If it's Memorial weekend in Ohio, it's the Great Lakes Fiber Show in Wooster.
According to some of my knitting buddies, the true name of this fiber show should be Wool-A-Palooza, and I can't say the're wrong. There is wool on and off the animal as far as the eye can see.
Thanks to my friend Stacey of Flying Pig Fibers for sharing her spot, we have some booth space at the show this year.
Raw fleece is in demand because spinners abound at this show.
The art batts, which are a mix of alpaca, merino and a bit of "bling" are also a hot item.
What is surprising the heck out of me is the demand for alpaca socks.
Now don't get me wrong people. I KNOW our socks are outstanding, wonderfully warm Midwest-made creations of art. They have saved my life on more than one early morning trip to the goat pasture. Every morning, from November through March, I slip them on and do a silent prayer for the alpacas that produced such gems.
But today, it's 90 degrees and full of all the energy-sapping humidity that Ohio can dish out!
You have to have foresight to buy a pair of the warmest socks on earth on one of the hottest days of the year. Yup, I'm telling you our customers are smart. They're thinking Winter. They're thinking Christmas gifts. You've really got to admire a shopper with that kind of dedication. I can't think past where the nearest lemonade stand is and they're thinking months ahead. In my next life, I'm coming back with the ability to do that.
The other hot item are our Feed Bag Totes.
A healthy dose of guilt kicks in and I feel like a bit of enabler whenever I sell one of these bags. At a fiber show, purchasing a large bag such as this can only lead the knitter or spinner down a dark, dark path.
Yarn or roving, or perhaps even an entire fleece, can slip so easily into a bag such as this. The buyer doesn't feel overburdened with packages. There isn't the usual fumbling and twisting up of multiple packages and bag handles. The owner of such a bag can easily parade the fairgrounds slipping into her bag a skein of yarn here, a colorful roving there.
Let's face it, at the end of the day, this bag could be responsible for the purchase of far too much yarn!
The show runs through 4 p.m. today. If you're anywhere near Wooster, Ohio, drop on in. Admission is free, as is parking. Spend the day visiting the booths and the sheep barn. It's the official start of fair food season so why not start the season off with an Italian sausage or the holy grail of food served from a trailer -- the funnel cake.
We're in building 11. Hope to see you there.
There are some really talented humans out there. People that can see something ordinary and say to themselves, "Hummm, what fun things can I make out of that?" HGTV is filled will shows and people like that.
I'm not one of those people. For two years, I've looked at our empty feed bags and said, "Hummm, time to get more feed. Those animals sure do eat a lot."
But not my friend Connie. She looked at those bags and said, "My oh my. Wouldn't those make lovely and unique tote bags." That is exactly how she talks.
So now, in addition to her math/science/computer-related stressful day job, Connie, an expert quilter and knitter, is also an entrepreneur, sewing feed bags into totes.
These are not your run-of-the-mill, chain store tote bags. These are unique conversation starters that are guaranteed to elicit a response from just about anybody who sees them.
Sturdy, strong and well-made, these totes will stylishly handle just about anything you can toss into them. Except the kitchen sink. They would balk at that.
You can find them in our on-line store or, if you're in the neighborhood, stop on by the farm to pick one up. They are $12 each.
We have several varieties of chicken bags and one type of goat feed bag.
For those of you hoping for an alpaca feed bag tote, sorry. The alpaca food comes in ugly brown bags that wouldn't make very attractive totes. You would look like you're carrying your things in a grass clipping bag -- and that's not too pretty of a sight.
We do occassionally have horse chow totes, with the feed bags donated by a neighbor.
If you're heading to Wooster, Ohio over Memorial Weekend, stop by our spot at the Great Lakes Fiber Show. We'll be at the Flying Pig Fibers & Friends booth with totes in tow.
Think of all the yarn you could fit in one of these!
Save The Date! May 26th & 27.
That'll Do Farm will be vending at the Great Lakes Fiber Show in Wooster over Memorial weekend.
Come see us in the Flying Pig Fibers & Friends booth. We're the friends. My friend Stacey (aka knitter extraordinaire) is the Flying Pig Fibers.
We'll have raw fleece from alpacas, mohair goats, Romedale/CVM sheep and Navajo-Churro sheep. We'll also have beautiful art batts, alpaca yarn, alpaca socks made from our own animals, rug hooking wool and much more.
