Day 4 was our first full day of showing.
Over the last few weeks, after a response from one of our customers, Owen has been developing a neat little spindle based on Mayan spindles. He made a bunch for us to bring down to the show and we decided to demonstrate them early in the morning. Well, people were fascinated by them and we sold out more or less immediately! Within thirty minutes we had to do a list for orders to be mailed out when we return home. One of the people who purchased a Mayan spindle was a young lady called Angela who is a marvelous character and has been delightful to spend time with. She returned not long after purchasing a spindle to show us all the yarn she had created with it including some core spun yarn. The more we have come to know her, the more interesting she has revealed herself to be.
She is a big fan of needle felting and has taught her children to felt as well. Her daughter Rata makes little felt creatures called "Curlers" which bend in your hand when stroked and her son Rowan, needle felted dreads into her hair which look amazing. And yes, she informed me there was only one way they were coming out.
As with the previous evening, I decided to set a time to share with show visitors about the new loom. The response again was very encouraging so I was very excited and pleased that people were receptive to the new ideas we have introduced.
In the evening we were able to attend a wine appreciation session which was organised as part of the festival. The speaker was Dr John Forrest of Forrest Estate wines, a local company that receives many accolades for its excellent wines, in particular rieslings. A quiz type format accompanied the tasting of some half dozen wines, and much fun was had. Our table did not win the case of wine which was the prize for the one with the most correct answers, but we also didn't get the "gumboot" honour for the table that did not get the most correct answers. Dr Forrest was an excellent and entertaining speaker which made for a very enjoyable evening.
Day 2 of the trip to the Fibre Festival this year was primarily the ferry crossing over Cook Strait. We had an 8.15am sailing with a check-in an hour earlier. As a result, our alarms had to be set nice and early at 5.30. After a quick shower, a couple of pieces of toast and a hot cup of tea we waved goodbye to Rosalie and Graham and set off again. Being a public holiday, there was next to no traffic on the drive down to the terminal. I have been caught out in estimating my travel times in cities before and apparently the drive into Wellington from the Hutt Valley can take a looonnng time. Not so for us fortunately. The weather was again just beautiful and we watched a beautiful and colourful sunrise over the Wellington Harbour.
A few turns and we were parked up in the queue to drive on to the ferry. I was on to the idea of writing these stories so managed to snap off a couple of pictures to share.
I met a very interesting guy from Auckland while I was waiting who was on his way to Christchurch to complete the electrical work on commissioning newly constructed chicken and pig sheds after they were destroyed in the Christchurch earthquakes. It was fascinating to converse with him and we chatted about motorcycle touring, bird-watching, business service, insurance and ironically, good van tyres. Half way through our discussion I noticed this guy wander up from the ocean and have a rest in the sun on the footpath.
It was soon time to be on the ferry so I was able to enjoy a hobbit-y Second Breakfast in the cafe. The wind was quite strong on the way over and when I went out to sightsee for a bit, I found it was a two handed job to actually open the doors to get back inside again. I was again struck by how beautiful New Zealand was when we passed the hills off the tip of the North Island - now covered by a huge wind farm - and the rugged islands in the Tory Channel of the South Island. I had to settle and do a bit of work on the way too so spent some time finishing editing the Majacraft Spinning Manual so it could be sent off for a reprint.
After landing, it was a short 25km drive down to Blenheim and our motel, the Bella Vista. It was good to unload and rest for a bit and read my John Carter of Mars novel. The remainder of the afternoon was spent working on weaving looms and warping up (hopefully) some interesting warps.
A friend told us they were going out to The Argosy restaurant near Blenheim which is based around a restored Argosy aircraft. That sounded rather good so we made the drive out as well. The owners of the restaurant had done a great job of building up the story of the Argosy which had a huge amount of history surrounding it. There was a famous UFO sighting in New Zealand near Kaikoura in the 1970s and we learned that this was the aircraft that contained the observers. The aircraft was set up as a mini museum and we were able to investigate the interior which was fascinating. Plus the food was good too
Both Glynis and I were quite tired after another long day so returned to the motel for an early-ish night.
Day 3 of the Fibre Festival trip was focused around setting up our stand. The doors to the Convention Centre were opened to traders at midday so we had some time in the morning to complete other tasks. I had another loom that I wished to warp up in a certain way so we needed to find a yarn shop to source some more yarn. The Warehouse (New Zealand's answer to Walmart) did not have what was required but we managed to find just the thing in a little shop in the back room of the local Christian bookshop. Finding the shop that is needed in an unfamiliar town is not always easy.
