Finally, the big day was here! It is time to take Mr. Mer shopping for Hair! I had persuaded him to wait to broaden his choices by looking at the Fiber Festival Twist in Saint-André-Avellin, Quebec. That would be a bit over an hour’s dive east of home. I had a few bags to put purchases in (optimism!), the camera, something to drink, Mr. Mer in his project bag and a good audiobook to start the trip off (today’s driving was accompanied by “A Lady’s Guide to Fortune hunting” by Sophie Irwin).
1) Mr. Mer is napping in his project bag before the big drive. I promise I will get him a bigger project bag!
Ah, summer, the other season of road maintenance in Canada. Oh well, at least the scenery is lovely, driving through the rock cuttings along highway 50. To see all the geology from the comfort of your car, (ok there were a few potholes and truck ruts to distract from the view). You get glimpses of the Ottawa River as it heads south then into the hills and more rock trees and farmland. Turn at the town that makes me think of pineapples (it’s a French word that has nothing to do with pineapples) and go north over a stream, past the cows and eventually into the town of Saint-André-Avellin. A couple more turns and you are at the arena complex wondering where they put the handicapped parking (no I do not actually have the special parking for my e-“specially” great spelling ability). I stopped to ask a man in a sheep hat with horns, I bet he will know! Oh, it’s right here? And don’t run over the line of people waiting to get in. What a close parking spot to the line, amazing! I got out, organized and was already in line, we were ready to go.
2) in line at Twist, handicapped parking is adjacent to the line, now that is close parking!
There are a few changes since the last Twist festival (2 years ago), there has been construction on the building and a covid clinic has taken over what used to be the classrooms. There were, as in previous years, tents outside for Emerging Artists and the Food court.
3) the first outside tent
Inside there are two halls, the arena and the gym and locker room spaces which they are using for classrooms this year. My plan of attack was to cruise through the larger hall first, looking for long locks (the Olive sparrow and a couple more booths might have some) but taking a quick photo of the Black Lamb’s mill ends on the way by. Continuing on to the small hall where the booth for Fibercraft might also have long locks. We were in agreement and had a plan of attack!!
With Mr. Mer leaning over the back support of my walker, the line started to move and we were off! We breezed through the emerging artist’s tent (I will look more carefully later) and took a fast sweep through the main hall looking for the elusive long fibre locks.
4) Inside the Arena (lots of knitting yarn but looking for those elusive locks)
5) Half of the Black Lamb’s booth. They have mill-end fibre.
Pausing briefly, I took a quick shot of the pile of mill ends at the black lamb’s booth. I am fascinated by the hugeness of the pile as the weekend starts and the speed it dwindles as the weekend progresses. I will be back shortly and do a bit of shopping there myself. I hope that some of the other guild members will post the after pictures from Sunday! Finding only a few booths with any fibre, none of it as long as I was hoping, we turned our vehicle to the small arena to do a quick fly-through there.
6) AH ha! We found some locks, not as long as he wanted but a good colour.
We headed past booths with knitting yarn towards the Fibercarft booth, which was looking like our last hope for anyone with long 12-inch or longer locks for Mr. Mer’s hair. I hope he will not be too unhappy if he winds up with a military haircut if long wavy locks are unattainable.
7) Success!! We bought a bundle of green and a bundle of orange-red for his daughter or wife’s hair.
These were the only extra-long locks we were able to find this year at Twist. There may have been some in the back of a booth I did not see, but we were pretty thorough in our such (Next year there will be lots I’m sure since a short bald Mer-fish was asking for them!). The green locks look a bit bright but there is the option to over-die or it may be ok as an accent with the locks from Bernadette. He will show you his loot in a bit.
We met a relative of his while we were in the Fibercraft booth. She was also inspired by Sara’s “Mermaid-felt-along” at the beginning of the pandemic. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hljS4YRmz9w&t=1992s) this was a great way to keep us sane and busy during our time isolating. I am not sure if Sara realizes what she has inspired!
8) Mr. Mer met another Mer from a different branch of the family. (from the same Sara Felt along!)
We said goodbye to his cousin, I didn’t get her name so we referred to her as Ms. Coral Mer. With his shopping now done, we can relax and see what else is on offer.
