The wool festival Le Lot et La Laine was held again this year in the Lot department of France during the second weekend of July. It's only held every two years, so I had to go, didn't I? It always seems to fall in the middle of the Tour de Fleece, so I made sure I packed my wheel into the camper van so I could carry on while we were away.
As usual, I was too engrossed in looking at all the stalls to take photographs, but I did get a few :-
Someone had spent an awful lot of time on these characters!
I've been saving my pennies for a while now, and was determined to have a good spend. I think I did OK actually. My first purchase was some lovely mohair top from a lady who'd travelled all the way from Italy for the weekend. She had lots of gorgeous alpaca too, but I have plenty of that.
I'd been looking for raw mohair actually, but no-one seemed to be selling any, except one lady who had a small amount of delicious kid mohair in the middle of her table. She gave me a sample and her contact details because she will be shearing her animals in August. Think I might just be ordering some of this.
Then I found some dyed mohair locks that I just couldn't leave behind :-
The only raw fleece I bought was Bizet, which I'd never heard of but have since read that it's generally a meat sheep. I did notice though that quite a few vendors had used Bizet in their prepared batts, so thought I'd give it a try. It's not the softest fleece I've ever bought, but it has character, and it was only 6 euros per kilo!
There was one lady there who was selling silk products and I was rather taken by this dyed raw silk. These are actually degummed cocoons that she's dyed and then just pulled into fluff after drying. It gave me the idea of doing the same with my cocoons. So I had to have some of that!
She also had some reels of spun silk which I thought would come in very useful as an additive to my own spinning, so some of that went into the basket as well!
I went a bit batty after that and bought some ready prepared batts for spinning. I loved the colours in these, and the fact they contain nettle fibre as well as merino, alpaca, silk, soya and the obligatory bit of sparkle.
The next ones took my eye quite early on in my travels and I kept going back to look at them. In the end I decided to buy them - just in time too, these were the last ones, the rest had all sold.
I loved the "wild" appearance of these batts, but they're ultra soft too. A few detail shots :-
One of my last purchases was something I've always avoided buying until now - plaited fibre. I've looked at lots and always thought they felt a bit compacted. Not so with this one, this feels superbly soft and has that "fluid" feel which makes me think it will be a delight to spin. This was made by Maria from Toulouse, one of the organisers of the festival.
I love this so much it seemed appropriate to photograph it this way!
I almost missed the dye plants! Most of the plants on offer I already have in the garden, but I've never grown indigo. This has gone crazy since I brought it home and repotted it. I'm hoping it will flower and give me seeds for next year.
Last but not least, the trees around the parking area are covered in lichens, and there are always lots of windfall branches on the ground. I stripped a few of those to bring home for dyeing.
I had a lovely day wandering around in the sunshine (it was really hot in the afternoon) shopping, talking to other spinners and just generally "being there". Eric was very taken with one of the spinning wheels we saw being used. It was an Ashford Joy 2 - a folding wheel which has its own shoulder bag. He thinks I should buy one for when we go away in the camper! I've never come across so many spinners all in one place here in France before. I loved every minute, and I can't wait until the next one in 2017.