Our trip to Taos Wool Festival 2013 : As the Wheel Spins
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Laurie Weinsoft Handspinning
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Our trip to Taos Wool Festival 2013

by Laurie Weinsoft on 10/20/13

Thursday October17, 2013. I haven't written a blog for a longtime because I was so busy during the summer creating clothes and yarn and teaching. But with fall heavy in the air it is time to blog again. 

I returned last week from a vacation that I looked at as my last really big travel event. Trust me it isn't getting easier to travel when you have a walker, a cane and a c-pap machine along with my knitting, drop spindle, fiber, pills, oh yes, and clothes.  To say the least Parkinson's makes any travel cumbersome before I even deal with where I am going and how will I get there. I cannot thank my husband enough for all his loving help and support on this last trip. I would have had to stay home if not for him.  Oh what I would have missed!  

As most of you reading are spinners I will start with Taos.  The wool festival in Taos, New Mexico has been a long held dream for me to attend. I considered signing up for a class there but realized early on there just was no guarantee when we would arrive in Taos or how exhausted I would be.  It turns out I was hit by some serious low energy issues so my time was limited when we arrived.  I got there just about noon on Saturday. I almost leaped from the car as we drove slowly through Taos. There was plenty of traffic in this two street town all seemed heading to the festival. 

Taos is about two hours from Santa Fe on a rather questionable bumpy highway in places.  It is in one of the most beautiful scenic spots I have ever visited.  Mileage wise Bruce and I figured a quick drive from Santa Fe but it turned out to be more like a winding mountain road in places and lots of small cities in between. The drive isn't fast but if I had lots more money and time, I could have stopped every mile or two for more native jewelry.  Art galleries, casinos, and trading post stores dot the countryside.  If I had know where to stop I would have done so.  The unbelievable desert scenery, the blue mountains and high plateaus are just amazing. Even the casinos were adobe and didn't interfere with my view.  My best description would be colorful.  

Taos on the other hand is exactly what I expected.  Mostly small art galleries line the streets with McDonald's there to let us know we are still in an all American town. This is the home of Kit Carson.  A true pioneer who came to be a hero in this part of the country.  Some descendants of his still live in Taos. As we approached the Kit Carson Park for the festival Bruce and I noticed in great glee that one of our favorite artists, J.D. CHALLENGER has a gallery right there in Taos.  We later discovered it only opened by appointment and Bruce didn't want to call them and bother the gallery owners just so we could look and not really buy anything.  Sorry j.d, but your paintings are not in the budget this year.  

I had finally arrived.  I had a couple of goals: don't buy too much ( how would I get it home) and spin on the Rio Grande wheel (that wasn't going home either). I was very surprised at how small a show Taos proved to be. I would say maybe half the vendors or less than OFFF.  There were plenty of shoppers but not crazy crowded as I expected.  The first booth I hit was filled to the ceiling with kid mohair locks dyed and placed in plastic baskets.  Dozens of colors. It was like walking into a library and not knowing which book to choose.  I asked if I could have a few plastic bags to fill with colors of locks.  To owner handed me one.  She doesn't know me obviously. No I need six bags please. I filled the bags and would have bought more but it was my first stop. I couldn't stop already, I just got there. A couple booths down was an angora breeder but I have way too much angora so I skipped her.  I also skipped all the Navaho churro wool, Romney wool and other long wools as I have tons of that here and I just don't spin much of that type of wool. Next stop was a buffalo booth. They were selling beautiful buffalo yarns and hats but I wanted fiber. Just as I was about to leave I spot a large bag of buffalo/ silk roving. I couldn't resist.  Three ounces please. The next stop was a yak booth.  These people filled a horse watering trough with yak, flash and wool chunks.  Then kind of stirred them up. I filled a bag if this crazy mix.  I haven't really decided how I am going to spin this but it is pretty and soft. Then I see these wrist warmers. Hand felted and pleated.  I bought a pair for me and one pair for Elsa for watching my dogs.  They are very purple and pretty.  I wander into a booth selling Spinolutin wheels. Great wheels by the way but hard for me to pedal thanks to Parkinson's. In the back of her booth she had the prettiest carded batts in jewel tones and flash. I bought three bags of those. Then I see a sign, Elsa Wool. Cool I will bring Elsa wool to spin from Elsa wools.  It turns out they make undyed wool clothes, hats and mittens to take home and dye yourself. I bought some gloves and mittens and figure I will dye them later this fall. My last purchase was a new Maggie spindle.  I like how they spin and I needed something to enable me to sample my mohair.  Mission accomplished in a couple of hours. I was tired and ready to nap. Bruce and I headed back to the car with a quick stop to visit Kit Carson's grave next door to the festival. 

