Monday, October 27, 2008


Last weekend was the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair, outside Asheville, NC. A friend and I braved the cold and damp (and raining--and guess which goddess forgot her raincoat. . .) to go.

You have never seen color and texture sensory overload like that of a giant livestock arena filled with yarn. And fleece for spinning. And spinning wheels. And books and needles. And knitted garments. And more and more and more yarn. Man.

We took a Fair Isle knitting class. I had never done that kind of color work before, where you work two (or more) different colors in one row of knitting. Which means that you have to figure out how to manage two different lines of yarn without tangling them together into a giant woolen mess. The principal technique for this is holding one color in one hand and one in the other. This meant that I learned to knit with my left hand, which felt very strange at first, but I did get comfortable. (And Mom: you are so right that left-handed knitting is faster, or would be for someone good at it.)

I have never taken a knitting class before, and it really was striking how much you can learn--and how quickly--from another person instead of a book. My friend learned, for instance, that she had been twisting her knit stitches all these years. Now that she knows how to knit without twisting, she can work much more quickly and her work tends to look more like the pattern--and her fabric is more stretchy.

Our class took place in pen #1, which we came to call the Fair Isle pen:

This is what we made:

Right now it is just a knitted tube, but once I finish it, it will be a headband. That requies sewing, though, which is not my favorite phase of any project.

There were an array of animals, too--alpacas, llamas, various breeds of sheep and goats. I did not get any alpaca photos, because their barn was a little dark for no-flash photography, but here are some llamas:

If you remember what alpacas look like, you might recognize a resemblance, but notice that these beasts are a bit larger and have very different ears.

There were a number of Jacob sheep (less blurry in real life--but notice the four horns):

as well as angora goats (source of mohair):

and more sheep:

Who could resist all that baaing?

I did come home with a bit of booty:

That is sport-weight wool on the left, spun and dyed by folks who raise Corriedales. It will be used in my next Fair Isle project. And on the right, hand-spun undyed Jacob wool. Ah, the possibilities!

Altogether quite the experience. I can hardly wait for next year.


Brandy said...

I am so jealous!! I didn't get to go because I was out of town. It looks like you had fun though. Thanks for the pictures! I guess they'll have to do me until next year. Nice stash you brought home!!

Anonymous said...

I like the pictures of the llamas and alpacas. Good idea to show both. It is not hard to tell them apart.

Also like the fair isle project. Phew--looks complicated.

mateen said...

I checked out your photos on Facebook, but I like the blog so much better. And the red & white band's a K O !

Anonymous said...

Do you still have the pattern for the headband? I would like to practice fair isle again (it has been forever) without taking on something big right now.