It’s Fiber Fair Time Again!

red alpacaI can’t believe it’s already been a year but one of the best events for fiber enthusiasts is just around the corner.

The annual Southeaster Animal Fiber Fair is once again being held at the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center just outside of Asheville, NC.

This year it is being held the weekend of October 24th-26th. (Many of the Friday events are for exhibitors and classes only.)

Unfortunately, time got a bit away from me and most of the wonderful seminars and classes are already filled (there’s waiting lists for the popular classes and there’s still some that have seats, so don’t assume what you want is unavailable even at this late date). But, don’t let the lack of available classes stop you from attending. This is without a doubt the best place to get inspired about the fiber arts. Just wandering the exhibit hall among fellow fiber artists makes for an exciting day. Surrounded by natural and died roving, spun yarns of every shape and size and books, and needles, and spinning wheels and weaving looms, and oh I just get so excited thinking about it all.

Throughout the day there are instructional exhibits where you can learn great ways to use all of the glorious fibers and threads available for sale. Vendors are knowledgeable and friendly, whether you are buying a full pelt, 10 pounds of roving or just a few ounces. There are no minimums and no limits here. You can pick and choose from bins of loose died curls, unravel finished roving from spools or purchase fully spun and hand-dyed yarns. Only your budget and imagination will restrict you.

I like to make small items, mostly crochet. I typically use fine yarns and because of the size of my work, the yarn goes a long way. Buying a full cone of yarn/thread, no matter how lovely, is just not practical for me. I doubt I would live long enough to ever use all of it. I have purchased large cones in the past and usually have them stashed away somewhere and work with small balls of yarn made from them.

One vendor last year was selling her beautifully spun fine weight yarn by the ounce. She happily sold me one ounce. She even used her yarn winding machine to make it into a nice ball for me.

She admitted that I was one of her smallest sales all weekend but that she had many regular customers who purchased only an ounce or two of her fine weight yarns. Only a crafter could understand another crafter this way and be so obliging to their customers. Unfortunately, she did have less colors to pick from than the vendors selling full cones of thread. But, she said that she will sell any yarn she spins and sells on her website based on ounces rather than cones, spools or skeins – so do grab business cards and fliers from the booths with items you might want after the show.

I would strongly recommend that you leave your credit card at home and only bring into the show that money that you are willing to spend. Do keep in mind when evaluating your budget that it’s unlikely that you will find such a huge variety of raw materials and supplies in one place and most of what’s offered can’t be purchased at even the largest of craft and/or local yarn shops.

I would also recommend not buying at the first booth you stop at but survey the landscape and make your purchases after you have conducted your own personal inventory of what’s available this year. The vendors might hate me for this advice, but trust me, once you see that veritable rainbow of luscious roving, yarns, threads and supplies you will be hard-pressed to restrain yourself from buying everything you see. Some people I spoke with visited the show on Saturday to take their inventory and only made their purchases on Sunday. The lowly $3 admission charge makes this an affordable option.

The lady who sold me the ounce of yarn was at one of the last booths I visited – so don’t assume that you have to buy a $50 or $100 cone of yarn when you only need a little bit unless of course you just can’t live without that particular yarn. Her sign-age said that her prices were by the ounce; it would have been easy to assume that customers had to buy the entire cone, not the amount they wanted. So ask lots of questions and don’t assume anything.

I must warn you that the area is suffering the aftereffects of hurricane Ike. Leaving my personal opinions on the issue aside, for some as yet provided rational reason, this part of North Carolina is seeing gas shortages. Many gas stations are simply not getting deliveries or getting deliveries that are as much as 1/5 of the gallons promised. These shortages are also being reported in the Atlanta and Charlotte areas as well as some parts of Tennessee. So, if you are not local, make sure you fill up along the way as you may have trouble finding gas once you get here.

But, gasoline shortage aside, visiting the Fiber Fair is so worth it! First and even second time visitors are often identifiable by the awestruck look on their face when they enter the building – think small rodeo stadium stuffed full of booths in every possible foot of space. If you have time, be sure to check out the live animal exhibits where you can meet the interesting people who maintain herds of alpacas and llamas, flocks of sheep and goats and hutch-fulls of rabbits. Get to interact with these beautiful animals and don’t miss the wonderful products available at many of the farm displays.

See you there!

p.s. You might want to leave the kids and your husband home for this one unless they fully support your fiber addiction, make crafts themselves or are uncomplaining about carrying your purchases.

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