I have a very good long time friend, Jason, who lives near Blenheim with his family. We took a little time to visit Jason, Sarah and the children in their lovely home right on the coast before we had to be back at the show. They have very interesting life stories as he is a Paua diver (NZ shellfish similar to abalone) and she is a general practice family doctor and mum. An hour was not long nearly long enough to visit and we were soon heading back to Blenheim for the festival.
On the way back past the Convention Centre, we noticed traders setting up early so as it seemed time was going to be tight to get everything done, a quick reshuffle of our plans had us lugging all of our gear into the Convention Centre an hour earlier than we expected. For the next three hours it was a bit of a zoo as we arranged stands, assembled wheels, laid out products and tried to get everything in order.
This year we had decided to try something new in the layout of the Majacraft stand. In the past, we have followed the NZ trend of having as many products on display as possible so people can find exactly what they need. What we had in mind this year was trying to go for a much simpler, cleaner design that hopefully presented what was out very elegantly. When it was all set up it looked great and just what I planned on and hoped for.
We finished at 3.30pm so there was time for a quick trip back to the motel to play with the warp on the weaving loom and another cup of tea. Before we knew it, it was time to rush back to the Convention Centre for the opening night of the Fibre Festival.
The evening opening proved to be very busy and bustling. We had the opportunity to meet up with some familiar faces which was very nice. At 6.00 (with some trepidation), I was able to show the new loom to a small gathering of visitors. They seemed very enthusiastic about all the little innovations and overall were very positive about the new creative opportunities that could be made with it. At that point, my best summation would be "phew"!
We packed up at 7.00pm and had a quick meal in the Convention Centre restaurant before finishing up for the day.
I gave myself a late night treat at the end of the evening and went and watched The Avengers in 3D at the local cinema. I thought it was a super fun movie if you are considering seeing it!
I thought I would share about Majacraft at the New Zealand Fibre Festival and write about it as a kind of road trip. It is being hosted in Blenheim this year which is probably around 800 kilometres plus a ferry crossing from our workshop in Tauranga. We are quite unaccustomed to the huge road journeys that people can undertake in the likes of Australia, USA and Europe so 800km is quite a big deal for us. This post is going to be a catch up because I realised this could be fun on the second day of travel and it is now 6.00am on the third day.
We have been going as fast as possible leading up to the show developing some new ideas on presenting the Majacraft stand and trying to get a little project together that has been occupying our attention for the last 2 years or so! The responsibilities of attending the stand this year have fallen on Glynis and myself (Andy). Owen and Rob loaded the van on Monday afternoon evening while everybody else completed last minute tasks and construction to get us underway on Tuesday. Everything looked as prepared as possible so after a good night’s sleep on Monday and kissing my family goodbye, I arrived bright and early at 7.15 on Tuesday. A few more additions to the boxes in the van and we were on our way at 8.00am. The weather was brilliantly sunny and both Glynis and I were commenting on the journey down what a beautiful country we were fortunate to live in.
We planned on taking a slightly different route that what we would usually drive so we could make some deliveries. Instead of straight down through the centre of the island, we drove to Taupo then across to Napier so we could visit Kim at Waddle Inn at Otane then on to Crafters Heaven at GreyTown. We would then need to cross back over the Rimutaka Ranges to get back to Wellington for our Wednesday ferry crossing. The trip across the Napier-Taupo road was uneventful and in spite of much studying of the forests and hillsides, I did not see any deer from the side of the road.
Kim was not home so we had dropped the goodies on her doorstep and continued on for a short lunch stop at Owen's relative in Waipawa. Thanks Warren and Sue!
Rita at Crafters Heaven had a lady visiting her that wanted to try two of our wheels so we had a deadline of 5.00pm before she shut up shop for the day. The trip was going nice and smoothly after leaving lunch and the magic GPS was indicating we were expected to arrive at 4.00pm. The van, as you may have picked up already, was *very* full and as I drove past the Tui brewery, I went a little quickly around a corner and it took a bit of care to make it around safely as the van did a strange wallow-y weave which I assumed was due to plenty of weight, too much speed and an unusually shaped corner. The wind had really picked up so we were noticing that the van was getting blown around quite a bit which felt a bit freaky to say the least. Despite assurances that the wind was the cause of the weaving and the tyres were just fine, Glynis was getting quite concerned so I stopped so we could check everything was OK. This was a personal challenge for me because once I am driving, I like to keep driving with no stops for things like hunger or bladders and certainly not looking at tyres - yes, I am aware of my need for personal growth here So, back to the story, I did reluctantly stop and lo and behold, we had a back tyre that was somewhat ... deflated. Pride was swallowed along with a serving of humble pie.
