Friday, May 23, 2008

RI Wool and Fiber Festival

It has been a rather wet, damp and cool spring. Great for the water table but for anything else it has been a hindrance. Flowers are kind of standing still and the trees are taking their time leafing out. The pansies seem to be thriving but when I went to get some hanging fuchsia plants they were not in stock yet as they are rather tender annuals around here. So the week before the Festival we were watching the weather reports for Saturday with hopeful trepidation.
I saw a 30% chance of rain change to 50, then to 70 and then back to 50, downgrading  to 40, 30, none and back up to 30% by Friday evening. The only consistency was the wind predictions -- 15-20 mph hour winds with gusts of 30mph. I paid more attention to the rain though as I did not want to be vending in windy rain. No way. No how.

We needed to be at the Farm by 6:45 at the latest to get ourselves set up and the car off the field by 8:30. The Festival was opening at 9 so we knew we were in for a very early start. However at 5am when we pushed the coffee maker button it was raining steadily. My sister lives in Newport with the Festival only a few miles away in Bristol therefore the weather was going to be about the same in both places. Darn! At 6 it was still raining so we decided to wait a bit as putting up the canopy in rain and wind seemed foolish. By 6:45 the rain seemed to be tapering off. The predictions now were for sunshine by late morning. As we neared the farm I was nervous about setting up in a wetland but thankfully the field was on a hillside above the water.

I was also nervous from so many people warning me about canopies turning into kites. My sister had never set one up and you know I had only tried twice in calm conditions. We had Jim’s extra instructions plus rope and extra stakes. The wind did make for a very difficult time in the set up. It must have taken us almost half an hour to get the canopy up and that was with help from 2 other people. Notice in the picture above that we were situated in a section of the field with no windbreak at all. Arghhh. I brought heavy shower curtains, which mvos valiantly tried to hang up. We finally managed to get one up and attached it to the legs of a very heavy table. The next gust blew the table over so we made some holes in the shower curtain to cut down the sail effect. This little bit of work took another half hour.

By now I was a nervous wreck. I am always hyper until the booth is set up and then great calm overcomes me and I am super laid back, but until then watch out. I knew the time was flying away but kept working putting things down that would hold the tablecloths in place and other items too. My sister was an enormous help getting the yarn triangle all set up while I worked on setting out the fiber and accessories. Then Linda, the Festival coordinator, said it was 9 and the car must go off the field. Arghhhh. We quickly emptied the SUV and I drove it to an adjoining lot. At least very few people had arrived so far as it was still nasty out. I think we were not really set up for another 30-40 minutes but by then the coffee tent was ready too. Did I mention that the wind-chill had us thinking of winter

By 11 people were starting to arrive but the wind kept acomin’. Right about then, as the clouds were almost gone, the wind picked up so enormously that Ellen and I were holding onto the canopy to keep it from collapsing. I was holding the table down with one hand, as it wanted to tip over, and with the other and all my strength pushed up on one of the canopy legs. Ellen meanwhile was hanging onto the canopy with both hands on the windward side. Even with both of us the structure began to bend inward as the wind increased even more and the gusts became more frequent. While we were acting as supports we saw a coyote running across the flat by the water. In RI they are now as common as deer are up here. If I had a choice I think I'd choose the vegetarian deer. Finally one of the Museum staff came over, took a good look and came back with some line, which he tied to some rocks down below the field. With 5 guy lines the canopy steadied enough for us to let go and start greeting customers.

By afternoon the weather had indeed turned into a breezy but sunny day. Mvos, who does not knit, crochet or spin did one fantastic job as the check out person.  Her people skills are so spectacular that many she met never knew she had little clue as to what we were all talking about.  However she does love what we mean to each other and appreciates the comaraderie of knitters and spinners.

I got to meet Kathleen Etherington who had been walking the Appalachian Trail until she fell and broke her wrist. Kathleen is a darling email friend who is also a Fondle This! member. They were traveling in CT when her husband noticed on my website that I would be at the Festival on the 17th.  They got into the RV, rolled to RI and my booth, where we enjoyed such a wonderful ‘reunion’.

Other vendors sold alpaca wool, sheep wool, hand dyed yarn, fabric items, goat milk soap, felted animals, lots of angora bunnies and angora wool, felted wool sheets and hand knit items. I bought my sister an adorable little felted lamb wearing a flower collar and she surprised me with teeny tiny hand knit sock earrings.  The only food vendor was fantastic --- the best Italian sausage with onions and peppers on Italian bread. Mvos and I shared one, as they were so large.

Coggeshall Farm Museum has its own sheep. They sheared a few as a demo that day plus demonstrating spinning and other farm arts.
They also had some Barred Plymouth Rock hens and roosters pecking around but no Rhode Island Reds that I could see.

A couple of relatively nearby Internet customers introduced themselves as well. I got to speak fiber and yarn with other fiberholics almost all day. Heaven!  After packing up we took ourselves over to the Lobster Pot for steamers, lobster stew and lobster salad. Visiting with my sister and meeting such wonderful people has me wanting to come back again. Hopefully next year I will sign up early enough to get under the big tent.


Rebecca jc said...

Now that's how memories are made. I have been there and done that a few times myself. What fun.

Leah said...

Glad you made it out alive. Nice to have you back.