June 06, 2011

Lots of Foot Traffic at our SIP

Went through most of the ounce of the humbug wool while spinning in public (SIP) at the farmers' market Saturday.

We got a lot of foot traffic and inquiries at our guild booth.  Wish I'd brought more fibre festival brochures to give out.

We had four spinning wheels and my drop spindle going.  Our display table was covered in a wonderfully fuzzy hodgepodge of assorted fibres, skeins, mitts and other small handspun accessories, and a beaded Citron shawl.

Spinning yarn outside with friends is pretty good.  There was music from an acoustic band.  We had grass underfoot and trees ringing the area around us.

When you take yarn spinning outside, you have to talk about the weather.  The temperature started out okay, fortunately, although it rose to 26 C / 80 F by midday when the market closed.  We had a canopy over us shielding us from the sun which made a great deal of difference to our comfort.  With SIPs in Virginia, there's a slim window of weather where we're able to spin, where our fingers aren't either too chilly or too sticky from humidity and heat to draft fibre.

Enough talking about the weather.  You are waiting for me to tell you stories about the people we met.  They asked the usual questions.  As you might expect at a farmers' market, folks were interested in fibre as a useful product of nature.  Some of them showed ambition beyond what we have ourselves.  We were asked, "I've planted cotton on my property and wish to learn how to spin it, can you advise me?" and "I plan to get a small flock of sheep for meat and wool, what breed do you recommend?"  I could joke that one reason our little group of volunteers has time to demonstrate handspinning in public is because we are not spinning fine cotton yarns and managing flocks of fibre animals.  Probably a truer reason is because we like a good SIP.  You make time for what you like to do.  Other members of our guild do spin cotton and raise sheep–or alpacas, cashmere goats, and angora rabbits.

A man at the farmers' market told me there was an alpaca farm near his place and then one day the alpacas and the owners were gone and a foreclosure notice went up.

There was a woman who came and talked to us, a knitter whose voice had a trace of an English accent.  She said that in England everyone used to knit but they didn't teach it in schools, and you would knit because a sweater was too expensive to buy.  I've never known a world where a sweater was too expensive to buy.  Certain sweaters, yes.  Sweaters as a category, no.

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