Oakland Fiber and Textile Festival

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).

Bente Peterson, enjoying the sunshine

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.

Fleece, at Menagerie Hill Ranch’s booth

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!

Stephanie McQuown teaching someone to knit!

Trying out crochet for the first time

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.

Yarn from Twisted Sunshine

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 . . .

Spinning in the sunshine

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 . .  .

Dave Gentzsch (dude, buy a vowel)

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 . . .

Wool carding workout!

The wool she is carding starts out like this . . . .

Wool/fleece with crunchy bits

Then she “rides” it on the bicycle and it comes out like this . . .

Ready for spinning

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 . . .

Alpenglow’s lovely offerings

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.

Elissavet of Wonderland Dyeworks, on left

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???

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.”

Brooke in her booth

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.

Leticia and her stitch markers!

Here’s a close up of the style she gave me . . .

I got the ones on the left!

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????


Wild Crafted Temecula Sock, left, Silk Lace, right

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 . . . .


About kjwinston

I am a freelance religion reporter living in the San Francisco Bay Area.
This entry was posted in California Craftini and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Oakland Fiber and Textile Festival

  1. Jan says:

    I was there.! I didn’t see you. Boohoo. Ankle all better?

  2. Rachelle says:

    It was indeed a grand time! I love this post and seeing you and all the K2tog gals was just icing on the cake! I, too, will be going back next year…

  3. kjwinston says:

    Oh, Jan, drat! It seems I saw everyone else there. What did you buy??

  4. Stephanie M says:

    That’s me teaching knitting! What a fun surprise. Saw your blog posted on Facebook by Sincere Sheep.

  5. kjwinston says:

    Isn’t that fun that Stephanie recognized herself? She and I exchanged emails and she wrote me the following, which I include here with her permission:

    I don’t blog or teach anywhere regularly. I just love to knit and weave and spread the love to others. I saw that Bente still needed volunteers less than 2 weeks ago, so on a whim I offered to help. I enjoyed the OFTF the past two years and thought it would be nice to give back and help make the event successful. If you like you can just put me down as Stephanie M.

    It sure was a great day.

  6. Carole says:

    What a nice review of the fiber festival! But I am REALLY surprised that there was no mention of Lou Grantham, who not only is one of the co-founders of the festival, long-time weaving teacher in the Bay Area, but also the driving force behind there even being a Splash Pad Park for these kind of events to take place in!

    • kjwinston says:

      No slight was intended, I just did not know about him from walking through the festival. THANK YOU LOU FOR A FABULOUS DAY!!!!! Can you please make sure he sees this post and acknowledgment???

  7. Lou says:

    Hi Kimberly,
    Thanks for the hello! Next year let’s meet in person. I’ll wear my female body. By the way, I loved your blog, descriptions, and photos. I’m not much of a knitter, so I was a treat to be introduce to you as well.
    sf fiber

  8. Debbi says:

    The photo of my booths yarn is labeled wrapped sunshine, I am twisted sunshine (FYI)
    Thank you to all who came by the booth

  9. Pingback: California Craftini – Freezing Summer | Craftini: My Daily Cocktail of Yarn, Beads and Paper

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