I had a great time at the 12th annual Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival on September 23, 2017. This was my first visit to this festival, and it was awesome! It was at the Clarke County Ruritan Fair Grounds in Berryville Virginia. This year’s festival was September 23, 2017 – September 24, 2017. I was very impressed with the layout, and there was a plenty of shade to get out of the sun. It was easy to get around, and was not overcrowded. I enjoyed talking to many of the vendors, who seemed happy to take time to speak with me. This was a refreshing change from some of the other crowded fiber festivals I have attended. I wanted to showcase some of the fiber artists and vendors I met there. If you missed the festival this year, then I hope that you can make it next year on September 29, 2018 -September 30, 2018. A lot of the vendors have online shops or Facebook pages you can visit.
Hip Strings at the Shenandoah Fiber Festival
Hip Strings Specializes in modern fiber arts. There are some amazing accessories here! They have the beautiful knitting needle gauge checkers, and some cool supported spindles. They also have some fantastic roving and batts.
Belle Fields Farm Jacob Sheep and Wool– Had some very unique pieces-spirit bowls and fairy houses. You can also make your own spirit bowl. They sell the forms so you can add your own feathers, fiber, stones, and more. Everything has a meaning.
Knitting Addiction – A yarn shop on wheels! I heard one person say that it was better than a book mobile. A lot of people were afraid to go in because they thought it would be hot, but they had air conditioning in the truck! Gorgeous yarns, and a wonderful vendor. I bought some pretty sparkly yarn that I intend to use in weaving. They have a brick and mortar store in Kitty Hawk, NC.
Barefoot Spinner – I gotta say WOW! Some absolute gorgeous art yarn! They also had gorgeous roving.
Central Virginia Fiber Mill – Wonderful ladies with an amazing selection of yarn, silk hankies, art batts, and Lucets. I had a great conversation about the Kromski Fantasia with one of them.
Lightning Bug Hollow Studios– Heather makes some amazing yarn bowls and yarn bells. She is a knitter/crocheter in addition to being a potter. She understands the way yarn behaves when you work with it, and has created beautiful pieces with that in mind.
Crafty Flutterby Creations/Michelle’s Assortment – I was blown away by Michelle’s talent. She had some wonderful kits at the fiber festival, and I am kicking myself for not getting one while I was there. She designs all of the patterns, and shawl pins herself. At the festival she was operating under the name Michelle’s Assortment, and has now become Crafty Flutterby Creations. She has a new website where she sells her patterns and shawl pins. I recommend a visit!
I have so many works in progress-WIPs for short. Usually, I have at least 5, currently I have 8. This is not counting the projects that have been long forgotten. I am talking about the ones that have been stashed in a yarn bag or a box for at least a year. Ravelry uses the term “hibernating” for such projects. These are projects that I consider active projects. I will probably write a WIP post once a month.
I always have multiple knitting projects going on. Knitting is portable, and it’s easy to keep everything you need for a project in a “go” bag. I don’t like to leave the house without a knitting project, because you never know when you can work a few rows into your day.
Long Term Project – I always have one project that takes forever, like a sweater or a shawl. Currently I am knitting Architexture by Jennifer Weissman: from Craftsy for a wonderful kindred spirit. I love this pattern. It’s done in Cloudborn Highland Fingering yarn. This yarn is absolutely gorgeous, and super tiny (so it’s gonna take a while). Unfortunately, the kit is no longer available*(UPDATE: The kit is available again!), but you can get the pattern from Ravelry and the yarn from Craftsy. I actually have to pay attention to follow this pattern, and I take breaks by working on some instant gratification projects.
Instant Gratification Project – Sometimes you just want to finish a project. I like a quick knit because it makes me feel like I have accomplished something. Currently I am working on Carina Spencer’s Lucy hat. This pattern is adorable, and it knits up quickly. I love the woven band, and the retro cloche flap. I am using Lion Brand Wool Ease in Cranberry and Oxford Grey.
Socks – There are numerous socks scattered about the house in various stages of completion. I’m always sneaking in a few rows while I am doing housework. I hardly ever finish a pair and have diagnosed myself with SSS – Single Sock Syndrome. I’m always starting new socks, because I like to see how the pattern knits up.
Baby Gifts – Occasionally, I have to stop what I am doing and knit a baby gift. Like just now while working on this post I realized that I need to knit a baby gift before November. I have included it in this in this list even though I haven’t started it yet. Digging out the yarn is going to count as “in progress” for this one.
6. Pink Shawl – I always like to have a weaving project going on. Currently I have a pink shawl on my Kromski Harp. The yarn is Lion Brand’s Shawl in a Ball.
I currently have two spinning projects. I usually like to have one traditional type of yarn and one art yarn.
7. Purple Romney Wool – This Romney wool in a beautiful purple is from Catoctin Creek Farm. I am spinning it, and then plying it. I am spinning it on a Baynes Colonial spinning wheel, and plying it on a Spinolution Pollywog.
8. Thick and Thin Thread Plied Yarn – I am planning on dyeing this. I haven’t decided on which method I will be using yet. I am spinning this on a Spinolution Pollywog. This Blue Faced Leicester wool came from Little Barn. They have fabulous prices for unspun wool.
