I spent the past week on the coast, visiting my Mum and her sister, who (together with her housemate) made the long haul out from Newfoundland to see her. We spent a lot of the week up to our ears in family history, reading letters and memoirs written by generations of our forebears, and my Mum and aunt helped each other fill in the details of family history and relationships and had a great time sharing memories.
I left them to it on Saturday morning, and drove out to Surrey to visit Fibres West, a trade show about all things fibrous. It was a small show, with a few dozen vendors, held at the Agriplex in Surrey, which meant I could enjoy a very home-like (to me, anyway) aroma of manure as I walked from the parking lot to the show building.
But once inside, oh what a splendour of colour and texture! This image shows part of the Jane Stafford Textiles booth, from Salt Spring Island. She is a weaver and thus her wares catered mostly to weavers, but I did notice suggested gauges for knitting things from these various yarns. I always forget that weaving yarn can be used for knitting.
Displayed above these shelves was a gorgeous Fair Isle pullover in softly heathered wool: just beautiful. I didn’t try to get a shot of the whole thing from the front because the undergirding of the building’s roof were too ugly a backdrop. Then I got a shot of it from the back.
The cotton boucle yarns.
I can’t remember which booth had this loom set up and a weaver at work: many of the booths had looms and spinning wheels and spindles for sale, many of them being demonstrated by people working in the booths.
I enjoyed this button display. All the buttons are hand-made from polymer clay.
I bought myself a couple of shawl pins from this booth, but what really made me catch my breath there was this deeply-textured cardigan. I wish I’d thought to ask about the yarn and the pattern! That collar is exactly right.
I found an equally beguiling thick grey wool cardigan casually slung over the back of a chair behind this booth, which sold coloured fleece for spinning from massive plastic bags.
I suspect that this one is either Sally Melville’s Einstein coat design from her book on the knit stitch, or an old but lovely offering from Elizabeth Zimmerman, from her book about garter stitch knitting designs. Either way, I want to give it a whirl. If you look closely, you can see that this grey yarn is actually full of soft highlights of lavender and teal. A yarn with depth.
More yarn displays . . .
The one below is hemp yarn from Nelson (the company is Hemp for Knitting): I had no idea that hemp could take dye so beautifully, but look at the richness of these hues. I nearly, nearly bought enough yarn for a sweater but got cold feet at the last moment. Then I regretted my lack of courage on the way back to North Van. I consoled myself by thinking that Nelson isn’t far from Greenwood and I’m now free to travel during the week.
But the prize for most intense colour went to the booth housing the yarns by Sweet Georgia, a Vancouver yarn company that’s doing very well. As you can see, all the labelling and promotional material is printed on intense fuchsia, which makes the brand instantly recognizable.
And I love the tag line displayed above the finished projects below.
I was struck by these astoundingly oversized crochet hooks at Sweet Georgia. 35mm is about an inch and a half, which is pretty huge for a crochet hook.
I couldn’t quite see the point until I saw equally oversized knitting needles in use at another stall. Sorry about the blurry photo: his hands were moving pretty fast. If you’re going to knit or crochet with two separate strands of roving (unspun fleece), needles this size are necessary.
As well as colour, I saw a lot of wonderful texture, as in these cardigans from Ireland. Someone obviously loves to work cables. I’ve worked lots of cables in my time, I admit, and they still seem a bit magic to me.
Isn’t it amazing what people have dreamt up to create with two sticks and a bit of string?
Here’s another kind of texture: lace, with beads knitted right into the fabric. Scrumptious.
I must remember to show you some of the lace I’ve knitted over the years. Other than my Hitofude cardigan, I don’t think I’ve shown anything lacy here on the blog.
One of the best things about this show is that many of the vendors understand the appeal of the story of their fibres and yarns and brought with them ways to show people where and how the yarns are produced. I like the sheep-puppy moments in some of these photos from Disdero Ranch.
And those real-life touches were a welcome part of the day for me. One of the things I most enjoyed about this show is that it included a lot of very small, one- or two-person home-based businesses and the cottage industry products of farms and ranches. This was not a slick operation, although some booths were beautifully arranged and carried a lot of commercially sophisticated products.
This booth had the source of the fibre right at the show.
This was one of my favourite sights of the day. The combination of his bare feet working the pedals of his spinning wheel, his funky painted sneakers, and that hat appealed to me.
And he wasn’t the only one sporting a completed project. It was fun to see what people were wearing, as many people were proudly wearing hand knit or crocheted clothes.
This one isn’t a hand knit, but I love the rich scarlet yarn and those variegated flowers, as well as the narrow patterned bands across the seams and at the hem.
I caught this one just as I was leaving and she was going in.
By the time I left, after three hours, my head was reeling with all the stimulation and colour and ideas and people I’d encountered. Did I buy yarn? Yup. But not a whole lot. The point was just to be there, soaking up the atmosphere and feeding my imagination. I had a terrible time trying to sleep that night, with all of this surging around in my brain, but I’m not complaining. It was total fun, total immersion in a thrilling, restorative experience.