Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Baa Baa Black Sheep (Gathering), Have You any Fun?

Yes sir, yes sir, three bags of fun! But it wasn't all smooth sailing (what is, right?)

This pic is of my giant pile o' crap, almost all of it, that I took to Black Sheep Gathering 2009 in Eugene, Oregon. Janet picked me up at 5am (yeppers, campers, I said Five. Ay. Em. In the morning. Blurg. Only reason to be up that early is fishing or fiber.)

After wrangling all my gear into Janet's Honda in the dark, we hit the road. Along the way we oogled the spectacular scenery on the Smith River, made a quick stop at the fabric store in Grants Pass to say 'howdy' to Janet's mom, & scanned for roadside 'sweaters on the hoof' (aka SHEEP, haha); we made it to Eugene before 2pm ahead of schedule.

We immediately set about setting up our booth inside the main Black Sheep building. We had a spot in the back corner that was cool temperature-wise because it was near the big barn door, but might not have given us the best visibility for customers. Beggars can't be choosers though; Janet was on the waiting list 'til not too long ago, & I of course am a 'stealth vendor' sharing a legit booth. We actually liked it that we had a little cubby area behind her shelving racks where we could stash extra stuff; & me, I love having my back to the wall so I can survey my kingdom.

I didn't bring much this year; no yarn, just fiber. All I had was one wee table, but it was packed with hand-dyed milk top & bamboo top, plus all my CBC accoutrement, including the Beautiful Betty, all tarted up with my Hallowig & brand-spankin' new bamboo braids to advertise my fiber Pigtails™. I also had my new COLORBOMB buttons from Marajane, which were fun to give out.

Because our booth was up against the unused snack shack, I was able to set my wheel up next to my table & spin with Janet without being in the way. My yarn was getting a LOT of attention, which was quite nice, but what really caught peoples eyes was my new cupholder from FBN Plastics on Etsy. I coulda sold a boatload of 'em! I've gotta say, it was awfully nice having such a convenient place to hang my beer while making small talk! You can see it here in the pic of my wheel, along with the new treadle pimping I did the night before I left with the help of my friend Lush & some tequila.

I had a kind of rough first day or 2, in a funk over sparse sales (even fewer than last year, when I had yarns with me). I expected it to be better this year, since fibers seem to do better at BSG than handspun, & because I was the only vendor offering 100% milk & bamboo. But it wasn't to be. Le sigh. But I spent a lot of time in the goat barn, which made me feel much better. This is my favorite angora goat pic; there are bunches more in my BSG set on Flickr.

I didn't take nearly enough critter pics, & almost NO sheep photos at all, but I did capture a couple of my friend Ace Vandenack's registered Romney lambs, which you see here (dontcha just love the striped coat?). He raises award-winning Romneys (this year, one of his fleeces took a Reserve Champion trophy!), as well as excellent local honey at his ranch in Myers Flat. If you want to see more of his beautiful sheep, be sure to check out the photoset of my trip from my visit Ace in the Hole Ranch last month. (Sadly, I forgot to take my camera to the Spinner's Lead fashion show Saturday night; Ace modeled his handspun, handknit wine tote & wine cozy, winning over the crowd with his hijinks & the saucy bio we cooked up for him.)

Sheep & goats weren't the only animals to be found at BSG this year. Although the alpaca show didn't happen like it did last year, there were wee cuties to be found if you knew where to look. Donna Nelson of The Spinner's Wheel had her painfully adorable chinchillas with her, & I caught Janet snuggling with this one on Sunday. Susan blends top-of-the-line Cormo wool from www.Cormo.us with chinchilla fiber from all over the country to make the most decadent spinning fiber I think I've ever come across. I'm gonna definitely have to get my hands on some of this stuff, & soon. Janet also got herself a new male angora bunny, whom I've dubbed 'Stuff' because he's got the 'stuff' she needs to get her girlies bred. ;) Completely skipped my mind to get a photo, though. Suffice it to say he's a fluffy, semen-rich wad of rabbity goodness.

At least this year I remembered to get a picture of myself in my booth so I know I was really there! Someone was kind enough to take this for me with my (borrowed) camera (thanks, whoever you were!). I also met Melissa Barton, aka Knitfemme, in the flesh - I love meeting other tall women! We've been Tweeting back & forth for awhile now, primarily about small biz-related subjects (she's a business consultant by day, fiber fan by well, night & day). She snapped a couple more pics of me, & was kind enough to email them to me. Thanks, M!

The meet-and-greet aspect of the festival was probably my favorite part of the weekend. I was so caught up in chatting folks up, I didn't get any mingling photos, but I got to hang out with a ton of interesting people, some new to me, some whom I met last year. My hair was easily recognizable, so lots of people found me this year because of it.* I had an awesome conversation with The Bon; met Leethal; chatted with Spinygora of Rainbow Yarns Northwest; had a great booth neighbor, Klaus of Crown Mountain Farms; visited with Cindy of Cindy's Treasures, my boothmate last year; and played Black Sheep Bingo with tons of fun Ravelers! I know I've missed tons of people, especially all the great vendors I talked to - hi to all!

