Friday, June 29, 2007

Focus on the Positive

As you may have guessed, I'm a worrier. A person who feels intense about her work, about getting things done efficiently and early. As a former high school, college and adult ed. educator, I think it's normal to grade 120 essays a week, teach 5+ classes on two campuses a day, and juggle a lot of bureaucracy too...of course, along with managing my household, a part time teaching gig or two, and all the other things I used to do. I'm used to assuming responsibility.

That said, my freelance life, well that took some adjustments a few years ago, but the book publishing industry, with its photography expectations, its financial crunch, its moveable hurry up and wait deadlines--it makes my eyes cross and my blood pressure rise. I'm trying as hard as I can to make things work out for Fiber Gathering. It's been worrisome. Stress is popping out everywhere.

On Wednesday, I headed out into our garden, to dig the cr*p out of some dirt to take out my frustration and aggressions. It was 104, according to the "real feel" temperature, which combines heat and humidity. We've had a terrible drought, so digging was hard. I harvested these potatoes, and a few fava beans. Maybe there are a few more potatoes lurking in there, but I couldn't find them. I made them for dinner, roasting it all with olive oil, carrots, onions, some chunks of beef hot dog (high class, huh?), and a splash of cider vinegar. I ate my dinner. Then, because the professor is burning the midnight oil as well, trying to do two jobs at once AND jury duty, I put the rest of the concoction back in the oven. He ate after 8 pm, when he got home. That was our potato harvest. Most all of it. Woohoo. Good thing I'm frugal, because it's not like I'm making money off the book! Maybe I'll plant more potatoes.

Yesterday was our anniversary. We're a good team, and we're celebrating 9 years. I'd had more work stress, but with an odd respite. At 4:15 yesterday afternoon, there was a big thunderstorm (rain finally!) and the lights went out. I spent 45 minutes spinning and knitting, cause what else could I do? No computer. No internet. Lovely. Even managed to sew some of the professor's sweater up. Sally is modelling with it patiently. We managed to go out to dinner at a high end restaurant. Before dinner, we dropped by the drugstore to pick up my film from Black Sheep Gathering. (Inhale. deep breath now.)
They lost my film.
Ok, they were very nice about the mistake, offered me lots of free stuff, and these things happen. Let's just say that by then, the lights were on again...back in my #*$^%%^ , ahem, challenging-- worklife. I had a big glass of wine with dinner. Then, we went through the professor's 830 photos from Black Sheep Gathering, after dinner, until bedtime. (good thing he takes lots of photos!) These are being narrowed down to show the publisher before the professor leaves again on Saturday for his work trips. I may show you some BSG photos if mine are found...but then again, maybe not?

We tried on the professor's sweater, which, according to the pattern, just needs me to finish the collar. Yup. Except that I'll now be knitting underarm gussets to give the poor man the extra 3+ inches he needs to get the sweater around his shoulders and upper arms. This thing is endless, and the professor's no muscle-bound wrestler. Good thing I'm a designer. I can improvise...and there's leftover yarn.

Meanwhile, Sally is wiped out from all the thunder. (very stressful for a nervous highstrung girl)!
So, here goes, I'm focusing on the positive:

I love your comments. They keep me cheery and let me smile, and I visit the blog to read them often and feel encouraged and reassured.

I am writing a book about fiber festivals, and I love fiber festivals.

The professor is doing an incredible amount of work to make this happen, and I'm lucky to have him.

The potatoes tasted good. The only way to get fresh fava beans here is to grow them, and they were great.

Please join me in worrying and sending positive vibes that I can make this book a reality. I believe the worrying helps...along with turning all my first materials 3-4 weeks before the deadline, which I've already done. While I'm doing the hurry up and wait thing, I'm considering going outside in the 90+ temperatures to chop the heck out of some weeds and beat them into submission. Maybe this is why nice Southern ladies with good manners have such nice gardens?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Uhh, I'd just like to clear something up. Folks seemed to think that when I said "wrecked" I meant I was plastered. Blotto. Pissed. You know, Black Sheep Gathering...

