Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Fall in New Mexico

This past week, I journeyed to New Mexico with my good friends, Michelle and Janet, for our annual Fall retreat to Chimayo, Santa Fe and Taos.  It's a week of girlfriend time, relaxing, stitching, knitting, exploring and taking in the Taos Wool Festival. This year we  invited two friends to join us, Dinah and Lorraine, and we think they had as great a time as we did. They got a real education in fiber.  Our first nights are spent at Casa Escondida in Chimayo, an out of the way little B&B -- that's after we stop at Maria's in Santa Fe for enchiladas "Christmas" style on the way up.

We spend a day in Santa Fe, shopping for fabrics, beads, Indian fetishes and just generally poking around until it's time for lunch at one of our favorite places, Il Piatto.  

Then off we go to Taos for four nights, on the way into town looking for a special purveyor of dried green Hatch chilis being sold out of the back of her truck.  We never know where she's going to be and unfortunately, this trip, we couldn't find her anywhere.  Where were you?

Lots of relaxing in Taos at the Old Taos Guesthouse, and then the weekend is full with exploring the Taos Wool Festival. Our girl, Michelle, received a Grand Champion award and silver medallion for her felted dress that she entered in the fiber arts competition, using predominantly raw wool she bought at the Wool Festival, processed herself and then dyed with natural plant materials. The mama bears (me and Janet) were so proud. (That's not the winning dress she's wearing but another one of her beautiful creations.)

We were very fortunate to have been able to watch Patricia Quintana judge the fleece competition.  Because it's such a small venue, we were able to get an up close and personal education on judging a fleece. Patricia has a small sheep ranch down the road from where we stay in Taos -- Rancho La Fina. 

And it wouldn't be the Wool Festival if we didn't come home with piles of wool.  I distinctly remember the conversation before our trip -- we don't need any more fleeces. We're not going to buy any fleeces. Yeah . . .  okay . . . .  Well, I thought I came home with more, but then again, I think I agreed to split a couple of fleeces, too. It is very hard to walk away from the extremely clean, beautiful fleeces at the Taos Wool Festival. 

Wensleydale/CVM/Cotswold/Bond cross (2.9 lb.) -- How can you possibly turn this down?

2.2 pounds of the Grand Champion fleece (one quarter of the whole fleece) -- gotta have it!  Lincoln/Cotswold/CVM.  This is a variegated gray that runs from light gray to charcoal.

OMG!  A Blueface Leicester/Wensleydale lamb fleece.  Only half a pound.  Is this sweet or what?  

A 2.6 lb. Blueface Leicester fleece -- white.  Oh this is so beautiful. It's gonna wash up white, white, white. 

And a 2nd place from a 3-year old colored Blueface Leicester, 2.6 lb.  Had to jump on this before someone else got it.

I guess there are a lot of people out there who don't get what the hubbub is about, but I think my spinning peeps totally get it and that's what counts.  I also made a few purchases of handspun yarn. Even though I spin my own yarn, I like to buy yarn from other spinners when I see something that is exceptional, like these:

Handspun angora from Sharon Dalrymple of Woodlake Woolies (Elbert, CO).  She does an amazing job of spinning the fiber from the angora rabbits that she raises.

And a lovely skein of handspun Wensleydale and Teeswater lamb from Wendy Luna Clarke of Animal Spirit (San Cristobal, NM).  

And no trip to the Taos Wool Festival would be complete without a trip to the colorful mohair curls salad bar at Lisa Shell's Kai Mohair booth. What an amazing color sense Lisa has.  It doesn't get better than this. 

So now it's back to work and prep for Artistic License and the Torrance Fiber Fest, but the warm feeling for New Mexico and the time spent with friends remains. And in the back of my mind, there's something to look forward to next Fall.