When it comes to writing about fiber, I could go on and on filling miles of online space as I’m sure many of you could as well. There’s the wonderful stuff that we find at Sheep & Wool Festivals that comes from the people who raise the animals or dye it using a wonderful palette of colors. Of course, some of this may retain its lamby smell as the Icelandic lace weight my husband influenced me to buy at last fall’s Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool Festival. (Don’t worry–I have it well wrapped in a plastic bag to keep its small contained!)
At the other end of the spectrum are the pre-packaged balls that colorfully crowd the shelves of our favorite LYS. For me, that includes The Point NYC and Knitty City. I love the fact that The Point clusters the yarns by brand and color so that they burst out of their baskets. By contrast, the yarns in Knitty City are packed into their cubbyholes and spill into baskets on the floor.
In between are the cones of various yarns and mill ends that I buy at Silk City Fibers. They come in a wide variety of contents and the colors may not always be my first choice but they’re well priced and always become wonderful cherished items. At the core of my stash, there are some large cones of wonderful materials including mill ends of cashmere and cashmere blends (which I plan to make into amazing shawls since some of it is laceweight), some thick Chunky in Sweet Potato orange from which I’ve promised to make my husband a sweater (although he insists that a pair of socks would be much better), 2 pounds of black (yes you read that correctly) lace weight Italian linen which I will either make a shawl and/or mix it with a grey and white linen mix to make my After Dark Nightie #2 and a matching bathrobe from the first Mason Dixon Knits book.
Alas, there’s too much yarn and not enough time to knit it all! That said, I believe that it’s important to let the fiber tell you what it wants to be . It’s not that the fibers actually talk (that would be silly!) Rather, I find that it’s necessary to test some swatches and see what type of pattern works best for the yarn. For example, the spring sweater that I’m working on required several swatches to see what stitch would work best. I am lucky that I don’t find the math required to adapt a pattern to be a chore (although I would argue anyone can do this math but that’s for another blog post). Further, I am flexible and find beauty in a wide variety of fibers!
I am a HUGE fan of fiber festivals. They are wonderful outdoor activities that allow knitters to mingle with other lovers of yarn producing livestock, spinners and dyers. The Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival in May and the New York State Sheep & Wool Festival (known as the Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool Festival) in October are the two that I attend. While they encompass a wide range of activities, I generally spend my precious time there focused on stash enhancement.
Lastly, there are fiber farms. While I have only visited one, it was a wonderful experience that happened during the first trip my husband and I took back in the summer of 2005. Based on a brief entry in our guidebook, we drove from Lennox, MA to the middle of the state to Tregellys Farm. The owner was an incredibly friend chap who spent time talking about the farm and its wonderful assortment of animals including the heirloom equivalents of livestock. They also had camels and yaks.