I packed up my wheel, wool, and knitted items and set off. Getting it all through the rain to the sheep barn was, um, interesting; but I achieved my first goal – nothing fell off the cart into the mud.
As soon as I set up, the spectators started coming around. Unfortunately, nice as the building is, we were right next to the arena where sheep judging was going on all day. The ring steward and judges’ comments over the loudspeaker made it really difficult to hear anything else.
The sheep shearing demonstrations started at 11:00, so I had a couple of hours to go before I had a raw fleece to work with. I was glad I brought the Kool-Aid dyed Merino top! I spun and chain-plied some of each color, worked occasionally on knitting a rainbow swatch, and also did a bit of color blending.
As the first shearing was ready to start, I got my one bathroom break for the day (thank you, Judy!!!), and came back to find my grandson waiting. His mom and dad brought him for his first fair experience, and reported later that he had a great time, especially petting a lot of animals. He was also interested in the spinning wheel, which I thought showed a high level of intelligence for a little guy who still hasn’t had his first birthday!
It really didn’t take long for me to remember why I like doing this from time to time. I’m absolutely intrigued by the wide variety of people who find handspinning interesting for an equally wide variety of reasons – from the mechanics to the magic. Of course, we talked about how drafting and twist make yarn, but also about the simple machines that are parts of a spinning wheel, da Vinci’s plans for improving flyers, various eras of history, different fibers (especially spinnable animals), knitting, how to make felt, why some wool is scratchy and some isn’t, and a whole lot of other topics. One of the most-asked questions was whether the Kool-Aid dyed wool is colorfast. (Yes.)
There was a steady flow of ‘business’ all day, and during the last sheep shearing, I even had to pick up my wheel and retreat into the corner so observers could crowd in to watch!
A number of friends dropped by, and I even got a chance to visit with most of them. I also had a couple of self-appointed apprentices off and on through the day, and I really wish I knew their names. They were personable and helpful, and the older of the two young men was even answering questions from passers-by before the day was out. All in all, it was a lovely day, in spite of the rain.