Have Ewe Any Wool?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Shenandoah Fall Fiber Festival

This year, I attended both days of the Shenandoah Fall Fiber Festival. It was fabulous! The weather was perfect....a bit drizzly on Sunday, but still great. (It's always great when it's not a wash-out and not too hot!!!)

There was delicious cobbler...

And lots of fiber animals...I love all the fiber animals!

There was even a camel!!! (I heard someone say that a camel was God's joke. Honestly, it just might be. They definitely have a face/neck combo that ONLY their mother could love! LOL!)

They're a bit amusing to watch, too. They just plod along...not a care in the world. (Check out the video below.) As a bonus, I learned the difference between the one-humped and the two-humped camels. The single humped version is the "Dromedary Camel" - also known as the Arabian Camel. The two-humped version (like this "little guy") is called the "Bactrian Camel".

There were several demos as well. Demo'd spinning at the Blue Ridge Spinners and Weavers Guild booth and had a fabulous time. I also found the time to check out some demos. My favorite, by far, was Keith's dyeing demo.

I'm not sure what she was using to create the reddish dye, but she did some indigo dyeing to create the fabulous blues.

Fleece to Scarf Competition

This year, I was asked to help judge the fleece to scarf contest. There were 3 teams total - two adult teams and one teenage team. Each team had one weaver and two spinners. (The 4th person you see in the Kool Jamz is acting as "coach".) All contestants competed as adults....there were not separate categories based on age.

First, the Warped Women of Dreamkeeper Farm.

Next, Team Uniquities.

Finally, Team Kool Jamz.

All the competitors started with a raw fleece and a pre-warped loom. The goal was to spin the wool and weave a scarf in the two hours allotted. Here are the various team scarves in progress.

Judging was a lot of fun as well as a great learning experience! My main expertise was in spinning, so I learned a lot about how to judge and analyze weaving. It's definitely a bonus when you get to learn in addition to the judging! I have new respect for anyone that has to judge and critique the spinning, weaving, or garments in any sort of competition. There are so many things to consider!

The teens were the unanimous winners. (Now you know why they competed against the adults....they're just that good!!!!) I think that every team had fun. I've got my fingers crossed that we'll have even MORE teams next year!!!

I bid on and won the scarf created by the "Warped Women of DreamKeeper Farm". It's the perfect table runner for condiments. It came in a fabulous silky bag and included some "Fibre Wash" and "Fibre Rinse" - perfect for washing fine woolens!

In addition to my scarf purchase, I bought several interesting skeins of yarn, a yarn bowl, and some fabulous fiber. I even "gave in" and purchases two fleeces - an alpaca fleece and a tan merino...oh, so soft! I'm such a sucker for super soft wool and alpaca!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Finished Projects - At Last!!!

I finished knitting the second fingerless mitt of the pair I started last week. Jeez....it doesn't really match up at all. They're similar, but not a total match. The one mitt ends with a bit of blue...the other with a bit of pink. I decided to go ahead and try making a THIRD mitt....this time, using my second skein of the same color, same dye lot yarn. I was determined to get a matching pair!!!

Surprise, surprise! The third mitt had even MORE diverse colors with much more of the blue coming through . Ugh! All right...this mitt won't match EITHER of the first two mitts, but perhaps I can work out a second mitt from this skein? Certainly it would HAVE matched ONE of the three!!! Right???

Well, that was not to be either. It too had no repeats of the color sequence....just like the previous skein - ARGH!!!! It also had a long streak of solid grey. UGH!!!! The second pair was even worse!!! I even spliced the yarn at one point on the second pair to try to make them match up a bit better. It improved, but was definitely not perfect.

Here's what the four mitts look like - close, but definitely NOT identical!!! The pair on the right definitely looked more like they belonged together than the others. Next time, I'll REALLY check out the yarn BEFORE I knit.....or perhaps stick to yarns where I KNOW there are the expected color repeats.

In the end, I decided that this pair was the best and sent them to my swap partner. I REALLY wanted them to match! Oh, well...at least they're somewhat similar and have the same color tones. Sigh. I think the buttons definitely add to it - I LOVE shell buttons and the glistening mother of pearl colors blend well with the pinkish lavenders and greys in the yarn.

I FINALLY sewed the piping onto the pillow I made about a year and a half ago. I hate finishing. It was all I could do to stitch the pillow shut when I finished....and the piping just had to wait until I was ready to deal with it - LOL! I used the linen stitch for the body of the pillow - it's my favorite stitch pattern for pillows. It is a bit tedious, but I really like the look and durability of the stitch. I made my own piping using two strands of Merino that repeated colors that are in the pillow. The photos really don't show the piping, but you can catch a few glimpses of it along the top and side edges. (Pillow front - left, pillow back - right)

Right now, I'm gearing up for the next round of "Nerd Wars" on Ravelry. I'm planning my dissertation and getting ready to knit my way throught the challenges! I'm hoping to be back on Team Bazinga!!! (Fingers crossed!)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bluemont Festival

I love this festival - it's very low-key and much like a country fair. There's the Methodist church that serves hot dogs, hamburgers, and awesome apple dumplings, the kettle corn vendor, the fiber animals, antiques, and numerous crafters. There is even a wine tasting and a display of antique tractors!

Believe it or not...they were serving "Deep Fried Oreos". I LOVE Oreos, but I just can't imagine what they'd be like fried. A young fair goer told me they crumble up the oreos and then surround it with something and deep fry it. I didn't try them. Hmmm.....maybe someday.

One of the alpacas from the booths next to us wandered about for a while - greeting both kids and adults. They're such friendly animals...and they have such incredible "wool"! (Yes....I bought some white as well as some lavender Alpaca yarn...surprise, surprise!)

One of the guilds I belong to, Blue Ridge Spinners and Weavers (BRSWG), is one of the featured crafters. I spent the entire day there on Sunday demo-ing spinning and just enjoying the outdoors and all the crafts. Of course I bought some goodies - how could I resist???

Debbie had some fabulous hand spun yarn - in my colors too! It's gorgeous - I just love it! I have no idea what I'll make, but whatever it is, it will ber fabulous. I also purchased some lovely towels woven by Mary Beth - beautiful, yet functional.

My favorite acquisition was a lovely tencel scarf woven by Beth - one of the incredible weavers in BRSWG. It's just GORGEOUS!!!!! Again...in my colors!!!! The warp is hand painted....and the pattern is the same as those in the scarves from Saturday's post using the same pattern from the Baltimore Guild. The scarf looks so different in the bright jewel tones. It drapes beautifully! Debbie taught me how to tie it in a Celtic knot so I can wear it around my neck as an accent once the weather cools off!

I just happened to take a photo of both Beth (the scarf weaver - seated at the loom) and Debbie (the yarn spinner) so you can match the artist's faces with their work!

While snapping photos, I managed to catch Dina and Sharon writing up the sale for the scarf, towels, and yarn that I bought - my purchases even made the photo! Dina(left) and Sharon(right) both had some awesome items for sale. Dina is the leader of our spinner's group in addition to spinning, is an accomplished felter. Check out the cute pumpkins and bowls - below left. Sharon had some gorgeous braided rugs for sale - my personal favorite is the "sunrise" rug shown here - below right. Isn't it beautiful??? Everyone in this group is extremely talented. I feel so honored to be a part of their group!

Although I made a few purchases, I did leave a lot of goodies for others to buy....

The shopping and demos were a lot of fun. It was the perfect day to enjoy the outdoors while spinning or weaving...and sharing the love of the craft with every that stopped by. What a fabulous day!!!