Like The Queen
Whatever happens to strike my fancy, but surely some sort of fiber content.

3 Comments:

We have a restaurant here that serves the fried pickles. I just have never been there with anyone who wanted to share them. I always thought they sounded pretty yummy.
A big, huge congratulations on you win at the fiber festival! 1 1b. of Finn is a great prize!

By Blogger Carolyn, at 3:13 PM  

Congratulations Bess, I'd love to see what you entered.

I thought about the festival all weekend...sure missed coming this year. Glad that the weather held up for you even if the crowds didn't come.

By Blogger Elayne, at 10:22 PM  

I didn't realize that the spectacular purple cloud was yours, darlin'! Thank you for the wonderful hugs..

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:14 PM  

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Monday, October 04, 2004  

Back again from the Montpelier Fall Fiber Festival. How can my vacation be so close to the end! I have got to find one of those jobs that offers 52 weeks of paid vacation a year. I just love being home and free to indulge every whim. At least I have today to stroke my new treasures and maybe, just maybe, finish that Anny Blatt sweater.

I’d arranged to be at the fair an hour before opening, and figured I had best leave home at 6, since the drive west from Fredericksburg, along rout 3, is always a nightmare of traffic. Only, guess what - at 7 a.m. on a Saturday it’s not a nightmare - it’s a wide open road. Of course, on a week day it probably is bumper to bumper all the way to Chancelorsville, but I had a quick drive west and was at the fairgrounds, on the wide pastures of Montpelier, the lovely home of James and Dolly Madison, by 8 o’clock. Folk were there already, but just some of the fair organizers - and dog owners there for the sheep dog trials. A pen of sheep was already set up and dogs were already working the fields. I didn’t ask if they were just practicing - it was enough fun to just watch. Lord those little animals are precious. The one in the field was so alert and attentive. The ones waiting by their masters were full of that concentrated passion that seems to be begging “Please, is it my turn? Can I help? Please”. Little ear tips cocked, eyes riveted, bodies poised to dash on the instant, just waiting for a command.

The weather was warm but the sky was cloudy. Before 9 Jen was there and we began unwrapping her booth - shrouded in plastic and sheets to protect from dew. It didn’t take long to put the finishing touch on things and by 10 we were ready for customers. I’ll say up front, here, I was disappointed in the attendance. I’d been watching the weather forecasts too; all week in fact. Hoping for cool sunshine or cool gray skies, even, or, at worst, warm gray skies - but the forecast, especially on the hourly weather dot com page, was for rain the live long day. In fact, the weather was not all that bad, but by golly, the weather men were rats and dogs to ... hmm - ought not to insult rats and dogs - they were stinkers to shriek about RAIN and THUNDERSTORMS and WEATHER ALERTS for days and days. It was hot, the way early fall in VA often is, and it did sprinkle, for maybe 5 minutes, about 3 o'clock. But I suspect an awful lot of people stayed home because of those false predictions. The fair was far less well attended than even the year it was 95 degrees and so bloomin’ hot I had to leave the large tents because I couldn’t breathe. Sunday, with the tin god weatherman's blessing, the normal Sunday crowd showed up, but Sunday is not usually the busy day.

Last year it was packed - bright sunny weather, though still warm enough to wear shorts - but this year it was poky on Saturday and only a little better attended on Sunday. This is fun for those who came to look and touch and shop - not so fantastic for those who came to sell. It is very interesting to see a show from the vendor’s perspective. I rather like it more as a vendor (vendor‘s helper, that is) than as a shopper. For one thing, your focus is different. You’re concentrating on your own wares instead of trying to be sure you see everything offered. You notice booth arrangements, display structures, and packaging far more than actual contents. You might look around to compare colors being offered or prices being charged, but not with purchase in mind. So, for all that you are taking in new things, you’re less likely to do any impulse purchasing. (Less likely, mind, not immune to)
So I feel extraordinarily fortunate that I get to come along as a helper with Spirit Trail Fiberworks. I love what Jen offers, I love to show it off, to talk the talk with other fiber lovers, I love to spin little samples of it and I love to dream up projects when people ask “what would you do with this?” People loved Jen’s colors but this (scroll down to kit #3) was the thing most people had to stop and fondle. Yum. Thank you so much Jen!

