I am now educated. When I first became reacquainted with Colleen, a sheep was a sheep. Colleen weaves; she spins. Now, we chase particular breeds – border Leicester, Corriedale, Polworth, Merino, Lincoln…. I know a llama when I see one (now). I am hooked on auctions. It is the closest thing to gambling that I am willing to risk. I have an “enterprising” gene somewhere buried deep. I have to stay away! Otherwise, we are gonna have a sheep, soon.
We have been on an extended road trip. I chased fall color and cover bridges. Colleen chased fiber. Fiber? As in wool and fleece from sheep. Sheep? Yes, there are a myriad of rare sheep with fleeces she covets. ?? Polworth? Teeswater? It’s an endangered breed in the US. TMI!! We made it to the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Fair. It went on as scheduled despite Covid. Yes, we got big rain. There were prizes at the auction – another spinning wheel! Ha ha. (I/Colleen won one.) There was the fleece barn, Colleen’s candy store. Llama, pajama, an interloper! Yarn?! Tons. It was more knitter’s fair than weaver/spinner. There was a line (out the door!!!) to purchase this year’s (yarn) color. There was the one room school (revisited). We – Colleen and I – almost went to one. We did sit in this style school desk in elementary school. So, why not – recreate the image of where we met. Again. And, yes, it is my regret – I wish she’d have grabbed on and held me close those many years ago. What a difference fate could have dealt. Such a good time, too many pictures, wistful, and hoping for a do over – life.
On 9/11 this year, we found ourselves at an Indian powwow. Symbolically? Symbolically, a flag had been raised over the venue – hanging six stories up from a hook and ladder fire truck. We remember…. Pageantry was mixed in with somber remembrance. I shot 3000 images that day. (Hmmm, another symbolic number.) Whoa! What an edit! Why? Photo ops were everywhere. I was not always in a good position to shoot what I wanted. I made do. The venue was loose and the crowd did not stay glued to their seats. I moved about with some freedom to get the shots I wanted. I listened to a photographer, a retiree now, describe how he shot in RAW and post processed in Lightroom, to a woman who did not know what RAW was and who had proudly proclaimed she just found her camera yesterday to shoot images of her grandchild. Disconnected?
In this case I did a rough edit randomly gathering a few representative images to illustrate the day. There was joy and movement. The regalia was colorful and symbolic. Kids and adults participated. No sunglasses please, I was trying for authenticity. Surprisingly, there was a lot of plastic in the costumes I saw. I had not attended a powwow since 2014. It was nice to see another once more with Colleen. The price? … dinner out.
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.
I actually had to pull these images off my iPhone. Per usual, I shoot an image with my camera. But I forgot…
Have I mentioned the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival? It’s huge. Folks from far and wide come. Who knew? It’s like a cult. There are a lot of people who love sheep and wool. And they spin and weave and knit and…. I’m a bystander through association. I have a big camera and it seems not too many (big cameras) are in attendance. Sheep are photogenic? There is a building devoted to photography and there are prizes for your best sheep portrait. I’ll pass. But here we are. And I suddenly needed something to send to the kids. If you know my sense of humor… the sheep contest. The judge waxed poetic about fleece, bone structure, roundness, squareness and so many other attributes. Sorry. To me, a sheep is a sheep and they all look the same. Heresy!! Shoot me at dawn. All around me they sell sheep – meat – lamb and mutton. Gyros! You can’t have a proper one without lamb. The folks selling did not look Greek. I didn’t buy any. But I can’t help wondering what happens to the losers? My kids thought the joke was horrible. They have their mother’s sensibility in them.
Old photos. I came across this. It’s about 2002, Lincoln Center. Barbara Cook – quite the diva. She’s starring. I didn’t know her at the time. About a decade later I discovered the American songbook. She’s a big part of it. Who knew? Lots of folks. I was late to the party. There was a craft fair that day I took this slide. Now that’s a full circle for me. Look! Sheep! A sheep shearing demo. Considering what I know about weaving, it’s odd to see that this image is in my files and I only just ran across it. How significant insignificant things seem on second look. History’s a funny thing.
This is a quintessential shot. I got it before I knew what I was doing. (As in, I do now?) I’ve seen hot air balloons now/before. I have not been to the event in Albuquerque. I’ve been to Albuquerque. My bucket list. But I did spend time around balloons enough to know how they work and how they can malfunction. This was my first encounter. The fire is cool. Ha ha. As in, it’s neat! I’ve posted its mate years ago. But as I scan and edit my slides, this image still stands out as a favorite. No, I do not want to go up in a balloon. That is not on my list of buckets.
The Tour de France is a bicycle race of 2000 miles in three weeks. I have no desire to photograph it. Some people wait/camp along the route for weeks before the bikers pass. Then 100 riders go by at 28 miles an hour and it’s over. Too little bang for your buck. A British royal wedding? I’m not related. So, I would be among millions lining a street for a glimpse. If I lived there overlooking the parade route… My good buddy, Charlie (Bell 47 helicopter), loves the whole picture. Get the whole thing (ship). But, if you include the whole ship (helicopter) with its rotors, you lose detail.
