Well, I am no longer a Fiber Festival virgin. I had one of my co-workers come in the other day with a small ad from his local town paper for the "Southern Illinois Sheep and Fiber Festival." It took place in Waterloo, IL which is just over the river and about 35 miles from my house. I had planned to go by myself to the event, surprisingly I couldn't find too many people interested when I said "Hey, you wanna go to a Sheep Festival with me this weekend." However, I was going, even if I had to go by myself. And then brilliance hit! A friend of ours was over and started looking at my knitting magazines and the new little dress I just finished and asked if knitting "was hard." Well, as you all know, this just opened the door and before she left an hour later she knew how to knit and was sent home with some basic cotton yarn to practice. So the next day when she came back and said how much she liked it I saw my chance. And that is how Frannie ended up going with me to the Sheep Festival. Ha!
For my first Festival like this, I thought it was great. I don't recall having seen sheep up close and in person before and I was so excited. As you saw above, the festival took place in the local Fairgrounds and it seemed really well organized. They had one building with food where they were serving all sorts of lamb products for a flat fee of $7 a plate. Frannie and I had never really had lamb stuff before so we were a bit leery. Plus, we felt kind of bad about eating there and then going to look at the critters and thinking, "yeah, we just ate your cousin Harry." Oh well. However, Frannie and I did have a bit of a change of heart when we walked by the meat booth with samples and we tried the Hot Links. Yummy!! Let's just say a pack of Cousin Harry Hotlinks and Bratwurst did end up coming home with us for dinner that night. We just kept them hidden while we were walking among the critters. :)
So what all did we see. Well, you just wait. The second building on the Fairgrounds contained about 10-12 vendors up front peddling fleece, roving, yarn, handmade soaps, goat cheese, and lots of other neat things. I had also never seen fleece right off the sheep or even fleece that hasn't been prepared for spinning so this was all really new to me. Check out these gorgeous locks of hair.
It's a good thing I don't spin at this point (I just can't do another obsession) because I would have likely spent every penny I had. I mean after all, how could you not be inspired by this...
Great display too! I kept petting the fiber and watching the people demonstrate the spinning and telling myself, "the cats would have more fun with that than you would," "you don't have room in your house," "do you really need another hobby," "but really, this is just an off shoot of knitting and it's ok," and lastly, "nope, can't do it, you're broke, but keep looking!" So I kept looking.
I saw this...
This is a beautiful sweater one of the women there made. She told me she spun the yarn, created the pattern, and knit the sweater. It was just adorable!
There wasn't a lot of yarn to be found, mostly fiber in various stages. There was one booth with all natural dyed yarns that were pretty though. There was another booth with a woman doing weaving and she had a small basket of handspun yarn that a friend of hers sent for her to sell. I wish I had the friends name so I could give her some props but I did fall in love with one skein of yarn.I bought this beautiful 100% Merino handspun, 169 yards, for $10! Holy schmeezals, that is cheap and it is gorgeous!! And soft too.
So now, on to the critters. I have to admit, since I am a full city girl and this is all new to me, I was simply taking pictures because the critter was cute, not because I knew what it was. However, I did see one of our local yarn dyers there, Dyeabolical Yarn, and when I checked her blog, she actually knows what kind of sheep they are. So, if you want to know names, go here to find them. For me, it all about the pictures.
So, here are some cute dark faced sheeps. They have numbers spray painted on their backs for the auction at the end of the day, I think. Cute little faces.
This one was really friendly and didn't seem skittish like a lot of them. She just looked right at us as if to say "what's up?"
The ram in the same pen with her was not as friendly, but he was handsome.
And then we saw the Mammoth Sheep. I swear, this was the biggest sheep I have ever seen, which doesn't really say much since this was my first day. But seriously folks, this thing was the size of a cow. It was HUGE!! Look to the left, that's a normal sized sheep and this one was about twice as big! I would have loved for it to have stood up but I'm not sure it could. :)
Here's a picture of Frannie admiring the sheep. We decided for this day only that the ADIDAS on her shirt would stand for "All Day I Dream About Sheep" instead of "sex" like it did in High School.
They also had these cute little miniature horses pulling a miniature stage coach and giving rides to the kids. Apparently, according to the woman driving the coach, the horses were originally breed this size to haul stuff in and out of the mines. Cool.
Lastly, we spent some time watching the Sheep Dog demonstration. The dogs had to take the group of sheep all the way out to the fence and then run them around the field in a particular pattern per their handler. Here are a few "action photos" that sort of show the process. These dogs were amazing.
The handler look amazingly like my aunt so that was kind of funny too. So that was my Sheep Day 2009! It was a really good time and I feel like I learned quite a bit too. Hmm, where's the next one I can go to?
Finally, a pretty picture of the lilac from outside my window at home. I cut this bunch and have them in the room with me right now and I can smell the flowers. Amazingly beautiful!