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.


Shay said... @ March 14, 2010 at 10:33 AM

Great blog! I'll be sure to visit!

Taube said... @ March 15, 2010 at 2:33 AM

Great post! I can always hear your voice when I read your blogs and emails. I feel like I was with you, Shay and the Bewilderknits crew. Thanks for posting so many pics. Is the market every weekend? Where is it located?

Your knits are so beautiful. I want to caress them! I really like the hot pink scarf with hints of gray that has a checkerboard pattern, but all the same yarn and the scarf on the mannequin head with a hot pink hat and yellow flower. Are either of those scarves still available?

Gwynne said... @ March 15, 2010 at 11:37 AM

Hi Taube! Thanks!!

Shay and I are working on taking more pictures and I'm working on blogging more. It's been hard this season because we thought we had plenty of stock for all the events we planned, but we were way wrong. I think we were very conservative in our hopes for success. So we spent so much time this season trying to knit up enough things to fill our next booth. And when winter was already upon us, we were still making designs for the booth sign on Photoshop, the business cards, the price tags. Working on the web site took ages. To look at it, you might think it's done, but it's only 1/6th of what we had planned.

It was like wedding planning, or huge party planning, except the party goes on for 4-5 months. Even though the ideaphoria was fun, there was so much to do, to keep up with and stay on top of. When you have a list of 50 great ideas, you have to prioritize them all. It's a positive problem to have, but it was also sometimes exhausting. I think I love it because I'm not one of those people who "just wants to knit." I want to do a zillion things and Bewilderknits allows me to do those things.

The Roadrunner market is every Saturday morning, and we tried to not push ourselves too hard so we only went every other weekend. Pretty much it worked out to 1st and 3rd weekends, beginning in November. We did 1st and 3rd Friday downtown and then at night, when our truck was loaded back up with stuff, we went home to bed around 11pm and then the next morning our truck was already ready to go for the Roadrunner market. So we did back-to-back events every other weekend. Only now has it started to slow down, because it's warming up so much.

I think the one with the checkerboard pattern you're talking about is on the wall of scarves picture. That one is more of a red than a pink - it does have spots of pink in it. It's sort of raspberry, red, gray and dark green. It's called the Strawberry Patch scarf - the colors are a handpainted colorway. It's a thick single of 100% wool that calls for size 13 needles and it's very very long. I knitted it at three booth events.

It looks like hot pink and gray in that picture due to the color play between it and the things around it and the lighting & camera. This one is still available - it's made out of wool and I haven't taken pictures of it yet or posted it on Etsy, so we've only been taking it to events where it's unlikely to move this season since winter in Phoenix is sorta over. It's awesome out and chilly at night, but everyone's got the looming summer on their minds. Cora incidentally made a hat that matches it from the same yarn, and it's got a long pointy top that flops over with a huge pom-pom at the end.

The loops around the mannequin head are Cora's and they're really cool. They're just three loops that are longer like a necklace length and then they're doubled up around the neck (like pearl necklaces in the 80's Madonna era) to give that layered look. She made them out of big thick icords. She mixed some of the same yarn that I used in the strawberry patch scarf, but in different colors, and alternated between this yarn and pieces of her different handspun yarns.

I've got the pictures ready for the next blog, which shows a lot of her handspun yarns. I have a suitcase full of handspuns too, I just need to thwack them before bringing them to events!

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