Around the next corner, we spotted some familiar looking felt. This is Richard Hanna, he is an excellent sculptural felter and sometimes member of the local guild. It has been inspiring watching him work on some of his large pieces during meetings (the Narnian Lion head and Marilyn Monroe head were both very memorable). He has made some interesting green men and tree people more recently. He was quite busy so we didn’t have much time to chat. It was great to see him again, I hope he will have the time to come back to the guild and attend socials.
9) Richard Hanna’s booth at Twist
We stopped to have a quick chat with another guild member, weaver and basket maker Janet Whittam.
10) Janet Whittam’s booth
I took one of Janet’s basketry workshops years ago. To begin we went for a walk down country lanes near her home, collecting wild grapevines and other interesting vegetation. This salvaged material was used with various cane to make a basket. It was so much fun. Janet mentioned while we were chatting and I was admiring the new baskets, that working with the antler as she wove the basket was quite challenging. The final effect was definitely worth the extra work!
11) needle storage
In one booth I saw this lovely little pottery needle holder. What an elegant way to store needles!
12) These mice were so cute but I have no idea what they cost, I could not find a price and the vendor seemed very busy so I didn’t ask.
13) This is a prin to skene winder.
The Prin to Skene winder was incredibly cool and I would love to have bought it, I don’t know where I would put it but it turned easily and was just so cool! That is a giant bag of superwash merino mill ends, it’s sitting beside ($10.00 per LB). This means we’re back in the arena at the Black Lamb’s booth. Here are a few more shots to drool at. I got the last of the BFL (Blue Faced Lester)/silk which is fun to spin and it will also felt!
14) A few of the specialty blends at the Black Lamb booth
15) Mostly superwash merino but other blends of fibre too
16) a few of the Felting supply’s at the Olive Sparrow
We wandered back to the Olive Sparrow and perused silk in fish-appropriate colours then l checked out pieces of felt backing for pictures in so many colours. I spotted the painting in Wool book and one of the two recent Landscape paintings in wool books was also there. I found some extra-large leather finger cots by the cash so added that to my order too. (It’s hard to find thumbs that fit unless you sew your own.)
17) A Majacraft dealer booth
There was a booth selling Majacraft products, (they make spinning wheels that are very posh). I did not realize they also made fibre prep tools. I spotted blending Hackles, mini-combs, a tiny blending board and regular-sized drum carders.
18) A booth of mixed weaving equipment and weaving yarn
Mr. Mer was particularly excited about this Jane loom by Louet, I think the lack of treadles was appealing since Mer-persons would have a challenge to operate them with their tail fins. I did not point out that looms are usually made of wood so tend to float and would be hard to operate in an aquatic environment. In addition, getting wet would not be good for the loom.
19) This booth is Fibres of life
Fibres of life had cat caves, mice, balls in felt as well as felt backgrounds, really nice backpacks and bags as well as examples of the heavy commercial felt used in storage baskets (you can see them under the cat caves and holding the mice and balls). There were also mysterious giant balls of felted roving that looked like balls of snakes.
20) It was good to see such interest in spinning from a range of ages
21) this year the majority of the booths did seem to be more knitting oriented.
22-23) One of the outside tents was filled by the rare breeds conservancy group.
Rare Breeds Conservancy group brought four sheep, a mother and son and two twins, I think the twins were Shropshires. There was interest in the mom’s pretty fleece too!
24) Sheep dog demonstrations
We stopped to watch the sheepdog demo. One of the sheep had figured out it was bigger than the dog and was being stubborn.
With all the fibre I had purchased (as well as Mr. Mer’s shopping), it was time to drop things off in the car. We headed back through the food tent, I was very tempted by the “Hamburger de Bison 1/4lb”, available “avec Sanglier Effiloche” if you wanted for a bit more money. (I had it without the extras last time and it was delicious!)
25) Exotic lunch options
We stopped to have a chat with a lovely lady who had driven up from the states with some friends to attend. She had enjoyed the scenery of the drive from the 1000 island bridge through the southeast of Ontario and then into Quebec. She mentioned she enjoyed our weather (the heat wave the states and parts of Canada were having, had broken in eastern Ontario after a heavy rain storm last week. It was either that or the weather feels cooler when posted in Celsius?) She is presently a knitter but said she is a future felter who is just waiting until she retires to start felting. I hope she will be inspired to jump in and try both wet and dry felting sooner.