I was dissappointed not to find the Rio Grande wheel at the show.  Bruce and I decided to try and find South West weaving home of the Rio Grande wheel. To my personal joy Bruce was willing to drive a bit more and find it for me.  Ten minutes north of Taos sits a very small doorway.  Inside are walls of beautiful colored yarn and lots of looms.  There is a Rio Grande wheel in the window. It had do not touch vibes so I asked if I could try a wheel if they had one.  The lady was sorry but the only one I could try was being used in a class in the back. I told her I had come from Oregon to see the wheel. I just want a moment with it please. I was invited to the back of the shop and introduced to the teacher.  She gave me a quick lesson and away I spun.  Oh the joy of spinning on such a wheel.  The size of a great wheel it spun like a dream come true. This wheel is so worth trying.  Wishing I could order one but knowing I have no more room for another wheel of this size, I said my thank you and off we went.  With my bucket list fulfilled, I was so completely satisfied I suggested we see the Pueblo reservation tomorrow and head back to Santa Fe for our final day in New Mexico. Bruce agreed. 

Early the next morning we visited the amazing Pueblo Reservation.  It is a most interesting place with three story adobe homes built almost like a primitive apartment complext. The buildings we were told have stood for more than a 1000 years.  We were there so early that few others had come to visit yet.  We were able to chat at length with the native people living and working in this historical landmark. In spite of constant daily tourist visits there is a long tradition of families actually living in these homes today.  The children speak the native language until they start school then they work hard to catch up in English. Many of the locals sell jewelry, drums, and delicious foods to the tourists.  I bought some beautiful things there.  If you go to Taos some day do not miss seeing the Pueblo. I learned so much there just talking to the people. I cannot begin to express to you how much we enjoyed our visit

One last day in Santa Fe then off we flew to Disneyland. I have been to Disneyland four times in my life. I took children once.  I find it to be such a fun and magical place.  A great deal harder to enjoy from my walker and cane so we rented a motorized cart for me to buzz around the two parks in.  That was a good but difficult choice as there are so many people in Disneyland that I felt like I was playing dodgeball with human targets most of the time.  Really, if you see or hear a motorized vehicle heading your way, for heavens sake MOVE.  I fear the day I will be dependent on a similar vehicle on a daily basis.  People want to pretend you are not there so they ignore you and the vehicle.  In my case that lasted until they stepped in front of me and sweet Bruce would not so calmly say "watch out".  We are lucky to have avoided a serious confrontation.  Handicapped access is ok at Disneyland. It is much better in the California Adventure.  Either way I rode the rides, shopped and ate.  It was still magical to me.  I wish I could have brought one of my classic wheels and dressed as a princess and spun yarn all day.  The looks on all those children's faces would have been priceless.  As it was I did drop spindle for a short while in the lobby of our hotel, the Grand California, and met several little girls who were curious.  If you are a California spinner and you are reading this, really we spinners need a spin-in in Disneyland.  After all where did you first see a spinning wheel and wonder what it would feel like to turn straw into gold?

See you around Portland this fall.  Classes are back in full swing.  I also have a shawl on display in November at the MoCC in the Pearl as part of a mentoring program I was part of last summer. I was so pleased to have it chosen to display. So please go and see it. 


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