On Sunday, August 14, my husband Howard and I drove up to the Michigan Fiber Festival. Howard likes to drive, which is pretty cool considering I knew the trip would afford me five solid, roundtrip hours of knitting.

I spent endless hours in preparation for the event. I got up early and shopped for a day’s worth of gluten-free food, came home and then did the most important thing: I packed my knitting.

It’s always important to bring too much stuff–food and knitting, both–but especially knitting. The way I see it, a knitter can live without food for a while, but a knitter can never live without a bag filled with enough projects to last a few months (and that’s only if the knitter is going out for an hour or so).

For a five hour trip? Well . . . let’s just say Howard had to talk me down from renting a tour bus.

So, after waking pre-dawn and packing like pioneers loading a Conestoga wagon, we vowed not to think about the price of gasoline, smiled, and made our way to the Allegan, Michigan Fairgrounds . . .

It rained like crazy on the way — flash flood crazy. It wasn’t easy driving there, but by the time we arrived, it was a beautiful day.

As we pulled up, I said, “Wow, plenty of parking. This is great. I’m really glad we got here so early.”


As it turned out, we were a week early, which was just a little more early than we had planned.

I cringed. “Oh no. I’m sorry, Howard. I guess I must have gotten the date wrong.”

Howard’s eyes became sling-shots.

I wanted to say, So, what’s with the look? Are you kidding? This is not a problem. I have enough yarn for a week. Pick a parking spot.

But instead, I pulled out a few snack bars and handed them to Howard. He likes to eat when he is, shall we say, just a tad frustrated.

So, let’s start this blog post all over again . . .

On Sunday, August 21, Howard and I drove up to the Michigan Fiber Festival. Howard still liked to drive, thank goodness, especially considering that two attempts at going to the Michigan Fiber Festival upped my combined knitting time to TEN solid, roundtrip hours.

The best part of all those hours on the road: I finally finished Howard’s Sock Love 2 socks — a perfect gift for someone so entirely understanding of my addiction:

This time, we arrived without a snag. Once there, I shopped while Howard sat and listened to music on his iPod. He probably listened to a lot of David Olney considering that we went hear David perform at a house concert the night before.

Howard is great that way. He actually loves coming with me to fiber-related events. Not because he loves fiber arts. Oh, no, no, no. It’s because he loves to have long stretches of time to listen to music. Time where he is away from everything. Time where there’s nothing else to do but listen. Time where he doesn’t have to feel guilty about just sitting there for hours, indulging in one of his greatest pleasures.

Any knitter can certainly relate to that feeling.

Side note: Someone recently asked Howard about what a person can learn by going to fiber festivals and trade shows, and he joked, “I don’t know what Lee’s learned, but I think I’ve learned that if a person were to choose between crack and yarn, they might be better off choosing crack. It’s not as addictive . . . and it’s way less expensive.”

The Festival overflowed with vendors — over 200 of them — almost all of them independent artists with booth after booth of goods that were not only beautiful but painstakingly produced.

For me, most exciting part of the festival was visiting the Wonder Why Alpaca Farm booth, where I had the opportunity to meet owner Andrea, who is also a member of the Knitting is Gluten Free Group on Ravelry:

Andrea is an amazing person who, after starting her alpaca farm in the fall of 2008, grew to become an expert at in producing, as she calls it, Wonder Roving and Wonder Yarn (from, where else: her Wonder Herd).

Then, in 2010, Andrea became a Certified Sorter Apprentice. If you’re wondering what that means, here, in Andrea’s words, is the answer from her website:

What does this mean?
It means that I am trained to look at fleeces to determine their textile grade.

Why is this important?
It’s important because fiber needs to be properly sorted to make a better quality product. There is more usable fiber from each alpaca and less waste at the mill when properly sorted.

What are the advantages?
As a fiber producers, you will receive an individual sort record for each alpaca, a sort summary for the entire clip, assistance with herd management and increased usable fiber which means increased profit potential along with suggested uses for each grade of fiber I sort.

So, if you own an alpaca farm and find processing fiber or skirting too overwhelming, Andrea is the miracle-worker who can help see you through.

I went crazy over Andrea’s yarns and stood for what seemed forever trying to decide which skein to buy . . .

I settled on a bulky yarn in her Deep Sunset colorway:

The wool is a mixture of targhee wool, huacaya alpaca, suri alpaca, and merino wool — here’s a close-up:

I’d been working on designing a hat pattern, and I knew Andrea’s yarn would be perfect for it.

I love this skein so much. On the way home, I kept grabbing it and squeezing it. I felt as though I were a child cuddling a new stuffed toy.

Since then, I’ve started the hat, and the yarn is a dream to knit with – I’ll keep you posted on how it is coming. In the meantime, I’m enjoying this yarn so much, I know I’ll definitely want to purchase more yarn from Wonder Why Alpaca Farm in the future.

I wonder if she has enough to fill a tour bus?

Love to all,

Find and write to Lee on Ravelry:
User Name: LeeBernstein
Visit the Knitting Is Gluten Free Forum on Ravelry — GREAT discussions here, including loving support for people with food intolerances . . . and tons of recipes.
Facebook: Fans of Knitting is Gluten Free
Twitter: Lee_A_Bernstein
LinkedIn: Lee Bernstein

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10 Responses to Addiction

  1. I am so glad that you made the second trip back to Allegan. It was so wonderful to meet you in person. I have learned so much from the Knitting is Gluten-Free Ravelry Group and I thank you so much for starting it. I look forward to our growing friendship.


  2. Andrea,

    It was so great to finally meet you in person. You are one of the sweetest people in the world and so multi-talented, it makes my head spin. I’m looking forward to seeing you again as soon as possible.

  3. Julia Fitzsimmons says:

    What a terrific story and what a gem of a man you have! The yarn is gorgeous and I can’t wait to hear more about your hat project and see the end result.

  4. Julia Grace says:

    It is great to hear about another fiber festival in the midwest. We are so lucky to have so many! I’ll have to add the Michigan Fiber Festival to my bucket list. Sorry you had to make 2 trips but it sounds like Howard was a good sport! Andrea’s yarn is beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Kathleen says:

    So fun! Loved this post – but wish I could have been there!

  6. Jenn Embry says:

    I was once a week early to something and was frustrated with myself for getting it wrong. Fortunately I only had to drive across town! I can’t imagine driving 10 hours round trip and being early. What a sweet, patient hubby you have. 🙂 It looks like you had a wonderful time and the yarn you bought is gorgeous. What kind of gf snacks do you pack for your road trips? Hmmm, that might make a good topic in the group on Rav. 🙂

    • That would make a great topic, Jenn. Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll post it today.

      I stick to whole foods, so I make cooler packs of some sort of protein — usually legumes, chicken and/or hard boiled eggs. Also, fruit and vegetables.

      Bars? Right now, Kind Bars are a favorite.

      I enjoyed your last blog post. Your cards are delightful.

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