks, her blog Handmade by Stefanie, and all around excellent/dangerous influence. I had quick chats with the very friendly folks at Bijou Basin Ranch and the sweet, sweet ladies from Green Mountain Spinnery. I also wondered into a booth looking for buttons and ended up meeting Alison Wheeler, my new favorite ceramics artist. I bought buttons for the sweater I’m making for Spud & Chloe’s Chill Chaser KAL from her, but wished I could have also brought home a yarn bowl, too… next time!

Last but not least, I have to give an extra special shout-out to Natalie from Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber. We met once a few years ago and it was from her that I bought my very first ‘Learn to Spin’ kit. Her yarn & fibers have been a constant source of inspiration for me over the years, so you can imagine when she agreed to work on a custom colorway for me and then offered to let me hang out in her booth for a couple hours at the Festival, I almost died. It was such a awesome treat to visit with her in person. We talked about the colorways we’re dreaming about, how her fiber club always delivers exactly the colors I’m dying to have in my hands, and all sorts of random stuff. It was just the best time. So thank you, Natalie! You rock!

After all this excitement today I’m enjoying a quiet day. I’m going to partake in some knitting — it seems only right — and maybe I’ll ply that fiber that’s been waiting for a couple weeks. Eventually I will start to put away the goodies that followed me home. I’ll also be sifting through all the ideas and inspiration of the last couple days and plotting out a couple years worth of projects. The best laid plans rarely survive reality — it’s true I think especially in knitting and spinning — so I don’t have too many delusions that I will stick to said plans. That being said, just the act of making them is what propels me forward and keeps me going. I’m so glad, so thankful to have been able to attend the WI Sheep & Wool Festival and I’m looking forward to all that I will do with the ideas, yarn, fibers, and tools I’ve brought home.

Meet me in Jefferson!

Yesterday I told you about the awesome festival specials being offered by Green Mountain Spinnery, Bijou Basin Ranch, and Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber. I did not, however, mention the fact that a number of you have voiced interest in a Knitting Sarah/Socks with Sarah meet-up at the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival in Jefferson, WI. Well, I have some bad news & some good news on that point.

The bad news is that I contacted the festival offices and they informed me that there really aren’t any areas in the venue that would reliably have seating for a group (outside of classes, etc). They mention some benches under a flagpole, but that seemed like a disaster waiting to happen. So sadly I’ve opted to not organize any sort of sit & stitch kind of situation. I just can’t in good conscience invite a group to meet me and not have basics, like enough seating and shade, guaranteed. Bummer, right?!

Well, I said there was good news, too!  Hearing of this plight, Natalie from Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber very kindly offered to let me hang out in her booth for a bit!  This way, you can pop in, say hi, and ogle the yarn with me & any Knitting Sarah/Socks with Sarah friends who might also stop by. Remember, Natalie has so kindly custom dyed a Knitting Sarah/Socks with Sarah colorway…

quick's pointRemember ‘Quick’s Point’ from yesterday?

quick's point 2I’m sure that you do — how could you forget it! Honestly I just wanted an excuse to post the photos again because it’s so pretty. So, come by the Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber booth (Country Store West booth #732) between 3pm and 4pm on either (or both — I’ll be there both days!) Friday or Saturday and I’ll be there with all the pretties.  Obviously, this won’t be a sit & stitch situation, but it’ll be a way that we can all cross paths in the presence of some amazing yarn & fiber — I can’t imagine anyone having a problem with that!

If that timing doesn’t work for you and you’re still hoping to say hi, I’d totally love to meet you. I’ll be live-tweeting where I’m at in the festival. You’ll know it’s me by my name tag…

IMG_6253I’ll proudly wear this while I’m at the festival so I’ll be easy to spot.

I’ll also probably be the only 34year-old woman walking with one of these…

lekiMy trusty Leki Wanderfruend will be kind enough to assist my legs throughout the festival.

I hope to meet you in Jefferson!

Special Treats at the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival

The Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival is an event I look forward to all year long. There are just so many neat exhibits and competitions and classes, not to mention the tons of awesome vendors in the ‘country store.’ For a fiber artist, it’s pretty darn amazing. If you are in the area, it’s definitely worth finding your way to the Jefferson Fairpark this Friday through Sunday (Sept 5, 6, & 7).

Just to make it even a little more worth your while to attend this fab event, a few fantastic vendors have agreed to offer Knitting Sarah readers/Socks with Sarah knitters some special discounts — how cool is that?! Let me share these great offers with you now so you can start planning ahead!

First of all, remember my beautiful Little Wave sweater? If you’ll remember the yarn is Weekend Wool from the wonderful folks at Green Mountain Spinnery and they have a very special offer for Knitting Sarah readers…

GMSwisconsinCoupon-1Just mention the Knitting Sarah Blog or show this coupon for 20% off your yarn purchase!  They have some really beautiful yarns and I so appreciate their dedication to US grown fibers (you can read more about them & their practices here) After Little Wave, you can bet I’ll have another sweater’s worth of wool on my mind!

Bijou Basin Ranch also has a fantastic show special…

bbrPresent this coupon & you’ll receive 15% off your yarn purchase! You’ll remember my Alternato hat as well as my Frais hat both knit in Bijou Bliss Himalayan Trail in the new Outlandish color series. They will also have along 2 brand new limited edition colorways — Autumn & Seaside — in their beautiful Tibetan Dream Sock Yarn.Bijou_BabsYarn_500x500 Dyed by the fabulous Miss Babs, this luxurious yarn paired with such a talented hand-dyer is guaranteed to be a special treat!

And last, but certainly not least a little something from the always wonderful Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber

cloudlover coupon15% off all yarn purchases (just like the online discount we are enjoying through the end of 2014). You can also take advantage of the festival special and buy 5 braids of fiber and get the 6th free! Just show this coupon or mention the Knitting Sarah Blog to receive your discount!

If that isn’t exciting enough, Natalie — the amazing lady behind Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber has dyed up an extra special treat…

Meet the beautiful custom colorway for the Knitting Sarah Blog & Socks with Sarah KAl, Quick’s Point.

quick's pointBased off of a photo I took while hiking in Horicon Marsh around this time of year & named after a favorite trail, this colorway is available in a SW merino & nylon blend yarn (perfect for socks!)…

quick's point 2As well as a SW merino/nylon fiber.  Isn’t it gorgeous?!

 I hope these generous treats have all my local friends excited — I know I am!  I’ll be back tomorrow with a post telling you where & when you can find me at the festival. I guarantee these three booths with definitely see more than their fair share of me!