Each year a couple of my friends and I get together and go to a fiber festival. It used to be Blacksheep, in Eugene, but the spring pollen combined with the straw dust made it impossible for one of my more allergic friends to survive happily. So now we go to OFFF each September in Canby.
I actually prefer Blacksheep, because the arrangements for viewing sheep judging and other displays are better for knitting/spinning while watching. OFFF doesn’t seem to think that people might want to sit in stands for a while to watch the events – maybe they believe only the people showing animals will sit there for long periods? There are little to no seating arrangements most of the time. But I always liked learning what made a Romney or BFL a really good example of its breed, or why one bunny was top over another that looks equally fluffy to me. The announcers were good at filling in the info gaps for those of us who could probably tell a sheep from a goat, but not always. At OFFF, even the llama obstacle course was moved to the opposite end of the barn this year, away from the stands we used to be able to sit in to watch. And the judges aren’t wired for sound, so it isn’t possible to hear much of what they are saying.
Also, I miss the evening parade of fiber fashions that Blacksheep had each year. And the Shetland sheep costume parade. And the wood fired pizza at the restaurant nearby.
Those complaints aside, OFFF is a good time. We bring our camp chairs to the lawn under the giant shade trees, wander the booths and barns for two days, and always go for Thai food for lunch. We knit and spin and shop and catch up, and then go back to one friend’s house on the river to talk and craft some more.
Last Saturday, my sister and niece came along to check out the animals, and later in the afternoon my husband and kids showed up to do the same. The animals cover the range of fiber creatures, including angora and cashmere goats, tiny Shetlands and massive Romney sheep, alpacas and llamas, and the bundles of fluff angora rabbits.
The weather was also perfect – blue skies but not too hot, and nothing like the windstorm that blew vendors canopies away a couple years ago. Speckle dyed yarn and yarn felting seemed to be the new crazes with a lot more booths devoted to them, and I spent a lot of time wandering looking at wheels, because despite the fact that I have a perfectly good wheel, I can’t help lusting after the beautiful alternatives I don’t need but still want. I definitely have wooley winder envy!
There is also always a fiber craft project display. My favorites this year were both felted octopuses (octopi?)
I was VERY restrained in my shopping this year. That 27 pounds of fiber already in the stash stayed in the forefront of my mind, and I bought just two luxury spinning tops, one of yak and silk and one a combo of angora, silk and cormo wool. I got only one skein of sock yarn, because those bins at home are also rather full and a pottery soap dish to replace the plexiglass one in my bathroom I’ve always hated. For me, it was the equivalent of coming home empty handed. I just kept reminding myself that I’d bought most of it before, it would be there again, and I have a very busy life and way too many hobbies. It kept the credit card in my wallet.
Now there is nothing to do but rest up for next year.