Back on the Wagon

Although hardly on the scale of the Yarnharlot's epic spree in Texas (she writes about it here), I too went shopping at a fibre fair this past weekend. I'm still queasy.

I went with two of my favourite rug hooking people. I thought I needed to be more social, so here was a nice opportunity to hang out with kindred spirits and look at yarn, fleece and other textile-y things. We arrived at the community hall just as the doors opened and it was a FRENZY! I should have known and prepared better - not had any money in my wallet, taken a beta blocker, maybe even waited in the car.

"What's the problem, Heather?" you ask. Excellent question. We can all agree that fibre is a good thing. And everyone loves a bargain. Put the two together and what could be better? I'll tell you: Space in my cedar chest. Money to buy food. Not having to hide balls of 21 micron merino top behind the cans of paint in the garage. Not having to face the accusing piles of once-loved yarn in the closet. I could go on.

I was doing so well with the program, too. Not buying anything. Working from the bottomless stash. Trading materials with other fibre people. I thought I had my problem beat.

But I got sideswiped by the contagious energy of about 100 other fibre fair enthusiasts. All these women, I'm sure with closets just as full as mine, dropping cash like it was candy wrappers. Running out to their cars with armloads of silk/mohair/merino roving and running back in again for more. Before I knew it the caramel toffee coloured alpaca was winking at me, and I could not resist. I joined the throng of shoppers, touching, feeling, caressing, caught up in the fantasies that only luxury fibre can offer.

Our trio was only inside for half an hour, but as we emerged into the pale spring sunlight, I was seized with panic. What did I just do? My friends were giddily untroubled, why couldn't I have fun like they were? Why did I feel so freaking guilty? My stomach churned, it was hard to get a breath. I swore at that moment, "Never again."

And I'm not exaggerating for dramatic effect (well, maybe a tiny bit). The thing was, it was like my life flashing before my eyes. Copies of books and magazines I once owned were there for sale; a whole table of beautifully spun sample yarns of every fibre type, ply, grist - obviously the results of a master spinner program, priced pitifully low; earnest, hopeful looking young women hawking their lovingly hand-dyed multi-hued sock yarn; used floor looms going for $25. The air felt heavy with the unrealized dreams and thwarted ambitions of my past lives.

One thing was missing in all this plenty. Of all the fibre fanatics in the room, I only saw four people wearing the result of their creative efforts. A nuno felted scarf, a crocheted bag, a hand knit lace shawl and a hand spun, hand knit sweater. Now there may have been more things that I didn't notice, but this phenomenon isn't unusual. I have gone to lots of fibre events, guild meetings and workshops in various cities over the years, and it is rare to see people actually wearing their own work. (And I am hardly one to talk, I usually go stealth in a black tee shirt and jeans.)

So here I am with renewed resolution: Stop shopping and start wearing what I make. If I'm going to be a crazy grey-haired fibre lady I might as well look the part. And dog hair on my clothes doesn't count.

Oh, all right, I'll show you what I bought.
 Totally not my colour, but irresistible.
 Already spun up in penance for my sins. Plyed with a shiny spaced dyed machine embroidery thread.
And a rock. I actually bought a rock. Covered with waxed linen needle lace. Somewhat like waking up after the night before with a strange tattooed man in my bed. But much less troublesome.

Update: Check out Betsy Greer's thoughts on this topic.  She has some great ideas on how to share our bounty.


  1. It was the wool fumes. I get it totally. Those wool fumes are insidious! Doesn't matter the size of your stash already. Around here we call it "insulation". Enjoy! Forget the guilt.

  2. Anonymous9:56 AM

    oh my, I think I run on guilt - or run towards it. The lovely Romney I'm spinning now seduced me with its colour - every turn of the wheel I ask myself "why"? what are you going to do with this? don't like that idea of the tattooed man but the rock is nice (I'll keep the idea of "rocks in the head" to myself.)

  3. Oh my, I so get this. I am doing pretty good working from my stash. I still get carried away once in a while. But its best for me to just stay away from the stores/sales.

    The paragraph about the rock is hilarious.

  4. Nice post Heather! I'm lucky that relative poverty dissuades me from this.....but I have felt those feelings & bought that stuff....oh yes!
    I keep dyeing fabric with dye made from plants; it's like heroin for me.....I have a pile of plant-dyed fabric, and I persuade myself I will use them in my art.....I can't make stuff fast enough though! Sigh! I'm certainly experimenting with wearing what I dye though; I'm running the risk of looking like a DeadHead, though! x

  5. Patricia Collins2:58 PM

    Yes, I made that same observation about us not wearing our 'produce' at my last charity knitters group. About 50 people in the room and only 5 wearing a hand knit. I had a brief chat about this and we wondered whether it was a question of money. After all it's expensive to knit for oneself. Reading your comment and thinking about it again, do we refrain from wearing our ownmade clothes and accessories in crafter company for fear of expert criticism?


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