My first visit to the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair, known by most as SAFF, was an enjoyable one. Our journey began with a four-hour drive ahead of us and Rocky The Dog on alert as we filled up Cinder, our Subaru Outback we love so much.
I spent the passing miles by reading interesting snippets out loud from The Intentional Spinner by Judith MacKenzie McCuin to my husband. A few of those miles were spent working on a pair of knitted socks.
We met our close friends Mike and Melody at Highland Brewing Co. in Asheville for their Friday evening festivities. They had brought their happy-go-lucky black lab mix named Lila. Rocky The Dog and Lila were able to romp around in the field where outside concerts are held during the warm months. I enjoyed the barrel-aged Gaelic Ale, which had a delicious sour taste.
The next morning I made the 20+ minute drive from Black Mountain to Fletcher for my very first visit to SAFF. I wanted to arrive early and beat the crazed crowd of fiber enthusiasts. (Let’s just say I was a bit eager to get my first peak.) After venturing into the Sales Arena I was grateful for the hot cup of joe in my hands to keep me slightly warm while perusing the vendors who were braving the 35 degree temps. While there, I purchased these buttons from Clay Cat (by Sue Dial) for my San Francisco Infinity Scarf. More on the scarf in a future post.
Next, I ventured over into the McGough Arena and came upon this delightful sight of vendors galore. They surrounded the entire arena from the main floor to the balcony areas. I have never witnessed such a display, which is probably due to the fact that I’ve only been to one other fiber festival (twice), so far.
I found this very soft sock yarn by Pandoras Yarns. The Orchid colorway makes me so happy that I can’t wait to make a pair of socks for myself. I’m debating how best to show off these wonderful colors? Hmm, decisions.
Once I circled the balcony I headed towards the main floor and found this collection of spinning wheels.
Two laps later I decided to purchase three fluffy balls of this roving from Jehovah Jireh Wool Mill. I fell completely in love with the color.
The Fleece Show & Sale had a wonderful display of fibers. This deliciously soft angora was the blue ribbon winner.
The Trading Post is where I found my very first drop spindle made by Greensleeves Spindles. I decided to go with this walnut Apprentice based on price and feel. I’m looking forward to spinning some of the fiber I purchased on this little ditty. The ladies at The Trading Post were very friendly and helpful.
By this time it was noon and I was beat, and hungry. After meeting up with our friends we visited the Asheville Arboretum where we hiked their walking trails. We had worked up quite the appetite and headed towards 12 Bones, a barbeque restaurant with two locations in the Asheville area. It must be tasty – President Obama has eaten there twice.
The next morning Melody sent me off with a full belly of chocolate chip pancakes, fried pork roll and coffee. I was pleased to see beautiful, slightly warmer fall weather on my second day at SAFF. When I decided to attend SAFF I signed up to take two workshops on Sunday which meant I was in class from 9-4pm. Looking back now, I should have signed up for one per day.
The first workshop of the day was Multi-Color Dyeing Yarn and Fleece taught by Phylleri Ball of Steam Fall Fiber Farm. Phylleri shared her technique with a group of 15 ladies each with a different fiber and dyeing experience. Having never dyed yarn or fleece before I went into the workshop with the goal of soaking up as much goodness as possible.
Over the next three hours we spent time inside but also outside in 34+ degree temps. I was glad I wore my San Francisco Infinity Scarf but wished I had worn some long underwear. Brrrrr. The sun was shining on the opposite side of the building so it didn’t reach us until just before noon. Fortunately, I found a pair of gloves in the pockets of my fall coat.
The class started with adding already water soaked fleece to the dye pot and bringing the temperature up to 160 degrees. Next, we selected four colors to mix and add to the dye pot in quadrants.
Phylleri brought Country Classics who offers a variety of colors with names like Grasshopper, Chili Pepper, Toffee and Maze.
After the fleece had been “cooking” it was poured into a tub to drain and cool down before we divvied it up. We were in amazement of the punchy red. Fortunately, the other three colors did a decent job of fighting off the red from taking over the entire pot.
I have dyed locks! I need a drum carder!
The second half of the class focused on dyeing already spun yarn. We were each given a loop of mohair and wool. The class was divided into two groups: 1) warm colors and 2) cool colors. Normally I would have chosen cool as those are the colors I tend to wear on a regular basis, especially in the winter. But I decided to change things up a bit and went with warm.
We dunked the yarn in a bucket of water with a small pour of Synthrapol to soak for about an hour as we discussed safety precautions and other dyeing details. (Synthrapol is used as a pre-soak when dyeing yarn or fiber with acid dyes and aids in dye absorption.)
Our group decided on four colors by democratic vote. Let’s just say that was a slight challenge for the warm group. We ended up with Terra Cotta, Maze, Toffee and Chili Pepper.
I volunteered to pour one of the mixed up colors and quickly learned a steady hand is required when pouring.
We were very happy with how our warm colors turned out. Unfortunately, we ran out of time and had to bring everything home in a damp state. Up until the morning the locks were drying on a towel and the two spun loops were dangling from a hanger in our basement. I was thinking a scarflet might be a good fit.
I only had 30 minutes in between classes so I made my way back over to the McGough Arena to search out the border leicester I had spotted the day before at Serendipity Farm & Studio. I explained to the friendly gentleman who helped me with my purchase that it would be the first fiber I have ever dyed. He was thrilled and wished me luck.
I found the nearest concession stand and grabbed a panini before I headed back to the workshop area to take my second class, a Beginning Spinning class taught by Nancy Weaver-Hoffman with Foxfire Holler Farm. I was given an Ashford Traditional to use and decided very quickly that a single treadle was not as easy as a double treadle. However, I decided to stick with it and spent the entire class with my Ashford.
The class began with each student trying to keep the wheel from kicking back with just a long leader attached to the bobbin. I could have won a competition called “How many times can you get your wheel to kick back in a 1 minute span?” After about an hour of grumbling and having “mastered” keeping the wheel spinning in a clockwise direction, we were taught how to draft and spin fiber. Nancy gave us three to four different types of fiber but I can’t remember which ones. I found fiber with a longer staple easier to spin, which I have read is common for beginners.
I’m happy to say I spun a decent amount of fiber, enough to fill two bobbins. Next, we learned how to ply by using a technique where we held one hand similar to a long-tail cast on while the other controlled the take up. Once everything was plied we wound our finished product onto a niddy noddy.
Below is my loop of spun “yarn” and some romney fiber we were given as a take away. I did a decent job of being consistent with the yarn and I’m looking forward to my next spinning opportunity.
It was time to head back to Black Mountain to pack up Cinder. Our friends were so kind to offer us dinner before we left that included butternut and sweet potato soup. With our bellies full we headed for the car where I found this maple leaf. Happy Autumn everyone!