Monday, July 22, 2013

Tour de Fleece: The Final count

And here it is, my final production for Tour de Fleece 2013:

Finished yarn is 458 yards of 4-ply cable, about sport weight, plus more on the bobbins. The sunlight and my camera make it look darker blue than it really is -- it's lighter and more lavender than that, but the colors look truer in the remaining top that you can see the bobbins resting on.

Not bad for having to help run a county fair right smack dab in the middle of the Tour. Next year -- I think I'll be on the Lantern Rouge team and not go for such lofty goals. Next year it's going to be "spin something." No Climbers or Sprinters for me, not until my tenure with the county fair is done.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Tour de Fleece, Days 21, 22, and 23

The last three days of the Tour! I started off with such high ideals -- I was going to spin two pounds of fiber, enough for two sweaters, and the first pound was going to be my first try at making a cabled yarn.

In the end, I got through a little over 3/4 of a pound. Funny how trying to run a county fair in the middle of the Tour kind of sets one back a bit. But even if it hadn't, I think a pound is as much as I can get through in the weeks of the Tour.

Day 21:

Day 22:

And Day 23:

Tomorrow I'll assemble all that I've done into one shot.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Tour de Fleece, Days 19 and 20

Still making regular progress on the silk/merino, though I think I'll only be accomplishing half my goal: one sweater's worth instead of two. And I think I'm on too many teams this year -- it's taking too long to post pictures on all of the TdF threads on Ravelry!

Yesterday's progress is here:

And today I got this far:

 I'm getting through this at a steady clip and I hope to have all of this spun and plied by the end of the Tour.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tour de Fleece, Rest Day and Day 18

Yesterday was the second "rest day," but I went ahead and finished some plying, ending up with my first skeins of cabled yarn that I skeined and washed today. On the bobbin, it looks like this:

And the yarn itself looks like this, in close-up:

It looks bluer in the pictures than it does in real life, where it's more of a lavender, but cameras and purples don't always get along.

Today I didn't get a lot done, but did get the first work done on the second 8 ounces, starting the singles.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Behind the Scenes at the County Fair: Fair Highlights and Closing

As a superintendent, volunteer coordinator, and Fair Board member, I spent a considerable amount of time walking, walking, walking, all over the fairgrounds, to the fair office, to the volunteer locations, back to Textiles, and finally got to spin a little bit, especially after things settled down on the last day. Just to prove that I really did get outside the building, here are a few highlights.

My spinners were there every day, showing people what spinning is all about. Kids are just fascinated with the wheel. Many of them have never seen spinning before -- heck, many of the adults had never seen spinning done before!

I had a quilting club bring in a huge quilting frame for opening day. That made for a lot of color in the demo area!

On day two, we had rug hookers. The lovely woman on the left is 95 years old and still making gorgeous rugs. I sincerely hope she's back next year!

Here are just a few samples of the work these ladies do:

We had lots of visitors to the Textiles exhibit, and handed out lots of useful information for people who want to learn to knit, spin, or make quilts:

This year's floral display was gorgeous:

My weaver and a some of my spinners stayed in the evening to help keep an eye on the displays:

And outside of the building...

How about a concert? We had Kenny Loggins there on Friday night. Great performance!

Dogs and their owners were having a wonderful time at the Flyball competitions:

The dogs have to run a course with hurdles, take a ball from a bin, and come racing back over the hurdles again, then the next team goes. The dogs were all happily barking and running the whole time they were there, when they weren't out back splashing in the wading pools.

Of course there are carnival rides and lots of food vendors selling various combinations of starch, grease, sugar, and processed meats, the four Fair food groups!

Our fairgrounds has several buildings on the National Historic Register,  including our little stucco Poultry Building:

Not quite historically accurate, the Titanic sinks again (it's a blow-up toy, a slide for the kids -- hm, cheerful):

I think this one made Weird Oregon -- a headstone for a champion cow:

In the barns, kids could visit the petting zoo:

And of course, livestock on display:

At 6:00 on Sunday night, the fair closed and the hordes descended on the Open Class area to pick up their exhibits. Thanks to a crack team of knitters and spinners all helping me, we got every exhibit back to its rightful owner. This beautiful lady posed for a picture that I'll send to the quilt shop that sent us the gift certificate that she was awarded for winning Best of Show for quilts.

When it's over, it's over! The Textiles all went home, the flowers all vanished, and the foods all get discarded (because even though the cases are closed, flies find their way in and the food has been sitting out for quite a while).

