Sunday, October 19, 2008

Color: An Excuse to Goof Off

With all the craziness that accompanies life during the school year, I needed to take a break. I really needed to take a break. Fortunately, Color: A Fiber Festival in Berkeley was yesterday, so I ditched the lesson plans and papers--I have nearly 100 essays on America's 19th century industrial boom to grade--and the Sonata and I spent the day with people and things related to fiber. Unfortunately, I forgot to take my camera.

Color is an interesting local fiber festival. This was the second occurrence of this festival (the first was in April of this year), and drew about 75 people to its classes, sales, and hanging out in a marvelous location, the Pacific School of Religion. The campus of the 160-year-old interdenominational seminary, spread over an acre on "Holy Hill" (Berkeley's Graduate Theological Union Library is down the block), features beautiful old Gothic Revival buildings set in lush green lawn, all with a stunning view of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate.

All this beauty was enhanced by the weather. For those unfamiliar with our so-called "seasons," October is actually "summer" in the Bay Area, with cerulean skies, warm days, and crisp-as-a-potato-chip nights. Yesterday was no different. What little fog there was yesterday burned off by 11:00, so most of us spent the day either sitting with our wheels or knitting outside on the patio beside the historic Holbrook Library. I schlepped about a half-pound of the black merino pin-draft down there with me, and spent several hours turning roving into very fine singles, as a group of us chatted about everything under the sun from the current political situation to the recent Yahoo! buyout attempt, to whose kid is getting braces next. Needless to say, it was an eclectic group! People wandered in and out of the group, taking breaks from spinning or knitting to take one of the several classes offered, or to shop with the vendors set up in the common room.

The classes were out-and-out fun. I took a short class on using a Weave-It, a tiny loom used by many people to create woven samples, taught by Karrie Weaver. A Weave-It (also known as a Weavette, or a similar tiny loom made by Hazel Rose) has been around for a number of years in a number of different sizes; I have a giant-sized version marketed during the 1950s as a "Loomette King," and used for weaving placemats. All these loom-like creatures work in the same basic way: wrap a yarn or thread around a series of pegs in a specific sequence, then use a long needle to weave through the threads, locking them into place. All of these looms come with instructions when first purchased, usually printed with microscopic diagrams in tiny books that are easily lost, so taking a class on how to use one clears us a lot of the mystery. I took the class with Jamie, another good friend I'm gently leading down the path to fiber perdition, and a couple other people, and by the end of an hour, we were turning out coasters for shot glasses on two-inch Weave-Its, and noting on how much this reminded us of childhood days spent at day camp. (Many thanks to the lovely people at Color and to Karrie for letting me "kype" this photo of her Weave-Its and weavings).

What would a festival be without some shopping? Festival attendees had their choice of fiber and yarn from about a half-dozen local vendors: Tactile, Ceallach Dyes, A Verb for Keeping Warm, Pan's Garden, Pigeon Roof, Girl on the Rocks, and Flynn Creek Churros (which my brain keeps turning into Flying Creek Burritos) had baskets, bins, and braids of fiber to spin, and hanks of yarn waiting for needles and hooks. Handsome Books had a selection of old textile books and a pile of quaint needlework magazines from the 1960s. I'm currently on a very strict "no fiber diet," and it was hard to resist, especially the braids of purple hand-painted superwash merino at Girl on the Rocks. I owe a debt of thanks to the people that bought all that superwash--I managed to make it through the day without adding to the stash. However, a lot of other people went home with a lot of good stuff, including one very happy woman who went home with a new (to her) drum carder.

All in all, Color is a nice little festival. I'm already looking forward to the next one, which should be in April, just as the Bay Area fiber community begins to ramp up for the summer fiber activities.