I was thumbing through the catalog… I shoot flags when they present. I shoot bridges – from/in the car. We do selfies. Jump? Street photography? – selling carnival food to the extreme? And then, there is always fall – the quest for the best shot (Maine, beside a bank, a real bank, not one by the river.)
One thing leads to another. I had the girls jump. They really were thrilled to pose and to jump. They did it for a long time never seeming to tire of posing. Okay!! And the bee sting kiss? Jen spoke about the young girls doing this pose as the latest craze in phone pics. And then, she and Mike showed me. My handy dandy camera was right at hand! Yay!
The last time? 2018 – crunchy granola set. I say it in the most wistful way, for Colleen adores the Common Ground fair. It was our second visit. And, then, the Covid pandemic hit; its canceled ever since. Produce, sheep, bourbon barrel maple syrup … and a spinning demonstration, it was full of photo ops. I now know, much more about spinning wheels. For instance, I can spot a Schact ladybug wheel. Ha ha. They are all castle wheels? I can say my eye is more practiced in spinning, and, you don’t care. Alas, a sheep is still a sheep. I can only tell you that this batch is not ready for shearing. Maybe the fair is on again this year? Maybe.
Three bake sales and an art show
The same weekend: three bake sales and one art craft sale. There were two bake sales in two churches. One church was selling specialty knives in addition to baked goods. We got knives. Why? Don’t know. The second church sold books and baked goods. We got books. Six grandchildren all read. We don’t need books. But who can resist a book sale. The art was Delaware by hand and displayed the wares of craftsman from the area. We looked and admired. As expected, the price of handmade craft was expensive. In between we hit a yard sale. That was priceless. There was junk. Someone sold a Kitchen Aid mixer (not junk). Her neighbor dutifully handed over cash and the sale was done before our eyes. We bought a vintage baby buggy from the very same neighbor. Ok! I got another project to fix up. The last stop was the AARP scholarship show – craft, baked goods, and a farmer’s market with corn straight from Georgia. It was a packed day.
For some reason there were more people with odd costumes or hair at the sheep festival. Party! Party color! When did I become conservative? But, you dress like this and you beg me to look and notice you. Maybe I don’t get out enough these days.
…as in “complaint.” I have nothing but sympathy for Colleen. There’s no wait in the men’s side of the restrooms. And the women’s line is out the door and up the block… Evidently someone thought of this. There was a bank of portapotties about 100 or so, down the road and out of sight of this place. Nice of you folks to inform people. Meanwhile, you would think the planners would have known to make the women’s side more capacious. But then again, the architect was a man?
Don’t go there
Sheep and wool fairs always have a place where they sell fleece. It would be fleece that is sheared from the sheep and sold in large plastic bags at $/pound. It’s less expensive than yarn ready to weave. But there is a lot of processing. Are all fleeces equal. Hardly. Picking fleece is an art. I’m learning. I used to go by feel. That would be too simple. As we picked and chose, a volunteer came up and “squoze” my bag. Huh? She recognized her fleece and was checking. Yup, it was from her sheep. A mother always knows. Neat! If you wander into the fleece barn… you get fleece. I/we must be good pickers. A couple people admired our choices and told us they’d take the bag if we changed our mind.
Need to know
I have a lot of cameras. I don’t get rid of them or sell them. I just keep them and my collection grows. I collect a few vintage cameras when the price is right. Cheap! Weaving and spinning stuff is a lot more bulky. It takes up real space. I have my old cameras on a few shelves at the moment. There are four looms in my bedroom. Well, three. One went to the living room – temporarily. (I hope.)
Before the auction a prudent bidder checks the merchandise. So we did. But then a bargain comes along? This time we checked in real time and it was indeed hundreds off the list price. I bid at the auction like I meant it. We got applause when we “won” it. It’s a Schacht Matchless (spinning wheel). Sure, you would know one if you saw it? But it was worth more than $1000 used. The bobbins included were worth more $$$. And the former owner was in the audience and told us what he had last spun – for the fair. We met him. He had spun up the wool for this exhibit. It was more than 75 samples. Wow! Yeah, it was quite a feat. He stayed around till his wheel was sold. And I assured him it would go to a good home. See, we even seatbelt it like a member of the family. All of this, I’m sure, is more than you needed to know.
