Monday, March 26, 2007

Somewhere there is a pack of naked baby alpacas...

...because I have a mountain of baby alpaca wool in my living room!

I’m still recovering from this Saturday’s Nanaimo Fibre Swap and Sale. Despite a mix-up with the newspaper listing and some very wet and dreary weather, the fiber event was a huge success. I was there early to help set-up and I swear the place was packed with eager fiber shoppers a good half an hour before the actual start time. It was steady for most of the 4 hour event! From equipment to books to fleece to yarn to finished textiles, there was something for everyone.

Hello to everyone that stopped by the 100 Mile Diet & Fiber table. It was a wonderful morning and afternoon and I got to meet folks from all the Vancouver Island.

As expected, there was a plethora of local fiber producers selling their lovely wares. I made a pact with myself that I would only buy local fleece. Considering that there were some absurdly good deals on yarn at some of the tables, I’m amazed at my own willpower;)

I have a grand old plan to see a 100 Mile Fiber project through from carding to spinning to knitting on my own buy the end of this spring. I couldn’t have asked for more at this fair. There were vendors from all over the Vancouver Island and Gulf Island region. There was an incredible range of local fibers and considering how affordable the raw material was compared to buying it at the store, I couldn’t resist. Despite the big pile of treasures that I managed to acquire, my wallet actually was still quite healthy and full afterwards (thanks goodness!).

Even before the starting bell is rung...

Local soft...sigh

I got 14oz of unwashed Lincoln fleece for a buck!!!

Washed Romney - a big old box for $5!!!

4 lbs Hampshire washed for $10.

I figure once I manage to card and spin this batch, I'll be a decent spinner. Knock on wood.

I also picked up a drum carder for $25!! Considering that even used drum carders can usually cost a couple hundred dollars, I was practically doing cartwheels down the aisle. At the end of the day, one of the vendors gave me a pair of used hard carders. I will try not to brag too much of my good luck for it may taunt the knitting gods to smite me with carpal tunnel syndrome or to curse my stitch markers to move about when I’m not looking. I’ll just go into my corner and do a little happy dance.

I was very much tempted to pick up a loom for a song and dance. Until I manage to figure out how to fold space or at least get one of those Narnia wardrobes, I'm going to have to hold off on it. I don't have any room for it considering that any spare space is now being taken by a growing stash of fleece which barely fits beside my overstuffed stash of yarn.

I’m not the only one that got a great deal in equipment A friend of mine also picked up a swift for $15 and bobbin winder for even less. These fiber fairs are a great place to pick up equipment for the novice. I also love the idea of reusing and passing on equipment so it doesn’t end up in the landfill.

I got to wear my Arachne capelet that day. I would get a photo of me in it but there’s never anyone to take photos of me when I’m wearing my stuff. Why is that?

Anyways, I love it. It’s made with local alpaca (chocolate brown and teal). The gold is wild silk dyed by Gabriola weaving goddess, Trish Moon. I adore alpaca. I was stroking my capelet all day long. A few others joined in the tactile pleasure too ;)

The all-over design is my own. The patterns I used was classic paired falling leave for the bottom teal border. The chocolate lace was intended to look like the leaves of wolfbane/aconite, the plant that Athena used to turn Arachne into a spider. They are variations upon Barbara Walker's smocked lace.

The Arachne spider is also Barbara Walkers'. (Hey, you might as well borrow from the jedi). It the Spider pattern in Charted Knitting Designs. I just used 2 yarns to make the pattern 'pop' and made some minor changes to make it fit better in the overall design. It’s a nice project for someone who’s looking for a bit of twist stitch fun!

BTW, Trish Moon’s naturally dyed yarns are now available at Nanaimo’s favorite LYS, Mad About Ewe. They also brought in some gorgeous local alpaca yarn from Qualicum Beach.

I look forward to hearing about the your locally grown creations and seeing those photos! Send them to


Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Welcome to the 100 Mile Fiber Fest blog.

Inspired by the 100 Mile Diet, I’ve been looking for other local products to utilize to help support the local community & economy and to help the environment by cutting down on transport miles and about a gzillion other reasons. Becoming more of a 100 mile knitter was a no-brainer. I’m blessed to live in thriving local fiber and texile community that is surrounded by alpaca and sheep farms. There are also many local yarn producers that make a mélange of hand-dyed yarn, many of which are also naturally dyed. I also have access to stinging nettle and cedar bark and other plant materials for fiber. I’ve even seen folks use dried bull kelp to make baskets.

I’ve done a few pieces in the past utilizing local fibers but now I’m making a more conscious effort to use local fibers more consistently. I get most of my local alpaca and sheeps wool from fiber swaps, fairs and from the farms themselves.

The 100 Mile Fiber Fest blog is dedicated to showcasing the wonderful creations folks are making with fibers grown or raised within a 100 miles of where they live. It’s open to any sort of creative vehicle including spinning, weaving, knitting, crocheting, felting, basketry and whatever else you can make with naturally grown fibers. Just send an email with an account of your wonderful 100 mile fiber creation, some info like where you are from, what sort of fibers you used, where you got your fiber and any tips and techniques you’d like to share. Photos in JPEG form can also be sent within the body of the email (no attachments please) and please keep them to a reasonable size. You can send in your 100 Mile Fiber account to

You can also join me on my own 100 mile fiber journey as I explore the landscape of fiber that is available on Vancouver Island.

My most recent 100 Mile Fiber knitting creation was inspired by a visit with Ovid’s Metamorphoses this past weekend. I had come across one of my favorite myths, the showdown between Athena and Arachne. I know that most interpreters paint Arachne as a boastful, brash young woman who needed to be brought down a notch for bragging that she was a better weaver than Athena. In my eyes, however, Arachne is a proud, strong minded and self-confident young woman who worked hard at becoming the best weaver she could be, though she could have benefited from a bit of humility. She did not shirk from her talents or play the modest maiden like women back then (and even to this day) were told to do. She dared to challenge the goddess Athena to a weaving contest and she beat the disguised Athena fair and square. Unfortunately, Athena was a sore loser. When Arachne realized that she had disrespected the goddess, her shame led to her suicide.

I was inspired to make an Arachne lace capelet. In the myth, Athena sprinkles the juices of aconite, or Wolfbane onto the Arachne to loosen her suicide’s loose and turn her into a spider. Wolfbane shows up often in mythology and folklore as having special powers, often deadly powers. So I tried figured I’d use leaves and florals as the background pattern for the capelet. I tried to recreate the leave of the Wolfbane in lace but I won’t know if it works until I block it. I’m using locally raised alpaca yarn that I purchased at a fiber fair and some at a farmers market last year. I’m also going to knit up Arachne in gold handspun wild silk yarn that I purchased from Trish Moon at Indigo Moon Studio on Gabriola Island. I’m using a modified version of Barbara Walker’s Arachne pattern for that.

So far I have this much done:

I’m hoping it will be done so I can wear it for the Nanaimo Fiber Swap and Sale, which is being hosted by my Weavers and Spinners guild. The Fiber Swap is being held on Saturday, March 24th from 10am to 2pm at St. Paul’s Church Hall at 100 Chapel Street in downtown Nanaimo. There will be a wide variety of local fiber, fleece, yarn and equipment. The guild is also selling baked goodies and lunch there.

Along with being one of the hostesses for this event, I’m also going to be running the 100 Mile Diet & Fiber table. Pop by and say ‘Hello’.

Send in your emails of your 100 Mile Fiber creations.

Have a great day!

Queen of Rust