or what I do when I am not working or farming …

Finger Lakes Fiber Fest

Posted by mobarger on Sep-16-2007

On Saturday, I traveled to Hemlock to visit the Finger Lakes Fiber Fest. I had not been there since 2005, when I first starting knitting in earnest.

I noticed a lot of interesting trends this year.

Of course there were lots of critters, ranging from the alpaca above to angora rabbits to cashgora goats to these shetland sheep.

The World’s Largest sock was there. We were tasked with adding 12.3 feet to the sock (cuff down). There was a steady stream of participants, I didn’t sign up.

Buttons were big this year. Many folks were selling buttons, either crafted from glass, antlers, bone or clay, or a few had some interesing novelty resin buttons. Here is a display from the Winderwood Farm Booth. They also had a selection of wheels, baskets, roving and fiber supplies.

Although the sweaters at this booth were gorgeous, I question the decision to stock a booth with $600-$800 sweaters when your audience is filled with folks with the same talents to create the same garments. There was some fiber to be had, but the biggest draw seemed to be her buttons. I bought quite a few, actually!

Persimmon Tree Farm had a wonderful selection of roving and hand spun and dyed alpaca yarns. I went back to this booth no less then 3 times to fondle.

Like these women.

In fact roving seemed to be the most abundant supply at the fest. Not that there is anything wrong with that! Made me wish I had more time to learn how to spin (I arrived too late to sign up for the drop spindle class). If you are a needle felter or a spinner, this fest is a MUST for you to visit. Often.

Another popular item: Ram’s Head Pewter buttons. If I were more interested I would have compared prices among vendors but I needed time to shop! Ram’s Head is a NY vendor making pewter pins, jewelry and buttons. Nice stuff. Easily found at the fest.

But of course there was yarn. Yarn yarn and more yarn. Sock yarn was very popular this year. Our Fine Yarn had a great selection of tencel blends in sock and lace weights. I bought some of their camel hair blends, too interesting to pass up. Here’s a tip when packing for these festivals: watch your backpack. A woman with a backpack on her back turned around and caught one of these airy skeins in her zipper. She walked and turned around quite a bit before realizing she was tethered to the display. I saw the aftermath and it was not pretty. The rest of the yarn? Very pretty!

There were a couple of L-ish YS who had booths. Embraceable Ewe from Hamburg NY had some nice kits put together for scarves and hats, and various tools and accessories you don’t often see. The Village Yarn shop here had a vast assortment of mass-produced sock yarns (ie Regia, and Regia-like, I honestly didn’t look too closely), many sale bins of $1-$2 balls of yarn, store samples and these see-through boots.

One niche vendors are clearly overlooking is novelty t-shirts. There are so many to hunt for online, imagine next year if there was a booth filled with knitting- and fiber-related swag? I bet people would, er, flock to it.

Finger Lakes Fiber Fest definitely caters to so many fiber-related arts. A big trend I saw this year was felted objects. About every tenth woman was carrying her own felted handbag. I saw several examples of felted apparel. Other women had shawls around their shoulders on this crisp fall day. This is clearly an art I will never master, juggling purchases, future purchases and a shawl in corwded booths. But interesting to see everyone’s work. At booths, supplies for felting, needle felting, spinning, rug hooking, weaving and more could be found.

Clearly most of us go to the fest for FIBER and not Food. The choices for lunch were a little limited, and lines formed quickly, even in the rain. Yes it was a pretty crappy day actually. Rain on and off, some wind and cool temperatures. This time of year, knowing the audience of the fest and how our weather might be, I am surprised some local-ish coffee shop hasn’t picked up that this would be a good place to set up shop. Imagine sipping specialty coffees or teas, or even hot cider on a fall day. Add a couple baristas in the exhibition hall (the only one with power, I think) and I think you have the makings of a busy booth. Next year they plan on adding a farmer’s market which I think will be an interesting diversion.

So if you haven’t gone yet, do go. Without classes, you can do all the vendors in about 3-4 hours. If you do want classes, sign up early! I missed out on the sock class I wanted. There are more pictures in my photostream to look at too, experience it vicariously until next year!