That's not true! I was wrecked as in run-down. I checked and this is indeed a dictionary entry for the word, it's not just me who thinks it means this! There were a lot of folks hanging out with Bacchus at this shindig, and far be it from me to keep anyone from a decent glass of wine at a really good party! However, I was working--and, I'm exhausted. I was afraid to see what alcohol might do to an already dizzy (with fatigue) person.

Here's a photo of my friend Karen and me at dinner in Portland on Sunday night. Karen works for Crafts Americana and is in charge of quilting stuff there. I met her when I did design work for Knit Picks. This is the best photo of them all, and Karen is very pretty! I look wiped out and that's about how I felt, although we had a lovely time with Karen and her family. Then I left the nice hotel room in Portland at 9 AM yesterday, and didn't get back to my house until 11:30 PM. Even if you erase the time change, that's 12 and a half hours of travel. The professor and I counted another statistic. In May and June I have been on 17 flights. He's been on 21. No wonder why I'm tired! The highlight of my day has been doing laundry. Thank goodness I am not travelling again for a few weeks.
I don't have photos of Black Sheep yet, because that would require getting them developed, and I think I'm not up to driving or even walking up the street just now. Instead, I'll share a random photo of fleece with you, and mention the wool show I saw there in Eugene.

LAAAA! (Imagine your favorite song of worship or Jimi Hendrix here) It was like going to the symphony. The judging was like attending the church of wool, no kidding. Judith MacKenzie McCuin did the judging. People sat in a semi-oval of chairs, listening, spinning, knitting, and gasping at fleece. At the end of each class judged, we were all invited to go up and touch the fleeces and see for ourselves what we thought about each one. It was the highest quality wool show I've ever seen. I know I said this in the last entry, but I need to get it out of my system. Wow.

My new spindle from Crown Mountain Farms looks about like this. It is made out of Ebony Mun and weighs about 2.5 oz. This goes against what most people want now in a spindle, I mean, what's in fashion, but I like to spin thicker yarns and I like weight in a spindle, so I love it.

I can't offer a full report on BSG, mainly because I know I couldn't do it justice right now, but it was different than any other show I've been to. I was able to just purchase Blue Moon sock yarn without any line at all! I even got mill ends and a discounted price. I bought Gotland fiber for the first time. I saw the new American Teeswater, Gotland, and Wensleydale breeds in person, from the farms who were doing the first crosses with imported UK seamen. (I know that's misspelled, but it's easier this way and you know exactly what I mean...self-censoring at its best)

One last thing I should mention. The Black Sheep Gathering, and the introduction of "colored" flocks in the USA, were brought about by many people through the years, but Morris Culver was instrumental. He was the first to import colored Romney rams to the USA after World War II. He judged fleeces at the Tennessee State Fair a couple of years ago, and we were lucky enough to meet him. He was a pioneer in this field, the field of celebrating black sheep...and after 50+ years of celebrating black sheep, he passed away this year. Read more about him at the American Romney website. Take a moment to think about a great man who brought the US some of the amazing color diversity we have in sheep's wool today.

Psst! Hey you. There. Yah, that's you! Leave a comment, wouldja? I can tell you're reading because of that map over there, but I never hear from you. Tell me what you're up to? What you like reading about? Huh? OK? :) Thanks.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Wrecked in Oregon

These people at the Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene,Oregon know how to party. With sheep and spinning wheels. Whoa. I am totally wrecked...but the professor and I have made it to Portland, where we're meeting up with somebody who I used to do freelance design for and I'm friendly with. Actually, the professor is snoring on the hotel room couch. We'll go out in an hour or so. I hope I can stand up by then.

I got to meet Laura A., Angela, Denise, HollyO and daughter O'Ryan (sp?) as well as Jessica, Jenn, Sheila, Barb and a bunch of other Pacific Northwest folk...I remember your names but don't know about all your blogs, sorry! (this includes Janel of Spindlicity and the Blue Moon folk, who are just lovely and have great kids, too!)

