Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sunday Knits

I was moved, as I walked through the Midwest Fiber and Folk Festival, by the number of small businesswomen and men who were carving out opportunities in the world of fiber. I wanted to support every small farm that was raising its own Angora rabbits, or alpaca goats, or even working with a colleague in China to bring Yak yarn, woven by women in the villages, to the market.

But of all the businesses that I observed and the owners that I interacted with, I was most impressed by Carol Sunday and her Sunday Knits booth. She is doing beautiful work, in a style that seems both vintage and modern at the same time. Her aesthetic is both simple and complex - for example, a pullover in just the right shade of tobacco brown, but with a lotus flower intarsia-d in just the right colors of (I think) pink and red. Even the labels on her in-house yarns from Italy ( of which there is a focused number - four different blends - and a focused color palette of soft, rich shades)are elegant but not fussy. This woman has an eye for beauty.
Even her packaging is lovely:

Also, she had the most efficient booth for shopping: samples of her sweaters and mittens to try on; clearly organized yarns with clearly labeled prices; and a welcoming patience as I and another knitter worked our way through several try-ons, including the vest that Carol was wearing. After a bit, we found ourselves (or maybe it was just me?) muttering, "I want everything."

I settled, with the help of my friend, on the Rippling Ribs Vest, to be knit in charcoal Nirvana, a blend of merino wool with a bit of cashmere.  How can there be only 8 projects of this sweater on Ravelry - especially when one knitter notes that this is her go-to sweater for everything?

My other favorite booth was Mary Flanagan Woolens, more for gawking than desiring.
But the main show was the animals, present either in the fur or in the skein. Here's a very large Angora rabbit in the arms of a delighted youngster:

Also, lots and lots and lots of alpaca. This was from a lovely booth, and is projected to be mittens for my older daughter. I wanted to purchase the same yarn in ivory, but as I asked the shop owner, I realized that what I was purchasing was the fiber from the animal, and if the animal didn't come in another color, then neither would the yarn. Very cool. One of the many alpaca booths even had pictures of the goats beside the yarn spun from their fiber.

The festival is open for the rest of the weekend, so if you're in the Chicago area, you should make your way up to see it. And if you miss this, Sunday Knits will be at Stitches Midwest in August.



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