textiles · exploration · misadventure


Dear Lambtown

Brilliant red, blue, and green hand-dyed bombyx silk by Janet Hepler, Nebo Rock Textiles.

Hand-dyed bombyx silk by Janet Hepler, Nebo Rock Textiles,

Dear Lambtown:

You know how, when there are certain traditions in your family or your life, and you do them over and over every year, sometimes you get a little tired of them?

Somehow, that doesn’t happen with you.

You were one of my first fiber festivals, and every year I go again, and swear I’m going to see everything, and do everything, but every year, although you are not of prohibitive size, I am unable.

I wake early, drink gallons of coffee, and pack healthful snacks. I arrive early, pace myself, take regular rest breaks, and avoid the funnel cake (Quel dommage!) but somehow, Lambtown, the complete truth of what you are escapes me.

There are always certain things I need to do, certain businesses and people I need to visit. Morgaine and Lan at Carolina Homespun, the fleece judging stand, and Shaggy Bear Farm, especially. Then you know I like to case the joint, visit every stand and look at all the wares, think about what I’m working on, what I need, what I like, be surprised by the unexpected. I always run into friends and fellow textile junkies, and have chatter about guild and fleeces and whatever.

Then there are the classes. I always take at least one class. And stop by the wool judging over and over, when I need a rest. And then they’re rolling up the carpets, I’m staggering around half-drunk on the happiness of wool fumes and fellowship, can barely keep my eyes open long enough for dinner and bed.

The next day I might have time to visit the border collie trials or the animal barn or the wart hog or the petting zoo. More likely I’m zipping from shop to shop, buying treasures, checking which fleeces are left, trying to talk myself out of taking one home with me. (This year I brought home the grand champion mohair!)

And suddenly they are rolling up the carpets again, and we are done for the year, and I haven’t done half of what I wanted, and I find myself yearning for next year already, Lambtown.

You are so small, so unprepossessing, Lambtown, but you hold some magic that other festivals don’t, at least for me. You are so good to me.

I love you, Lambtown. Thanks for being so good at being yourself, for luring me back, again and again, and helping me be whole.

Carolina Homespun is always a giant pile of fun and surprises. This year, Morgaine had miles of Polwarth and Falkland wools, and some magnificent wool/silk blends:
GIANT pile of white and off-white wool/wool silk roving.

I could drown myself in this GIANT PILE OF SILK THE SIZE OF JABBA THE HUT.
GIANT pile of cream colored silk hankies for handspinning.

These braids of50/50 yak/silk always tempt me, but I have pounds of it at home already:
Close-up of rust, gold, powder blue, periwinkle, and violet braids of 50/50 yak down/silk blends for handspinning.

More fancifully dyed twists of wool/silk, by Nancy Finn of Chasing Rainbows, also found at Carolina Homespun:
Autumnal hanks of wool and silk spinning fiber.

The colors in this one particularly excite me:
Close up on autumnally dyed silk/wool spinning fiber. Orange, black, and yellow.

One of the nicer surprises this year was Trisha Lambert’s Colors of Nature.
Bright orange, pink, yellow, and green silk scarves, hand-dyed with natural dyes.

Her hand-dyed eco-prints caught my eye, and Trisha was kind enough to talk a little dyeing with a groupie, and to let me take some pictures of her bright, beautiful work.
Bright blue, pink, and green silk scarves, hand-dyed with natural dyes.
Pink and yellow ecoprint silk scarves, hand-dyed with natural dyes.

I’m so impressed. Every color I‘ve produced so far shares a strong family resemblance to brown.

This little darling came home with me. I am forever running out of project bags. I just adore it!
Yellow-green ecoprint hemp project bag hand-dyed with natural dyes.

And then, of course, there’s Shaggy Bear Farms.
Wall of hand-dyed yarns from blue to rust to pink to gold.

I adore Wendy Hanson’s dyeing technique, and year after year I come here to stare at this brilliant wall. It fills me with lust to my toes.

Red, blue, yellow-gold, and green-gold skeins of hand-dyed yarn.

Blue-silver and gold-rust skeins of hand-dyed yarn.

Look at those colors! It’s not a true variegation, I think, but more of a randomness, WHICH I LOVE. And it’s not a common dye technique; you just don’t see it quite like this anywhere else, or at least I haven’t. Wendy’s yarns are unique.

Blue, cream-gold-silver, and green-gold skeins of hand-dyed yarn.

Migod, these pictures are all so giant. Oops, oh well, it will take two hours to fine-tune smaller ones with text, so giant they are.

Rust-gold-silver and pink skeins of hand-dyed yarn.

Shaggy Bear has several breeds of sheep and goat on the ranch, and sells beautiful fibers prepared for spinning in oh, ten or twenty breed-specific varieties. They work with and promote endangered and rare breeds, so this is where where I came when I wanted to learn what Perendale, Gotland, and Pygora goat were like to spin. I love the creativity and variety here, along with the commitment to protect the rarer breeds.

More on Lambtown soon, likely next week, I took two super classes, one on wool judging and a CRAZY-fun dyeing class.