This is our first year vending at this show and we are very excited. If you've not been to this show, you really should put it on your calendar. It's small compared to the big-daddy shows like Maryland or New York, but there is a nice selection of vendors.
It's your chance to find local yarn and we know that I'm a bit nuts about sourcing things locally.
After visiting the show, stop by Local Roots in Wooster to see more locally created fiber products at the Ohio Natural Fiber Network's booth within the artist's section of the store. Wooster is a hot-bed of locally produced fiber and food and as long as you're in the neighborhood, you should check it out.
Hope to see you at the show.
That'll Do Farm is part of the Ohio Natural Fiber Network, a group of fiber farms and artists that work together to promote Ohio yarn. Yesterday, the network had a booth at a brand new fiber show in the area called the Crooked River Fiber Fling.
So Farmer Gal packed up some yarn and a few alpacas and headed for the show.
The alpacas were a hit, but so was Emmitt, a Jacob sheep from Roving Acres farm.
Emmitt is a 3-month old "Lambassador," spreading good chear in child-size portions. He is a wonderful boy and the kids loved him. Where else can you hand-feed a sheep and get to touch its lanolin-rich wool.
Now the alpacas, that was another story. We had a bit of drama going on with them.
The boys from another farm were set up close to our girls. As you can see, they were very handsome boys indeed.
And our girls did not fail to notice that. The dark young man on the left was driving our sweet, innocent little Appletini crazy. She thought he was the bees knees.
So she spent the afternoon playing coquettish games of peek-a-boo with him, hiding behind her banner yet tossing her pretty locks so they would shine and glimmer in the sunlight. What teenage boy can resist shinning and glimmering locks.
Ahh, young Summer Love. They swaped addresses and promised to write, but we all know how that goes. He's never going to call her. She'll be heartbroken and mope about until the next handsome young man comes along and catches her eye. But we're sure she's never going to forget her first love. The one that got away.
Maybe she should wait for this young man to grow up. Can you guess his name?
With a nose like that, he can only be called one thing: Rudolph.
I think I saw him fastening a brown nose out of mud and attempting to attach it to his beacon, but I could be getting that mixed up with a 1960s tv Christmas special.
The fiber show wasn't all about drama, drama, drama. There was also some serious shopping, shopping, shopping going on. And some serious "I think I need to learn how to make this" going on as well.
So if you need a little drama or shopping in your life, come on out and see us. The show runs through today at 5 p.m. in Peninsula. Catch up on the latest summer alpaca romance or pick up a new hobby, like weaving. Life is never dull in the fiber world.
Look at what arrived at the farm today!
A knitting friend of mine also sews and quilts. She saw our chicken and goat feed bags and knew she could turn them into craft tote bags.
I think they are the cutest things ever. Who wouldn't want to carry their large projects around in a pink chicken food bag. It would certainly be a conversation starter!
These bags are on the big side. Remember, they held 50 pounds of kibble. But they are perfect for carrying the millions of things we humans carry each and every day.
The bags will make their retail debut tomorrow at the Crooked River Fiber Fling. That'll Do Farm will be selling yarn, roving, raw fleece and these cute project bags at the Ohio Natural Fiber Network booth.
Come on out and say hello.
Today, it was about 4,582 degrees. That's just an approximation, mind you -- it could have been hotter.
We thought it was a great day to talk nice, warm fiber.
I kid about the heat. Oh sure, it was hot. But we still had a good time talkin' fiber under our tent.
The heat didn't stop customers from wanting to touch all the beautiful fiber. That's the great thing about fiber addicts -- they don't hesitate to touch beautiful, squishy yarn in the middle of summer. They have dreams of fall and winter and sweaters and socks and scarves and -- I'll stop now. I think you get the picture.
Fiber Network members demonstrated various methods of dyeing yarn.
And needle felting embellishments onto garments.
And blending roving on a drum carder.
(For those of you following Wheel on the Tour de Fleece, you'll notice he snuck himself into the background of this picture. He was supposed to be there spinning, but he complained of being too hot. I don't think he's taking this whole tour thing seriously! Some athlete he is.)
We hope you'll come out and see us.
Memorial weekend is fiber weekend in Ohio. It is the weekend of the annual Greak Lakes Fiber Show in Wooster -- known among some of my fiber friends as Wool-A-Palooza.