There are times when detail (close-up) is better. It means you were there. You saw the finer details. And the whole (ship) can be discerned from its part. It’s a fine point. And, it’s an opinion. When film was limited, I shot frugally. I did not shoot well. Now that digital is plentiful, I shoot lots. I still don’t always shoot well. More is not more. Nor is more less. I find that I shoot more. I shoot wide angle and telephoto. It takes a second. But, lately I find that zooming in I utilize the camera’s capability to fulfill my vision better. No, Photoshop will not save you if you are lazy. You can crop the hell out of a poor image and get something. How about getting it without thinking you have a ready crutch to fall upon. I like to mix metaphors. Get the point?
An image is two dimensional on the page. Telephoto perspective can crowd what you see by its depth of field. Perspective is something that has many meanings. It all depends on you. Technical or philosophical?
You take pictures of cats? Same principle – sheep. Eyes, it’s in the eyes. Focus. I’m tying up loose ends here. I just readjusted my DSLR camera to focus as I would like it to be. And it was largely more successful. These days I am so used to the point and shoot cameras that I don’t look in the view finder as much. It’s not laziness. I’ve gotten used to holding the camera at the level of my subject. This means that instead of bending I simply hold the camera lower and press the shutter. In a pen, this means I can get closer to the sheep without climbing in. if you recall, everything is related. Only the subjects change. The technique crosses over. So, I have been asked, how many pictures of sheep do I need. I’ve got one already. It’s like why I go to the movies. I’ve seen one already?
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.
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.
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.
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.
One shot. Grab shot. Street photography. There’s nothing pretty. It’s out of focus. I did not get another image. The woman modeling was clowning around up and down the aisle at the fair. She pirouetted as the dress maker shot video. Lighting was simply not up to getting a motion stopping image. But, the image was enough to catch my eye as I edited. Sometimes you miss by that much…or, you are just that close….
It’s “fiber.” That includes knitting and weaving. There are lots of knitters. There are fewer weavers and spinners. The two groups are pretty separate skills. So, it’s called fiber to get everyone to gather under one roof. Angora fiber can be spun straight from the rabbit. It’s fussy enough that the fiber is quite expensive. The sticks are scarf/shawl pins. If you need to ask, you don’t wear them. And, this takes me to the question of taxidermy. How do you stuff a trophy fish? It looks fake to me. That’s the trick I suppose. The plaque says it was a caught fish. It sure looks artificial. But then again, I’m no fisherman. Onward… to the next fiber fair. Hey! It’s been a while since I did a post with a fish. I guess this is not the case now. But…
Fire and Ice. It’s hard to put on a winter festival with ice in 61-degree weather. It’s a bald face attempt to bring foot traffic to downtown. Commerce. Business. Money. To be sure someone benefited. Someone paid. People came. They saw, they ate, they purchased. We arrived on the second day; the melt had begun. Ice sculpting is temperature dependent. Five Olympic rings were only two in the late afternoon. More telling was the makeshift ice rink that used white plastic instead of ice. Hey, there’s no refrigeration, just a lot of good intention.
This show was in early February. Yesterday, February 21 was 72 here. No, nope, there ain’t no global warming. The last time it was this warm in NYC was back in the 1930’s. Um, yup, the hundred year heat spell….
William Golding, not the author, but, well-known maker of spinning wheels was at the NY wool festival. He’s legendary. But, his booth was tucked in a far corner and could be easily missed. His work is prized and the prices for his work are stupendous. How much? I came across his name at the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival where one of his wheels was auctioned. The bidding climbed into the thousands and a woman won with a bid in excess of $3k. Yeah! That’s a lot of money. It was easily the showstopper item of the auction. So, to meet Mr. Golding in person was an honor. He was a bit embarrassed to be sure. Nonetheless I shamelessly asked for a picture of he and his son. We bought as drop spindle for some money but not nearly the $9k for one of his wheels shown here. Craftsmanship! It’s like a Ferrari. You can drive in style… or not. Your choice. I was tickled to meet the man.
Sheep and wool? Ostensibly it’s all about the fiber? The market baskets – fair trade – sold like hot cakes. Everywhere you looked someone was carrying one. We got one. They have great utilitarian use. Plus, they are good for you and for the makers. Win win. Bonus. I got a good image. This lady was just dressed this way. She wasn’t there to be picturesque.
Hand weaving and spinning is a lost art. Wrong! There are many enthusiasts. It’s not too common. Your average person does not weave or spin. But the gatherings – so called festivals – draw thousands – of people, sheep not included. There is fiber on the hoof and fleece and finished product. Lots of money changes hands. There was a classic auction complete with rapid fire auctioneer. His job is to rev up the crowd and grow enthusiasm and drive the price ever higher. The tapestry loom he was standing in front went for $20. Really!? The wood was worth more ( a whole lot more). But there were other things that sold for a lot more. Last spring I bought a loom – sight unseen – for a mere bagatelle. This time around I stood pat. Yes, there are llamas – and alpacas – and sheep – and goats. A good time was had by all.
It’s a crisp fall day, almost Halloween, and I’m reminded that the days are shorter. I don’t go to the beach fully dressed but the evening before had been a cold 41 degrees. Sometimes it feels a lot colder than the temperature on the thermometer. Wrong. I was too hot in my North Face ski parka. In fact, I was way overdressed. Maybe I’m old? We were on our way to the parade. And outside the toy store this guy was enticing anyone with small children to enter the store. Nope, we were on a mission to the parade.