Monday, September 21, 2009

NCFF 2009- Part 1, Fiber Sandwich

What a wonderful weekend I had in Watertown, at NCFF. The fiber fair is growing steadily, and has expanded to holding classes on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I wasn't able to get there until Saturday, where I taught an All-Day Fair Isle (I'm also teaching that one in North Carolina at SAFF next month). On Sunday, I had a booksigning. I saw old friends, made new ones, bought some fiber, did some knitting, got out the wheel, ate a really good catered supper (the best I've ever had at NCFF), modeled in the style show, and, in general, had a marvelous, and exhausting time (I opted not to spend the night, so driving back and forth was a bit much: 300 miles in 2 days... next time I'll get a room).

So first up: As a fundraiser for NCFF, vendors and spinners donated up to 4ozs of any kind of fiber for the Fiber Sandwich (the only restriction was that it had to be spinnable... in other words, not fresh from the sheep- and yes, I know you can spin in the grease, but that wouldn't have worked for this project). Volunteers (every portion of this event was volunteer), fluffed, distributed, and spread the donated fibers in layers on a table.

I heard that there was about 4lbs of fiber total, every kind: natural wool, dyed wool, llama, angora rabbit, mohair, glitz, camel, silk, and possibly, space alien.

The table full of fluff was divided into 4 oz bags and distributed to the volunteer spinners. The original deadline was to spin the 4ozs of fiber into any kind of yarn the spinner desired, by 1:00pm Saturday. That proved to be just a little bit impossible (an understatement...) so the deadline was extended to 2:00pm on Sunday. I was teaching an all-day class, but with the deadline extension (and knowing that I could squeeze a little spinning in over lunch, during breaks, and after class was over), I signed up, happy to do my part to support NCFF by donating the finished skein to a silent auction at the end of the Fiber Fair. It was a wonderful fund-raising plan, but one that could have been tweaked even further- I wanted to spin that stuff so badly, that I would have PAID to do it... just sayin'...

At any rate, it turned out that I had some blocks of time during the all-day class (as I waited for the students to catch up to me, or each other, so that we could all work on an important step together), that I was able to spin during the day as well. I can spin and talk at the same time, so it worked out fine (in fact, try to get me to shut up... Go ahead... try it...)

Since there was a deadline on the spinning, and I didn't take the time (or have the equipment) to card my fibers, I just grabbed random handfulls, fluffed them a bit more, and spun the stuff as it came. This made for a lumpy/bumpy yarn, which is not my favorite sort of spinning, though I do love the yarns that result from that kind of experimentation. I happened to have a bobbin full of already spun singles, so most of my 4ozs was spun and then plied with those pre-spun singles. But the last bit of leftover fiber sandwich was plied back onto itself. I was given 4 ozs of fiber, and turned in 2 skeins with 5.3 ozs of yarn.

This is my large skein.

Giving 14 spinners the same fiber and telling them to make whatever yarn they like from it, is like giving 14 knitters all the same yarn and telling them to knit. I was fascinated by the different yarns produced by the spinners- all of them beautiful. Here some of them are, drying in the sun, before the auction (washing made a huge difference in these skeins- they were definitely in need of blooming, and the odd whack against the side of the building).

A closeup of one particularly beautiful skein.

Unfortunately, I left on Sunday before the Silent Auction ended, but I saw the signup sheets, and know that every single skein had a bid (some of them hefty), and they raised at least a couple hundred dollars for the fair. Which is wonderful.


Geek Knitter said...


I've often thought that spanking yarn sounded like the funnest part of being a spinner.

mrae said...

It looks like you had an amazing, amazing time!!!