It stopped raining long enough for us to enjoy a beautiful day at the show.
Our first stop of the day was Morning Star Fiber to drop off a few of this year's fleeces for processing into yarn.
Next up, a visit to Lee Ann King and Midwest Fiber Company.
Lee Ann raises llamas and is an incredible dyer. I don't need one more skein of yarn -- not a half a skein, not an ounce, heck, not even a yard of yarn. But I bought this beautiful llama yarn from one of Lee Ann's own llamas that she then dyed into to-die-for purples and greens. I'm going to turn it into a little cowl from a pattern by Madelinetosh. The pattern will show off the yarn and I'll get to feel the llama-y softness all winter!
Midwest Fiber Company also has a wonderful assortment of natural yarns.
We also stopped by the Black Sheep Fiber Farm's booth to check out their mohair.
They have the whole "Buy Local" thing down right!
Ohio produces so many great agricultural products. I'm very happy shows like this one highlight our local farmers and fiber producers.
Next, I landed at the Tuscan Grove booth. They dye fabulous roving and yarn. Considering how much I love their fiber, I did very well restraining myself here. I only bought a set of cute little Buckey stitch markers. Such restraint.
They did their best to tempt me, but I was strong. After all, I know they do mail order!
I was good at the Briar Rose booth, too. I'd like to say it was because I knew I had enough yarn at home and didn't need any more. Yup, I'd really like to say that. Except the only reason I didn't buy any more Briar Rose is that I couldn't get into their booth!
Mobbed, they were. Absolutely mobbed. Who are these women in MY Briar Rose? I wasn't up for a fight, so I moved on -- also knowing they do mail order if I needed a "fix".
After the festival, we moved on to Calla Lily Yarn and Gifts in downtown Wooster because one can never have too much yarn in one's life.
While in the area, there are a few "tradition" non-yarn stores I must visit. The first one is as hokey as they come. It's the Smucker's store in Orrville.
You can sample your way through this entire store. Not a bad way to spend the afternoon.
After Smucker's, we went up the road a piece to Lehman's in Kidron.
Lehman's is a hardware store like no other. It was started in 1955 to serve the local amish community with non-electric goods. Now it is a mecca for old fashioned products that you can't find anywhere else. You can drop me off at Lehman's any day of the week. I could spend hours wandering through this store.
And finally, our last stop of the day was at Quailcrest Farm. If you are looking for unusual varieties of perennials, vegetables or herbs, look no further than Quailcrest.
I found Weld and Woad (say that ten times fast!), two herbs that were missing from my dyer's garden. I took those babies home and stuck them immediately in the ground, willing them to grow quickly so that I could use them to dye the fiber we dropped off at Morning Star earlier in the day. By the time the yarn comes back from the mill, the plants should be ready to go and we will have come full circle.
All-in-all, not a bad day.
The beekeeper and I took a busman's holiday on Saturday. We took a drive down to the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival in beautiful Lexington, Kentucky. We hung out with lots of sheep and alpacas and llamas. You know, something we don't get to do very often.
We even put a quarter in the grain "candy machine" for a handful of grain to feed this wonderful llama. Something must happen to people on road trips because we found it perfectly acceptable to pay to feed other people's animals. I blame it on the sun.
We studied this flock of Cormo sheep for a long time. This is one of the breeds we are thinking of adding to the farm. They are awfully cute . . . which is the number one requirement when deciding which breed to bring home.
They also happen to produce some of the nicest wool with which to knit. Let's see: Cute animal. Nice wool. I think our mind is pretty much made up.
I chatted briefly with Miss Susan B. Anderson, author of the fabulous new book Spud and Chloe at the Farm. Spud is the darling knit sheep and Chloe is his human friend. You've got to love a sheep named Spud. That's a perfect name for a sheep. Just perfect.
I am hard at work knitting my own Spud and Chloe farm. Sheep, people, dogs, cats, mice, staw bales and even a barn and picket fence. All the patterns are in this book and it is all cute beyond belief. Some may say you've gone too far when you start knitting picket fences, but I think it is a perfect thing to knit. After all, how many scarves can a girl need. At some point, you've got to brach out into fencing.
I tried really hard to put this Angora goat into the back of the station wagon, but Mr. Beekeeper noticed. He said I wouldn't have time for more goats. I'd be too busy knitting a picket fence.
