This weekend, the Carolina FiberFest is back in town. (Sort of. I mean, it’s a one-hour drive away, but as far as yarn events go, that’s practically across the street.) I went last year, had a good time, and bought two skeins of sock yarn, but I don’t think I really enjoyed it as fully as possible, because this year I had a fantastic experience, and found myself wondering why I wasn’t so outwardly engaged last time.

True, part of it was sleep deprivation, which has the effect of making me much more gregarious than I naturally am. But I think a lot of it is that a fiber festival has a lot more to offer when you’re looking at it from the perspective of a spinner as well as of a knitter. When I didn’t spin, there was a lot about the fiber world that didn’t really interest me, at least not beyond “ooh, that’s a pretty color” or “oh, that’s nice and soft.” For example, I remarked how nicely saturated a dyer’s silk hankies were, and got some helpful information. Last year, I don’t think I’d even heard of hankies, to say nothing of having firsthand experience in how difficult they can be to saturate with color. Not that a gap in knowledge is a bad thing, it’s just a place I hadn’t yet explored.

I also got a hands-on demonstration of an old-fashioned spinning wheel, the kind that has no treadles and must be turned manually. I spoke at length with the owner of Feel Good Yarn Company, about a cotton spun with silver that has conductive, antimicrobial, and thermal properties. (I would have loved to buy enough to make socks, but that wasn’t quite in the budget.) I drooled over several lovely Golding spindles (being used by vendors, not for sale), and I almost spent half my money on a handmade wooden mini spindle. I also promised that next year, I’d bring extra needles and yarn and teach the guy at the Italian Ices cart to knit.

It was an interesting and lovely lesson about how much you can miss out on when you hold back and hide inside yourself all the time. I can’t believe I considered just putting in my earphones and tuning everyone out with some music.

So I brought home a pile of great stuff, and I didn’t even spend all the money I’d brought. I didn’t really need more stash, but as far as stash goes, I’m really thrilled with the additions to mine:

As already mentioned, SilverSpun by Feel Good Yarn Co. There were several beautiful yarns available at this booth, but this one intrigued me because of its conductive properties. I’ve been looking into getting some conductive thread for glove fingertips, but balked at the idea of paying $5 (plus $4 shipping) for a few yards of it. Of course, the mini-skein of SilverSpun was more even than that, but it also has the benefit of not breaking down over time (as conductive thread does). And given how wonderful the owner was, I wanted to support her by buying something. What I really wanted was to make my mom a pair of extra-warm socks, but that’s something I’ll have to save up my allowance for.

Merino Sport from EchoView Fiber Mill. I don’t usually go for yellows, but this one was not only gorgeous and soft, but 50% off. I have been wanting to make a trip out to EchoView, so this was the next best thing. I also meant to buy a lotion stick from them, but I forgot.

And because I can’t go to any purveyor of yarn without coming home with sock stash (and because I love a markdown), a skein of Knitting Notions Classic Merino Superwash Sock.

Of course, what’s a fiber event without the raw goods? There were so many gorgeous fibers to be had, in all states and colors imaginable. I’m still an incredible noob in this department, and what I ended up bringing home was mostly on the basis of “ooh, pretty!” and “ooh, soft!” but what’s the harm in that? I got two balls of Border Leicester roving from Heelside Farms, and a delicious braid of an alpaca silk blend from Ewephoric Fibers. I can’t wait to get into them, once I get one of my spindles cleared off.

I’m glad I decided to go, not only because I had a great time and found some great stuff, but because all this talk about Stitches was making me seriously envious.

Stitches West is still being talked about a bit, even six weeks later. (Not complaining; it’s pretty much to be expected when most of the knitting podcasts you listen to are based on the West Coast.) Stitches South is this coming weekend, and while it is technically within driving distance, I just don’t think it would be a wise thing to do.

For one thing, Atlanta is a six hour drive from me. All editorializing about the city aside, a six-hour road trip to spend a few hours shopping seems incredibly frivolous. (I’m not registered for any classes, so the marketplace would be pretty much the only reason for me to go.) Six hours driving followed by 3-5 hours wandering through the convention center followed by another six hours driving (although I probably could cut that one down to three hours if I wanted to stop overnight in my hometown, which is right at the halfway point), sounds incredibly foolish.

But still, I mulled. Well, to be honest, it was less thoughtful pondering and more “I want a golden goose now, Daddy!” I felt like, if a major knitting convention was going to be close enough for me to enjoy it, then I should get to go. Logistically it would be tough, and logically it would be ridiculous, but fiber events are fairly hard to come by in the middle of North Carolina. Well, there’s SAFF (which I do plan on trying to attend), but that’s in October. I wanted that golden goose now.

That’s when I remembered that the Carolina FiberFest was in April. I was a little hesitant, thinking that if I couldn’t go to the real thing, I didn’t want some dinky little consolation prize. After I talked to my husband about it a bit, I realized I was being petulant, and that staying home out of spite or because it wasn’t “good enough” would really hurt no one but me.

Besides, CFF being smaller doesn’t mean it’s worse, just different. It actually turned out to be pretty perfect, because I think a huge event would be incredibly overwhelming. Especially after spending half a day on the road and dealing with Atlanta traffic. I may not be a huge fan of Sanford (or the excruciatingly boring hour-long drive there), but it’s practically Heaven compared to urban hellscape that is the capital of Georgia.

(Okay, I couldn’t resist a little editorializing.)