Tuesday, September 19, 2006

TN State Fair

First, thanks to all of you who emailed me or left a comment. I'm grateful. As many of you know, I work alone and sometimes am desperate for social contact...your notes are meaningful to me, even if I don't email back each time. Actually, from the last set of comments, I read about Iranian weddings, Cormo, pickles, and Harry's possible contagion, so I've learned a lot! Thank you! On the dog front, Harry's had antibiotics and is better. Sally just had to be wormed. Yup, it's an ongoing struggle here...I think I'm helping the vet buy a boat, but it's worth it. I love my guys! On the human front, we've loved the cool fall weather and are being punished for it by bad allergies. Also, I suspect that until the end of the fall semester, and possibly until May, I'll be spending a lot of time propping up one exhausted and stressed professor. Last Thursday, I took him away from all that. We went to the fair.

We cruised by the midway and we didn't even stop for funnel cake. We were good--we went out to a Pan-Asian food cafeteria in Nashville first, so I wasn't even tempted by junk food. Apparently the professor was, but I pulled him onward...to the sheep barn.

We saw meat sheep competitions, visited with a few very clean and friendly penned sheep, and then went to the spinning competition and the fleece auction. The spinning competition is a friendly "who can spin the longest single ply in 10 minutes" thing, on spinning wheels and on the drop spindle. There are categories for beginners and for everyone else. In the past, I've actually won first place at this competition! This year I won two second place ribbons. I had a great time and I won 4 oz of some lovely Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks fiber in a rich brown colorway called Mendocino Hedges.

Then, the fleece auction happened--it's called an auction, but honestly, the fleeces are so numerous that there are few spinners who bid against one another. Mostly, you choose low-cost, gorgeous raw fleeces with ribbons on them, write checks to the shepherds, and go home happy. This year, I bought 4 fleeces: 1 border Cheviot, 1 lovely mixed breed fine wool with a long staple with colors from almost black to caramel, and 2 cotswolds--one white and one moorit. I spent $40. Now, bear in mind that with dinner out in Nashville, gas, fair admission fees, etc. the whole evening probably cost us $100. OK, now subtract $20, because I won that much in the spinning competitions. (assuming, of course, that the state of Tennessee cuts me a check and mails it to me!) So, that's $80, plus some lovely hand-dyed roving that I won as well. At basically double the cost of the fleece, I still think it was a steal. A really fun evening for the two of us, several hours away from university stress and lecture courses--Priceless!

Three of the fleeces have already been through one washing, but even with hot water, and the addition of borax and vinegar, I can't seem to really get them clean. The water here, so rich with minerals from our limestone caves, makes fleece cleaning difficult, which is something I've never had problems with before moving here. I'm considering adding some hot soapy water to the dyepot, and hoping that with a long simmer, they will come clean then...or a trip to my favorite wool processor mill to try again.

I've tried to post photos with this entry but for some reason, Blogger isn't allowing me. I will try again later, but for now, I hope you can use your imagination to enjoy the fair experience with us!

2 Comments:

Blogger sarah said...

I wish we had a state fair. Actually that's not fair (as it were); there is a county show and a regional show, but the last time I went to the county show it was largely finished handcrafts (much of which was, well, tat), loft insulation sales pitches and the like. The regional show had livestock, lots of it, but not much in the way of handcrafts or even interesting food. Perhaps I should give one or both a try next year. Or even enter something in the village show. Perhaps some well-aged chutney :-)

I'm not certain A would be happy if the house smelt of raw wool. Roast lamb: yes, lanolin: no.

September 19, 2006 at 11:56 AM  
Blogger e's knitting and spinning blog said...

I wish I would get interested in processing a fleece. It is too time consuming right now for me. Someday when the kids are bigger. Your fleeces sound wonderful:-)

September 22, 2006 at 7:40 AM  

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