Fortunately the Sheep to Shawl contestants were hard at it when I got there so I watched them for a while. They start by shearing a sheep (which someday I'll manage to be there in time for) and then part of the team prepares the fleece, passes it to the spinners who then pass it to the weaver to turn into the requisite shawl. They come to the competition with the warp (the long threads through which the spun wool is woven) already on the loom and then weave in the wool as it's spun. There were four teams, all with different themes: one was "Gone Fishing", one "Garden Party" one all wore blue pjs with sheep on them, and one was dressed in Civil War garb. By the time I came back around to that section of the fair again they were done so I didn't get to see the finished articles but I understand that the Garden Party group won,
Gryphon first and met the lovely and very helpful Jamie (wearing the Verdant Gryphon's latest pattern, "Balin", a gorgeous knitted coat inspired by "The Hobbit").
I then found the Miss Babs stall nearby, which was crowded but, according to a couple of people who'd been there on Saturday as well, not nearly as crazy-making as it had been the previous day. At least I could get INTO the stall. After much more yarn-fondling I found a gorgeous sock yarn called Tarte in tonal reds to make yet more red socks for my Beloved One. Once I'd finished with those two Must-Visits, I just enjoyed browsing the rest of the vendors. Everything sheep or wool related is sold at this event, from the sheep themselves, to tools for caring for them; from fleeces to spun yarn to finished products, and every tool you'd need to produce your finished product.
There are also the sheep themed vendors
I went to the festival with a plan; a plan which involved sock yarn. Last year (about which more later) it was all about the spinning fibre, but this year I decided that as much as I love knitting socks, I haven't actually made many over the last year. So in the end, apart from the skein of Mithril, I got the Bugga!, the Miss Babs, a skein of Fiber Optic Yarns' Foot Notes in "Garnet", Blue Ridge Yarn's Footlights in "Mossy Hollow", four skeins of a natural coloured wool/nylon sock yarn so I can experiment with dyeing this summer, and...four tomato plants. I know, not exactly sheep or wool related, but they were there and I'd been wanting to buy some heirloom plants, so I got the "Mortgage Lifter" variety (4/$6). Apparently they produce prolifically - and I couldn't resist the name.
Now that I've spent all that money let's hope I do better about using it than last year's loot - twelve lots of spinning fibre I haven't touched since.
I'll try to dig out last year's fibre and take pictures of it, and this year's yarn, for the next post.