Monday, October 7, 2013

5th Annual Northern NJ Fiber Arts Festival 2013

I think I attended this festival its first year or 2.  It was small, but I was glad to see any kind of fiber-related event locally.  This year, the dates were October 4th & 5th.  I have a vague recollection of the festival having taken place in September, the time or 2 I attended, but I might be wrong.  I suppose the October 4 & 5 dates were partly owing to the concentration of Jewish Holidays in September, this year.  They were earlier than usual. 

I was able to slip away to visit the 5th Annual Northern NJ Fiber Arts Festival on Saturday afternoon.  Parking is limited on the street where the venue is located, but there was a sign indicating that a local church parking lot was available. I was greeted at the door by 2 women who couldn't be friendlier.  One asked if I made my sweater, which was nice.  I wore "Marie Antoinette," the TSC Bobbled Hoodie, on which I made an attached I-cord neck  edging, after knitting and frogging the hood 3 times.  I had mixed thoughts about the admission fee.  It was higher than I expected for a relatively small venue.  That being said, the area in NJ where the event took place, is upscale and expensive.  The admission fee included a cute  tote (for all the shopping one was destined to do while visiting), a door prize entry slip as well as the directory for the festival. 

Besides that I'm cold sheeping, because I may never knit all the yarn I have, I'm also on a budget, so I did not enter the festival with the notion that I would buy 5 sweaters worth of yarn.   I wanted to meet and talk to small entrepreneurs.  I have been self-employed almost all of my working life and know well, the risks and rewards.  

The first vendor I engaged in conversation was Liz Capik, who is Apple Tree Knits. The hand dyed yarn was beautiful, and if it could be called delicious, I'd call it that. I liked the color combinations she offered.  In addition to her extremely appealing yarn, she had lots of samples on display.  Her original patterns were extremely reasonably priced. I purchased her Boardroom scarf pattern.  It's sophisticated and unisex,  2 qualities I like.  Liz was fun to chat with and she recognized the sweater I was wearing from my having posted it on the festival Ravelry board that asked what knitted or crocheted garment will you be attending the fair in?  She was funny and said she didn't want to sound creepy, but she  recognized the sweater from lurking the board.  It made me laugh.    

My next encounter was with Angela Cronin of Molly Girl Yarn.  She was a lot of fun.  She's vibrant and so are her hand dyed yarns.  As I looked through her yarns, I was struck by base weight names as well as the colors having music references. For example, her generous skeins of superwash merino fingering sock yarn is called Bass Line, her superwash merino worsted weight base yarn line is called Chart Topper and her wool worsted weight base yarn is called Roadie. She also offers a base called Heavy Metal, a Hand Spun and a Limited Engagement.  Her color names are cool, too: The Other Boleyn Girl, Motorcycle Drive By, Rosalita, Absolutely Still, Movie Loves a Screen and several others.  Angela also sells accessories she has masterfully hand knit.  From her, I purchased yarn balls for drying my delicate clothes. I use the clunky spikey commercial ones for E-Rex's clothes and my more durable stuff, but I have always been reluctant to put them in with delicates.  Problem solved!

Then I wandered into button heaven.  WendyClay Pottery had just a fraction of their wares displayed, but man, were they fabulous! One button was funkier than the next.  If I had any projects queued that I thought I was realistically going to knit in the coming year, I would have purchased the necessary buttons on the spot.  The yarn bowls, with a slashed out part to accommodate yarn feed and changing yarns without cutting  from the skein, appealed to me, too.  The prices were fair for hand crafted merchandise.  

Kris, one of my Material Girls posse, is a rabbit lover, to put it mildly. Her bunny, Gaalen, is way more than a pet.  Well, if Kris weren't at a venue, selling her hand crafted jewelry, she'd have squealed to see the next vendor I'm going to mention: Angora Online. The couple at the booth were as sweet and soft spoken as their yarns.  Oh, the feel of their yarns and the knitted models they displayed, was inexplicable.  I'm salivating as I write about it!  The succulent handspun yarn they had at the festival was in  natural colors.  Their prices were  reasonable.  None of the festival vendors had "cheap yarn."  If I weren't cold sheeping, I would have bought enough angora at this vendor, for a luxurious scarf.  

The last vendor I'd like to mention in this ever-growing blog post, is Toby Roxane Designs. This is an up and coming designer who is being noticed, and rightly so.  I know I have heard one of her 2 books mentioned on a podcast.  When I told her that, she mentioned a couple of podcasts to which I don't listen, so this young lady is getting more traction than she knows. Her books are titled, London Underground Seven Shawls to Knit and The Tarot Collection. In addition she has created 4 sweater patterns, some shawls that are not in  either book and several interesting accessories.  I'm going to buy the X-Mitts pattern on Ravelry as soon as I'm finished.  I purchased the Infinity Shrug while visiting with her.  She has a unique design aesthetic that will continue to propel her notoriety.   

I enjoyed my time at the festival.  I liked the vendors with whom I spent time. The event was not as well attended as it should have been. The weather was fine.  I wonder if the organizers knew this was also the weekend of the very popular NYC Yarn Crawl. I'm guessing they didn't, or they didn't know until after they contracted for the venue. It's my opinion that our close proximity to NYC may have impinged on the attendance.  I only had a couple hours to devote to my yarnie exploration on Saturday, or I would have probably schlepped the shops on the Yarn Crawl circuit.   I hope their timing is better next year, for their sake and for the sake of the locals  who would like to visit both happenings.

I think I'll be going to Rhinebeck and will look for all of the vendors I mentioned, up there.
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