03 June, 2013

Fiber, Fiber, Everywhere OR The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Hoosiers

As the weather turns warmer, the elusive festivals start coming out of hibernation. Farmers' Markets migrate to Main Streets, Art Festivals bloom in parks, and Fiber Festivals flock to County Fairgrounds.

Following these instinctual laws of nature, the Hoosier Hills Fiber Festival was held at the Johnson County Fairgrounds this past weekend.

So of course I went.

And the first thing I saw stepping in the door was this:

Antique Tube Knitter
No, it's not a coffee grinder.
That is an antique tube knitter. Yarn goes in the top, your turn the wheel, and a whole bunch of tiny hooks magically make it into fabric.


Antique Knitting Machine
It's an awesome piece of engineering and was entrancing to watch, especially with the colorful yarn. But then, I'd had to get up at 5:30 that morning (for various reasons), so my judgement may have been skewed.

Across the aisle was an alpaca farm booth with incredibly nice people running it.

Alpaca teddy bears
And makers of the most adorable teddy bears EVER.
My wife is, sadly, allergic to alpaca (it makes her hands itch), so we couldn't get a teddy bear. I DID however get some alpaca wool socks that were actually made big enough for my feet. (NOTE: My feet are size 15. I get excited when I easily find things that fit them...)

Fans (or at least consistent readers) of the blog may remember my posts about last year's enormous Rhinebeck fiber festival (As Seen On Blog!), but this is a local one, so it had less vendors, and more opportunity for taking our time.

Hoosier Hills Building 1
"Less Vendors" means "Still more than 50 and Two Buildings"
So we got to see a large variety of neat things, some with which I'm already familiar...

Bright colors
Supa-bright wool!

More Roving

Yarn shop
Yarn Shop To-Go!
...and some things with which I was not familiar.

Lace making
This gentleman is making lace. He assured me it's not difficult.
I assured him it looks like witchcraft.
But there was also time to look more in depth at things I'd missed on other occasions. For example, how those bags of wool (roving) become yarn:

It begins like this. Just a bunch of combed and cleaned wool...

Carding machine
This carding machine gets the hairs all going in the same direction,
and can also be used to combine colors

Then it's time to spin.
Bright, comfy footwear is not required, but it is encouraged.
It's actually a really fascinating process, and I can see why a lot of people really get into it. Also, those spinning wheels use neat cam shafts and gear ratios to turn the foot motion into spinning motion, so that was sweet to watch. (Also possibly a little geeky to find such things "sweet"...)

We were also there early enough that I could talk to the vendors, and the crowds were light enough that I could have fun with the camera we have.

Artsy wood shot 1
Playing with depth of focus...

Artsy wood shot 2
I'm just SO artsy...
I was also really happy to see bison yarn. I have this thing about bisons and want them to be used more so people will make bigger herds of them. If you're bored and have an hour sometime, I'll gladly rant to you...

...but back to the yarn.

Bison Yarn
This stuff.
Bison are not docile creatures like sheep. Or even cows. They're also bigger than your average four-door sedan. (There's a story here, but I won't go into it.) So manhandling wool from them is not an option.

How do they get it? Well, every so often they bring in the bison for shots. As the bison is in the pen and still groggy, people run in and quickly grab as much of the shaggy fur as they can before the bison ceases to be groggy and kicks them into oblivion.


Clearly, bison yarn is the most hardcore of yarns.

The fair included other things, such as this oddly-specific sign:

Oddly Specific Sign
"Mr. Fire Marshal, wouldn't 300 work better?"
"No! That 300th person is my mother-in-law!"
And incredibly tasty amish country fried pies. These were like the tastiest fruit donuts you have every had. EVER.

Amish Country Fried Pie
A+ for tasty pie.
F- for spelling of "Country"
And finally, I was very entertained to meet one Jennifer Davies (and get her permission to mention her on the blog. BTW, her company is: Bur Oak Studio.)

Not only was she pretty cool, but she has come up with a wonderful way to recycle old metal knitting needles:

Knitting needle bangles
AND found a legitimate excuse to make a price sign
that lists your options as "Bent" or "Smashed."
She also made knitting needles wind chimes, and used cross-sections to create watch bands, earrings, and other such things.

Overall, it was a fun show, and we got to see a plethora of fun, fibery things.

A good time was had by all.

Felted dolls
Even the dog.


  1. just popped over from your wife's blog, good account of your day out. I loved the feel if Bison yarn but the price was off putting, now I see why!

    1. Glad you liked it! I thought much the same way about Bison yarn, though I'm not surprised that there's risk involved. I had a couple run-ins with them while going through the Dakotas about ten years ago, and they are large, powerful beasts.