Monday, January 18, 2010

Taos Wool Festival 2009

Even though it’s January of 2010, I felt like I still needed to write about my Taos experience from last October. Last year I drove by myself, but went through Cimarron, NM. It was a gorgeous drive, but took the longest because of the winding roads. This year I took the more direct route through Fort Garland and San Luis. It was a clear, but cold morning going up. It had been a year since I had been through the area, but it was nice to see the scenery.

Even though the gang wouldn’t be there until Sunday, I had to be there early Saturday morning to drop off my skeins. I decided that this year would be the first to have my spinning judged. I had 2 huge skeins that were definitely much bigger and heavier than the minimum requirements, but I wasn’t about to cut my skeins. I wasn’t really going to win ribbons. I had heard that they judging here would really let me know what I’m doing that’s good and things I could be doing to make my spinning better. While there, I ran into Sharron, Peggy, Allie. Both Sharron and Peggy were there filling out their many cards for judging. They had a lot! Sharron had some for different categories for using the wheel, one or two for drop spindle, and maybe one for novelty. Most of Peggy’s was novelty yarn. She’s soooo good at her boucle and such. Both women of course would be entering as an expert. I would be entering as a novice, since this was my first entry into a competition. You are allowed to step up into the expert category by placing in any of your entries.

I thought that I wasn’t going to go through the booths until the rest of the gang got there, but I couldn’t resist. Both Sharron and Peggy were there with their husbands. Sharron’s husband had to work on some things while there. Peggy and her husband, Jeff, had volunteered to work around the festival. So Sharron and I decided to make our rounds. There were booths that I recognized and those that I didn’t. It was fun. We got to see a guy spinning! I mean I have seen a guy spinning before at Rock/Distaff day in Jan ’09. What was different about this guy was that he was a cowboy. He had the jean, boots, and cowboy hat. It was awesome! We were also able to see Peggy doing a spinning demo. It’s always nice to see her doing something I hadn’t seen before. She was using a string as a core yarn and then using fluff and another string to ply it all at once. It came out so nice and airy!
Since I had been the year before I had more of an idea of what I wanted to get. I had seen a shawl that I absolutely loved, so I wanted to get the pattern and yarn to make it. I had also learned how to work with mohair locks, so that was something that I wanted to get. Since Peggy was the expert of using mohair, I had asked her where the best locks were. She told me that I would have to spend some money, but they would be good quality.

We also were able to see sheep get sheered. The guy who did it was pretty fast! I think he had one done in less than 5 min.
When I first started I didn’t think that I would be the type to buy a full fleece. I really don’t know what makes a good fleece well…good. I don’t know enough about the different breeds of sheep or goats and the type of staples that are produced by each. I don’t really know what to look for, but after seeing Peggy with bags of Wensleydale and Teeswater fleece, I wanted to find some for me! When Sharron and I did find full fleeces I was shocked by the price. I knew that a full fleece would be expensive. Then you have to take in mind that you loose some of the weight due to lanoline and VM. I’m so used to buying prepared roving, but didn’t really think I was ready to buy fiber that required me to wash and prepare the fiber. There was a fleece that was so pretty. The curls were so nice to see and feel. I wanted it sooooo bad, but couldn’t afford the entire bag. I did find a smaller bag of Teeswater. I was happy to find out that all I would need to do with this was wash it. I could spin it as is. I didn’t need to card it out unless I wanted to. I have asked Peggy whether or not she would help me dye it and she’s agreed! It’ll be so much fun to finally take another step forward in my spinning.

We were told that the judging of the spinning was supposed to be done by 5pm, so Sharron and I sat around talking to other spinners while we waited. During this time we both decided that we needed to bring our wheels for next time. We saw that they had gone through the drop spindle and novelty categories. We also saw Allie holding up skeins of Sharron’s when they had received a ribbon. Before we had gotten there, Sharron had received a ribbon on an original knitting pattern for a hat. By the time I saw her receive another ribbon, her first spinning ribbon, my whole idea of not needing a ribbon changed. I wanted a ribbon! I got myself so worked up so much that a migraine started. I can’t remember what time it was when all was finally judged. I think it was close to 6pm.

When Allie did hold up my wool skein, I turned to Sharron and hit her in the arm with a huge smile on my face! I think I took her by surprise. When my alpaca was held up, she leaned to the side knowing I was going to hit her again. Haha When we were finally allowed to go in to look at the wall of skeins I started texting everyone I knew that would appreciate or understood why this was so important. I informed Rosemary that one of her drop spindle skeins got runner-up for best of show. I was also able to look at the other winning skeins. The person who got best of show, I thought, shouldn’t have received it. It had guard hairs in it (which I guess were purposely left in). The plying I think could be a little tighter. Rosemary’s spinning is just awesome! I really wish I was able to drop spindle like her!

In the novice wool category I got 3rd place. I didn’t quiet pay attention to the skein that won 1st, but I did look at the 2nd place skein. I understand that my skein was not completely consistent and it was 2-ply, but I really didn’t think that the 2nd place skein was 2nd place quality. Yes, it was a 3-ply but there were so many more inconsistencies in the spinning. There were a lot of very thin spots and thick spots. Maybe it’s just me.

The second ribbon I got was for my alpaca. I got first place! Allie told me that I was the only entry in the novice category for alpaca. She also told me that if the judge didn’t think it was worth a blue ribbon, I wouldn’t have gotten it. I could believe it! First place! It was so awesome to see that! Allie was so happy with how we had done. I told her that it wasn’t really us, it was her fiber. She tried to argue with me, but I told her that her fiber is a dream to work it. It pretty much tells you what it wants to become…how it wants to be spun. So if there is anyone who wants to work with great alpaca, Allie Neas from Eyedazzler’s is the best person to talk to!

On Sunday I made my way to the festival again. I decided to start my X-Mas projects of mini-sweater ornaments while I waited for the gang to show up. I got to sit around and talk to other knitters and spinners. Most of them were followers from Ravelry. Around lunch time, I was finally able to meet up with the gang: Emily, Joyce, Karen, Winnie, Sue, and Sandy. (Not shown, Sandy and Karen.)

There were some booths that I didn’t go into the day before on purpose. I wanted to wait until I was sure what I wanted from that booth and whether or not I had the money. I was able to get the pattern and yarn for the shawl that I saw from the year before. I couldn’t find the same color waves from the one I saw last year, but I got some that I thought would look good together.
Overall the trip was great! I think it was a beginning to another chapter in my spinning. Not only will I just spin, but I will learn from my spinning and new spinning techniques. I just wish that I remembered which direction I was going in. When I’m in Denver, I’m so used to driving down I-25 going south. For some reason I decided that when I was in Walsenburg that I wanted to go south. Well about 15-20 minutes later, I noticed that I was heading to Aguilar! So I had to turn around and wasted about 30-40 minutes. It was funny afterwards, just not at the moment.
Well onto the many spinning projects til October 2010!

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