Being the master of the obvious that I am, let me begin by giving you one word that expresses the largest impression left on me: sheep.
That may sound stupid, but I think it reflects a significant change from my previous experiences at sheep and wool festivals. In past years, I think it would be appropriate to cite "yarn" as being my primary impression; this year, I almost found myself buying an obligatory hank of yarn out of a sense of nostalgia.
The yarn was there, but my mind didn't have much room for it. On Friday morning, Jeff and I took a class on beginning shepherding; this class opened my eyes to a whole different approach to sheep than simply as wool producers. There's a lot of work that goes into caring for sheep, and without the folksy farmers doing their part, the city slickers wouldn't have much to keep their fiber frenzy going.
I never really thought of myself as properly citified; in fact, I tend to feel like a country bumpkin when I hang with city folks. But the success of internet resources for knitters has led to an emphasis on the sleek and trendy, much like the flashing lights of the city. I have found much of my knitting driven unintentionally by the fads going around. While I enjoy the fresh, updated take today's designers bring to knitting, I am realizing that all the emphasis on the new and fashionable has encouraged me to overlook the plainer -- and perhaps more practical -- end of the spectrum. If you've hung around my blog much, you'll probably remember that sheepy, rustic yarns have a special place in my heart. I think there's something wonderful to be said for the folksy side of knitting.
Well, that, and I could never defend my aesthetic on the grounds of fashion.
|I had so many people sneaking pictures of my hat, there were times I had to pause what I was doing just so they could complete their photographing. I figured I might as well have a pic, too!|
Sunday we went on the sheep breeds walkabout with Deb Robson. If you get a chance, do it! Especially as a budding spinner, I found this class to be very fascinating. One of the points Deb stressed is that we fiber enthusiasts play a huge role in providing support for the sheep that give us so much. I also was struck by the wide variety of fiber that is available, each breed with its own backstory. Once you begin putting names to faces, it changes everything.
Is it any wonder that instead of seeing yarn, I walked through the booths seeing breeds? Lemme see how many specific breeds I took home for sampling. Fiber for spinning: Falkland, Bluefaced Leicester, Border Leicester, Masham, Cormo, Shetland, and Corriedale. I also picked up a beautiful skein of sock yarn made of Perendale wool blended with mohair to add strength. Yeah, a little crazy, but so excited.
Thanks to the walkabout with Deb, I have a better idea of some of these breeds and where they come from; I think I'll be consulting The Fleece And Fiber Sourcebook a lot more in the coming days. I also think Dan of Gnomespun Yarns deserves a shout-out for introducing me to some of these breeds before I even knew better.
Knowing many of you couldn't be there, I petted a few sheep just for you. They were wonderfully spongy and greasy, and very sweet.
I met old and new friends, learned a heck of a lot, and spent up all my money. And somehow I managed to completely evade the anxiety I was feeling beforehand. I have some more I want to share with you, but I think I'll save it for another post.