The Fibre and Fleece Festival, held from 9 – 11 July 2010 was all that I hoped for! With all due respect to the main event (the wearable fibre art exhibition and fashion show), I am going to talk about what interested me most – the Craft Market.
The Craft Market was a small slice of fibre/yarn heaven. It was what I had always dreamed about going to – a market devoted to fibre arts, with access to tonnes of yarn and fibre! To my right was Riverdale Alpacas, offering a selection of yarn (from a variety of sources), as well as natural colour alpaca fibre from their own alpacas and hand-knitted garments. On my left was a mohair specialist, with both hanks of yarn and woven/knitted offerings. Further in, was Inspire Fibres, and this is where I made my first purchase: Four glorious 100g hanks of chunky, single-spun felted merino, one 100g hank of merino/silk/angora tweed, and a 50g bag of English Leicester locks. (The locks are a gift for a friend who spins).
The picture does not do this yarn justice. These particular reds and browns were quite hard to photograph!
Here’s her stall:
Tracy White, the artist, does not spin the yarn, but buys it from various sources, which she then hand-dyes using commercial acid dyes. In addition to yarn, she sells a large range of silk and wool fibre and other embellishments for embroidery, felting and spinning. Based in Woodville, Tracy also holds workshops in spinning, felting, silk paper making, dyeing and design. She does fill wholesale orders. She can be contacted at tracywhiteATinspire.net.nz.
Nosing further in, I was delighted to see the Basically Bush stand – complete with possum pelts and clothing. Basically Bush is the possum fur company that supplies Zealana with all their possum fur.
We then hit a whole swag of spinning wheel and equipment suppliers, including Majacraft. If you spin (not me), it seems to me to be a very good place to go.
Turning the corner, I hit the next motherload of all interesting things: Awakeri Woolcraft. Based in Awakeri (Whakatane), Charlotte Lowry buys top of various fibres (cotton, angora, Merino, Corriedale, Romney and others), which she then spins and dyes herself using either commercial or natural vegetable dyes. She had an amazing selection of yarn:
There were balls of laceweight, single-spun merino, designed to be knitted into a scarf or poncho:
I’m still coveting the very beautiful red and green balls that you can see in the picture…
She also had ready-knitted garments, for those who prefer to buy their yarn in ready-made form.
Here again, I had to choose carefully, but decided to splurge the rest of my budget here… after all, how often does one have access to hand-spun yarn if you don’t spin yourself?
I think I’m in for a bit of lace shawl knitting by the looks of things… I just love the colours!
Each of these babies are 100g of 100% New Zealand merino, handspun and hand-dyed in long repeats of colour. I’m itching to cast on, but I must be dutiful and finish my Clasica Coat – only one sleeve to go!!
If you’re ever around Whakatane and fancy a bit of yarn therapy, here are her details:
The link to her website is here. By the time we hit Awakeri Woolcraft and I’d had a good look and a chat to Charlotte, the kids were getting bored, and I was pulled rapidly past Waddle Inn – offering their own alpaca fibre, as well as a selection of alpaca and wool yarns:
and Creative Outlet, a yarn store from Tauranga that also sells their own line of variegated yarns. They also had very large bags of top and fleece for spinners.
In addition to all the fibre and yarn goodness, the Craft Market also hosted stall-holders offering a quality selection of hand-made food and hand-crafted jewellery, clothing, wooden toys, skin care products, art and other items that would interest all members of the family. We bought some delicious locally-grown and produced walnuts and honey-roasted macadamia nuts.
The Craft Market was well-worth attending, and I have to say, the only event I have attended this year that actually has what a fibre artist might want – fibre and yarn! I especially liked the market because the stall holders I saw were ones I had not come across before, which was my whole point in going – to explore and find other yarn producers in New Zealand.
At this point, I had a little dream: wouldn’t it be amazing if more suppliers of fleece and yarns decided to support this event, and turned it into a major festival for fibre artists…!?
The town with the second-longest sunshine hours in New Zealand. The Opotiki district has a population of approx 9,000, although the town itself is probably closer to 5,000. It’s small. Off the beaten track, and comfortably placed on the ocean-front and on the verge of Te Urewera National Park, it’s a popular destination for multi-sporters.
If you are after a hunting, fishing, white water rafting or horse trekking experience (among many other outdoor pursuits), or just a good-old-fashioned, down-to-earth Kiwi summer holiday, this is a good place to come. Still a well-kept secret, this town has not yet realised its full tourist potential, and prices are affordable and realistic. For tourists, genuinely hand-crafted arts such as greenstone and bone carvings are also readily available.
As it’s a small town, you won’t get luxury, 5-star accommodation or fine dining here, but there is a good choice of other offerings, including motels, farm stays, camp sites and bush retreats.
Its proximity to pristine native bush makes it a haven for friendly native wildlife:
This little weka and his family have adopted my sister’s place as their hang-out. They spend all day pottering around outside in the garden. They’re great, but you do have to fence your vegetable garden and make sure the chickens lay their eggs off the ground, to avoid everything getting devoured!
Being so close to the bush, you hear native pigeons (Kereru) noisily flying by, weka calling, tui singing, fantails gracefully swing around you, greedily gobbling up the little insects stirred up as you walk. Flocks of other little birds, although not necessarily native, chirp in the trees. Bellbirds and even kaka have been seen. At certain times of the year, huhu beetles bat against the windows, while the largest New Zealand moth, the Puriri moth, flutters in the evening breeze. Considerable effort is being made by residents to restore the natural balance of nature, and their efforts, and those who came before them, are well paying off.