I just spent a fantastic weekend up in Lake County Illinois, where I attended the Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair for the first time. Despite some bizarre policies imposed by the Festival management, I had a wonderful time.
First off, I got to stay with my co-moderator for Seasons of Lace. And, with the exception of a wee bit of updating (logging new participants for this season, and putting the preliminaries for new prizes up on the blog) that I did, we pretty much did no work at all. YAY us. We hung out, we knit togehter, we watched new-to-me TV, we listened to awesome music, we had great food.... just what a weekend away with a great friend is supposed to do.
Second, I got to spend an entire day learning from Franklin Habit.
Franklin is every bit as witty in person as he is on his blog. And he's a veritable font of knowledge, which he shares downright eagerly. His classes definitely count among the best I've taken at any fiber related venue. And no, he most certainly did not pay me to say that. He turned me into a sponge, and then filled me with knowledge, while keeping me eager for more, and smiling the while.
I spent the morning learning all sorts of wonderful things about how to use my camera (or any camera), and I'm going to pretend that this means that the photography here will improve. I then spent the afternoon learning about tesselations, and how to make them work for knitting designs. Among the things we learned, is that the word "tesselation" comes from "tesselum" - which is a single tile used in places like the mosaic floors in Pompeii. Franklin demonstrated such tiles by passing around -- an actual chunk of Pompeii!
I came out of the second class with my brain so full that I couldn't even register any of the lovely stuff in the market. In fact, I commented to Alyse that my brain was so full, and so done, that even a simple menu was likely to be too much for it. (I was right -- we had to get an appetizer (that she chose) before I began to be able to make any decision about my actual order).
I also came out of the second class with two workable tesselations, and ideas for more. There's even one on the needles (one that Franklin called "hot" no less -- I'm bursting with pride), and were it not that I had been so disorganized on my way out the door Thursday that I grabbed the first two skeins of solid colored sock weight yarn I could find, wholly ignoring that they look rather putrid together), I'd even show you. I'll work them up in better colors (or do some camera magic on them, perhaps), and show you when they're more presentable.
Despite all that joy, I do have a couple of bones to pick with the Festival organizers. (The first three are all inter-related.) < kvetch mode on >
First: As with many such events, they charge folks to get into their market, but allow students who have paid for classes (and thus some admin costs) to get in free. The set up for getting in as a paid student was a bit of a nightmare: it took forever, as the staff first had to scan a bar-code thing you were supposed to have logged into their website to download and print out (one for each class day) so that as a student you could get in without paying an additional fee. But they also had to mark you off a list (I guess so that no one could double print and share their bar codes). Seems to me, if you're marking folks off the list, the bar code scanning was just a waste of time to show off cute little electronic divices. If you're using a bar code scanner, oughtn't it be able to tell that you've used that code once already? Doing both meant that the whole process took a long time for each person. Arriving close to class time pretty much guaranteed you'd be late.
Second: If you didn't have your magic bar code printed out (for example, you didn't get the email that told you you needed one, or you don't have a printer or...), you were turned away and had to pay to get in. Yes... even if you were on the list and had a printed confirmation that you were a paid student. (I think maybe if you hadn't registered far enough in advance you got charged?)
Third: Unlike other events I've attended, you only got in free on the day you had classes. This means that if Person A took two half-day classes on two different days, that person got into the market on two days, and had, effectively, a full day to shop. However, if Person B took two half-day classes (thus paying the same amount as Person A), but took them on the same day, Pesrson B only got in on one day, and thus had a maximum of two hours to shop (one hour between classes, and one hour at the end of the day). If Person B wanted to shop the market, s/he had to pay to get in the second day. That seems unfair. That seems unfair both to Person B and to the Vendors. (By comparison, taking one half-day class at Stitches gets you into the Market for all three days of classes AND for the Student Preview (when only students get to go in)).
Fourth: They completely wasted the wonderful musicians that were scattered throughout the market. They had folk musicians all over, but in that cavernous space, one couldn't hear them more than about five feet away. They also neglected to set up any chairs to allow folks to sit and listen to the musicians. I'd have liked to have seen at least small speakers and some mics and a few chairs for each musician so that folks could enjoy the lovely music they played (and sang). Pretty much the only instruments whose sound carried far enough to enjoy without sitting in the musicians laps were the hammered dulcimers.
< kvetch mode off >
Despite all that picky whining, I had a great time, and am really glad I went.
I did go back on day two to wander the market, even though that meant paying for the privilege. Mostly, I talked to vendors about supporting Seasons of Lace, but I did succumb to one skein of sock yarn just for me:
That's luscious Blue Faced Leicester Superwash. Sofffft... but not felty.
I also bought a lovely little pottery bowl, which I've wholly failed to photograph. I'll work on that soon (using my newly learned camera skillz).
We will not discuss that my entrance fee to the market was a nearly a quarter of my total market spending.