Too good to be true
So, we wandered through the animal display at the country fair. I’m not interested in chickens or rabbits. They are caged and you can’t get a good image. Whoa! Was I wrong! Thanks for dragging me in. Can you believe the images I got eyeball to eyeball with these chickens. And one even laid an egg for me. Hairy feet? Ok feathered feet? Crowing on demand? And the colors and the patterns. Oh my! I’m used to Perdue under plastic wrap. Too beautiful to eat… This was an extraordinarily wonderful unexpected find that I was dragged into seeing. Thanks!
He was in the lottery sales booth when I took this picture. Was he the salesman? I watched him struggle with his shirt. I admit it was a bit warm. What? Why? You decide. I’m stuck with this visual. Did I mean struck?
What does a Scotsman wear under his kilt? That is a classic question. More to the point is that it’s not natural for guys (to wear skirts). I’m not being sexist. This poor guy wears pants in normal life. His legs are naturally splayed. It’s a guy thing. Unfortunately, there was ample indication of what was under the kilt. A lady would never show. So I guess that part is sexist. I really don’t want to know the answer to this question. Nope, don’t. Please don’t tell me.
What’s felt? Well you have probably felt felt. It’s a soft material. The definition is more like: take some raw wool and put it under pressure and rub; the fibers will lock and form a sheet of material. Or you may use a needle to lock the material into shapes. How about a giraffe, or a dragon, or a heron? Yup, she did all of that and more. It was enormous 9as in more then 15 feet in size) and she demurred on how long it took to do the giraffe. I’d have lost interest long before the neck ever got done. Hey, it’s art! My (felt) hat’s off to you.
In order to get yarn you start with a sheared fleece. The fleece is washed. It’s turned into roving. Then, it’s spun. After that you knit or weave. If you skip the spinning, you can felt. Felt? The would be pressing the fibers together until they form a sheet of fiber all on their own. Like art, this is the raw material for creating a myriad of things. I’m more interested in the process than in creating art. People like came to buy the raw materials. Sometimes it’s the journey more than the destination. It’s all here. If you know fiber – ie spin and weave or knit – then you recognized the various states I mention. Otherwise, enjoy the patterns and color.
They’re cute. I think they are cute if you are sheep yourself. Otherwise, one looks the same to me as another. Except – I can tell you that the sheep with a haircut to its neck is a blue faced Leicester. Imagine that! They come that way – no wool on their head to the neck. At least I can recognize one! Ha ha, someone I know also thought a sheep was a sheep and that there was just one sheep. I have come to know that you have long and short hair, coarse and fine hair, and clean (coated) or dirty (uncoated). Yes, they really do keep the sheep covered in coats. They are pretty messy if they sleep in grass, straw, and dirt. I look at a sheep and see all the stuff (straw, dirt, shit) in the fleece and dream about cleaning (picking) it. Cute? Well, if you are the end user – scarf, sweater, blanket – well, yeah! Otherwise I can now appreciate why they can sell stuff for so much.
Cast of characters
There is an odd mix of craft that is accepted for entry at the fair. It’s not just sheep. Brooms, wood turning, music, there were vendors of all sorts from source to finished products. You could get elaborate finished wool and fresh off the lamb fleece. There was an odd booth which had products made from old silverware. Nice. The craftsman cut off the handles of spoons and forks and made napkin rings. We were short (only got six last year) and able to get the four more we needed. This year he made a one fingered salute of a pickle fork. Yeah, it kind of reflects the mood of the country right now. Use your imagination; this one doesn’t have a picture to explain. Just hold up your middle finger and look in the mirror.
MSW – lamb?
I told you there was a crowd. Cars covered the hillside. Get there late and you have a hike to the entrance. We got there early and found folks tailgating just like a football game. What was the rush? Aside from the sheep, there were llamas. And, there were angora rabbits. You can spin your yarn right off the rabbit. It’s just a neat trick to do that. Owner and rabbit were having a ‘chill’ moment.
Maryland Sheep and Wool – Festival. Say it and it’s an instant party. There was a huge crowd. The ominous weather forecast did nothing to lessen the attendance. Folks are a bit quirky. I don’t see knitting and sheep tattoos every day. Who spins in a dinosaur costume? Look closely. Bring your kids. The poor kid in the wagon was shivering. It’s a whole lot easier to carry your kid. There was no room to maneuver a stroller. Yes, it was that crowded.
Jane – my friend
What can I say, it’s the closest thing to gambling that I can aspire to do. That’s Jane. She’s the auctioneer. She knows us. She poked fun at me. Last year we had to rent a van late on a Saturday afternoon in order to cart our purchased loom home from the fair. Yeah, it cost more to rent the van than it cost to buy the loom. And the bench that came with it was worth more than the whole lot. Ha ha, the joke was on me. You know you’ve been marked when they remember you for that stunt.