It was so much fun to meet - and meet up with - all of my buddies, including so many KRForumites. First to arrive were A&K&D - early because A had pieces to enter in the Skein & Garment competition. I’ve prosed on enough about why I think it’s good to enter these competitions - I’ll only add that I’m glad A heard me, ‘cause she won a ribbon (nice) and a prize (even nicer!) Next came L with hugs for everyone. This naughty girl does not enter and I ought to scold her into it. She knits beautifully. More and more smiling faces showed up throughout the whole weekend. Some people were new friends, some were old, but it was always wonderful when people would introduce themselves as Knitters Review folk, or blog readers.

Something else that was really fun was to hear comments about the purple lace mohair sweater. Yes. That lovely project that I dithered and lingered and dragged my needles over was for Jen. The design is hers and she wanted to be sure the pattern was correct - which it is - and to know how much yarn it took to knit. So - it was super fun to hear people talk about my knitting. Nothing like having your ego stroked.

Now - low attendance is bad for the vendors, but it's not all that bad for shoppers. It was easier to get to the booths than usual. I got to spend some free time with Cecil of Cecilsfolie - this is the guy who sells naturally colored angora (mohair) goats. I have been in love with his blue goats for years and usually he's swamped with fascinated folk, so I usually only get to compliment him on his goats before someone else is clamoring for attention. He's not a vendor - though, of course, his mohair is for sale - he's part of the demonstration and exhibits. But after the show he did sell me some of the gorgeous blue mohair roving. I'm thinking lace shawl. He has naturally chocolate too - though at the show it was only on the hoof. You can email him at cecilsfolie@aol.com if you're interested.

One thing I love about entering in the skein and garment competition is that you win PRIZES, not just ribbons. I came home with a pound of Finn roving. Of course, it always depends upon what else is entered and there was a lot of felting in this show - including the most whimsical and adorable project - the best in show and deservedly so - felted sheep heads coming out of a fleece that had been needle felted onto a felt foundation. The winner's prizes were gift certificates from Spirit Trail Fiberworks, so I got to talk to the winner. She was so modest and surprised that she'd won - but nobody who saw it could have been surprised. The skill was flawless, and it was, as I said, whimsical, not cutsie. She said she had more fun making it. It was obvious.

We worked up till a tad past 5 o’clock and then headed back to the hotel. Dinner that night was at the Pig and Steak in Madison where we sampled their specialty - Deep Fat Fried Dill Pickles.

You heard me. Pickles.

Yep. Sounds like a bet, doesn’t it? As in “I bet you you can’t find anything that isn’t better deep fat fried.”

“Oh yeah? What about dill pickles”

“Try these!”

I swear, they are good. Batter dipped, deep fat fried. Probably fortylevendyhundred calories per serving, but hey, just one won’t hurt you. You eat them with ranch dressing.

The rest of the meal was good too, though not so outré. Back at the hotel we got into pj’s fast, popped the cork on a gift bottle of wine, and got down to serious girlfriend talk. But we were tired and asleep by 9:30 or 10, with the alarm set for 7. The Holiday Inn’s continental breakfast was substantial enough to last us through about 2 o’clock, when the smell of spit turned lamb proved to be irresistible.

Sales were brisker on Sunday, though the crowd never grew really packed. Also, it stayed cool enough for me to keep my long sleeves - I had brought a t-shirt and shorts just in case. Along with more internet knitting pals, R and the girls showed up. We’d been looking for them Saturday but I’m glad they came on Sunday instead. They were so helpful, since R has years of retail experience and the girls are just plain fun to see. I’m proud to say I successfully resisted buying Scarf Style - a simply gorgeous book that I have already purchased for the library, on KnitDad’s advice. It is a drool-producing book, but I don’t have to own it and I can check it out. Must resist - must resist - must resist - unnecessary purchases. I did buy a book on knitting Christmas stockings because I hope to begin teaching a sock class this Saturday.

Packing up was a lot more tiring than it was at Creative Strands. No college boys to do the heavy lifting. But we got it done with time to have an impromptu picnic of leftover lamb sandwiches, drinks and chocolate candy with Barbara and RunningDog of Stony Mountain Fibers, Caroline and Dan of Carodan Yarns and several other lovely friendly fiber folk. We were in cars and driving off by 6:30 and with only one short stop at Hard Times Restaurant for some Texas Chili for BD, I was in Champlain by 8:20, tired, a little wistful, but oh so glad to be home.

All in all, grand fun. I wisely took the day off today so I can rest up. Tomorrow I become a library director again. I wonder if I remember how?

posted by Bess | 8:44 AM
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