Last Sunday I went down to the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival (OFFF) in Canby, Oregon. This was the first time I’d ever attended the event and it was on a bit of a whim. Several people had asked if I’d be there, and then my friend Selah told me about the Spinner’s Triathalon (more about that in a minute), and Kai opined that he’d really love to go to a fiber festival and do some yarn shopping (I think he’d been taken over by yarn-loving space aliens at that moment) and Eric suggested we take the bigger car, because it could hold more fleece (apparently the aliens got him, too.)
With nudging and support like that, how could I not go? So Selah, Kai, and I hopped into a car and headed down to Canby for the day.
It was a rainy day, but the outdoor vendors were prepared for the wet.
After browsing around outside, we headed to the spinning competitions. The first spinning contest was “strategic spinning” in which each contestant was given a set amount of fiber to spin in a set amount of time. To win you had to spin every bit of fiber, finishing at exactly the ending time, and produce the longest yarn.
I haven’t been to many sporting events, never once attended a Florida State University football game (much to my father’s dismay), but apparently I did get some vestigial cheerleading gene, because I couldn’t resist standing beside Selah during the strategic spinning and making up supportive little chants like: “Selah, Selah, she’s our gal; if she can’t do it we’ll hire Hal!” and “Spin, spin, spin, spin!” Selah for her part grinned, turned beet red, and muttered under her breath: “I’ll get you for this Syne, you know that, don’t you?”
Personally, I think she got off easy. There was a lot of fiber in the room; you know how easy it would have been to whip up fleece pom-poms?
The strategic spinning event went on for a long time, so Kai and I went a-browsing. He bought a bottle of rocks, and I talked to a couple of vendors about wholesaling copies of Andean Pebble Weave. And I’m delighted to say the book will soon be available from Village Spinning and Weaving as well as Weaving Works! (As I write this, the printer is a-humming in the background.)
We ran into some lacemakers a-weaving up bobbin lace. I am continuing a flirtation with bobbin lace. I’ve woven a couple of small strips, but don’t yet feel comfortable with the technique. But I’ve a developed bit of a collection of bobbins, so it’s only a matter of time before the bobbin-lace bug bites hard. I can feel it circling.
Here are Amy and Lucas, who were also competing in the spinning events. I love that Kai wasn’t the only boy there. Lucas, age 11, was a wonderful role model. Composed, confident, and having fun.
During one of the down times Kai, who’d never spun on a drop-spindle before, asked if he could have a go. With some trepidation I handed over my precious-precious turkish spindle and let him try. Apparently watching me spin hundreds of yards on the thing had taught him some moves, because he quietly and without any fuss started making thread. I took pictures: Kai’s first spindling!
After strategic spinning, was the spinner’s triathlon. In this event, you spin three times: two minutes plain, two minutes with rubber gloves on, and two minutes blindfolded. I hadn’t brought a wheel (I’m into minimalism at the moment) but joined in with “team spindle” to participate. My take-away lessons:
1. Wheels are faster than spindles in competition. Having to stop drafting to wind on is what kills you. Especially if you’re using a Turkish spindle with the over-two, under-one wind-on.
2. Spinning with gloves: not my fave.
3. Spinning blindfolded is surprisingly easy and cool. I want to practice more of this so I can got to the point where I can spindle without having to watch my hands.
And the final event, the 50-foot dash. In this event one spinner treadles and the other drafts (without winding on) until they reach the finish mark. Selah generously loaned her wheel to me and Kai. Kai treadled and I drafted. If you broke your thread (easy to do) you had to run like crazy before it got sucked onto the bobbin and wound on, then start drafting again. It was wild, wacky fun. Kai and I had a blast and Selah got a bit of revenge for my impromptu cheerleading. Below is the video she took of the event. It starts slow, but the competition heats up near the end.
Kai and I won fabulous prizes. Yes, more spinning fiber!
I purchased a few wee tools from Carolina Homespun. A new backstrap weaving thingy from Lacis, and a uber-cool stitch counter.
I love that’s it’s low tech, looks like a steam punk gear, is anodized a bright color, has a built-in cutter, and a bit of rhinestone bling in the center.
Some yarn followed me home from the Blue Moon booth. These are two yummy boucles: one rayon, the other 100% silk. There’s some silly nonsense about knitting gauge on the labels, but I’m looking at them and thinking: weaving yarns! (A tip to new weavers: boucle yarns hide a lot of beat inconsistencies and selvedge foibles.) I haven’t yet decided whether to use this on a rigid-heddle loom or my Baby Wolf. I’m still mulling over the possibilities…
I met the Knitmore Girls on the way out of the parking lot. They were, as ever, charming.
And any trip to Oregon is best wrapped up with a dinner at Burgerville!
Bye OFFF! See you again next year!