Archives for posts with tag: festival

I demonstrated drop spindling with my Turkish spindles at the Great Midwest Alpaca Festival this weekend for the third year running. Many adorable alpacas to look at, as usual–even a few that submitted to light cuddling–but the crowd seemed decidedly sparser than in past years. It was nice that I got a lot more time this year to talk to and teach each individual person who came by, but it was surprising. Maybe the great alpaca pyramid scheme is finally starting to crumble.

Best quotes of the weekend:
“Oh, the lady who made it isn’t here? Well, can’t you sell it to me while she’s gone? I’d pay, like, $25 for it.” –young blonde fashionista who wanted to buy a white pure alpaca handknit lace cowl being displayed in the fiber demo area–the Flared Lace Smoke Ring pattern, if I’m not mistaken, worked in a heavier yarn

“I don’t know if I can do this drop spindling thing. It looks fun, but my cats would go crazy for it. (Pause.) I have eight of them.” –a nice lady keeping those crazy crafter lady stereotypes alive and well

“But the wood just feels so good!” “That’s what she said!” –an exchange between fiber demonstrators following the most (inadvertently) suggestive nøstepinde-fondling I have ever seen in my life or ever hope to see

And here are a few photos:
Well-dressed man leading cranky alpaca:

Ooh, topical!

Alpaca

Alpaca

Me in action! Note I’m wearing a goofy novelty t-shirt from the neighboring stall. It says “Suri.” I want my entire wardrobe to consist of novelty alpaca gear someday. A few other items I liked: a baseball cap that said “SPIT DEFLECTION UNIT,” another that said “No spitting below the red line” (with red line drawn just above the brim of the cap), a t-shirt saying “Beans there, dung that!” with a picture of alpaca poop and a smiling alpaca, thong underwear saying “ORGLE ORGLE ORGLE.” Oh, and a shirt that was basically Three Wolf Moon except with a trio of alpacas.

There was also a breeder called Green Bay Alpacas!!!! I can’t tell you how badly I wanted a green and yellow t-shirt with their logo.

And I didn’t see this at the show, but found it online just now. Look out, Sartorialist, I’m coming to getcha.

You may have gotten to the end of this post and wondered what the “grass mud horse” bit was all about. Here you go. I found out the other day that alpacas are apparently a symbol of resistance to Chinese internet censorship! Love it. My Suri shirt is now a protest shirt.

Also, I’ll be in Boston and New York for the next two weeks or so. Is there any exciting crafty stuff I should check out while I’m here?

From my copy of Dairy Goat Journal, I’ve learned so much about wattles in the past couple of days. I basically knew what they were before, but not so many details…

  • “Wattles on dairy goats are hair-covered appendages of flesh hanging from the throat area of a goat” (OK, this much I knew already)
  • Goats can have either one or two wattles, and like the appendix, they serve no purpose. They can grow in many places–cheeks, shoulders, and even dangling from the ears, like earrings.
  • Registered Nubian does show better without wattles, so they are typically cut off or rubber-banded at birth to remove them
  • They can appear in any breed of dairy goat, including Alpines, La Manchas, Nigerians, Oberhasli, Nubians, Saanens, Sables, and Toggenburgs
  • Wattles on a dairy goat are apparently an indicator for good milk production potential! According to the Journal of Dairy Science, “…heterozygous polled goats or those with wattles are more prolific than horned animals or without wattles.”
  • Goats can sometimes develop wattle cysts, but these are benign and non-contagious

Now you know, too, and knowing’s half the battle.

I was also tickled to see an article in DGJ about a visit to Capriole Goat Farm, located near Bloomington and a regular with tasty cheeses at the Bloomington farmer’s market.

Anyway, on to less wattley topics. Here’s the final installment of my posts about the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival: what I ended up buying. I pretty much limited myself to the two stalls I’d been looking forward to since seeing them at The Fiber Event in Greencastle, IN: Briar Rose Fibers for yarn, and Handspun by Stefania for roving. There were a lot of really tempting things to look at, though–Wisconsin is home to many fiber-related companies, including Babe’s Fiber Garden (home of cheap PVC spinning wheels), Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mills (home of squishy, wooly yarn), and Kimmet Croft Fibers, home of the Fairy Hare yarn officially sanctioned for use in the reproduction Bohus sweaters in Poems of Color. (It’s also home to Elizabeth Zimmermann/Meg Swansen’s Schoolhouse Press, but they weren’t at the festival, sadly.)

So one unplanned purchase was about 1/2 ounce of purple wool, a little sample from a local fiber CSA called Four Crows Farm, just to see how it spins up:

Egged on/enabled/encouraged by Mary, I got 600 yards of Briar Rose Celebration, a DK-weight merino-bamboo blend. Yes, it does look pretty much exactly like the yarn I used for my Shetland Triangle. But they’re good colors. Rose, peach, gold. I’m not sure what to make with this yet, though.

