Ribbons from the Fair

Charlotte’s Web was one of my favorite books when I was a kid. My daughter Carly is actually a Charlotte. It’s a family name, but I’ve always felt that I named her after that beautiful spider. When I brought Tori home from the hospital, Carly immediately started calling her Wilbur. They’re adults now, but sometimes I still think of them as Charlotte and Wilbur.

We had a fair nearby when I was a kid, but it was nothing like the fair in Charlotte’s Web. There’s just not a whole lot of “country” in the middle of the California desert. Oh, how I wanted to go to a real live country fair!  Now, I look forward to the Evergreen State Fair every summer.

After our first trip to the fair, I decided I was going to enter something. We’d only lived in the country a couple of months, so I had no idea what I would enter, but I was going to enter SOMETHING. The truth is, I wanted a ribbon. I didn’t care what color, any ribbon. (The only thing I didn’t want was the little sticker that says, “Thank you for entering. Please try again next year.)  I’ve never entered anything in anything, and I when I played sports as a kid participation trophies weren’t a thing. The kids had shelves of ribbons and trophies from years of soccer, baseball, baton, swimming and water polo.  Is it wrong for me to want just one ribbon?

Well, last year I didn’t pay attention to the deadlines, AND I didn’t really have anything to enter. The fair came and went, and I still admired all the pretty ribbons. THIS year was going to be different. I’ve learned to spin and crochet. I’ve also learned to make jam and jelly, and can all kinds of things. Not only was I going to get to enter the fair, I had choices!

I started checking and double checking deadlines in June when the fair entries were first published. I really thought I would enter my pickles and green beans in canning, but changed my mind. For one, they require a lot of information on recipes and canning methods. Two, they don’t even taste the canned product. They’re just judging canning technique. To me, that meant I would be judged on how well I followed directions. I’ll probably enter some canned goods next year, but for this year it just didn’t sound like much fun.

Ever since we got Spike and Tajo, I knew I wanted to spin their fiber and enter it in the fair. Because they’re rescues, I really wanted to show how awesome they are. We’ve had them for a whole year now. Because we got them shortly after shearing last year, I felt fully responsible for this year’s fiber. Whatever I produced, good or bad, was 100% on me.

003 (800x465)After shearing, I washed (and washed and washed and washed) their fiber.  Alpacas love rolling in the dirt, so this is a big job. I then dyed Spike’s fawn fiber with cherry Kool Aid. I would have liked to enter both boys naturally, but you can only enter one skein of yarn in each category.  With the natural shadings of Spike’s fiber, the yarn came out a really pretty rust color, with lots of different subtle shades. Then, I carded both batches of fiber. Twice! I wasn’t going to have any tangles or matting or grass interfering with my yarn. I’ve realized that after all the prep, spinning is actually the easy part. I was really happy with the results!

SkeinsOn entry day, I drove into town with my skeins carefully tied and twisted in the passenger’s seat. I’ll admit, I was a little afraid the people collecting the entries would laugh at my attempts. I kept seeing those stickers from previous years: “Thank you for entering. Please try again next year.” I would be so sad if I got one of those. I was absolutely tickled when asked if I was entering in the Master Class. Me? No way. Spike’s yarn got entered first. When she looked at Tajo’s she asked what method I had used for dying his fiber. She was amazed when I told her that was natural. He really does have fabulous, shiny, inky-black fiber! And with that, I was in!

EntryI had to wait nearly two weeks for the fair to open, to see how I did. The first day of the fair was free entry, so I picked up Carly and the kids and we went to check things out! We went straight to the yarn exhibits and I scanned the entries for my name. I would have been happy with “Some Pig.” Just please, please, please not a try again next year sticker.

Guess what!

1st Tajo     1st Spike

Yep. I got ribbons!