This is the first festival I've ever been at where everyone stays the whole time. Most festivals, the shepherds and the vendors are there the whole time, and the attendees shop, go to classes, and then leave. At Black Sheep, whoa, everyone stays. They spin together. They knit. They hang out. They drink large amounts in the RV parking lot! (it was the spinning group that I met at 11:30 AM on Friday who had already killed a whole bottle of white wine--that made a real impression!) It was a little like the parking lot at a Grateful Dead concert, and I hear next year will be an even bigger party.

Now I know why you folks in the PNW boast about your fiber events. I mean, I don't want to compare one festival with another, so I won't, but I'm just going to say: your wool show, judged by the amazing Judith MacKenzie McCuin, was the best I'd ever seen anywhere. Wow. The worst fleeces were outstanding. Spotlessly clean. Amazing colors. Like Miss Universe for wool, I'm telling you. It was all I could do not to buy one. No, it was all I could do not to lay one on the floor and roll myself in it just like Harry or Sally might. Those dogs have the right idea. I'm telling you.

new loot: one turkish spindle, gotland wool roving, a black sheep tank top, 3 skeins of Blue Moon sock yarn, 5 skeins of alpaca yarn. (heck, it was on sale. I couldn't help it.) 5 fiber events down. at least 5 to go. 9+ hours of airtravel tomorrow, plus the 70 miles home from the airport... Oy.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Hippo bird day two ewe

Today is the professor's birthday. It's been a rough week. So rough that I didn't have a card, or a present, or even remember to say happy birthday until I'd been up for an hour...and we're leaving tomorrow AM for Black Sheep Gathering in Oregon, so time is short.

This is my tribute to the professor. Here are some Estes Park Wool Market photographs that I took to show off aspects of who he is.

He is physically big. He loves the natural world, and each time I encounter a new landscape with him, I learn more. He knows the names of the animals, the bugs, the plants, and even some of the mountains. It turns out that the professor "fits" in the Colorado landscape. He never has to crouch under lowlying trees like in our neighborhood. He never has to slouch or hit his head.

Although the professor likes his day job, he's also a great photographer. He's patient. He waits for the llama to lift her head so he can catch her pose, standing in front of a mountain.

The professor is humble, but he's an award-winner. (this picture is of the Alpaca fleece competition, it was huge and some of the fleeces were so fine that I'd confuse them with cashmere or paco-vicuna, which we also saw.) For instance, the professor won a Churchill Scholarship for his master's degree. This is like a Rhodes Scholarship for scientists. He had a full ride for a year at Churchill College, Cambridge, and then another scholarship for his PhD at Duke. He's bright, but he's patient and humble, too. It takes a lot for him to lose his temper, or pull rank.

The professor values what I do, even when I get weird hate mail, or can't contribute to paying any of our bills while I write this book. He's anonymous on my blog because I don't want him to get any more mail addressed to him, but he didn't ask to be nameless...he copes with all this without complaint. He values everything I write, every handmade meal or garment I produce, and he never says, "Was that worth the time it took?" He knows that good things, meaningful things, take time. (photo is of Swedish style Lovikka mittens at Estes Park)

A while back, I wrote this poem for him. (I was really into poetry until my writing had to uhh, pay some bills.) I feel even more strongly about this now that the professor is working so hard to make my book a reality. Please help me celebrate his 34th birthday!
Leave him your good wishes in the comments!

You are my cup
for the professor

You are the cup.
You fill me up.
You are the cup
Holding my pens, pencils, scissors
You help me communicate to the world
As I reach out to you
You are the cup
Of milk that appears when I bake cookies.
Everyone knows life is better with
Milk and cookies.
You are the cup
With which I never need a straw
Because I want to touch you
plastic cool condensation
Pottery heat intimate
Between my lips.
You are the cup
That keeps my life full
-but not overflowing.
Without a cup like you,
The world would be so thirsty.
You are my cup.

