Although it was just as drizzly at Fort Delaware’s Fiber Festival yesterday as it was everywhere else in the Upper Delaware River Basin, during the three hours I was there, I didn’t hear a single comment about the weather until a slurp of water dripped down a guy line into one of the tents and splashed one of Laurie Stuart’s lovely and fanciful felted baskets.
To spend an afternoon with locally-produced fibers & rovings, spinners, weavers and the needleworkers who turn the threads and yarns into quilts, tea cozies, scarves, Santa Claus sculptures, Temari ornaments and sweaters is sweet bliss. It’s not just the seductive softness of the alpaca and sheep wools or the colors and beauty of the finished products — the atmosphere reminds me of the camaraderie down at Mayhew’s Feed & Grain and around the maple sap evaporator when I was a kid growing up in Ohio.
Dye buckets filled with yarn and rovings bubbled and boiled outside Gillingham’s Wild Root Farm tent and a rack inside was draped with bundles trying to dry. I brought home a beautiful skein of Amy’s Icelandic Roving which now fills my kitchen with the scent of rich organic dyes. (It’s nearly impossible to ignore either it or the thought of digging my needles into as I write this article. The benefit to you is that this will be one of the shortest I’ve ever written.)
I’ve been crocheting since I was ten but Grandma despaired I’d ever learn to manipulate two knitting needles. It wasn’t until last winter that I finally taught myself using Stitch & Bitch which a needleworker friend bought me at the 4Corners Knitting Store on Main Street in Narrowsburg, NY. It was in Dale and Wendy’s store that I also discovered the joy of bamboo fiber and whiled away the early afternoon searching through patterns and fingering their amazing variety of other yarns.
A stop by a display of fabric caps lead to a long and delightful natter with the proprietors of “The Variety Show,” a nifty shop in Port Jervis that offers handmade, reversible caps made of antique fabrics.
The Damascus Woodland Weavers and Spinners Guild was located near the Fort entrance but I left a visit with them till the very last. (If you’ve been following our progress at CottageWorks as we build a site devoted to the handcrafted arts, artisans and culture of The Delaware River Basin, you know my most recent knitting projects have been crafted using the Guild’s fibers. A few months ago, when I showed up late to their annual sale (on a rainy day, of course) they sent me home with four garbage bags filled with everything from chenilles to thick homespun and the finest threads.) When I finally made my way past the Fort to the tent where the Guild was chatting, spinning and knitting, I started to re-introduce myself but they didn’t need the reminder. “We remember you,” one woman chortled. “Boy! We sure were glad to see you stuffin’ all our bags into the back seat of that car of yours!”
No more than I!