Today was a big day. It was a fiber festival day.
Fiber festival days are always fun. They involve fiber, of course, but friends and shopping and usually chocolate. Today was no exception.
A couple of fiber friends and I were up early and headed west to Bowling Green, Ohio for the 26th Annual Black Swamp Spinners Guild Market Day and Fiber Fair. I'm exhausted just from saying the title!
There was lots to see. And as usual, my first stop was at the Briar Rose Fibers booth.
Briar Rose is like a drug to me. There is no reason on earth for me to buy one more ounce of fiber, such as this beautiful Bluefaced Leicester hand painted roving. No reason on earth. But it called me from deep inside the booth. So I didn't buy one more ounce. I bought eight more ounces.
I'm calling it research. We hope to add BFL sheep to the farm this summer so I thought I should test spin their fiber. Research. That's what I'm calling it. Research.
Then I moved on to another booth for dyed roving in Easter-y colors.
A group of needle felters is coming to the farm next week to make Easter and Spring needle felted bunnies, chickens and eggs. So this really is for work. I don't have a speck of guilt about buying this roving!
And finally, I've been looking for this book all over tarnation and back, but I've never been able to find it. Well today, there is was, just waiting for me to bring it home. I think it should go without saying that if you've been to tarnation and back, the book must come home with you. Once again, I am in a guilt-free zone.
Then things got ugly.
We left the festival and headed for Sandusky and the Tre Sorelle Cioccolato store.
They have chocolates filled with local wine. Who could pass that up? So I bought some to bring home to the husband. I think that was very smart of me! No guilt here. After all, the chocolates are not for me. They are a gift.
We attempted to go to Wendy Kromer Speciality Confections in Sandusky, but alas, she was closed. Wendy Kromer makes many of the wedding cakes for Martha Stewart Weddings magazine and they are works of art. We had to console our little pastry hearts with drooling through the front window. My wallet thanked me, but that was about it.
And finally, we made a non-food or fiber stop at Mulberry Creek Herb Farm in Huron, Ohio.
I came home with more seeds, and a catalog. Not too bad, except that I need more seeds like I need another hole in the head. We buy seeds in bulk -- lots and lots of seeds. But these were in pretty packages. And they were heirloom varieties. And I'm a sucker for pretty packaging and heirloom varieties.
Doesn't that tiny little package of seeds sing to you? It does to me. In fact, it sang all the way home in the car. Can't wait to get to the cold frames to plant up a "tangy salad blend."
And last, but certainly not least, were these three little hyssop plants that needed me come home with me.
They are going in the dyers garden. With any luck, we will be using them to dye wool this summer.
And now the day is done and it is time to read my fiber carding book. Yup, I can really liven up a Saturday night with my choice of reading material!
It's raining today. It's a raw type of day. Tonight, it will snow.
All of this makes me very happy.
No, I haven't lost my mind. The weather is forcing me to stay indoors.
And what's a gal supposed to do when forced indoors on a Spring-ish day but spin.
Lee Ann King from Midwest Fiber Company gave me this beautiful roving. She took pity on me when she discovered I signed up for a spinning challenge. This is my practice roving before I attempt to spin the wool/silk/mohair blend I have for the challenge.
So far, I've practiced looking at it.
This afternoon, I shall practice spinning it. I'm a little afraid to start because it's so gosh darn purty I hate to mess it up by spinning it poorly. But I'm goin' in! I will post the results, warts and all.
I know I am not the only fiber obsessed person out there. For you fellow addicts, Newark, Ohio is home to a new fiber festival called the Mid-Ohio Fiber Fair . It will take place on August 20 & 21.
That'll Do Farm, along with several other farms that are members of the Ohio Natural Fiber Network, will be showcasing it's yarn, rovings, fleeces and fiber art. Mark the days on your calendar now so nothing, and I mean nothing, will get in your way of attending this festival. It's all indoors, so rain and rotten, stinkin' heat won't be able to stop you. It promises to be a great weekend.
But now, on this cold and rainy day, I must bite the bullet and start spinning my beautiful roving. I am willing it to turn out stunning. Wish me luck.
I went on a yarn crawl yesterday.
For those of you non-knitters, this statement makes no sense. But any red-blooded yarnaholic worth her weight in fiber will know exactly what I mean: Shopping!
