Melrose on 7th Street Fair 2010

Published by Gwynne under on 10:27 AM
On Saturday March 6th, Bewilderknits hoisted our tent up at the Melrose on 7th Avenue Street Fair, marketed as M7. This was a new event for us, but it has been going and growing for a handful of years now. This year they got so big that Clear Channel donated a big billboard on 7th Avenue & Glenrosa, along with other free advertising spots to promote the event.

I think we all have grown to enjoy hosting booths at these all-day events. They don't feel as hectic as short events; we never have the feeling that we just set up and already we're striking the tent.  The longer the event, the more we have time to just sit around, or knit, or in Cora's case, spin yarn all day.

Sometimes it feels like it's hard to get a solid uninterrupted block of time to just work on knitting or making yarn. All-day-long events are terrific for this! Plus (and this might just be me, since I just finished graduate school), I have this problem where I feel like I need to be "being productive" all the time. I'm still trying to get over that :) In the meantime, I can sit at a booth and "do nothing" while "being productive."

Part of what was really cool about the Melrose Street Fair, and any new event really, is that we compare and contrast it with other events we've done: the downtown 1st & 3rd Fridays, Tempe Indie Chic, Sunnyslope Art Walks and the Roadrunner Farmers Markets. Each event has a vibe and there's a sort of trend to the crowds who are walking around.

Our booth was directly across from an LGBT Pride booth. Much of 7th Avenue in this section is lined with rainbow flags. The gay church is right next to a big gay bar. I like how many of the businesses are gay-owned but they cater to everyone. Copper Star coffee often has rainbow flags out and there's a bunch of mixed cultures inside. Young teachers, who come from all over the valley, grade their papers there on weekends. I go there to knit, spin, meet with friends, blog and pick up fuel for our First Friday events. (Credit for the picture below goes to The Hot Sheet blog.)
This part of 7th Avenue is also lined with vintage shops. Blueberry Deluxe is a fabulous new addition to the strip with vintage and handmade items, and our booth was right next to her. Retro Redux, now renamed Retro Ranch, was next to us on the East side. An old friend from high school is behind the counter, we cross paths often at events. I've been a vintage collector since high school so I've shopped the 7th Avenue strip often.

Landis Cyclery is just South of where we were located, on Indian School and 7th Avenue. I got my first bike there when I was little. A surprise bike from Santa came from there when I was 11 (my dad chose to support local businesses instead of elves overseas), and then I routed countless people there to buy more awesome cruiser bikes when I came back from my month in Japan a few years ago. We have three Electra bikes from them (the rainbow Petro Zillia cruiser and two Townies - I used to have the Gigi but I sold her … I think it was to support my yarn addiction, but I can't remember now).

Hmmm. I love that I've lived here so long that every single area of town has a storied piece of history for me. And now I can add the Melrose Street Fair to it!

The weather was outstanding, and as usual, the yarn-spinner of our group was bombarded with questions from passers-by.

Small felted accessories were popular. We still have plenty of cold-weather items but of course, the ominous summer is on Phoenician's minds by March already.

So we had plenty of summer scarves available - made from ribbon yarn, linen or bamboo. I laid out my mini tendrils. We were catty-corner from the booth for Practical Art, so it was cool that my leafy tendrils were available on the Southeast corner and the Northwest corner of our intersection.

Also, Karen's felted purses were a real hit. They keep getting awesomer. There were always small crowds of people standing around them being like, "It's totally amazing."
I was very excited to wear a rad dress I'd been dying to wear. It has concentric circes of white fibery yarn all over the bottom of it. So I made Shay take a picture of my dress while I demonstrated the features one of Cora's pom-poms. My white legs are camouflaged with the white tent wall behind me! You can tell I was getting sunburned already in this picture. Later, I took off my sunglasses and we laughed at my giant white circles around my eyes while the rest of my face was pink. So, in this picture, it is as white behind my sunglasses as my legs look.
We got a lot accomplished at the booth that day. Cora especially did a lot of yarn spinning!
Karen did a lot of knitting while also admiring the artwork at the booth behind us.

Obviously, I was taking a lot of pictures. Behold the most fabulous photo ever of Cora's handspun yarns, twinkling in the sunlight:
I had my new Massive Tassels scarf out for the first time, too. It's not knitting. It's simply fiber. It's a scrappy scarf that's all about using scraps of different fibers to create massive tassels.
There were zillions of bicycles and pedestrians. It seemed like half of the pedestrians came with a side of dog. Dogs came in all shapes and sizes. Even dogs with mullets. It was so entertaining!
We were next to a giant painted garden and bike themed wall which was a fun view.
We snapped this photo of a woman who bought one of my Happiness Hats for her upcoming 60th birthday (she didn't look like she was approaching 60 at all - and she was super cheery. Shay said "She's an old partier!") She gave me a woo-hoo wave as she walked by later.

 Of course we also met other knitters and fiber enthusiasts and had a ball chatting with them all. The weather was great. It would go from being way too sunny for me to being deliciously cloudy and overcast.

Pretty soon it will be hot now. I think I'll just go up north for some extended winter weather, and when that fails, stay inside and knit under the air conditioning, preparing for next season.

