Yes friends, for real! I'm going to start with something pleasant for once, and hopefully the trend will continue (until it doesn't, of course).
This past weekend was the Finger Lakes Fiber Arts Festival in Hemlock. It's a lovely little festival, it really is. There's classes and demonstrations, three barns with vendors, and wonderful yummy fair food. I did resist the funnel cake somehow; I'm not sure why. I eat it once, maybe twice a year and I shouldn't have passed up the opportunity. I did manage to eat two different kinds of homemade sausage, and boy am I glad I did. Deeeeelicious.
I loves me some Rhinebeck, and I have plans to go again, but there really is a decent selection at Hemlock. Golding is there; Jonathan Bosworth is there; The Merlin Tree is there. Ellen's Half-Pint Farm, too. Even Zeilinger's comes, because there is a small fleece competition and sale, and some of the vendors bring raw fleece as well. There's several local folks to support, which is great fun.
Purchasing was restrained, but that has to do more with the current stash than not seeing anything I wanted. I ended up with a pound of dark, dark CormoX top from Foxhill Fibers, and a pound of Merino top in "River Edge" from Clover Hill. Porcelain buttons were added to the hoard, and two beeswax candles found their way into my bag. Lovelovelove beeswax candles. I almost had a falling-down at Just Our Yarns, but I have a beaded shawl kit from them that I keep losing and finding, and I really want to do that first. If they're at Rhinebeck, I may have to pick up a hank of their cashmere. Maybe.
I also test-drove a couple more folding wheels for eventual decision-making. So far, I've tried the Ashford Joy, a Majacraft Little Gem, a Spinolution Bee, a Kromski Sonata, and a Bosworth Journey wheel. I'd still like to try a Louet Julia in the name of science, and a Lendrum is probably not on the radar as I don't think there's a dealer around here. If there's one at Rhinebeck, I'll give it a whirl.
So far, I've ruled out the Joy, the Bee, and the Sonata. The Sonata is a great wheel, to be honest, but I want something smaller. I see it more as a house wheel that you can tuck out of the way when you need the guest room. The Joy just didn't turn me on. Too low to the ground, maybe, and I'm pretty darn short. Whatever it is, I wasn't terribly comfortable sitting at it. The Bee....wellllll. The dealer had a great sales pitch. It's definitely compact when folded. It spun OK, and is double-treadle, which is what my Jensen is. (I don't compare these wheels to my Tina II. That wouldn't be fair.) It's an accelerated wheel and has an unusual but easy-to-work tensioning device (don't ask me to explain it). But it felt wobbly when treadled. Granted, it wasn't exactly on a flat surface, but I had a very hard time getting it to continue spinning in one direction. So I figured I'd come back around and if it was available, I'd take it over to the concrete pad in the barn and try it.
The Little Gem was next, and I was pleasantly surprised! I usually spin in double-drive, and the Little Gem is Scotch tension, but I don't think that's a huge problem. It treadled easily and was stable, even on the same sawdust surface. The delta orifice is interesting, and user-friendly. (The Bee has no orifice. You could spin kittens into your yarn if you wanted.) The carrying bag looks like tinfoil, but I bet it would be easy to make something more compact and attractive. It was easy to settle in to this wheel. For a small wheel, it feels very solid.
After a little more browsing, mom and I came back through the barn with the Bee in it. Another spinner was doing what I had intended; she took it over to the pad to try it out (and she had a lovely long-draw going on, too). I watched for a bit, and then heard what I wanted to hear: "This feels wobbly in the lower ratios." It looked wobbly side-to-side, too. Check that one off the list.
My favorite remains the Journey wheel. Le sigh. It is, by far, the most expensive of all. Totally worth it, I think too...but close to 300 some-odd dollars more than the Little Gem. I can't exactly afford another wheel right now anyway, so the point is moot. And when you buy a Journey wheel, you actually order one and put a deposit down. The current orders are scheduled to be finished in the spring of 2011. I could save up before then, right? I may have to do it. And if I miss this batch, I'm pretty sure there's another round of ordering in the spring.
I love spinning. At least as much, if not more, than knitting. But don't ask for dibs on my yarn stash just yet, OK?