Sunday, October 19, 2008


I went to a "Sheep and Wool" festival over the weekend. A friend of mine is really into spinning. Apparently, there are a lot of people like her, and they come from miles around to this fair-like affair. I saw more kinds of sheep than I ever knew existed: black, white, tan, gray, spotted, long-haired, miniature, etc. Not all were raised for wool; some varieties are bred for their milk or meat.

This magnificent ram took first place.

Ia! Ia! It's Shub-Niggurath, the Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!

Oops, sorry. Just an ordinary black goat.

It wasn't just sheep and wool. All kinds of fiber-producing animals were featured, including goats, llamas, alpacas, and rabbits. The animals were shown, and ribbons awarded. There were a lot of 4-H kids there, among the adult hobbyists and professional farmers.

Having lived in Peru, I know the ways of llamas, and kept my distance. They can spit, like camels. But this one was just curious.

Booths sold wool in many forms. My friend buys whole unwashed fleeces for her spinning, but others like wool that's washed, carded, and dyed, or raw wool in bulk.

There were a lot of people spinning and knitting there. This woman is using a simple drop spindle.

It is harder to spin with a drop spindle than with a spinning wheel, but in the old days, spinning was one of the first jobs children were given. They started as early as three years old, and would often spin with a drop spindle while walking to school.

There were a lot of booths selling antique spinning wheels and drop spindles, but most people these days prefer modern spinning wheels. They are more compact, and more easily portable than the antiques.

Most of the people I know who are into spinning are women, but some men like it, too. The spinning wheel is powered by pumping the pedals.

A lot of people were selling yarn. Most was machine-made, not hand-spun.

There were many knitted, crocheted, and woven garments for sale as well: hats, scarves, sweaters, gloves, socks, etc.

I almost bought a pair of handknit wool socks and a wool blanket, but in the end decided I really didn't need them. (I did buy some raw milk cheese and a bunch of organic spinach.)

Another strange fad: making clothing out of pet fur. Some people are so attached to their dog or cat that they save up their shed fur and have someone spin it into yarn and knit a sweater out of it for them. Sometimes it's to remember the pet when it dies; sometimes people just want to wear the same outfit as their pet, so to speak.

Well, if civilization comes crashing down, cutting off our supply of cheap clothing from China, there are some people who know how to make clothing from scratch.

The fried dough booth featured a gigantic pumpkin as a decoration.

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