The ladies at the ticket table were very helpful in making sure I got safely back to the car (which was much appreciated). Mr. Mer and I must have been looking very tired and I was going quite a bit slower than when I arrived. We got the shopping in, but I said I just wanted to rest for a few minutes, in hopes that I was up to another trip around the venue and take a few more photos to let the guild know what was there. Mr. Mer seemed very pleased with his shopping so he got comfy in the passenger seat as I had a short rest. We had another Guild member stop by, say hi and linger for a chat. It was a very restful chat and I was ready to take one more round of the shopping options.
26) Having a chat with Mr. Mer, who has retired to the car to recover from his shopping trip.
27) He checked out Mr. Mer. (Safety first- always wear your seat belt), Fish fatigue from shopping!!
I left Mr. Mer to nap in the car with the shopping and headed back in for one last lap around the booths. The crowds had thinned and I was able to get into most of the booths with the walker. I found a bit of fibre but was wanting to save a bit of money for a treat after the shopping. There was a booth “the Campaign for Wool, Patron: HRH The Prince of Wales” which seemed to have literature but it was still too busy to ask questions.
28) I admired the Baskets from Big Blue Moma’s booth but didn’t get one.
The baskets were in the first booth just inside the first tent. It was a great strategy. You could buy your basket then fill it with purchases or after buying everything inside you were wanting, buy a big enough basket to hide it in for taking your new hoard into the house! Many would make excellent presents for a family cat but only if you didn’t fill it all the way up with fibre.
29) I stopped to admire the Kromski wheel
I did finally get into the booth with a Kromski spinning wheel, I cannot afford one of their ornate wheels but I now have a Kromski drop spindle! I took it for a spin when I got home with a bit of the BFL/Silk blend I had also purchased.
30) Kromski makes a drops spindle, which is more in my price range!
The tag says it’s an 85gr spindle, so reasonably heavy but It still spun quite fine yarn. At 32.00+ Tax, it was also the least expensive spindle I saw and now I can say I have a Kromski brand yarn maker! (Ok, technically it’s not a spinning wheel just a drop spindle but it is wheel-shaped and it does spin!)
Some of us have a post Twist tradition of heading to a small restaurant at the far end of town. We discovered it was there quite a few years ago. I had checked online, to make sure it was still there and that the comfy-duck-club-sandwich was still on the menu. (YES!) Therefore, I had carefully saved enough money to get 2 orders of the drool-worthy sandwich. Unfortunately, I arrived to an empty parking lot and new hours, I found out that the restaurant is having trouble getting servers for the evening. We will have to make another trip of just over an hour or wait until next year to get the comfy duck!!
31) La Toquade restaurant, with Club Sandwich au confit de canard (comfy duck served on apricot Raisin and sunflower bread, garnished with bacon, onions, green apples celery and mayonnaise, with a side of your choice of French fries or salad.)(this explains why the duck is so comfy)
I was too tired to go back to Twist and shop till my pockets were empty but my car was full. Instead, I put on my audiobook and headed home. It was a bit slower traffic due to the roadwork, but the book makes the time pass quickly. Now all that is left is to show you the results of our hunting expedition.
Mr. Mer seemed quite pleased with himself. He had a lovely time, enjoying women (and some men) admiring his 12-pack abs and his fine butt. He had acquired the only long locks we could find, for both himself and ether Mrs. Mer or Teen Mer, as well as picking up a little friend.
32) Mr. Mer shows off his shopping
33) My loot!
I was looking for felt bases for pictures but got distracted by the soft fluffy BFL/silk blend (the large bag of white) and the blue batt looked so oceanic (yet dry) I could not talk myself out of buying it too. I was pleased by the leather thumb covers (finger cots), they are good for protecting fingers if you get momentarily distracted while felting.
I hope you also have access to a local Fiberfest with shopping, workshops and fabulous food. It was a fun day and productive hunting. I hope all the attention Mr. Mer got doesn’t go to his head or I will have to find more hair!