--© 2007 Joanne Seiff
(please do not reprint without permission.)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Dog tired

We got home from our Estes Park Wool Market adventure at 2 AM, early Monday morning. It was amazing--yak, cashmere goats, paco-vicunas, and the largest llamas and sheep I have ever seen. Plus the bonus elk sighting as we drove by Estes Lake on our way into town. It was my first trip to Colorado, and I am awed by it all. So much to report. That will have to wait though, because I haven't gotten the old fashioned film developed yet. Also, I'm leaving again on Thursday for Black Sheep Gathering in Oregon.

This sort of thing (the laundry) awaits me, and is about all I am up for today:

I snapped a photo of some of my stuff, unpacked, for a brief rundown on festival details.

My straw hat ($5 mail order) served me well in the bright hot sun of 8.000 feet elevation, although it is NOT crushable and appears to be worse for wear. It may not make it through the festival season at this rate, though it's done 4 so far. Even so, I got a little sunburnt and a few more freckles. Normal, for those of you who know me in person!

I put the "dog tired"pj shirt in for emphasis, it is part of the clean laundry that has yet to be put away! I bought a tart tin for Tia, who modelled so graciously for us...she borrows mine because our town lacks a good kitchen store. Estes Park had a good kitchen store! In the middle of the picture, you see yarn. It is amazing Cormo worsted spun light sportweight (sock) yarn from Elsa Sheep and Wool Company. More than one person told me to check out this stuff, and they were right.

Cormo is elastic, soft, bury your face in it delicious stuff, and Elsa has created a genius level line of yarns. She has it spun both woollen and worsted. (Woollen=warm, lofty, light weight, prone to pilling... Worsted=sturdy, hardwearing, drapey, dense, and less warm) She also has it spun in everything from lace weight to worsted weight yarn. I wanted it all. I settled for two skeins. I see socks in my future. Lots of socks.

My other purchases? A glow in the dark t-shirt of Rocky Mountain animal footprints for my nephew. Every toddler wants his parents to see him in the dark and learn wildlife biology at the same time, right? If not, too bad. Auntie Joanne couldn't help herself!

On the way down the mountain, we stopped in Boulder so I could check out the scene. Wow. An international festival street fair was happening, and I managed to find a great used bookstore with high end knitting books. I settled for a stitch dictionary and several old British mysteries.

Between the mountain views and altitude, I did only about two rows of knitting on this trip. On the airplanes, I read my assigned reading: The Mold in Dr. Florey's Coat. I've finished the book, and had this feedback for the professor: Interesting book, very sexist. The women involved in the penicillin research were really not acknowledged in this account. Yes, the author, Eric Lax, quoted from historical sources, which were sexist as usual in the time period. However, Lax did not hesitate to give his point of view in other parts of the narrative. Why not call Dr. Margaret Jennings a professional and give her intellectual credit? Why not treat the other women professionals with respect? Instead, we hear about how many children they had, whether they were good mothers, and very briefly, about their frustrated ambitions as they became technicians and nothing more. A sentence or two that recognized these women's contributions with respect would have made all the difference in this 21st century account.

Just my two cents as a writer, educator and critic. Now, I have to do some laundry...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

travel time

Thank you for being so nice about the pictures! I am feeling pretty self-conscious lately about body image; just got put on some very low dose thyroid meds because things seem out of whack. (like, when I eat tons of fruits and veggies, avoid bad stuff, and gain weight?) Hopefully this will help.

Now, on to the good stuff. Off to Colorado soon. I'll be seeing Cathy for lunch, and also hope to meet Donna, Tara, and Deb while I am at Estes Park Wool Market. These in-person meetings are one of my favorite parts about travelling to a lot of festivals!

This is my 5th trip away from home since the beginning of May. The last one was a long drive, but all the others are planes. I'm getting practiced at this plane stuff. Here's how the packing goes:
Consider knitting. Professor's sweater? I'm on the last sleeve, 22 inches in. No way am I toting that through airports.