The internet if a magical and wonderful place. You can find find free knitting and crochet patterns. I have compiled a list of some of my favorite sites to find free patterns. I may have gotten a little distracted while researching this post, by all of the amazing patterns that I want to make.
Ravelry There is so much to love about Ravelry! This is the only site on my list that you have to register for, but it’s worth it! They have over 311,103 patterns and a lot of them are free! They have a pattern search tool where you can choose your criteria. You can filter your searches, by yarn weight, technique, construction method, and more. Here’s the best part, there is a box you can click that says “free”. Ravelry offers fiber lovers much more than amazing patterns. They have a queue for your projects, and you can create a list of favorites. They have an online project journal where you can add photographs, yarn type, needle size, and notes about your projects. There are numerous groups and forums for you to connect with other fiber lovers. If you only check out one site on this list, then start with this one. You can friend me on Ravelry. My Ravelry name is The-Yarn-Bucket.
All Free Knitting This site has so many free patterns. Patterns are divided by category to make it easy to find what you are looking for. They have a list of popular patterns, and a collection of patterns for beginners. There is also a collection of knitting videos.
All Free Crochet There is a fantastic collection of crochet patterns for all skill levels on this site. Patterns are divided by category, and you can search patterns by hook size. There are some great tutorials, and they feature a pattern of the day.
The Vintage Pattern Files I have a vintage pattern obsession. Knitting a vintage pattern is like stepping back in time. Patterns are divided by time period. They have patterns dating back to the 1800s.
Interweave One of my favorite publisher! Interweave has published multiple knitting and crochet books over the years. They are responsible for wonderful magazines like Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet, Handwoven, Spin Off and Jewelry Artist. Their website has over 200 quality patterns for free. They also have some great resources for different stitches, and techniques.
Knit Picks They have a lot of free patterns! Knit Picks also has yarn, yarn accessories, tools, and free shipping if you spend over $50. I am a huge fan of their wooden knitting needles.
Yarnspirations This site has a well presented selection of free knitting and crochet patterns from tea cozies to sweaters. Patterns are presented by photograph, and are marked by skill level.
Vogue Knitting Vogue Knitting offers some fashionable free patterns. If you scroll down you can view the patterns by photograph making it easy to search for patterns that catch your eye.
Love Knitting There are a lot of free patterns on this site. They also sell patterns as well. If you only want to see the free patterns, then you can sort them from lowest to hightest.
Love CrochetThis is another site where they also sell patterns. You can sort from lowest to highest so you can focus on the freebies.
Learning to spin your own yarn should not cost a fortune. I was afraid to learn to spin yarn, because didn’t want to spend a lot of money starting another obsession. I had already accumulated a large amount of yarn, and was afraid that I would not enjoy spinning as much as I do knitting. It turns out that I had nothing to be afraid of, because I love to spin yarn. I am so glad I gave it a try. Spinning yarn is calming and meditative. In today’s world of mass production, its wonderful to make something with your own hands the way our ancestors did. The good news is that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to give spinning your own yarn a try.
Make Your Own Drop Spindle
The most economic way to learn to spin yarn is on a drop spindle. I made my first drop spindle out of a dowel rod and a wagon wheel. I was never happy with the weight of the spindle. So I started a quest to find an affordable drop spindle to recommend for new spinners. You can make your own drop spindle for about $4 using this tutorial from Cindy at Jacob’s Reward Farm. I decided to try it out to see if it was easy to make and easy to use. I am pleased to report that it is! The whole project took about 10 minutes. I used a cup hook instead of the eye hook the tutorial calls for. You can make a top whorl spindle or a bottom whorl spindle. I made a bottom whorl spindle. This spindle has a nice weight and is easy to use.
Spinning with Well Prepared Fiber
Start with well prepared fiber, because it is easier to draft and spin. I like to the wool roving at Laughing Lamb Fibers. They have fair prices and amazing product. Most of their wool is loose, fluffy, and spins like a dream. I also recommend pre-drafting your fiber to make it easier to spin.
Give Spinning a Try!
There are a lot of YouTube tutorials on line that will teach you how to spin. I like ones that use the park and draft method for beginners. This one from Barbara at Kitty Mine Crafts is wonderful. There is a link to her Etsy shop. She has some beautiful fibers for sale. She also sells some affordable drop spindles if you don’t want to make your own.
Don’t Give Up!
Spinning takes practice! It takes a while to get the hang of spinning and drafting. Don’t give up! The rewards are worth it. Soon you will have your very own custom yarns without having to spend a fortune for supplies. That being said, spinning yarn is just as addictive as knitting and crochet. Once you learn how to do it, you will want to buy a lot of fiber, and that could get expensive. Here is my logic:
When you buy the wool you get enjoyment of choosing the wool.
If you are dyeing the yarn, then you get the joy of making your own colorways!
Then you get the joy of spinning the wool into yarn.
You get enjoyment by making something out of that yarn.
When you are finished, you get a product that you can wear, or give as a gift.
You get hours of enjoyment, and entertainment.
Spinning your own yarn and buying unspun wool is really a true bargain once you think about how much it costs to see a movie these days.