The first challenge arose when all we could collect in the way of tools was the jack. Everything else was buried (we still think, not confirmed as yet) somewhere under the van load of goodies. As we were poking around the edges of the packages, a farmer arrived to collect his children from the school bus, he tentatively asked if we needed any help. "Yes please!" was our enthusiastic response. Off he went on his quad bike with about 6 children to find some tools and a jack. Then we waited ... and waited ... and waited ... and started looking for other houses that might contain helpful occupants ... and waited ... and finally he came back. Apparently the children had been parked in front of the TV with an apple and rugby training had been postponed. We were very grateful. The vans jack was not very useful so we used his and got the flat tyre off fairly quickly. The jack did seem to have some issues as it was a mongrel to pump up and it appeared (when the jack was not high enough to fit the spare tyre) that it was actually going down only slightly slower than I could pump it up! After rapid pumping and desperate pushing and nut tightening we got the spare tyre on. Phew, let the jack down and uh-oh, spare tyre could do with about another 30psi of air. The most excellent farmer suggested that the best bet was a slow trip down to Eketahuna (there is a "Wear the fox hat" joke around that relates to Eketahuna) and visit the tyre shop there.
After a very slow trip for another 10 kilometres we thankfully arrived in Eketahuna and found the Firestone shop. A very helpful man took the tyre off and while he couldn't see anything drastically wrong with it, he recommended against using it again as "they have very thin walls and you can't see what damage has happened on the inside. Did you drive far with it flat?" "Of course not" was my sincere and mostly accurate response. "Oh well, can you put another one on the same please"? He answered that they would have to order one in to get an identical tyre and they actually didn't have anything the same size on the shop as "it was a funny size". We should try down in Masterton another 40 kilometres further on. So back in the van we hopped, leaving the possibly ruined tyre behind. At this time our ETA at Greytown according to Ms Garmin the GPS was 4.50pm. The tension was slowly increasing...
Travelling that 40km was not pleasant. We had no spare and every little gust of wind or bump in the road that caused the van to weave a bit had us fearing that our spare was expiring as well. However, we did make it and we found our way to the Masterton Firestone shop. "No, no tyres like that, it is a funny size" was their greeting. They too would have to order another one in. We were considering our options, trying to find a tyre locally or perhaps take a chance on driving to Blenheim and ordering one down there. The general decision was keep on driving and stop at any tyre shop we could find. It was 4.30 in the afternoon and the following day was a public holiday so solving this was going to be tricky. As we were leaving Masterton, we tried the Goodyear shop and they too informed us "we don't have any of those brand tyres, they are a funny size. We do however have a different brand in the same size." Much deliberation later and we asked him to put on the mismatched tyre. He did it pretty much immediately so there was a great feeling of relief when we set off again. The GPS told us we were going to arrive at 6.00pm and the tension was much higher by this point as to whether Rita's guest would still be in the shop or have given up and gone home.
Quickly on to Greytown (what a very pretty place) and we arrived in the dark at the very cute Crafters Heaven, where Rita made us a welcome coffee. The customer had decided to wait (thank you Vegas Venus - Ravelry ) and patiently watched while we put together a Suzie Pro and an Aura. We spent another very pleasant hour playing with spinning wheels before we set off again for our final destination in Lower Hutt. Owen's sister Rosalie informed us our dinner was getting cold. Greytown is almost at the foot of the Rimutaka Range crossing point and we still had nearly an hour to go. The crossing was much longer than I remember it, the climb up the hill is very long and winding and at this time very, very windy. Finally we were driving down the other side and following the Hutt River down toward Wellington. Our last treat for the journey was the GPS trying to direct us through a closed off public park in the dark but after everything else we had been through in the day, this was brushed off without a blink!
After a quick evening meal and some nice conversation, bed was very well received following 12 hours on the road. Thank you to the very generous people in the Wairarapa who helped us get back on the road and showed much hospitality. It was certainly a ... memorable trip.