portrait of a festival

A sheep & wool festival, for the fibre-crazed amongst us, can be an almost overwhelming day or two of candy for the senses. You get home, and you feel as though you’ve been away at a really satisfying Thanksgiving celebration, complete with football, green bean casserole (with those weird canned fried onions on top), Aunt Someone kissing your cheek and smelling like Jean Naté, the first carols of the year on the radio, and that cushy smushy afghan you always nap under at Mom’s house.

Or in the case of the Massachusetts Sheep & Wool Festival: my memory stash is full of the sound of complaining sheep and laughing friends; the scents of homemade soap and lamb stew; the tastes of ice cream, waffle cones, and bad lemonade; the feel of freshly-sheared fleece in a bag; and the sight of more lovely skeins of yarn and braids of wool than I could ever hope to knit or spin in a lifetime.

I attended this time as a Vendor Minion for the Holiday Yarns booth. I helped Jennifer load up the van, helped Georg amuse her during the drive, and documented the all-important first step of Tent-Raising.

After Jen’s tent was up, I was able to help another vendor, one without minions of her own, to raise her tent a few booths down. Woot!

As I am typing this, I realize that I neglected to get a photo of the YURT that was right next to us. It’s on the other side of the booth in the photo above. I don’t know what I was thinking. It was sooo cute, a wee mini-yurt. A Yurtini. A Yurtita. (I’ll stop now. You’re welcome.)

Eventually, the tent was up, which left the metal gridwall and the actual YARNS. This pile is only about a third of what went into the booth.

Here’s one view into the nearly-finished booth:

The chorus line of dancing feet are showing off the Tsarina’s Tsocks. (That is the Tsarina herself at right, fixing her banner.)

And of course, Jen’s pretty hand-dyed yarns:

And then the fun began. Jen’s minions rotated the actual staffing of the booth, which meant a fair bit of walkabout time. I was on a strict low-budget walkabout, but anyone who goes to a fair knows that there’s always one or two special, inexpensive things that have to be snapped up then and there.

The first of my goodies was an artisan-made, handcrafted broom from Justamere Tree Farm:

The handle is sassafrass wood with a natural curve to it that fits my hands and my stature perfectly. The whisk section is handwoven corn broom. I walked up to their booth at the fair, picked this one up out of several on display, and knew it had to be mine.

I love this broom. It speaks to me of humble things made beautiful by people who understand both humility and beauty.

Another object which had to come home with me is beautiful in a completely different way, in the way of things that are bright, light-hearted, and over-the-top party animals.

That’s the front and the colour is not doing it justice. You can’t even see the tiny bee with a crystal adorning the zipper pull.

Here’s a side view so you can get a better idea of the true wacky embodied within:

Starting to get the idea? Well, then, how about a back view?

It’s a sugar skull knitting bag handstitched by JessaLu! The green and blue bits are covered with sparkles, so the bag is completely covered in WIN. Oh, and inside…

Spiderweb fabric lining! (Note purple “test yarn” inserted into bag for, uhm…testing purposes. Yeah, that’s it. Testing purposes. To test the bag, you see. Can’t have the bag exploding or anything like that, now can we? QA, that’s what it’s all about.)

I love everything about this bag. It was meant for me. Thanks, JessaLu.

Those siren calls answered, I was free to wander the rest of the fair to find friends and see the sights…

I didn’t really need to go far, however, as Jen’s tent seemed to be a magnet for all the folks from the Ravelry folks in town. The newly minted Dr. Gnome was there, with pretty braids of fibre to sell; Georg was there, with her new lines of shawl pins and stitch markers; and then there was a spinning contest:

Those are CPWs–Canadian Production Wheels–and Lynn (on the left) and Jesh (right) challenged each other to a contest smackdown to see which of them could spin the fastest. The task: Spin a designated fibre for ten minutes, and at the end, the lengths of yarn spun would be measured. The spinner of the longest yarn would be the winner.

Another photo just because the expression on Jesh’s face is PRICELESS. Oh, wait…here’s a close-up.

She looks like she’s about to eat that fibre all in one gulp.

Despite her fruitless attempts to out-cute Lynn in terms of both facial expression and boob cleavage, in the end, with speed, skill, and grace of movement, the winner was…

LYNN! By 21 metres, no less. Huzzah!

Of course, one of the best things about a fibre gathering is watching the faces of the non-spinners as they attempt to grok what we wacky kids are doing.

That’s Hillary on the right, showing a small human how she can make string with a stick.

Turns out the small llama-hugging human had a sheep-dog-hugging brother; they spent a solid five minutes staring open-mouthed at Lynn and Jesh as they spun on their CPWs.

I think those boys will be asking mom and dad if they can go to more sheep and wool shindigs this summer. Something about the way Llama Boy is holding his llama upright, as though he is helping Llama to view the sights. Llama Boy told me that his Llama is going to be named something like Chocolate. I responded that MY Llama, which just happens to be a twin of the one he is clutching, is named Truffles.

Why…you’re not LAUGHING at me, are you?

Well, if you need something to laugh at, then I present an unusual portrait of Cris and Georg:

I particularly love the anticipatory “Ewwww….” look on Cris’ face.

Finally, allow me to introduce Truffles, the Guard Llama, on duty in our bedroom window:

Thank goodness our home is safe for another day.


Next up? A visit to the dye studio to watch 7-year-old Nora at work. She has her own yarn club!

About sandi

Knitter. Spinner. Quilter. UFO Wrangler. Sometime bead artist and weaver. Two toddler-age kittens, 1 permakitten, 2 grownup cats, 1 beloved dog angel, 1 spouse, 1 crazy life. I suppose that the 5 cats make me 1 crazy cat lady; OTOH, apparently, yes, I do need that much feline supervision.
This entry was posted in Animals, Family, Knitting, Spinning, Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to portrait of a festival

  1. georg says:

    *smooch* miss you, dear one!

  2. Natasha says:

    Whee! That’s the best description of a festival I’ve ever read! Can’t wait to hear the next installment of the Wiseheart Adventures…!

  3. naomi says:

    Thank you for posting your photos! It’s great to see people so happy.

    Nice guard-llama pic, too. 🙂

  4. gwynivar says:

    The YURT!! I have a photo of that! Someone took my camera walk-about and it has pics on it I didn’t take… the Yurt is one of them. I’ll send it to you. Love the pics of the booth going up… love even more how it ‘looks’ like we know what we’re doing with that tent 😉

  5. JessaLu says:

    I think I walked past you guys while you were setting up – I was searching for Amy on Friday to give her my pile o baggage. ;o)

    I am SO HAPPY that you love your box bag!! That is one of my favorite prints! :o)

    Our guild calls spinning in public “freaking out the muggles” and we try to do it as often as possible.

  6. Lynn says:

    You’ve been writing blog posts, and I didn’t know it! Yay!

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