Speaking of vendors, you can BET that I visited them all at least twice. And I did come home with some new goodies, too. I got two skeins of Klaus' scrumptious handspun Sock Hop sock yarn, in the 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' colorway (orange/turquoise). I'd heard of Sock Hop, but didn't know anything about it other than it is a popular sell-out item for Crown Mountain. Now I know why! Can't wait to play with this stuff. If you want more details, they're in my Ravelry stash here.

After spending more time lurking in my good friends Brooke & Maia's Tactile: A Fiber Arts Studio booth than in my own, I also decided to get serious about drop-spindling. They were kind enough to not only cheer me up out of my funk (in part by letting me go all googly-eyed over Brooke's adorable baby boy), but they also got me to believe that I, too, could spin laceweight. And I can! I bought this hank of decadent yak/merino roving from them, hand-dyed in one of their delish natural dye colorways, 'Pomegranate', as well as this wee little 2og. Greensleeves Spindle in curly spalted maple (I just adore the word 'spalted'!). After not long at all, Brooke had me spinning up REAL laceweight singles. I'm so proud! Joking around with Maia & Brooke was the best part of the transaction though, even if I did scare off Brooke's husband Joaquin a bit. ;)

My other purchase was really decadent & came out of watching Brooke & lots of other spindlers all day Sunday playing with their new Jenkins Turkish Delights. I fought the urge to splurge, but it was a losing battle, & I scored the very last mini in ebony from Carolina Homespun. Only about 4" tall, it is just a DREAM to spin with, & only took a bit of extra instruction to master the bottom whorl with it's half-hitch to attach the yarn & the different way of winding on. Mine is 1.2oz & seems perfect for laceweight. The only problem is, when I got home yesterday I realized there is a crack in one arm of the whorl that runs along the grain. :( Hopefully, at 50 bucks a pop (well worth it, don't worry), I will be able to get it replaced. Splits are just a fact of life for woodworkers, Cole says. (One of the things I discovered when reading about these spindles this morning is that, much to my delight, every effort is made to use only woods that are grown using sustainable management practices & imports are purchased only from legally harvested sources that use sound harvesting methods. Yay, happy Earth!)

There was one other thing I was eyeballing on my shopping spree - a sterling silver scissors charm from Kay Fielding - but I couldn't justify any more purchases with my lack of sales. I did get contact info for The Bag Lady, who is going to make me a longer custom strap for my wheel bag, & for our own Rhoby's Ranch, where I plan to get a bunch of CVM to dye up. All in all it was a very shop-tastic weekend.

The trip home was pretty uneventful, punctuated by a stop at a Dairy Queen & a sleep-over at Janet's mom's place in Rogue River. Oh, but I did find a great new stop in Cave Junction: Taylor's Sausages! I you're a meat lover like me, check 'em out, they smoke a mean jerky, AND they do mail order!

I want to close with a big, fat THANK YOU to Aunt Janet for all her generosity over the past week. Not only did she graciously acquiesce when I invited myself along, and generously offer to let me share her vendors booth, and put up with my poopy attitude & lack of presence in the booth on Friday, but when we got home she gave me a new camera!!! You might have noticed that the last 3 pictures in this blog post are of significantly higher quality than of late; that's because I used my new Nikon Coolpix 7900 to take them. What a difference a functioning LCD screen makes! And it seems to take much better photos than my old broken-down Canon Elph. So I am one happy Velma today, 'cuz I have lots of fiber pics to take of the stock that didn't sell this weekend (be sure to check out my Etsy shop if you are in the market for bamboo or milk top). So, big hugs & bunches of thanks, Janet, for putting up with me. I had a great time with you!

*And BOY, was my hair ever a hit! Although, I did get kinda tired of all the people that thought it was perfectly acceptable to pet me. The one that really got my goat was the woman that kept tugging on one of my braids, commenting "With hair like that, you've got to be prepared for this". I was so flabbergasted, I just stood there, flummoxed, & didn't make a peep. I hope she gets pregnant, & every stranger she meets fondles her big ol' belly. That'll learn her!


  1. What??! No one purchased any of your fabulous fibers? Are they nuts? I mean your colors are stunning and fun to spin with. But I swear that you stole my Turkish spindle out of P's house. (I am ordering mine shortly from a local wood worker.)

  2. It was me! I took the picture of your in booth. I have one from my camera too, I just need to edit it a hair and I'll post it on flickr.

  3. Sounds like a superfun trip! You missed a very gloomy oyster festival, so you were definitely having a better time : )

    If Daisy May colorway hasn't sold by July I'm aaalllllllll over it! LOVE it!

  4. beautiful set up! did you get to start your day with coffee? its the best way to open your eyes, next to sunrises, omelets cooking, kisses from your baby and a phone call from martha telling you she wants you as her protege... ok, so maybe the last one hasnt happened....yet...

  5. Oh no way! Nobody bought?? Location? Did your friend Janet sell much? The colors shown in the background of your Flickr shots are rad!

    So far I've learned is most spinners where I love spin mostly laceweight or sock yarn!

  6. Way to rock the spindle, Velma!!
    I covet the spalted maple, truly.
    Love to see you spindling - that will soothe all your ills :)

  7. i enjoyed reading this velma~
    miss you~
    lisa (your bff)


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