By Kat Montague
For the Pennsic Independent
For a confirmed fabriholic, wandering through the Market is a delightful (and budget-challenging) experience. Actually being able to fondle the many period-appropriate fabrics and browse through a cornucopia of natural dyes, a plethora of sewing tools, rainbows of silk floss and a small library’s worth of textile-related books is a rare treat.
This year, most of my favorites — Sparrowhawk Studios, Miriam’s Yarns and Fibers, Brush Creek Wool Works, World of Isabella, Dragon’s Magic, Carolina Calicos — are back. I sew, dye, knit and embroider. I don’t spin or weave, and my choice of merchants reflects this.
At Sparrowhawk Studios I found some Eterna silks, which have been hard to come by for the past year, some pretty bone bobbins and the Victoria and Albert Musuem’s wonderful book on Elizabethan stitches. They also carry a swift that’s very much like the one in the Birka find.
Miriam’s Yarns and Fibers’ selection of embroidery floss is, as usual, stunning. The small avalanche of hand-dyed skeins spilling over her table is a treat to look at and the wide range of colors ensures that just the right shade is in there somewhere. Each skein is actually several small skeins, which makes reeling it off much easier.
Brush Creek Wool Works have their usual huge selection — including, among many other things, books, dyes, spices, roving, fleeces, slippers, silk hankies, Viking wool combs, soap, catnip, exotic yarns, patterns, and little pots of wool wax cream. Each Pennsic I stock up there on dyes and mordants; this year I focused on reds — brazilwood, lac stick, madder and cochineal.
World of Isabella has fine linen and the only velvets I found this year, including a lovely red.
Dragon’s Magic has their usual excellent selection of wools and linens, and this year I managed to find a linen with a subtle white on white pattern woven into it. If you’ve been looking for linen embroidery floss, this is the place to go — and your last chance. The manufacturer appears to have stopped making it and Dragon’s Magic has a small supply left; this is the last year they will be carrying it.
Sadly, The Lacemaker shut down their business last year and will be sorely missed.
On the plus side, we have a wonderful new addition to the textile roster: 96 District. Their big, beautifully-arranged store is stocked with linens, woolens, silks, cottons and fustians (cotton/linen blends) in a good range of colors. They also carry luscious silk ribbon in a wide range of colour and width, much boning — flat and spiral metal — and at least three widths of wicker. To my surprise they also have (or had) a bolt of Sunforger canvas — which was very convenient as I need to add a rain flap to my tent and was not looking forward to finding an online source and paying shipping and handling.
Carolina Calicos are at their usual location, with their usual great selection of linens and cottons. They’ve once more pre-washed samples to show how the fabrics look after they’ve been through the laundry, which is a great idea. This year Carolina has added some very attractive cotton damasks and some interesting silks.
For those with a passion for truly period textiles and deep pockets, White Wolf and the Phoenix have their usual small but spectacular selection of handwoven fabrics.
Today (Friday) is the last day for merchants, so get your shopping done as soon as possible to avoid disappointment!