I’ve always heard that, in order to tell a story, you should start at the beginning, go through until the end and then stop. So, that’s what I am going to attempt to do.
The drive down to Lexington on Friday was uneventful, except for a pretty hard rain storm between Florence and Lexington along I-75. It was hard enough to slow the interstate down to about 40 mph and to put the windshield wipers on full blast. It lasted about 10 minutes and was gone.
Friday night, Sandy and I arrived at Masterson’s Station Park, found our space on the corner (we love being on the corner!!) of the Big Top Tent, unloaded the cars and set up our booth. This year, we got a 10X20 foot booth – and we could have easily filled a larger one! With all of the fiber we took… Wow! Large bags of fiber take up a lot of space.
So, here is what our booth looked like:
See? Pretty packed, isn’t it?
This is the Fiber Department.
After walking around several times over the weekend, we realized that we were one of few vendors selling fiber this way. There were lots of raw fleeces, several bags of colors batts, dyed roving, lots and lots of yarn, but very little natural-colored wool in all of the breeds we have.
The price sign I created really was a huge help and we got many very positive compliments on it. It did make things easier and people could see at a glance what we had, feel samples of the different fibers, see how it spins up, get descriptions on some, and see how much we charged. I sincerely believe we sold more fiber because of the convenience of that sign.
Remember my telling you that we had a lot of the wool processed into top – especially the fine wools like Corriedale, Cormo, Bond, etc.?
Well, Sandy and I had tested some of the waste from the combing process for wet felting and it worked great. So, we put what we had up for sale. A very talented wet felter came by and bought most of the colored wool we had to make bags and such out of.
On Sunday, Kate brought a bag that she had made with some of the Corriedale wool she had purchased from us on Saturday (yes, she stayed up late getting it done) and embellished with wool she had bought from Fiber Optics. Sandy and I were blown away! It was incredible! Good, thick felt, huge with two interior pockets and what a cool image on it. Please check out her Etsy shop and buy things from her as her work is amazing!
Another lady bought the rest of the waste – mostly white – to use to stuff dolls and toys with, which is an idea that we hadn’t considered.
Back to Saturday. Sandy and I were busy most of the day. The people who came in to the booth to introduce themselves were so nice! One lady came from Arizona! (Hi Sandy O.!! Thank you for stopping by!) Seriously, the people in Kentucky could not have been nicer and friendlier.
Then, of course, there was the tie-dye department.
The colors from the tie-dyed clothing caught people’s eyes and drew them in. The fact that we dye so many varied items impresses people and the tie-dyed undies always crack people up. One poor man stood looking back and forth between two shirts for a very long time before finally making up his mind and buying one. I had the feeling we’d see him again, and, sure enough, a bit later he came back and bought the other one.
Also, one young man of about 10 came in with his mom complaining that she had thrown away all of his tie-dyed shirts, to which she had replied that he had out-grown them. So, he had a wardrobe to replenish and did so with two shirts, a pair of socks and shoe laces. I told her that rather than throw them away when he outgrows them, she should sew up the bottom of the shirt, cut it off below the arms, hem it, add handles from the rest of the shirt and make bags out of them. Her eyes lit up and said that was a great idea. I figured if her son likes his tie-dyed stuff that much, then he would love having bags made from them.
Baby items continue to be a top seller for us, even more than shirts. Several onsies, burp cloths and baby socks found new homes over the weekend. Babies always look adorable in colorful tie-dye.
On my breaks, I headed over to where there were sheep, shearing demonstrations and other vendors to look around. I met some friends there, too.
This is Keebler.
And this is B. Willard.
They live with Sara of Punkin’s Patch and she had some beautiful fleeces for sale.
The weather was on our side for the most part. Saturday, we had a short rain that brought in a slight breeze, and dropped the humidity and temperatures for us. Sunday was sunny and hot.
Sunday, the crowd was lower, but people still came to buy. I was standing and talking with Sandy when a voice came from my immediate left. “I bet you don’t recognize me?” I turned and said “Oh yes I do!” Remember this man from last year?
Well, he and his wife came back looking for us this year. Last year, he bought my entire bag of Ulf, a lovely silver Corriedale top and was spinning it in the demo tent almost immediately. Well, he had loved spinning it so much that he wanted more of what we had for sale. He and his wife looked at the fiber, looked at the Jacob and several others, and ended up going back to the Corriedale breed that we had. Bless his heart, he bought over 6 lbs. of Corriedale from us, including all of the white and caramel colored and a pound of a lovely brownish-gray we have.
And they brought samples!
These socks she knitted were spun from Ulf. There are some stripes here and there that were blended with their Chow’s hair, which made them even more special. I can hardly wait to see what they make together with what they got from us. I hope they send us pictures!
Sandy and I are still newbies at this whole fiber fair vending thing. Last year, the Kentucky Sheep & Fiber Festival was our initiation, and we loved it so much that we decided that we are doing the right thing. We spent the year searching for just the right fleeces to buy, making sure the quality of what we get is the best we can get, having them processed professionally, and getting them ready to sell. We are very picky fleece buyers, and it shows and has paid off for us. Having return customers, special orders, and requests for more mean so much to Sandy and I.
Someone called us “fleece brokers” yesterday, and that felt very good, because that is exactly what Sandy and I want to be. Starting with the Fiber Binder Club to introduce people to high quality natural fibers, then providing more to take people beyond the education stage into the production stage means a lot to us. Helping to support local and regional shepherds also means a lot to us. We know so many farmers and shepherds who have troubles selling their wool, and that is a shame. Mind you, having good wool to sell is important, and more and more breeders are culling for wool production. That makes a better quality clip for sale, and that is a win-win for both the breeder and the hand-spinner. Sandy’s and my job is to make sure that high quality wool gets in the hands of those who want it.
And, of course, Sandy made a new friend!
This is a baby miniature llama. We had never heard of miniature llamas before.
Will we do the Kentucky Sheep & Fiber Festival again next year? Definitely! And we are talking about getting an ever bigger booth. All that fiber takes up a lot of room!
And come back tomorrow. I’ll take you with me on a tour of the festival.