This time of year is my favourite. It's cold, it's knitting weather, and Bendigo Sheep Show is right around the corner!
This year I'm super excited to be sharing a stall at the Show with my bestie Jenna of Nunnaba Artisan Yarn. She dyes the most spectacular yarns, and I am looking forward to snuggling them at the show.
So - what goes into preparing for a market like Bendigo?
For our farmers, it can start more than a whole year in advance. They need to raise stock, manage a whole farm (and family!), shear sheep and get fleece scoured and processed into top and yarn - it's not for the faint-hearted! Check out Beersheba Farm's story for a look into the huge amount of work it takes to bring us beautiful wool.
For me though, preparations started in November last year. Yes, that was seven months ago. And yes, I still have a lot to do! So far I have:
- Booked accommodation, applied for a stall and purchased Public Liability Insurance;
- Ordered loads of fluff and yarn, both from Australia and around the world;
- Wound over one hundred kilometres of yarn into 100g skeins. I do this by hand - previously I was using a niddy-noddy but my arms couldn't take it any more! In March I was super excited to upgrade to a skein-winder that attaches to my spinning wheel - peddle power, baby!
- Weighed, by now, about 75kg of fluff into 100g weights ready to be braided or dyed;
- Dyed about 50kg of fluff and yarn. This all happens in my kitchen. Sorry family, it's wool for dinner tonight :D
- Braided, reskeined, and labelled all that dyed fluff and yarn - and some of the undyed stuff too (like that beautiful black alpaca and merino/corrie mix... divine!);
- Ordered more fluff to replace the fluff that sold online so far, and at the Handknitters Guild Market in May... rinse and repeat all that dyeing, braiding and reskeining!
And of course, now it looks like I live in a warehouse :P perpetual rounds of yarn and tops drying on a clothes horse in front of the heater; bags and boxes of fibre in various stages of being weighed, skeined, dyed and labelled; spinning wheel with skeiner attached, waiting and hoping that one day it can be used for its primary function once again!
Next on my to do list is to prepare for the actual market day. I've been scouring Gumtree and eBay for second-hand displays that will be compact enough to fit in the car; dreaming up competitions and give-aways for added fun at Bendigo, and for those who can't go; and wondering how exactly I'll set up the stall this year. It's different every year!
Although it's a lot of work, it's very exciting. I get to meet and catch up with you, if you're coming along to the Show. I also get to talk shop with our other amazing, talented, super-awesome stallholders and growers. And best of all, I really love seeing what you turn my fluff into. I am so in awe of the amazing talent on the fibre scene! So if you do pop by, show me your shawl, or beanie, or pics of the wall-hangings and gloves and items you've created - I LOVE to see it!
And as a special thank-you for reading this far, I've got a little gift for you :-) For the next two weeks, before I take my shop offline for the Bendi-break:
I'M GIVING YOU $5 OFF EVERY ORDER YOU PLACE!
Yep! For real!!! Just use the promo coupon code HIGHFIVE at checkout! It's valid till 7th July 2017 so get in quick before it's gone :-)
Thank you for all your support, and I hope this gives you a little insight into how much work your fibre buddies put into attending a show like Bendigo! We do it for the love :-) and maybe because, like you, we're all a little fluff-obsessed!