Spinning Inspiration: The Estes Park Wool Market

My spinning wheel has been sitting around feeling bored. Actually, it has been moping and sulking in a corner of my office for months now. (I only dropped it that one time. Really. Only a few parts popped off. I totally think that it has been over-reacting about the whole thing…) Hoping to score some fabulous fiber that I could use to tease it back into good humor I headed off to THE YEAR’S BIG EVENT: the Estes Park Wool Market which is held every year in the mountains of Colorado in Estes Park, a wonderful mountain town near Rocky Mountain National Park. I have a lot of yarn in my stash. The wool market is where I find those special yarns and fibers that I can’t easily obtain and petting the animals that produce them is a special bonus!

I planned my outing for early Saturday so that I could arrive in the cool of the morning with the plan of racing through all the vendors, visiting the animals and then shopping for fiber. Thunderstorms are a given this time of year so I wanted to get out of the mountains before 3pm. It was a plan, anyway.

Alpaca
Isn’t this alpaca a great color? He’s not his usual fluff muffin self as his fiber has already been clipped off.
Alpaca fleece
Yep. You guessed it. I have acquired a fleece from one of the animals grown locally. The fleece has several colors in it from cream to dark caramel and is really clean. This fleece is so nice I had to get it into the car fast to protect it from my fellow fiber addicted friends. 🙂
Alpaca lock of fiber
Check out this lock!! It has a slight crimp, is extremely soft and the 4 inch length is going to allow me to spin this baby into lace weight yarn without a problem. (I hope. The spinning wheel will need to snap out of its sulky mood…)
Batt and spinning wheel
I also got a Big Batt from The Natural Twist that I hope to spin a gradient light worsted weight yarn to make a Yowza Weigh-It Shawl 4. This baby is 8 ounces of Romney wool and I can get a whole shawl from it, I’m sure. Doesn’t the spinning wheel look happier already?

This year I was moving fast so I didn’t watch the sheep dogs show or visit the llama events. I did check out lots of alpacas, sheep, bunnies, and goats while I was there. I always have a problem leaving them all there. Surely the neighbors wouldn’t notice one little goat or sheep. Right?

Jacob sheep
This Jacob sheep really, really wanted to come home with me. Look at that face! 
Cashmere goat
This cashmere buck was on sale. For just a few hundred dollars he could have been mine. Those horns, though. I don’t know if the cats would want to play with this guy!

When I was done with the animals and spinning fiber/fleeces for sale I hit the vendor area to see what else I could find.

Yak yarn!
Yak yarn!! You know I needed to add some of this to my shopping bag. I also bought a great pattern for a lace and garter stitch shawlette  called the Culebra Shawlette that will display the handpainted yarn well.

That was it. I could see the clouds were rolling in fast. I only had enough time to buy a bag of cinnamon roasted almonds, make one more chatty stop with friends to compare notes and show off the finds and then I was back in the car heading down the mountain ahead of the storm.

Half an hour later I received a text from a friend. You guessed it. It was raining too hard for her to drive and she was waiting it out up in Estes Park by grabbing a yummy early dinner of grilled lamb kabobs. Darn! I should have been a little slower on the drive after all…

My spinning wheel perked right up when I showed it that huge batt. I’m hoping for a little spell of cooler weather so the wheel and I can get going on making something wonderful together. What do you know? I think that we are friends again.

 

 

 

Yarn Fest Report

Last Saturday I went to the Interweave Yarn Fest in Loveland, Colorado with my friend Margie where we met up with other friends (AKA fiber addicts). I’d been looking forward to this outing for weeks, and had organized myself with specific shopping goals. Yeah, whatever. This is one of these deals where it is best to not over think things. Still, here’s what I hoped to accomplish.

  • Find yarn for some specific patterns. Specifically, I was on the prowl for yarn to make Red Rock Canyon (by Rosemary {Romi} Hill) and The Joker and the Thief (by Melanie Berg).
  • Hunt for some great gradients or ombre yarns that I could use for shawls.
  • Buy unique yarns that I probably won’t see in my LYS.
  • Make arrangements to visit the paco-vicuna Gulliver who is a resident of Jefferson Farms. I have 6 ounces of his very expensive roving that I want to spin up for a lacy shawl. OK, this is one of my New Year resolutions.  I’m also terrified to start on this project without some lace spinning lessons. Maybe I can make arrangements for a class while I’m there…
  • Score some great new patterns.
  • Run wild with my friends!!

With every intent of exercising some self control I entered the marketplace with Margie and stopped dead at the first booth. OMG! Yak yarn! Dyed by Ms. Babs in a colorway called Red Rock Canyon.  The exact colors of the national parks in Moab, Utah. Oh my goodness, I just love Moab, and I really love those colors. Here it is.

Tibetan Dream Yarn.
This is Tibetan Dream yarn (by Bijou Basin Ranch) is 85% Yak Down, 15% Nylon sock yarn. These are the colors of one of the best vacations I’ve ever gone on. To touch this yarn is to be in heaven (dreaming Tibetan dreams of course!) How can I put this on my feet? Say hello to my next little shawl.

What wonderful, soft yarn. This is yarn that a person can fall asleep while clutching in happy exhaustion at the end of the day (true story). Out came the credit card and this yarn was mine!

In a booth nearby I met Chris Switzer and learned that she was teaching a class on how to spin camelid fibers this July. I had to wait until Monday to sign up for the class, but I did. The class is July 18th, so I still have time to make sure my spinning wheel (which was sadly dropped last year) is in working order again.

Other yarn acquisitions included:

Yarn
The perfect yarn to make the Red Rock Canyon shawl. This is merino, silk and cashmere yarn from Western Sky Knits located in Montana. Beautiful yarn!
Yarn
This Japanese yarn looks like paper but is made of cotton. It knits up crisp and crunchy. I had to get it!
Ombre yarn.
The cutest sparkly ombre yarn was obtained from Wolly Wonka.
Yarn
The perfect scarf/shawl to make for a Christmas present. There’s purple in that Kauni yarn too.

After hours of gabbing, playing with fiber and catching up with friends we called it a day. I didn’t get much more yarn, but there were some other great finds. These included:

  • I met the owner of Jefferson Farms, which is the home of Gulliver, the paco-vicuna that I have fiber from. She is happy for me to visit him and to facilitate our meeting she is transporting him up to the Denver farm this week. Look forward to a post about paco-vicunas and Gulliver!
  • I never did find a great yarn gradient, but boy did I find a great pattern to use color gradients with. The pattern is called Beyond the Pale, and it is from Wolly Wonka. I saw it knitted in three different color combinations, and it is stunning. I already have it in the Ravelry shopping cart, and I’ll be buying it tomorrow.
  • I love to knit cables. Really, I do! There was a booth with the most wonderful patterns with Celtic cable work from Black Water Abbey, which is located in (gasp) Aurora, Colorado not far from my house. I bought several patterns. The most wonderfully soft tweed yarn (Brooklyn Tweed) that I have ever handled was in another booth. I’ll be buying some of that down the road to knit the patterns that I bought from Black Water Abbey.

You know, I did meet all of my goals for the trip. I didn’t get as much yarn as I wanted, but I made lots of connections and am inspired to get going on on many, many different projects.  How fun it was to be in a place where everyone was wearing a hand knit or woven shawl/scarf and carrying a knitting project. It was great! I was with my peeps!!

I can’t wait to go back to this event next year!! Continue reading “Yarn Fest Report”