Things are finally settling back into some sort of routine that actually involves time for me to work needles and fiber through my fingers, and that makes me really happy camper.
Through a bit of magic and a bit of telling my boss I was taking the morning off on Friday, I drove the hour over to the Georgia Mountain Needle Arts Festival in Ellijay. Ellijay is worth a drive on its own, especially during the fall when all the apple orchards are open and in full swing.
2019 was the sophomore year for the Needle Arts Festival, which is an important point to mention. This is still a fledgling fiber fair, with the potential to grow into something pretty amazing. This year featured around 18 vendors, a mixed bag of local yarn shops, independent dyers/spinners, and a smidge of other fiber related businesses. For a fair of this size it was a pretty good selection, however, I feel as years go by there will be more independent makers. This may come across as overly critical, but it’s not my intent, if I wanted to purchase main stream yarns like Berroco, Malibrigo, and Plymouth I would drive to the nearest yarn shop. It is my opinion, for the fair to be successful and continue to grow the LYS presence will eventually have to drop off since they represented around a quarter of the vendors in attendance. I would have been less critical of the LYS presence if they bought in more of the unique vendors and products that they carry in their stores. LYS owners will now probably beat me over the head, I know they struggle too.
Will I be back next year, of course, the balance will eventually improve and my hunch is this will be an excellent festival to support local dyers and spinners from the southeast.
What did I come home with? Well, I went on a mission for gadgets and unique products since I have more yarn than I can shake a stick at, so of course I purchase more yarn. Of the independent vendors, two really caught my eye. Cameo Yarns and Stony Hill Fiber Arts.
Cameo Yarns is a northwest Georgia dyer that had a booth full of absolutely gorgeous colorways that claims their inspiration is found in both the complex beauty of nature and the bright and tarnished aspects of the big city. There was certainly some natural inspiration in the colorway Rainbow Trout. If you ever catch a rainbow trout in the sunlight they are a surprisingly colorful fish in the often muddy waterways they around found in. I came home with two skeins of their Oh So Charming Sock – so all the beautiful fishy color without all the icky fishy smell. I don’t have a project in mind for it yet, but eventually the right pattern will call its name.
Stony Hill Fiber Arts also had some eye catching goodies for sale. They produce Pacolet Valley Cotton Yarns. I’ve not been a huge fan of many cottons over the years, too many feel too rigid for garments and accessories unless they are heavily blended with another fiber, or I’m just too impatient to wait for the cotton to soften over time and use. The Pacolet Valley yarns are cotton and cottina – which is a cotton processed in a way to accept color more efficiently – and it feels incredibly soft on the skeins and so smooth in the samples they had on hand. Stony Hill also had patterns on featuring their yarns. These fiber beauties are already assigned to projects. The natural colored cotton in the back is going to be knitted into a wide brimmed summer hat – probably sooner than later, my pale self needs to be more conscious of sun exposure, and the lovely colored yarns in the front of the photo will be turned into fair isle fingerless mitts.
I walked in the door with a definitive budget and stayed within it. I definitely could have spent so much more at the other independents featured at the festival but hopefully they’ll return for another year.
All in all….if you’re within driving distance of Ellijay, Georgia and want to support a growing entity, check this festival out next spring.