ANZ's Farms

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Carolina Fiber Fest

Got To Be NC - Carolina Fiber Fest, Raleigh My 20-22
Visit the Carolina Fiber Fest at the Got To Be NC Festival this weekend at the fairgrounds in Raleigh. Oh, my! What a treat. I went yesterday afternoon and spent a couple of hours walking around looking at all the yarn and needle crafts, touching the various fibers, enjoying the banners with farm names and locations (Ewephoric Farms was my favorite), and watching spinners turn sheep, rabbit, goat and even buffalo fiber into yarn. But my favorite part was talking with the vendors about what they do.

First, the animals. Such as Sandy Anderson from Cozy Rabbit Farms who has 75 rabbits. 75! Fiber is her full time job and she sells most of her products at festivals like this one. I didn't think to ask her who cares for the animals while she is on the road. She must have a husband who loves her very much! She inspired me because she said she taught herself to spin. It took two frustrating weeks, but she persevered and now she is an expert. She also encouraged me by explaining that there is no such thing as perfect yarn. Some people like it fat, some thin. Some like it lumpy, some smooth. The most important thing seems to be that it doesn't break while knitting/crocheting.

Next, I enjoyed talking about the fiber itself. I discovered that rabbit fiber is much easier overall than large animal wool, like sheep or buffalo. Dawn dish washing liquid seemed to be the favored mild detergent for cleaning the fiber before spinning. And I got tips on carding the fiber prior to spinning.

Spinning wheels
Then, I asked lots of questions about choice of spinning wheels and tips for newbies wanting to learn to spin. The vendors were so willing to answer my questions and even demonstrated what they were saying as they spun. The spinning wheel shown here in the upper left corner is the only one I saw the spinners using. Apparently it is a space-saver and easiest to transport. Most spinners said the choice of wheel is a personal preference, but that they would recommend this type. There were several wheels for sale, the least expensive being $350. Yikes!

One other vendor I really enjoyed speaking with was Dru Pettibone of petite bones. She shared her experience that fiber is profitable. Angora/wool sells for $7 per ounce and yarn can sell for $35-50 an ounce. She sells her products on etsy both as yarn and needle crafts. She doesn't dye her yarns, saying her customers like a more rustic and natural product. I did watch one vendor dyeing her wares, a silk scarf. That doesn't look like something I would enjoy doing, at least not at first.

I didn't get a chance to talk with Elaina Kenyon of Avillion Farm in Efland, NC. Apparently she is the go-to girl for anything fiber in this area. She was busy with other people ... paying customers ... so I didn't interrupt her.

Now the question is ... was this field trip sufficient to get me spinning? It seems like a great past time, once the initial expense of a wheel and frustration of learning are behind me. This is something I can do on hot summer afternoons or on cold winter days by the fire. And, most importantly, something I can keep doing the older I get. Only time will tell.

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