Fiber Arts & Furry Critters

Monday, October 03, 2005

Back from the Fair!

I spent four days getting up early, and taking care of the animals early, in order to arrive at the fair by 8 am. My very wonderful DH took Thursday and Friday off work so I could be at the fair from 8 am to 6 pm. He even drove to Deerfield on Friday to take the kids to the fair! Friday was also his birthday, even though he received his gifts earlier in the month. Thank you so much, sweetie, and Happy Birthday!

The fair was great. Every year I modify my display and my demonstration techniques, and every year I learn something to hopefully make the following year even better.

I brought my antique Canadian production wheel. Based on what is left readable of the very faded table stencil, it was made in St. Hyacinthe Quebec, and was made sometime around 1880. It's a very quiet wheel while in use; that usually surprises many people. As in previous years, I set up boxes containing fibers that the public can touch and discuss. This year I had raw wool, washed wool, alpaca (Hagrid kindly contributed part of this year's coat), angora, cotton, and flax. Many people are very surprised to discover that flax becomes linen, and love to touch all the fibers and compare textures. The angora bunny always elicits an "Ooooooh!"

I usually hand out a few contact cards to people who inquire about modern spinning. If I'm not close enough to teach them how to spin, I can direct them to the closest spinning group. There seemed to be quite a few people interested in learning this year! My most interesting visitor was a gentleman from the Ivory Coast. He looked at my wheel and said his mother spun, but didn't have a wheel. I pulled out a drop spindle and asked, "Did she use one of these?" He said yes, and then proceeded to tell me about the blanket she spun and made for him (he didn't specify if the blanket was knit or woven, just that she had made him one. It sounded as if it was very special.)

This year I brought along a dark gray Romney to spin. I got this fleece a couple of years ago from Mary McCall. It's a very nice fleece, medium without coarseness, very springy, gorgeous color. I just never got around to doing anything with it. As it's still in a washed, uncarded state, I brought along handcards, intending to card as I went.

I usually bring a few things along in order to demonstrate if questions are posed. These items include hand cards and a drop spindle. I usually spin from prepared roving, so carding as I go was new. I've had a few classes that included some hand carding, but I've never done a lot of it. Usually if I have a lot of fleece to card, I pull out the drum carder to try to get a lot done at once.

This year I found out that I really enjoy hand carding! It turned out that the hand carding was also quite a draw with the crowd. I would frequently finish a rolag, begin to card for the next one, and look up to find a bunch of people just waiting to ask questions. I will definitely plan to work from washed fleece and hand cards next year! I plan to do a lot more card-as-I-go spinning at home, too!

I ended up with 12.9 oz of spun singles, and there's still half a bobbin full on the wheel. I couldn't stay til closing yesterday, so I have to go back and get the wheel on Thursday. Now I need to go upstairs and retrieve the rest of the fleece, and finish spinning it up!

That won't be today, though. I have managed to get all my stuff unpacked from the van. I still need to put stuff away, and straighten out the bobbin lace; I somehow managed to get off-track somewhere when demonstrating that at one point. Even that will wait. After four days of ten-hour stretches, today is for relaxing a bit!


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