So yeah. Today was pretty sweet.

Yesterday evening I was scanning Craigslist listings for garage sales, as I really want to get an old (huge) enamel canning pot for dyeing yarn. I didn’t find one of those, but I did find two garage sales advertising yarn. So I got up early today and left the house about 8:30 AM. Hit the first one, in Lincoln Square; found a couple of shirts, but the yarn was basically a large pile of funfur. Alas. Still, I bought a funfur blob, since I want to make another kitty pi, and I’m unwilling to spend more than $0.50 for novelty yarn.

Travelled to the second garage sale, which had bin after bin after bin of acrylic yarn, some really ancient stuff, some newer and in decent condition. I bought an afghan’s worth of rose pink Red Heart Super Saver for a buck, so that’s something to keep me busy once I finish my ripple. But! They had other stuff. GOOD other stuff. I’m fiercely envious of the woman who got the Kitchenaid stand mixer for $35 right before I got to that table. I got two LPs, and a rubbermaid thingie I intend to use for storing cat food, and a nice big flour sifter for a quarter, and a potato ricer also for a quarter, and an older, kinda beat copy of the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook (which I keep meaning to buy a copy of) for a buck. Several knitting and crocheting books, which I’ll list later. And: a big-ish blue speckled enameled pot, with a pasta/steamer insert, for $1.25!! I was psyched about the pot. (Actually, I was kind of psyched about the flour sifter too. Now I can actually sift the ingredients in recipes that call for sifted things! And it has this adorable little crank… I mentioned it was a quarter, right?) The pot is destined to be used for dyeing yarn and roving, so I am very pleased about that.

From there, I went home, carried my swag inside, and then hopped in the car, and headed up to Crystal Lake for the first annual Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Fair, which is a boring drive out into the country (“There’s corn here!” I exclaimed on the phone with Kim.). Got there around noonish and wandered through the Fine Art Show first. They had a number of things on display, knitted items, felted items, quilts, and mixed media. I was particularly impressed with a couple of the quilts, actually — one was an odd interpretation of tiny, off-kilter log cabin squares and I really liked it; only $2200! — and another had diagonally-placed star squares but was overstitched with these great spiral swirls. And a third — I honestly can’t remember what the main pattern was now, but what impressed me was that the wide border of the quilt had very elaborate embossed patterns. I didn’t notice them at first, but then they popped out at me and I was just really surprised by how interesting they were. Anyways, that was the Fine Art Show.

Then it was on to the vendors. Four large tents worth of vendors. So much stuff for sale. Fiber (for spinning and felting) and yarn completely dominated the first two tents.

I was excited when I found the booth for Wool, Warp, and Wheel, because they are a local vendor for Kromski wheels (with whose Mazurka wheel I have been mildly infatuated lately, in that “maybe someday…” way). I had wanted to check out the wheels if they had them, or talk to them. So I wandered through the booth, ogling the pretties — they did indeed have Kromski wheels at the Fair, and even a Mazurka! I was feeling pretty good, which was when the saleslady approached me. We exchanged greetings, and I said I was pleased to see them there since I had wanted to look at Kromski wheels and I knew they sold them. She asked me if I spun, and I said yes; and I mentioned that while I was not in the market today, I was thinking about getting a Mazurka.

She corrected my pronounciation. Evidently, it’s “ma-ZUR-ka.” Not “ma-ZHUR-ka,” as I had been saying. Alas. Perhaps if I was a real spinner I would know these things.

Then she asked me if I had a wheel. Yes, I said, and smiled. Yes, I have a Babe production wheel. Then, in the most patronizing tone imaginable:

“Oh, I’m sorry.”

That pretty much ended the conversation. She lost interest in me almost as quickly as I lost interest in her.

Hey, snotty saleslady? Congratulations — I won’t be spending $600 on a wheel, plus more in accessories, with your company! I’ll mail order it and pay shipping rather than give you a dime! I’m a little offended that you dissed my wheel. Even if you thought it was cheesy or low-rent, or whatever the hell your problem was with it, it’s not really cool to talk down to customers. Especially customers who’ve just said they were contemplating giving you a thousand dollars or so in the near future. Besides, I like my Babe wheel, so bite me.

Thus endeth niqui’s patronage of Wool, Warp, and Wheel. I’ll give my money to someone nice, instead. Like, say, Nels at Babe’s Fiber Garden, who asked me — when I wandered into his booth while I was still stinging from the Wool, Warp, and Wheel woman, and told him I really loved my Babe wheel — what I was using it for, and I said “well, pretty much just wool, I’m afraid of hard to spin things like cotton,” actually set me up with one of his charka wheels and taught me how to spin cotton.

Anyways, I continued through the fair, accumulating a few goodies along the way. (Oh, it was very dangerous there. Very, very dangerous. Apparently there are a lot of alpaca farmers in this region, and they ALL wanted me to take home some of their fiber. I resisted, but it was a close thing.) My booty — minus a couple of things which are definitely destined to be gifted, and including a couple of things I haven’t decided if they’re gifts or not yet :) —

Goodies from the fiber fair - rovings, dyes, yarn, sock patterns, and sock needles

Clockwise from upper right:

But, although I am really impressed with the fabulousness of what I took home from the fair, the real prize was not bought from a booth at all.

Louet S15 spinning wheel

While scoping out Craigslist for garage sales, I had noticed that someone had posted that she was looking to get rid of a couple of her wheels. I got in touch with her and found out that they were both still available, so we arranged to meet up at the fair so I could try them out. Neither of us could get her second wheel to spin for us today (sub-optimal spinning conditions, in fairness: standing in a parking lot, leaning on one leg, treadling with the other, and trying to draft in the breeze), but the Louët picked up my test bit of roving and ran with it, producing a fine, neat single with basically no effort at all on my part. So,… it came home with me. Total budget buster, I admit, and I probably should have abstained. But! These wheels sell for $400 new. I got this one for $200 (plus two extra bobbins I bought at the fair — though, apparently one of them is a high-speed/laceweight bobbin, which I didn’t notice at the time. Still, it had one, so I can still Navajo ply with only two bobbins.) And it was such a breeze to use. And it’s no larger than my Babe wheel! I’m really pleased with it.

Then I left the fair, Crystal Lake attacked my car, I effected repairs without having to break out the sock yarn, as I threatened (in jest; I would have called roadside assistance before using handpainted sock yarn to tie my car back together), and my continuing experiment in “slowpokedom in pursuit of mileage” netted me 33 mpg at ~ 60 mph on the tollway. I had planned to spin some of my lovely new roving on my lovely new wheel when I got home, but then I got sidetracked by writing this stupid blog entry, because I am an idiot.

Anyways, I will close this entry with a photo of the roving I got the other day on my trip out to The Fold — which I was trying and failing, repeatedly, to spin on Thursday night, to my frustration. I don’t know what it was, but yarn was not in the cards for me that night. I resorted to looking at the roving and going “oooh, pretty. ooooh, soft.” I may give it a shot on the swanky pretty lovely shiny new Louët tomorrow. Wish me yarn!

garnet multicolored roving from The Fold