That singer sewing machine is old – 1910’s – according to the index of serial numbers. The great wheel we would win was one that I’d seen early in the day. Little did I know we’d have to make more room in the car going home. And of course, it rained (just like last year). So our purchases had to reside under the umbrella while we bid onward. You can guess (me) who was wet, “taking another one for the team.” At least I wasn’t on the ‘net looking for a van.
Actually, we know Jane’s significant other too. He’s from WV too. He has a part we dropped off with him two years ago. This is second year now in which we have cajoled him for not producing the part we need for a spinning wheel that he had promised. We know where he lives. We’re not worried he’ll run away. That’s a lot of trust considering we aren’t in his neighborhood too much these days. It doesn’t look like it we’ll see the part any time soon. ….kind of like the leaky barn on a sunny day.
While spinning wheels are on my mind I’d like to tell you another story. Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. Worldwide and from across the USA people come. The traffic line was more than a mile long. And no one cut in. My my, what a polite crowd. Big? You bet! And just to see sheep, really? Yup. I was pretty impressed. The hillside was covered with cars. They’ve done this before. And the fairgrounds were packed.
Gambling? There was an auction. People were selling. Part of the sale went to support the next fair. You name it, there were things of value and junk. Outright junk. You sort and figure is all out. A single spinning wheel, a very special one, never before on the auction block went for more than $2000. And junk was sold for $5. You had to bid. It was friendly as long as you weren’t bidding against a nut case. You also need to have an idea of price. Oh yeah! Like I know spinning wheels and the cost of looms. Good stuff. As is. Who knows. Old things and brand new in the box. So I watched. Saw that $2000 wheel go to a woman whose husband approved. My my, that’s a lot. And then I put in a bid on a flax spining wheel. I got a nod. The auctioneer was not looking my way. I had to make noise. You sort of grunt ascent and wave your hand. Don’t look like you are scratching your head. And then it comes down to two or three women who stay in and drive up the price until the determination in my eye or the price exceeds their desire. Got it. As in, I bought it. No, silly, I didn’t take a picture. I don’t shoot everything.
The last time I did an auction was back when my kids were 8 or 10 years old. Their school auctioned off a large white stuffed bear. How large? Bigger than my two kids combined. They were impressed. Me too! I got it for about $20. The very next year at the same auction I got another but smaller bear for another $20. After that never again. I’m not a gambler by nature. I think that I would be tempted and lose the family farm if I were in Las Vegas. The worst I ever did was lose $5 in Atlantic City. (We had to pay for parking to enter the casino.)
I was in Puerto Rico at a spine meeting and the hotel had a casino. An orthopedic friend of mine handed his girlfriend $20 and told her to have fun. She went to the roulette table and damn if she didn’t parlay that money into $5000. Wow. She bet corners and lines and …. She hit the number a few times. Double wow! So years later during a family vacation at the Tyler Place in Vermont, lo and behold – Casino Night! $5 got you a Styrofoam cup of chips. Using my knowledge of roulette, I lost that cup of chips in less than 30 seconds. I walked away much the wiser. Nope. I don’t gamble.
Got A Smile
There were hula hoops for anyone to try. It seems they live on though they are not popular. These kids were at it. And I got a smile as I shot my photos. No, they smiled after I took the camera from my eye. Missed.
The fair had a border collie demonstration. These are working dogs. They are trained to herd. And they are very good at their job. They are taught to work together to herd sheep according to command. And the dogs are a whole lot better than my spaniel who would be easily distracted. These dogs were totally focused and followed commands accurately and instantly. The sheep went where they were herded.
Little Red Wagon
Who can resist? Cute kid. His parents are into fiber. They have him mingling with the fiber they are hauling. I just love it when parents dress their kids cute. Thanks.
From hoof to finished product – I’ve been exposed to a new hobby. I only have a passing interest. But the photo ops led me to see different sheep and appreciate the natural fiber as it was processed from animal to point of sale. The Common Ground Country Fair is a must stop for crafts including fiber. This encompasses much but mostly it involves wool. But there are many different types of sheep which leads to different textures and softness.
The wool requires processing and spinning before it can be woven. I bet you knew that. I just took it for granted. It does not naturally occur in Technicolor.
And the final finished product – well , the yarn – is a long way from the initial raw locks that are shorn.