An hour after the fair closed, the building was already looking empty. Crews were hard at work putting away tables, taking down the drapes, and getting ready to haul off the cabinets.

Outdoors, the food vendors were already vanishing:

Bye, bye, county fair! See you next year!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Tour de Fleece, Days 14 and 15

Yesterday's progress...

...and today's progress..

might look like the same progress, but they're two different bobbins!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Tour de Fleece, Day 13

I walked miles and miles today at the county fair, checking in volunteers, abating near disasters (oh, don't even get me started), solving problems, and taking a little time here and there to do a little plying. Some, at least.

I'll post some fair highlights soon.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Behind the Scenes at the County Fair: Judging Day and Setup

Today was Judging Day for Textiles! That's the bit that the entrants may fear the most. What if the judges don't like it? What if it doesn't win a prize? What if... what if... what if...

I'm luck to have some really good judges, two that are highly experienced, and one currently in training who has a good understanding of what to look for. I thought she'd be my hardest to find -- my sewing judge. Back in the stone age when I went to school, they taught Home Economics and there were lots of sewing teachers around to judge fair entries. Now with politicians pushing for more and more standardized testing, and budget cut after budget cut, there's no room in the curriculum for anything that's not on the test, and sewing class is ancient history. Fortunately my sewing judge sought me out, as she was looking for experience for her training. . What a great crew, and I found scribes for all of them who wanted to learn more about judging.

My judge for knitting, crochet, embroidery, and spinning has an amazing knowledge of textiles:

and my quilt judge runs a quilting shop and judges a lot (that's her scribe, actually, spreading the quilts out).

And oh, yes, the bit that all the entrants are interested in: the ribbons! The fair buys ribbons and rosettes by the case. We award first, second, and third place ribbons, blue rosettes for the Best of Class, and purple rosettes for the Best of Show for Textiles. Actually, I ordered two of those, one for quilts and one for the rest of Textiles.

While the judges finished, my volunteers got to work readying the display cases, putting in plastic drapes for the cases with not-so-pretty interiors:

And soon we set to work! My helpers filled the cases, while I set to work on the quilt racks, trying to fold them just right to display them well while fitting them all in!

All around, set-up was going on. The veteran's group set up their display of historical military uniforms.

The commercial booths and nonprofit booths all moved in today, and were still setting up late in the evening.

And here it is! One set of cases and a quilt rack:

The information table between the quilt racks:

One pair of display cases:

Another pair of cases:

And the back side of one of the quilt racks:

It looks so much better this year with plenty of cases to spread our entries out into, and plenty of walking room around them, so they can all be clearly seen and enjoyed!

Tomorrow is opening day!

Tour de Fleece, Day 12

Another day spent at the fairgrounds, prepping for the County Fair, so I only had about 20 minutes this evening to do a little plying:

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Behind the Scenes at the County Fair: Setup and Intake

Ever enter things in the County Fair or State Fair, and wonder what happens after you hand your entries over? So happens I'm the Superintendent of Textiles for our local County Fair, so let's take a peek behind the scenes today, on intake day.

The interior of the building where the Open Class exhibits, some of the commercial booths, and the indoor stage, is starting to come together. A local college football team came in and did a lot of the heavy work of moving racks of tables, putting up pipe and drape, and all of that. I've got the Textiles demo area laid out with tables for the incoming entries.

The quilt racks rolled into place and I'm starting to get my area set up:

The cases had been stored in the barns and came in filthy. A big part of today was cleaning them.

And cleaning and cleaning and cleaning. This is where volunteers come in handy, and I've got good folks from my knitting group who come to help:

At 3:00 the front doors opened and folks started coming in with their entries. A quilt club helps out every year with intake. The exhibits are piling up, and I'm getting them arranged by Class and  Lot number. We had to check the tags for accuracy and make sure things were entered in the correct Lots, the tag had the correct Class number, the people went home with the claim slip, there were names on the tags, and so on.

The cabinets kept getting moved around. We're still working out a final arrangement. Last year I only had four, two side by side and two more back-to-back with them. This year we worked out a new floor plan and we're putting the cases against the wall, spreading out into areas that were kind of bare last year. Now it's really starting to look like a Textiles exhibit.

I used a poster printer at work to make a couple of educational posters, one with quilt patterns, the other  titled "Sheep to Sweater." The informational table has flyers with local knitting and quilting groups, coloring pages for the kids, a "how to enter the fair" flyer, and a sign-up sheet for people who want an email when the Class lists go up.

Tomorrow: Judging day, then we have the afternoon to get everything put into the cases and ready for the fair to begin the next day.

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