A 478-yard mega-hank of Briar Rose Sonoma, a bulky weight wool. My skein is beautiful deep reds, rusts, and browns with a little shot of olive:


I’m thinking I’ll make a quick-knit striped pullover with this and the leftover brown yarn from my Leaf Lace Pullover.

And a few balls of roving from Handspun by Stefania. I was all excited when I walked in because I had been really looking forward to their booth, and they were right by the door of the first barn. But then I ended up kind of peeved because I took a photo, intending to blog about how awesome their roving is and how pretty all the naturally dyed colors are together, but when the flash went off, Stefania’s husband’s head whipped around, he told me sternly that they had “had too many problems in the past” with people taking photos of their booth, said I needed to ask before taking photos in the festival, and made me delete the photo I had taken from my camera. I can’t imagine what kind of issues they’ve had in the past with this–I would imagine that photos and positive word of mouth in the blogosphere would only have done them good. Instead they get me being cranky about it all (but they still made the sale) and nobody on the internet gets to see the vast and lovely variety of roving, kits, and handspun yarn at their stall.

Anyway, weirdness about photos aside, I’ve really liked spinning their roving in the past (previous skeins here and here) and here’s what I ended up with this time:


The sunlight kind of washed out the colors of the greens for the most part, but there’s one plain spring green ball (8 oz.) that was in the end-of-lot 20% discount bin, and the ball in the bottom photo that’s a slightly more olive-toned green shot through with gold silk (7.7 oz. Corriedale and silk dyed in osage and indigo).  Bouncy, soft, and very lustrous, though I don’t know how much of the shine is the silk. My plan is to make a two-ply of these two fibers and make an actual handspun sweater out of this. Wish me luck.

The blue ball of roving is 4 oz. of Coopworth dyed in indigo to what I thought was a medium blue, but seems quite a lot darker now that it’s at home and on the bobbin. I was thinking I would make some kind of winter accessories with this handspun–mittens, hat, or scarf. It’s soft, lustrous, and has a nice long staple of about 6 inches–easy to spin, though a little pre-drafting helps.

More pictures from the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival:

A baby lamb, born the day before! CUTE! Also covered with an alarming number of flies. NOT SO CUTE!



In the shearing demo area, a man with a spectacular amount of raw fleece in a couple of giant plastic bags:

Some sheep with lovely natural-colored wool

Sheep who did NOT want to go home

We wandered into the 4-H judging barn, where the judges would stride up and down and say things like “This is a fine example of a Lincoln ewe, good volume in the hindquarters, good muscle, nice and square, but if I were going to change something, I’d want to see a bit more femininity in the haunches.” They all looked like just plain sheep to me. Perhaps one day I’ll be a connoisseur. (Though I generally disapprove of breeding animals for form, a la the AKC, maybe it’s different for sheep, more functionally based? Who knows. Perhaps my Sheep! magazine will tell me.)


We tried to feed our carrot tops to these sheep but they were pretty “meh” about it.

Carrots? meh.

One of the highlights of the day was seeing some sheepdog herding trials. It was one of the most wonderful things I’ve ever seen. This border collie (I think his name was Ben) was having the time of its life herding these ducks around the pen–slinking around, eye-stalking, running around the edges and chasing them through tubes and over stairs and between traffic cones. It was hilarious (watching birds run is inherently funny) and heartwarming at the same time, seeing this dog doing what he was born to do. (More or less. I bet he would have preferred sheep.)

Look at him on his belly, watching them run.


Good boy, Ben!

WordPress just ate my goddamn post so I’ll just tell you that I went to the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival today with Mary (aka turtleknitter) and had a great time. More details later, when I stop being pissed off. (Note to self: never, ever click the “Toggle fullscreen preview” button. It will delete your entire post and the “autosave draft” function is apparently completely meaningless)

Anyway, a few photos that require little explanation…
Here’s Mary in front of the barns.

I finished my Cherry cardigan and wore it today! Buttons: 5/8″ gray shell. I’ll have to take some better photos later. But you can kind of see it in these two photos… me petting a giant fluffy bunny:

and me and Mary and some mohair:

Here is a strange Christian wool vendor proclaiming “No sales on Sundays.” I got used to the blue laws in Indiana prohibiting the sale of alcohol on Sundays, but I’ve never seen Sabbathday restrictions on wool sales before.

A sheep in a jacket.

A scary devil sheep (actually a four-horned Jacob, I think)

A tiny pocket sheep (actually a Shetland). WANT!

Here are some freebies I got from one of the booths.

From left to right: Sheep!, Dairy Goat Journal, and Backyard Poultry. Dairy Goat Journal has some especially inviting stories this month–let’s take a closer look:

  • Make Goat Cheese Easily
  • Nubian Judging Quiz
  • What Are Wattles?