Now I need more yarn like I need (another) hole in my head. But it was a beautiful fall day, we had a car full of fun fiber peeps, and we weren't in Rhinebeck. Again, for you non-knitters, Rhinebeck is shorthand speak for the New York Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, New York. It's a huge celebration of fiber and it is going on this very weekend, yet alas, we are not there.
So we came up with our own fiber festival: The "West of Rhinebeck" yarn crawl.
The troops were ready:
Annie, Pam, Michelle and Judy. We were armed with credit cards, cash and checkbooks. Dangerous, oh so dangerous.
Things started off o.k.
At the first store, Pamwas doing a lot more touching than buying, exhibiting a grown up amount of self control.
Then things got ugly.
There was a jam-up at the sock yarn section of Black Locust Farm. Three heads together, deep in discussion of the perfect sock yarn. Luckily, there was enough for everyone and no one got hurt.
But then we moved on to Soft N Sassy.
There was a lot of joy and giddiness going on. No outright screams of happiness, but still an elevated level of jubilance.
Who knows, maybe next year we'll all head to Rhinebeck. Or Maryland. Or Michigan.
But this was so much fun, we might just make it an annual tradition. So many fiber festivals, so little time!
The main reason I went to the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival last weekend was to take a wool combing class. The fact that I love Vermont, especially in the fall, was a great big old bonus.
The class was held in the Tunbridge Town Hall, right up the hill from the festival.
The building practically screamed "quaint" and "charming." I knew the minute I saw it that I was going to love the class. Illogical, I know, but still true.
The class was taught by Patty Blomgren.
Patty has been a spinner, weaver and fiber artist for more than 25 years. For the past five years, she was the master spinner at the Green Mountain Spinnery in Putney -- home of some of the prettiest commercial yarn around.
She was an excellent teacher and the combing bug has bitten me big time. It's very theraputic. Like brushing out knots in your hair and making everything nice and smooth.
Combing is a method of preparing the wool for spinning.
First you start by loading one of your combs with fiber.
This happens to be exactly how my hair looks in the morning, but that's another issue.
It's then simply a matter of combing the fiber from one comb to the other -- repeatedly. Talk about your mindless stress relievers. Unless, that is, you wack yourself on the hand with one of the really sharp combs, then stress and its friend pain come flying right back in.
Once the fibers are aligned, the are taken off the combs and are ready for spinning. At this point, the fiber is called combed top.
Patty also showed us how you can blend colors with a hackle.
Color blending is something I'm really going to have to work at. I think some people are born with an eye for creating pleasing color combinations, and some (me!) are not.
Tonight, I'm going to sit down and write a letter to Santa. I'm going to explain that I've been relatively good this year and I absolutely need a hackle and a set of English combs. We'll see what he has to say.
P.S. -- You still have time to enter the Cashmre/Silk yarn give-away. See Tuesday's post for details.
Vermont. It is my most favorite-ist place on earth.
I've loved it since high school when I got to tag along with a friend and her family on their annual ski trip. Snow. Mountains. Hiking. Skiing. All really good things in my opinion.
And now I've added another really good reason to love Vermont. The Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival.
I drove up from Ohio yesterday and have been enjoying the heck out of New England.
First, I stopped at L.A. Burdock's Handmade Chocolates in Walpole, N.H. Yes, I know it has nothing to do with yarn, or sheep, or wool, or anything fiber-y, but one taste and you'll know why I stopped there.
Plus, they have little chocolate ghosts and mice. Who doesn't love chocolate ghosts and mice. This place is out-of-this-world-good. Mail order from them. Drive there. Take a bus. Anyway you can get their chocolate, do it. It's worth it.
Then I went to Green Mountain Spinnery in Putney, Vt.
Yes, I know I'm going to an entire festival dedicated to wool and yarn today, but Green Mountain calls me whenever I'm in Vermont. Plus, they pulled me in with their sign.
Compelling, don't you think?
I picked up a few skeins of a mohair/wool blend. I'm going to show it to the goats to let them know what I expect out of them.
I want them to aim high, like this.
Today promises to be full of classes, demonstrations and perhaps a small bit of yarn buying. I really have enough yarn to outfit a small army, but that might not stop me when hand painted, hand spun yarn starts a-calling.