Today was the day:
Today could not have been any better. I was smiling from the time I saw this sign at the gate until I left for the day. I had been watching the weather forecasts for several days, and heavy rain was predicted for both Saturday and Sunday, with Sunday being the worst. So I was up bright and early today, on the road by 8am. It was definitely threatening rain all day, but it really only dripped a bit around 2pm, but I was done by then anyway.
The first thing you saw when you entered the fair grounds (the Windsor Fair Grounds in Windsor, Maine), was to the left a big ring set up with sheep dog demos. These are at most agricultural fairs up here, but still very interesting to watch. These dogs are just amazing.
I have added a couple of videos to YouTube at this address: https://www.youtube.com/user/fattoriafiberworks and one of them is the sheep dog in action. Pretty cool to watch them work (my video: not so cool, a little shaky and awkward, but oh well).
My next stop after watching the dogs was the Used Equipment area. Here are tables set up with fiber related stuff that is for sale. I remembered this from last year and wanted to check it out early, as all the cool stuff sells early. They usually have an assortment of spinning wheels, newer styles and very old too, looms, and small hand tools. Magazines, and assorted other stuff. I didn’t buy anything here. Way out of my price range. (Please notice that throughout the fair, most of the signs are directly next to the trash cans. Doesn’t do much for photos!)
Then to the fleece barn. This is where people bring their raw fleeces (right off the animal, no washing, not much picking over, just bagged up at great prices for you to do all the work!) This row is the fleeces waiting to be judged. Even though they are being entered in the judging, they are still for sale. These tables of judging fleeces went the length of the building. These people (judges) definitely had their work cut out for them.
These are fleeces not being judged, but just for sale. There were two rows of these. So three rows all together of bags of fleece, from Alpacas, Sheep–lots of breeds, Llamas, and a few from rabbits too.
A close up on a super crimpy one. They are great to touch. All greasy and springy. You can definitely feel the lanolin on your hands after you barely touch them.
There was a children’s area with a few tables set up to keep the little ones busy.
There was a building with a Sheep-to-Shawl competition set up. There were two teams. If you are not familiar with this, basically a group of people go from sheep to shawl over the weekend. In other words, they take a fleece (presumably clean, they really would not have time to wash and dry it over the two days), card it, spin it and weave it. There is a time competition and then the final shawls are judged. I have seen video with a big room full of teams doing this. Quite the challenge. Some people carding, others spinning and someone weaving as soon as the fiber is spun.
I think they were just getting going in the competition when I was seeing them.
Some eye candy: So soft and so pretty:
Lots of bunnies!
The roving is super soft, and notice the Angora content. Very low compared to the wool they are mixing it with. Angora is so warm that you might not want a sweater that is just angora. You would probably suffer heat exhaustion!
I bought a bunch of this: Carding Waste, it was $1 per ounce. Great deal. I bought some of the same last year and worked with it all year. It was great to mix in to batts and to combine with the alpaca. It is super soft, and the colors, while limited, compliment other shades beautifully. I think of it as a pantry staple to mix with other things. But you have to have a base to start with.
Super sparkly sock yarn. They call it “Twinkle Toes”. Really pretty. The colors alone would have been beautiful even without the sparkle.
These are the folks that make the Twinkle Toes:
Woven bags. Everyone was walking around with these:
More pretty colors:
This is a Cashmere Goat. This sign tells about here. She is such a good mother. She was standing guard over her triplets the whole time.
A yarn tree: Excellent display.
Felted Alpaca boot liners. What a great idea:
This is the side of the curliest goat (?) sheep (?) ever.
Goat I think. Their eyes slant the other way from the way sheep do. This way: — , not this way: I
Hand made glass beads:
Dyed fiber with natural dyes: (cochineal are bugs that are red when crushed)
Woven rugs and mats on this super cool loom. I watched these ladies for a few minutes. Genius loom.
Llamas being led into the exhibition hall. There is a video on YouTube for these guys too:
I brought my lunch, but lots of others didn’t. This is a small-ish fair, so there aren’t lots of food stalls, but there is fried dough, french fries, that lemonade that you love so much, wood oven pizza ($4 per slice–ouch) and falafel. Everyone loves the falafel stand. Check out the line:
I thought this was a great idea. A bag that attaches to your wheel to hold the fiber while you are spinning. I let mine fall on the floor. This is a better idea. Cuz’ then you aren’t spinning dog hair too.
Hand turned supported spindles. The spindle rests in the bowl on your lap. I could never manage that. The bowl would be on the floor all the time. Upside down.
Handmade baskets. Aren’t people clever? I find it amazing what they can do.
These guys were so cute. Pygora goats. And they were really little. When you brought them into the house in the winter they wouldn’t take up hardly any room on the bed. (This is why I don’t have farm animals. Bad enough the bunny lives in my bedroom.)
A fleece being judged. I asked what kind, but I can’t remember.
Woven wool masks. They have some like this at the Common Ground Fair too.
I really wanted to buy a fleece this year. A whole fleece is a huge investment. Not so much money wise, they are expensive, but ounce per ounce they are the best deal, but a huge investment work wise. Before you can ever get to the spinning you have to skirt them, this means spreading them out and picking out the big bits of grass and sticks and dirt and poo, then washing them. You wash them in small batches in hot water. Without agitation. This is gentle work, not throw it in the washer and forget about it work. Entirely worth it, but I did not want to commit to washing 10 pounds of wool. Oh, which you should not rinse down the drain, as that is actually grease that you are sending down your plumbing. So lots of trips outside. Anyway. Work, before you can get to the carding and spinning work.
But buying fleece like this you have a much wider range of choices available to you, color, breed, crimp, texture (fine, course). So this bag was a great choice for me. 3.5 lbs. Not too much to work with. And not too much money either.
To give you an idea of the washing involved: this fleece will be white when it is cleaned. That is a lot of brown to wash out. But it will be snowy and beautiful when done.
“Hey, where’s that cool wagon you built anyway? Didn’t you use it?” No, I didn’t use the wagon. A couple of reasons, first, the handle that was made from lilac branches is still a bit wiggly. I think if it was loaded with fiber and stuff, the handle would have bent right over. I need to reinforce it with something metal. I will work on that. Because it is a neat wagon. Secondly, after walking through those barns, I’m glad I didn’t bring it, I would have knocked over so much stuff dragging it behind me. But don’t worry, it will get used. Thanks for asking though.
So now you have been to the 12th Annual Fiber Frolic in Windsor, Maine. I didn’t see you there, so I’m glad you got to (virtually) go anyway. I am beat. It is two hours of driving, four hours of walking around looking at everything, trying to decide what to work with for the next year, back tracking to that booth you think you remember where it is, sitting down and eating the too many snacks you brought, calling Ug from the fair to tell him how much fun you are having, walking back through the fleece tent one more time, and two hours driving home. But I had a great time and am so glad the rain held off. I think a cloudy day is perfect for fair going. If it is sunny and warm, you get too hot and are kind of cranky by the time you leave. This way I was still happy and smiling.
P.S. A special thank you goes out to my Mum who was my financial sponsor for this trip. She generously sent in a donation to make it even more fun. I would have had a good time even without any spending loot, taking pictures and seeing all the animals and getting all kinds of ideas is worth going, but being able to buy some stuff is great too. Thanks, Mum.