At the Still Point of the Turning World
Residency is over, NOW what? (While I'm waiting for the answer, I'll get some spinning done....)

Sunday, February 23, 2003


Back from Stitches West, where I had a marvelous time doing nothing but watching other knitters at work, admiring their best handiwork (do we all succumb to our vanity, and wear our best sweater or shawl to a fiber fest?), and--wonderfullest of all--SHOPPING. I was honest with myself this year, and decided not to take a workshop. My mind get so overloaded during the week, it's nice to stop thinking and just soak up fiberly atmosphere when I'm at an event.

Having been to a bunch of fiber fests during the past three years, and having spent more than my fair share of money, I've developed the following strategy for tackling the delights of the marketplace:

#1 Make a want list before you walk through the door. In the case of several vendors whose products I know and enjoy, I budgeted a certain amount of money to spend at their stalls. Other things to add to the list are those pesky "I'd like to try one of these but haven't seen one in person yet" items. Such a list helps focus the mind and keeps you from succumbing to the many delights you don't really need, want, and definitely can't afford.

#2 Make a tour of the entire marketplace before spending a penny. Make notes of the things that intrigue you, so you can return to them if time and budget permit. This strategy might not be feasible at a truly enormous market, such as the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, but would work well at most regional events.

#3 Remember, you can come back later. This assumes you've allowed yourself more than a couple of hours to shop, which is not a good idea because it sets up a buy-before-you-think mentality. Knowing I can return to the booth later if I decide I must have more allows me to select only those items that are a) on my pre-market list, b) on my market-inspection list, and c) within my budget.

#4 Savor your spending. Again, assuming you have enough time to browse, and that your most-desired goods are not going to sell out right away, it's nice to dole out your purchases over the entire period you're at the market. If you've spent all your money in the first hour, you might give in to regret--and overspending--at the end of the afternoon.

#5 Collect cards and catalogues, and make a note of maybe-later items you can purchase online or via mail order. This way you can choose to make a purchase when you can afford it, rather than on the spur of the moment.

#6 Remember, even if you can't afford it, you can take a photograph. Here's some truly amazing naturally dyed, superbulky tailspun mohair yarn from La Lana Wools:

Okay, 'nuff said about how to tackle the Stitches Market, what did I get? Here's the loot--click on thumbnails for a larger view):

Here's some beautiful handpainted 50-50 bombyx/merino top from Chasing Rainbows Colorworks. Nancy Finn has one of the subtlest palettes of color on fiber I've ever seen. This colorway is called "Cabernet" at features shades of plummy-wine, indigo blue, gold-chartreuse, and turquoise.

Here are a few more handpainted treasures from Nancy's studio. She was having a special sale on brushed mohair yarns, so my mother scooped up the big skein on the left, in a colorway called "Mendocino Hedges," a subtle array of sage green, aubergine, sienna, champagne and rose. It's one of the most amazing colorways I've ever seen in handpainted yarn. The two skeins in the middle are my own indulgence, a colorway called "Taos," featuring pale adobe, lavendar, sand, and light smokey grey. I'm planning to make a simple garter-stich shawl in a large gauge. Finally, the two skeins on the left are a wonderful denim-blue solid on wool/silk boucle.

Finally, here's some sundry items I couldn't resist. There's a pattern for an Aran cardigan from Black Water Abbey, very reminiscent of Alice Starmore's St. Brigid. Below the pattern, you see a bookmark loom from Weavettes. Many of my fibery friends are laughing out loud to see this loom amongst my purchases, because I've been trying not to take up another fiber hobby. Go ahead, laugh--but this is it. No more looms until I grow up. Ahem. Moving on, there's a set of size 0 Pony Pearl DPNs, which I bought on Wendy's recommendation. Finally, at the bottom of the photo there's a project bag in a rich, carpet-y fabric. This was an indulgence, but the bag is large enough to slip in a 10-12" long spindle with a good bump of fiber, so I'm hoping to expand my portable-spinning projects onto larger spindles.

I also got an 8-oz skein of laceweight grey Icelandic wool yarn, from Tongue River Farm, but it didn't photograph well, so I'll have to show it to you later.

Pretty good, considering I stayed under budget. (Of course, my Stitches budget included half of my March yarn and fiber budget, so these purchases will have to keep me happy for a while.) I also finished up a couple of small projects, but will have to show these to you later this week. Cheers until then!