Sunday, February 15, 2009


Imagine my surprise upon discovering that the Madrona Fiber Arts Festival--which is one of the best in the United States--is held right here in Tacoma. 

Yes, Tacoma. Vendors, teachers, and visitors come from ALL OVER THE WORLD for this festival and it's held in the lovely Hotel Murano, a mere 2.5 miles from my house. (And local people...if you haven't visited this hotel, go and check out the lobby. The hotel was renamed and redesigned to celebrate Tacoma's role in glass art, and the lobby is just beautiful, and full of individual glass art pieces.)

I didn't take any classes--most fill up the same day registration opens--but it's fun to go to the Marketplace as well as to hang out in the lobby with other people who are knitting, spinning, plying, felting, whatever. The vendors are a nice mix; there are some brick and mortar local yarn shops who set up booths with a miniature version of their shops*, as well as plenty of indy vendors who sell primarily online or at fairs. There were several familiar vendors like Philosopher's Wool, Blue Moon Fiber Arts, and Toots LeBlanc as well, as well as some new faces like Rainy Days and Wooly Dogs (who had some wonderful self-patterning sock colors but who sadly** was sold out).

I met up with Kat and her husband Crash. They'd come the previous day and Kat made a list of things she wanted at the marketplace. She mulled over it that night and pared down what she really wanted--a shawl kit from Philosopher's Wool and some yarn from Rainy Days and Wooly Dogs. Her first stop was RDWD, and said there was a gorgeous red yarn and was bummed when she couldn't find it. She turned to ask the seller while I rummaged through the display and found an intense blue-based red called "Bloodletting" buried under a few other skeins of a different color. Happily, it was, and I understand why Kat liked that yarn so much. Kat has a good sense of color and knows what looks good on her and I hope she makes a hat or a scarf from that yarn because that color would look stunning around her face. (I'm pretty sure she already had matching lipstick.)

I also had a mission, but it was not for me. Some of my friends had gone on Thursday (the first day) and Rachel had fallen in love with some dark grey alpaca/silk roving but decided against it. And she regretted it. At Knit Night on Friday, she couldn't stop talking about that fiber and how it felt "better than sex" and how the color would pair beautifully with some rose pink yarn she had and and was pondering the logistics of going back to buy it. So I offered to get it for her. I made that booth my first stop, but apparently wasn't fast enough. It was all gone except for a small amount of light brown (which would not go well with rose pink). The vendor was completely out. Apparently there had been a great demand for that fiber blend but he couldn't create more while he was at the festival. "Wednesday! I'll have more by Wednesday. Your friend can order from me online!"

As for me, the only thing I wanted to buy was some Noro Kuyeron yarn. I'd made a scarf for Gusano Medidor while she was here and I really liked it. I was secretly hoping that she didn't like it so I could keep it, but dammit, she liked it so now I need to make one for myself.  It's a very simple pattern and alternating colorways every two rows. The yarns is self-striping and the color changes are really beautiful. The great idea with this scarf is that since one of the colorways is neutral (either creams/light grey or tans/dark brown/dark grey), the stripes harmonize quite well. My LYS used to carry Noro but replaced it with another company that made a similar yarn but was cheaper. I did buy some of this yarn from her but the scarf just didn't look very good. The yarn quality was just fine, but the colors weren't as intense so the color effect was very subtle, and I wasn't getting the effect that I wanted. 

Since it is a fiber festival, everyone was showing off their projects. Quite a few women were wearing Bohus sweaters (they ARE beautiful), but since Tacoma really doesn't get all that cold, there weren't too many people wearing wool sweaters. Instead, there were lots of people wearing shawls or scarves (there were several of the Noro scarves I just described). Me? My only knitterly object was the hat*** I was wearing, which I only wore inside so that Kat could find me easily but forgot to take it off and ended up wearing it throughout the day. However, several people came up to me and complimented me on it. The woman at Philosopher's Wool said it reminded her of a sea urchin and later in the day called out to me "hello, sea urchin lady!". :)

I also ran into my friend KittenLion who was going to make a sweater for her friend from the Blue Moon Fiber Arts yarn but wanted to make sure her friend loved it before KL bought it. The friend was made to fondle the yarn, and to make sure she loved how the yarn felt against her skin before KL would buy it. BFMA yarns are beautiful (even Crash, who really couldn't care less about yarn, admires Tina's (BMFA's master dyer) craftmanship and art sense) but they are not cheap and I think my eyebrows rose when KL said she was making a sweater for her friend from this yarn. KL just smiled and said, "this is why" and showed me a picture of a stunning quilt that this friend had made for her. Ah yes, now I understand.   

*The first year I went I thought this was a silly idea...why go through all the trouble to recreate to set up all the displays with so many generic needles and notions and books? I'm not talking about the special "art fair" needles hand-turned from rosewood ($30) or cast from glass ($50)or the hand made stitch markers made from silver, crystal, and gem chips ($25-$50 a set). I mean the mass-market Inox, Clover, Susan Bates, and Addi brands that you can find anywhere. But now I think these are savvy sellers because there is so many people are inspired to start a brand new project RIGHT NOW but dammit....I don't have the right size needles, or stitch markers or...hey, that booth has lots of needles....

**For me, not for her. All she had left of that yarn was her sample sock. 

***Link to the designer's site. That is not a photo of me. My hat is orange (naturally).


L J said...

I knew it would be Bloodletting. I almost grabbed the only skein of it I saw on Thursday... I loved it at first sight and I am so not a red person.

varun said...

nice range!!Shawls and Scarves