I've started this post about four times, because I'm afraid I won't be able to get the words right and it will screw up the magic - because oh, last weekend was wonderful.
I spent Valentine's Day at the Madrona Fiber Arts market, a yearly fiber event in Tacoma that attracts hundreds of knitters, spinners, crocheters, and weavers. I've been attending for three years, and working at the Fiber Gallery booth - either setting up or working the show - for two.
In the years that I've been attending, my love for the community has grown, seemingly without bound. This time, I went with my friend Sooz and one of her friends, and along the way, I ran into people from many beloved corners of my life: customers from the shop; a few of my Issaquah Tinker buddies; dyers and designers who have long been my role models, and who I am now proud to count as friends.
Madrona is always a busy weekend - and to be perfectly honest, an exhausting one - but it always fills me up in the most wonderful ways. Here are a few of my thoughts and impressions from this year.
Dressing up for Madrona on Saturday really reminded me of the power of clothing as a tool for expression and connection. As I've thought about my aesthetic - in terms of both my design and my personal style - expressive is a word that I keep on returning to. As much as I'd like to say that I'm a buttoned-down aesthete with a perfect house and curated closet and tidy studio, that just... isn't true. As so many of us are, I'm a barrel of contradictions: I'm a chatty introvert, a messy neat freak, a perfectionist who appreciates screwing up sometimes. I like high heels and the color pink and putting bows on everything, but I just don't jam with precious.
And I like for my style to reflect those contradictions as much as possible; it feels the most genuine - and the most comfortable - to me.
So when I put together this outfit, I was aiming for vintage and pretty - but also approachable and easy-to-wear. I wanted it to be visual shorthand for some of the things that I really care about: quality construction, attention to detail, strength and femininity coexisting. I wanted it to be expressive.
And when I got to Madrona, it was really, really cool - because so many people came up to me and said the nicest things about my outfit, or recognized my Fluevogs, or complimented my shawl. It made me feel connected and seen, and it helped start conversations with some wonderful and engaging people who I might not have had the opportunity to talk to otherwise.
But enough about clothes - let's talk about yarn! These were a few of the vendors that captured my imagination this year.
With yarn colorways and names inspired by literature, Canon Hand Dyes' booth was a lovely little trove of gem-hued mini-skein packs, gradient yarns, and self-striping yarns in bright, harmonious color combinations. Self-striping sock yarns were one of my first yarny loves, and it's unusual to see that style of yarn in larger gauge bases, so I was really excited to see the stripey goodness in DK and worsted weight as well as fingering weight - especially in such wonderfully evocative colorways. I only brought home one skein of yarn with me this time, and it was from this booth!
I spent quite a while in this booth, quietly dazzled by the color and presentation of this truly special yarn. Jorstad Creek specializes in local hand-dyed yarns, with bases ranging from squooshy 100% merino to unusual breeds like Icelandic and Finn. I was particularly taken with the Narfi Icelandic laceweight: jewel tones layered over the natural color of the yarn created deep, complex and luminous shades in a wonderfully lofty & tactile yarn.
A huge thank you to Kaia and Kerry of the Jorstad Creek booth for taking time out of their afternoon to talk to me about their beautiful yarn. I love learning about the process that goes into a business like this - not only the creation of yarn, but also the development of branding vision & supporting infrastructure like design and photography - and they were kind enough to share their story with me.
One of a Kind
I love buttons, and I'm always on the lookout for unexpected and beautiful ones, so I was really happy to find One of a Kind's beautiful, handmade ceramic buttons. I love that they have a wide variety of styles - abstract plant prints, classic motifs, graphic and modern novelty prints - in not only buttons, but also super-cute shawl pins and pendants. If I ever need colorful, perfectly cheeky buttons for a project, I know where to look first!
Overall, I kept it pretty low-key on my purchases this year, in keeping with my goal to tend a more thoughtful stash. I couldn't resist one skein of Canon Hand Dyes self-striping - I'm thinking for a Missoni-inspired hat design. I also got two strings of gold beads for a shawl from Bead Biz, a button from One of a Kind, and a pair of Estonian lace socks from the Haapsalu Lace Center, sponsored and supported by Nancy Bush.
I also chatted with Nancy for a few minutes about Estonian lace and design, which I really enjoyed - her design and educational work have introduced Estonian history and traditions to so many of us in the knitting community, and the graphic elements of Estonian lace are a major influence on my design work. I'm really excited to own an authentic piece of such a beautiful and unique knitwear tradition.
Okay - I think that about does it! Thank you to the organizers, teachers, vendors, and fiber enthusiasts who make Madrona such a wonderful event. And thank you all for reading.