In case I haven't said it yet, HUGE Thank You's go out to all of our supportive friends. Supportive friends includes anyone who comes and says Hello at a show when you hear about it, and friends who tolerate me talking about Bewilderknits all the time, and people who read this blog or agreed to get pinged on Facebook by our status updates all the time.

A Season of Roadrunner Farmers Markets

Published by Gwynne under on 2:40 PM
I can't believe I haven't written about the Roadrunner Farmers Markets yet. We've been to SO MANY of them this season.  We tend to go every other weekend, but it's such a casual thing we can usually decide a day in advance if we want to go on an off-weekend. There is always a crowd, and we've gotten our booth set-up down to a fast no-brainer, and being outside all day kind of feels like camping without leaving town.

December, January and February are surprisingly FREEZING in the mornings. We arrive at 7am to set up our tent and don't leave until the afternoon. I am still in no way a morning person, so it continues to be a drag trying to wake up on time,  but there is something very calm and peaceful about being up before the sun. We always borrow Shay's mom's truck for our events, because they have a camper top and everything fits. Frequently when Shay and I are finally dressed and outside the house loading things into the truck, we look up and see the moon overhead, sometimes peeking through clouds, and if I didn't already know that the sun was going to rise soon, I'd think it was the middle of the night. Except for the fact that in the middle of the night, things tend to still be noisy. At this time of the morning, it's extremely calm and quiet and there's morning dew everywhere. It's a surprisingly romantic time of day. We don't talk much, we're quietly happy and loving our lives together. We drive in the truck towards the sunrise and the day breaks while we're on our way to the park. There's no traffic to contend with until we get to the park, and then it's a bunch of SUV beasts playing bumper cars between all the parking spaces.

The unloading is the most un-fun part. Mostly because it is freezing and in the mornings I am lazy and warm inside my house, and won't remember to wear socks or something. I continually find myself in this ironic position of selling a booth full of knitted items made of thick wool and alpaca, while I'm personally freezing. Times like these, I snag one of the Kittyknitter scarves out of the basket and wrap my neck up in it until we're done unpacking. I finally decided to just keep my own scarf - the first original one I'd made out of my handspun yarn. This pic is from the Ahwatukee Farmers Market.

If we're lucky, Karen is there ahead of us with one of her kids. If so, she is standing there bouncing up and down to stay warm, hands shoved in her pockets, breathing steam into the air with them as we pull up with the truck. We love it when she brings her kids to events. Her kids are, for the time being, super enthused about being involved. They have a surplus of energy and will run back and forth to the tent spot with things, helping us out with the number of trips to and from the truck. Shay tends to run around with her son a lot when he comes, and when her daughter comes, she is very adept at figuring out which Bewilderknits items match other items and designing ensembles.

 What I really love about the Roadrunner market is that it takes place in a park. We are not sitting on black top concrete or sidewalk cement, but on the grass in between and beneath many tall trees, next to a lake and playground and open space with rolling hills and more tall trees. Even hibernating Bermuda grass is something I'm fond of. Everyone brings their dogs and kids. At the same time, we're along a busy street (Cactus) but there's a big buffer of grass and trees between us and the street. We're not close enough to it for the traffic to be obnoxiously loud, but we're close enough that friends (like Maya!) have stopped by to say hello simply because they saw our booth on the side of the road while they were driving somewhere along Cactus.

Shay takes walks over to the water to look at the birds.
Eventually we all take turns walking around the market. First things first, we need coffee and food. If we're in luck, a breakfast burrito guy is set up next to us on the left side. The coffee guy has fair trade and it's no joke, the most delicious coffee I've ever had. He also has agave as sweetener, which tastes incredible but is a way better glucose-load than sugar. (For those really interested, it has a glucose load of 32, whereas honey has a glucose load of 58). There's a really terrific Greek food booth that I'm fond of. There's also a booth with tamales, and Shay remembers them from his days volunteering in the garden at the Tempe Gentle Strength Co-op.
The Roadrunner Farmers Market is really quite impressive on the food front. There's a gal at the far East side of the park who has produce that still has dirt on it and ladybugs: the real deal. There's sometimes a guy selling tomato plants. Loads of organic foods. Bread that is 100 times better than "the best" at the grocery store. And priceless people-watching.

Meanwhile, back at the booth, on a good day we become swamped with people coming through and asking questions, trying things on, and taking knitted items home with them.  In between that, we work on projects and hang out in the great weather.  It's really fun talking to the people who come to farmers markets. They're great kinds of people to have conversations with. I like that what we make is for all ages.

And of course, we love to be visited by friends and family.
All in all, I highly recommend the Roadrunner Farmers Market at any time of year, but when we're there, it's the best time of year (as long as we're not rained out!). We did get rained out of Roadrunner once this year! Three dress forms knocked over, everything near the outskirts of the tent got wet, and we packed up in the rain, soaked to the core!

All in all, I have to say we did great work this year having our first season at Roadrunner. It's always an adventure. I definitely advise you swing by our booth sometime to say hi, try the coffee, and the food. If you happen to find something in our booth that you don't want to leave without, well ... sometimes that happens :) ... We hope it happens often enough to keep us coming back.