I am just this minute back from The Oakland Fiber and Textile Festival and I had such a good time and came home so inspired and with such a bundle ‘o goodies that I had to sit down right now to write about it and post the pics.
So if you didn’t go to the festival, here’s whatcha missed . . . .
The festival – let’s just call it OFTF so I don’t have to keep typing out the name – is the project of Bente Petersen, owner of Piedmont Yarn and Apparel, a local yarn store, and Lou Grantham, owner of San Francisco Fiber, an Oakland-based retailer of all things spinning related. It is held in Splash Pad Park in Oakland’s Piedmont neighborhood. There were 36 vendors this year, though I thought it felt like more. I reckoned on spending about 90 minutes at the festival and I left after 4 hours (okay, I ate lunch in there).
The dual foci of the festival was on local, local, local – most of the vendors were from California and Oregon – and on natural, natural, natural – there were lots of fleeces and fibers in sheepy colors and lots of yarn done with natural dyes. I saw very little of what I guess we call “commercial yarn” – yarn made in large lots and found in local yarn stores nationwide (think Cascade). For the most part, at this show, the yarn you bought was sold to you by the person who raised the animal, sheared it, dyed it, spun it or wound it – or some combination there of. There was a lot of talent and labor represented at this event.
Another thing I really enjoyed was the emphasis was on the yarn and not on any single thing you could do with it. In other words, this was less a knitting festival than a fiber festival – crochet, spinning and weaving were as well represented as knitting. There were even booth dedicated to sewing and quilting!
The emphasis was also on learning – there were booths where you could learn how to knit, crochet, spin, weave and probably some more that I missed. This was a great place for the new fiber enthusiast to discover the range of things that can be done with yarn, and a place for the experienced knitter, crocheter, weaver or spinner to try something new.
Let’s get into some of the pictures . . . .
There were a lot of spinners, with some folks setting up a wide spinning circle right in the heart of the festival. You could walk up and ask them about the process, about their wheels, about their technique. Everyone seemed to be having a damn good time . . .
This guy came from somewhere back east – I think he said Missouri??? – to visit his daughter and grandkids and came on out to spin and sell. His name is Dave and his label is Ozark Handspun. Nice guy, sparkly goodies . . .
I also really loved this woman’s booth, Felt the Sun. I think her name is Katherine. What I do know is that she was taking do-it-yourself to the extreme, riding a bicycle to card her wool . . .
The wool she is carding starts out like this . . . .
Then she “rides” it on the bicycle and it comes out like this . . .
This is a all a little crunchy-granola for me, but I am glad there are people out there who want to do this and get it done so I can knit. I like my fiber to come like this . . .
I was happy to see Twirl there. This is yarn from Napa Valley, where owner Mary Pettis-Sarley raises the sheep and spins the yarn and dyes it with natural goodies . . . .
So what stood out to me? Well, I am not a huge fan of the crunchy yarns – the ones that feel like they just came off the sheep, but there was certainly plenty of that there and I was glad to see it as many local yarn stores do not offer much of that kind of yarn. For me, I gravitated to my old favorites and a couple of new ones, and came home with quite a stash.
My first purchase of the day was made at Wonderland Dyeworks, a new-to-me vendor and ooooh, girl, let me tell you, they have some fabulous jewel-toned yarns and fiber for spinning. Wonderland features the dyeing of Elissavet Livitsanos, who was on hand with her sister to sell and chat. Much of what she had was beautiful roving – if I were ever going to be tempted to spin my own yarn I was gonna be tempted here. But I opted for a gorgeous sock yarn, color way “Water Nymph.” Who isn’t gonna love a water nymph???
Then I hit one of my faves, Sincere Sheep. Owner/dyer Brooke Sinnes has sold at the festival before and she felt it was larger and busier this year, so a big fat YEAH for that! I always have a hard time choosing from her great colors, but I finally settled on Agleam in color “Be Mine” and Tenacious in color “Prayer to Artemis.”
And here is something very cool! Brooke’s “booth babe,” Leticia, has started making some lovely stitch markers with crystals. Here’s the thing, tho – they are square, so they hang very nicely from your knitting needle and don’t flip around too much. Also cool, she has placed the crystals over the join in the marker, so they can’t catch on your knitting - very important if you are knitting lace with, say Brooke’s “Agleam,” one of my total faves for its shine and smoothness (thank you, tencel). Leticia was kind enough to give me a set to try and I am very impressed with them after only one row (all I had time for before I sat down to blog). Plus they’re just damn pretty. And they sparkle. A girl’s gotta have some bling. You can find these lovely stitch markers on Brooke’s website - look on the left hand side for “stitch markers” for the whole selection – or in her booth at upcoming shows, like Interweave’s Knitting Lab in San Mateo in Nov.
Here’s a close up of the style she gave me . . .
I also hit Tactile Fiber Arts, another one of my absolute faves, where I was happy to see owner/dyer Maia Discoe was offering a discount on many of her yarns. I snagged me two skeins of cultivated silk lace yarn in a color way called “Coho” that Maia says she will not be using anymore. That’s too bad because it is one of those gorgeous, vintage-y pinks – not baby, not ballet, just a nice rose. Gorgeous. What shall I do with 2000 yards of it??? ROLL AROUND NAKED IN IT!!!!!! Naw, just kidding. Aren’t you glad I put that image in your head??? And I got a skein of her deluscious “Wild Crafted” Temecula Sock in color way “Eucalyptus Bark.” This is the yarn used to make the fabulous tam in “Coastal Knits” by WHO and WHO. Maia says you can make two hats with one skein. Who wants to be my best friend????
And that was the festival! I spent a lot of time running into people I know and love from K2Tog, where I no longer work as of last Friday. Going to devote more of my time to my journalism, which is great. I saw every single one of my regular co-workers, and I saw customers and students. It was just a fine time. Mostly I saw people having a wonderful time in the sun. We are so lucky, people, aren’t we? To live here and be able to enjoy the fruits of the labor of so many talented people. I loved this festival – it was my first visit – and I plan to go back next year and every year after that. Thank you, Bente, and all the ingenious vendors who came to share their good with us. Until next year . . . .