The time has come for my Mother and I to travel North and visit family. Of course, this means I’ll be a stones throw from the Ohio Valley Natural Fiber Mill. While I pack, I mentally start my fiber shopping list. I decided to make this my only focus on fiber for this vacation, aside from the few projects I take to keep my hands busy. Mom wants to go to Dollywood, so we’re going to make this our stop on the way to Ohio. We can spend two nights and a full day, just enough time to be out of the car and get a taste of the area. On our way home we’ll stop by Helen, GA. for a brief respite from the car and enjoy of the Alpine style village. I love the Cherokee National Forrest and the Chattahoochee River, the rest is icing on the cake.
The Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, Sevierville, TN. area is a lot busier than I anticipated. While the surrounding area is breathtaking, the three conjoined towns are busy, crowded, and full of traffic. This area is loaded with local craftsmen, and I could have spent a week driving around visiting shops and studios, but we didn’t have that kind of time. The area is well-known for its pottery, but the last thing I need is another
obsession hobby, especially one that includes mud and high temperatures. We settled on visiting the craftsmen in Dollywood. Low and behold, if there is only one spinner/weaver in the lot, of course I will find them. She has a modest shack with a display of some of her work. She is a Craftsman, not a vendor, her name is Rosie Dupuy, the owner of Applewood Handwovens, and she lives in Bethel, Mo. We hit it off immediately, and visited as long as I thought my Mother’s patience would last. I could have sat there all day talking to Rosie, and I hope she responds to my email. Out of respect, I refrained from snapping pictures of her and her work, but there’s a handy link to her website. Dollywood has a church on the premises which is beautiful in its simplicity, construction, woodwork, and display of faith themed quilts. The quilts are breathtaking in person, unfortunately they are all protected by glass. I snapped some photos of them, but the glare and reflection poorly affects the quality of the image. The handy work used in the quilt’s construction is remarkable.
Ohio greeted us with crisp air and Autumn colors. The foliage was in full splendor, the rolling hills of Southern Ohio are great this time of year. My cousin and I went to lunch and we stopped off at a yarn store that’s new in town. Fiber Optics has an array of premium yarns that are dyed on the premises in an array of colors, and displayed in such a way to inspire. I wanted to touch all of them and buy one of each – but I controlled myself. They dye all the protein based fiber (wool, mohair, angora, silk, etc) in the back room, and send out the cellulose based yarn (cotton, ramie, bamboo, etc) to be dyed to their specs. They have a nice courtyard that looks like it would be great for workshops, spin ins, knitting groups and Sunday tea. The most awesome part was the fact that she has in stock the spinning wheel that I have on my wish list, and she let me sit in front of a floor model and spin a little to see how I like it. I loved it, it’s moving from my wish list to my “must have” list. I noticed that she has the tablet weaving cards that I was going to buy from another source for an upcoming workshop that I’m giving. I was going to be charged a ridiculous amount for shipping, and I was fortunate that she had exactly the right amount. Since she’s a Schacht dealer, her shop is like a candy store to me, she also has Schacht’s Inkle looms in stock and I’ve wanted another of these so I can work on one project and keep a loom available for workshops. I would have bought one, but with our car as full as it was, I didn’t want it rolling around in the back getting damaged. So I’ll just have to order one or come across another on the fly.
The Ohio Valley Natural Fiber Mill has changed hands. The new owners have been nice and welcoming in our email correspondence. They kept the same staff on, which is great because they’re friendly, patient, and helpful. They are still working out some details with some vendors, so some of their equipment inventory is on the low side during my visit, but my pocketbook is grateful. It’s located in Sardinia, Ohio, and it’s a good 30 minute drive from where we were staying. It was worth it, their prices are reasonable, and products in good shape. I scored a pound of black alpaca, a pound of fawn color alpaca, a pound of white kid mohair, 1/2 – pound of grey/silver kid mohair, a pound of Merino wool top, 1/4 – pound of premium angora, and an ounce of white Firestar (just in case I need some sparkle). The area is very rural, and the Amish are close at hand in case you need to stop by for some wholesome supplies.
We ended our trip in Helen, GA. There are lots of shops there, and we hit most of them. I found a handwoven reversible scarf, with peacocks and peacock feathers. I doubt that it will get excessive use, but it feels wonderful, so I’ll enjoy it on the few occasions I get. It feels soft and the colors are vibrant. I’m not a big fringe lover, so the short fringes are great for me. Now that I’m home, I have a chance to label the bags of fiber, work on the sock I started on the trip, and connect with my new fiber friends. I finished two projects on my trip, the cowl I made for my cousin, and a sock to complete a pair. I began a pair of crocheted earrings for Dia de los Muertos. I made one, but realized it would be too big for earrings (at least for me). I finished one and gave it to my cousin’s daughter for a school event they were doing for this tradition. We nicknamed him Stitches, and I’m sure she’ll give him a good home, I didn’t bother putting the hardware on since he won’t be hanging off anyone’s ear. He was fun to make, and I photographed the process which utilized an adjustable ring that closes the beginning ring nice and tight. I think it’s the best way to crochet in the round when you don’t want an opening in the center. Its worked in rounds with shaping in the jaw area, embroidered, then two are sewn together and stuffed. It’s been a productive and busy two weeks, and I’m left with more still to do than I got accomplished – when it’s something you enjoy, it’s a perfect end.