Instead, meet completely boring travel sock. If I'm on a roll, I'll finish it this trip..and I've got another ball of sock yarn in the suitcase. If not? No pressure. I'm not wearing socks much these days--sandals only when the temps rise above 80!
Next important consideration is the spinning project. On a normal set of airplane flights, I won't have time for this. However, this is crucial if we have big delays. My frustration seems to multiply with regular knitting, it keeps me anxious, I knit tight, my hands tense, my heart races. (stranded two color in two hands, well, hey, I'll forget to get on the plane with that, but who needs that alarming level of calm?) Note Bedouin spindle here. The X has a hole in the middle. I will reassemble if necessary. This bruise colored alpaca gets my fingers dirty; I appear to have left some dye in it, but hey, that's what airport bathrooms are for. Washing, etc.

Next on the list is the book selection. I would never leave home with only one book. Nope, that is tempting fate. If you do that, you'll be stuck in an airport with no reading material for 5 days or something.

I'm reading The Mold in Dr. Florey's Coat for the professor. He's teaching a fall term freshman class and he wants to be sure the book is interesting. Sure, of course I'll be willing to audition your book on penicillin! After all, you're travelling all over the place with me, right? (He's thrilled to be going to Colorado and Oregon. No grouchiness about that, don't let him fool you!) Then there's backup reading--Virginia Woolf, in case I feel virtuous and intellectual. Diane Mott Davidson for, well, again, if there's a long delay, and it's late at night, well, this is the junkfood book equivalent! (As an aside, I just finished Tasting the Sky by Ibtisam Barakat and highly recommend it. Stunning, thoughtful, serious memoir)

I miss tending to my garden, sleeping in my own bed, cooking and eating at home while I'm gone, even while I'm loving the new experiences elsewhere. Even though I know they are safe, sometimes at the kennel, sometimes at home with the dog sitter...The hardest part about leaving home, hands-down every time? Leaving my guys, Harry and Sally.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

photo shoot

I've had requests (Romi and Vanessa!) for some photos. There are a bunch of rules about this--does the model give permission to be on someone's blog, is the photo likely to be used in contracted work later--you get the gist. It took me a couple of days to get permission, etc. but we picked out some photos that were ok to use. Hopefully you can extrapolate from this...we think things were pretty successful!

Model Tia wears my I'll Pack a Hat and my handspun, handknit poncho based on a design in Folk Shawls.Model Tia wears my design-a one of a kind handknit pink sweater with stranded knitting accents, (knit on 3 mm needles) and Boucle Wrap overskirt in this photo. This isn't a great photo because of the dappling of the light, but you get the idea... The professor ended the day by letting Harry and me sit down in the middle of one of the sets. Originally the photos had either a mug of tea or iced tea --exactly what I would be drinking in this scenario. We're not beautiful models, (correction: I'm not a beautiful model, especially in that outfit) but as portraiture goes, these catch us pretty well. Note the books, knitting, and stick....some of our favorite hobbies!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

knitting in public day

My Knitting in Public is different than most. It's definitely not one day. It's not a week. It's all year round, every airport, long car ride, movie, social engagement where it won't be rude--every day is a knitting in public day for me. Sometimes, I'm not actually knitting though.

What? You say? Well, I mean that I'm wearing my knitting in public, or I've invited people to my house, where knitting is prominently displayed. I'm writing about knitting, talking about it, or reading about it. Knitting is made public, but I'm not actively knitting to do it. Yesterday, the actual KIP day for this year, was one of those "made public" days.

For a variety of reasons, the professor needs to create a portfolio to show he's good at taking pictures of knitting. That he's a--(hmmm, ahem, clearing my throat) knitting photographer-- if you know what I mean. Now, the poor guy has been looking at my work in the house, in magazines, yarn catalogs, you name it, for years. He hears my tirades when the photographs stink. He knows how grouchy I am when a bad photo kills a pattern's appeal. So, no pressure or anything, dude.

So, while I freak out about this portfolio thing, the professor is calm. He has an inexhaustible supply of gorgeous models, because let's face it--most college students, grad students and college professionals between 18-28 are at the height of beauty AND happy to try on sweaters, drink lemonade and play with dogs in exchange for a free sushi lunch.

