The offspring, Friend Merlyn and I went to the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool festival this Sunday past. We had a good time, with lots of sheepy things to look at, from fleece on the hoof to finished product. I do however note that Saturday rather than Sunday is probably a better day to go. It looked like some vendors and displays had already packed up and left, and some of the remaining sellers were displaying much depleted stock. There were still sheepdog trials going on when we got there, but the advertised horse show was among the events scratched for the day. Younger Daughter especially got a kick out of what looked to be a children’s llama agility course, in which youngsters led their equally young beasts around a set of gentle obstacles. It was hard to pick out who was cuter, the clearly concentrating little kids at one end of the lead ropes, or the gangly legged, long necked fuzzballs at the other.
I did manage to pick up some excellent buys. From left to right, 665 yard/8.3 oz hank of gray sport weight alpaca, from the Times Remembered booth – super soft and probably a bit more yardage than advertised on the label (labels were pre-printed with sport weight target yardage but hanks varied in weight, I picked a more weighty one); two skeins of sock yarn from Dorchester Farms; and an oversize lace weight yarn, one in black of 13.3 oz, probably around 4200 yards from a bargain bin in a booth whose name I neglected to note. At the same spot Elder daughter got some orange/russet lace weight of about 6.5 oz, probably around 2000 yards. Both pods of lace yarn were at a bargain basement prices. I also got some white cotton, close to 30 weight suitable for filet crochet at another stall that was offering mill ends. The two of us together spent less than $75 total on yarn, and garnered enough for winter’s worth of scarf, hat, sock and shawl knitting and crocheting for us both (lace is especially cost effective in terms of dollars spent on materials vs. hours of knitting enjoyment). Finally, in the center is the felted snake Younger Daughter made at the Textile Museum’s booth.
I almost bought a sock kit from Harmony Yarns/Tsock Tsarina – the sock kits there were the most original thing I saw on display, and I got a big kick out of the opera themes of the design. The Tsarina herself was working on a pair on a theme to match “Daughter of the Regiment.” I was tempted by the Firebird and Kitri socks, and admired the sculptural cleverness of the Vintage. The only drawback is that these are socks as art objects. They’d be difficult to add to the daily wear and wash rotation. Still, I took the card (they were out of kits in my mega-flipper size), with the intent to do up one or more of them in the near future. I meant to pick up some more Mostly Merino fingering weight, but although I pegged their display as being on the “zip back after full reconnoiter for purchase” I didn’t manage to loop around to them. Which was a shame because they had some beautiful yarn there in the highly saturated colors I prefer.
There were many other vendors of note although my yarn budget would not let me stretch to buy everything I liked. I especially enjoyed seeing all the micro producers in addition to the larger (yet still not big business) concerns like Bartlett Mills and Green Mountain Spinnery. Hand dyed/variegated yarns predominated, with natural off-the-animal colors a close second. Lots of bunny and mohair – sadly both fibers I avoid because they make my hands itch when I try to work with them. Most vendors on Sunday had short quantities of most products, although some of the larger booths did have full sweater lots left. I missed seeing one vendor I thought might be there: Nicks Meadow Farm, a New Hampshire sheep farm/yarn seller I’ve seen at local Gore Place Sheepshearing festivals. I like their scoured Maine style rustic wool and have used their heavy worsted/Aran weight to good effect in the past.
I did not take any wandering-around or day-out pix (as you can see from my feeble attempts at photography here, cameras are not my forte). However, Friend Merlyn did. I’m hoping to link to some of her shots when they’re posted.