I got out some sweaters, hats, vests, socks, scarves, shawls, ponchos, etc. That would be: 2 laundry baskets, one other basket, and a huge cardboard box full of handknitted stuff. I knit about 3/4 of it, perhaps more. I also have two sweaters my mother made for my grandmother, roughly 55 and 46 years ago, respectively. There's a handknit Icelandic sweater, a couple sweaters made by friends, some sweaters my mom made for get the picture. --Oh, also, this isn't all my knitted stuff. No way. I ran out of baskets!The models were wowed by what I'd collected. They looked great in my clothes. They did sexy, happy, pouty, vampy, happy, hip and hot. They sported hats, socks, bags. They primped in front of the mirrors, exclaimed over 20+ years of my creations, and looked good.

We shot photos inside and outside. Neighbors watched. We positioned and posed. Definitely showing off knitting in public. The most public part about it--the intimate, fascinating, and well, let's face it, proud thing?

Everyone admired, coveted, and celebrated the knitting. They loved hearing the stories about why I made that mohair sweater at 15, or the counterpane cardigan, handknit on the bus during grad. school after I handspun the yarn from a fleece we got on our honeymoon.

They looked stunning in my knitting, better than I look. Oh, and the last bit? One of the models, on his way to graduate school in Biology, said, "You know, I'm going to join the grad students Stitch n'Bitch and learn to knit."

Score one for Knitting. (If you live in Madison, Wisconsin, be on the look out for Tim in the fall. Good cook, great guy, and---future knitter.)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

fiber and the squish award

I didn't come home with this fleece, or any other fiber, even though there was a silent auction right after the fleece show judging. Please. Applaud my restraint.
Show #1-finn fleece
Show #2 Alpaca seconds and a Grafton fibers batt
Show #3- Yarn, some of which I have already knitted. Improvement?

I didn't come home with any animals, although the pygoras in the last post and sheep like this (see this expression?) left me sorely tempted.

Lucky I didn't come home with sheep, since I live in town with two bird dogs who would chase a sheep to panicked distraction. Never mind the zoning laws, or that we have a drought right now, so even the famous Kentucky bluegrass isn't green, but brown. Would the new dogsitter watch sheep too? never mind...

As a reward for my restraint (please laugh here), we've had a double helping of veggies. We belong to a CSA, a farm that does community supported agriculture. We used to love the farm we belonged to, but as of this year, it now sells only in Nashville, because so many people there wanted their rich diversity of organic produce. Then a friend, John, convinced us to sign up for a different farm, and he shares the "share" with us. The friend is off visiting family in Scandinavia. I'm pretty busy lately, organizing book projects. I'm personally designing project #4 this month! I haven't had the time or patience to put up veggies or figure out what to do with them...where is John when we need him to eat all the squish!?

Usually, we like vegetables of all kinds. However, we're not fans of squash (renamed squish by the professor--you know why) and zucchini. The professor wants to compost it all. I have tried making: zucchini bread
summer squash stir-fried with teriyaki sauce (teriyaki sauce=professor's favorite.)
Moosewood Cookbook's yellow veggie quiche crust (uses quantities of summer squash)

I'm now considering a zucchini brownie recipe. Waste not, want not, right? Even when it's squish? We're struggling with this one. Correction: I'm struggling. The professor is all ready to feed the squish to passers-by, the compost pile and anyone else who wants some. Could be a long summer here...

The professor gave me this sunset picture he took in Sedalia to show you. Good sunset, huh? That yellow blaze of light? reminds me of squash.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

the journey

We spend a lot of time travelling on these trips, and now I have more images to show you from the journey...
This is the view from a gas station in Missouri. The sky is this wide. Really. There are rolling hills, and miles of prairie, interspersed by occasional trees. For someone from Virginia, the landscape was so different and amazing to see. I now understand how someone could watch clouds all day. The clouds were luminous, puffy, magnificent and changeable creatures. The sky was this blue...I didn't adjust the photos! In St. Charles, we sat outside for lunch, and we saw a dark storm cloud coming. One of the restaurant staff rushed to call relatives who lived further west. His uncle told him that the storm cloud passed over without rain. Everyone felt reassured that somebody's uncle predicted no rain during the lunch rush. I guess they can actually see the storm coming with skies this big.
Friendly pygora goats also enjoy a journey to a festival. These were almost like dogs--bleating for attention, able to come when called by name...amazing!
Here's the historic part of St. Charles that we just lucked out and found by accident...9 blocks parallel to the wide Missouri river, complete with historic re-enactors, shops, and great food.
The streets were brick and uneven, and the area was settled somewhere in the 1790's by the French and Spanish, before it became US territory. (I'm a little weak on Missouri history, forgive me.) We saw brick buildings built in the 1820's and onward. This is mighty old considering how far west it is--they got here via the river-- and I wondered how often or if the area flooded?
I wasn't kidding about the yarn store radar. If you look very carefully at this photo--you can see the sheep sign hanging underneath the 2nd story verandah on the building to the right of the picture. My nose twitches or something. I seem to always know...

The journey (literal and metaphoric) always leads me somewhere --where I wasn't expecting. I feel that way about your comments, too! I can't seem to respond to them via email--blogger doesn't let me find your emails--but I appreciate and read every comment. I follow the messages to your blogs. I'm a bit strapped for time at the moment, but please keep telling me what you think. I'm listening. I appreciate it. It's part of my journey, too.

Monday, June 04, 2007


A blog entry with photos is long overdue! We got back from Sedalia, Missouri last night. The Heart of America Sheep Show and Fiber Fest was a blast! First, it was held at the Missouri State Fairgrounds, which are huge--the biggest, reportedly, in the USA. The fair has been held there since 1901, and the entire festival was held in the "Swine Pavilion." Swine Palace, more like. Cool breezes and great natural air circulation (pigs get hot in the summer) and nice architecture, spotlessly clean, and the show ring was filled with angora rabbits, pygora and angora goats, llamas, sheep, etc.

The emphasis of the festival is on learning. I took a class taught by Zelma Cleaveland of ZK llamas on spinning llama fiber. Here's my sample card at the end of the class. Zelma is a fantastic teacher and if you don't do much sampling and mixing of fibers at home, this sort of class is for you. (I do a lot of sampling at home, but for the sake of research, I had to take a class and Zelma was the right teacher for me!)
There were also classes on rughooking, bobbin lace, weaving, knitting, crochet, and all sorts of other things. The number of classes was astonishing.

The other thing I must say is how downright friendly, open, and talkative these folks are from the "Show-Me" state. I was amazed by how welcome and at home I felt. It was such fun that I seriously wondered whether I'd make the 470 mile trip (each way) again next year just to visit them!

Sedalia itself was an interesting town. It's smaller than my town, but had far more diversity in some ways. We ate Middle Eastern food, fabulous BBQ, and had our choice of Asian restaurants and homemade independent pizza parlors...but there just weren't enough meals to get to all the restaurants we wanted to try. Meanwhile, the Scott Joplin festival was happening at the same time. We didn't get to hear much ragtime, but we did make sure to tour the historic downtown and check out the architecture. Beautiful!

You'll note here that there are few photos. That's because I used an old fashioned 35 mm for the trip and the film still needs to be developed. In the meanwhile, I'll leave you with the (ahem) yarn that I couldn't manage to leave in Missouri. (I also bought some buttons and a row counter, but I'll spare you that!)

Two skeins of Tongue River Farm Icelandic Sock yarn (naturally gray and white), One skein of Tongue River Farm Icelandic Lopi yarn (bulky weight gray, I see a hat coming on here) and skein of multi-colored Colinette jitterbug sock yarn and one skein of Regia silk sock yarn. The last two skeins are from Knit and Caboodle Yarn Shop in historic St. Charles, MO. I randomly decided we needed to stop in St. Charles for lunch. I must have special radar--I found the yarn shop right away!

I promise-more photos soon. The Prairie and sky were breathtaking! Oh, and does anyone know why all these people in Miz-or-ee call their state Mizzurah? I never managed to ask.