Monday, October 5, 2009

more sheep and more wool

The festival was larger than I thought it would be. Tons of cars filled the parking lot and as I walked into the fields the the first thing I saw was my shearer, Jim, giving a herding demonstration with some of his dogs. As he explained to the crowd the various commands and such, I walked past the border collies and into the barns. Not that I didn't appreciate the working dogs, it's still such a sore spot in my heart. At this time last year I first met Sarah, the border collie who was once mine. She was a cannon of a dog, but too much for me and my three sheep (who are not dog broke). So After some incidents and the phone explanation from an already saintly landlord that three dogs was unacceptable: Sarah had to be returned to the breeder. Bad timing. I'll get my collie someday, and when I do it'll be right. When I have the right sheep, and the right land, and the right life.

Here's something I noticed" if you're coming to a wool festival you better not be sporting any polar fleece. Everyone I saw seemed to have on their finest Irish fishing sweaters, felted Ibex vests, or smartwool coats. Some people had on the occasional fleece, but seemed to notice the faux pas and bought some yarn from a conspicuously leering vendor. I understood. It must be frustrating struggling to keep a dying market alive for a natural, warm, renewable fiber like wool and see people in synthetics. But I also understand how amazingly comfortable and non-itchy synthetic fleece is. It's hard for me to say no to those North Face Jackets on the outfitters racks, but as a future shepherd, a girl's gotta shop how a girl's gotta shop. My new winter coat is all wool. Right on, sister suffragette.

Anyway. I was very pleased to see that the long barns used to house and display the various fiber animals (sheep, goats, alpacas, llamas, and angora rabbits) also had vendors between the animal stalls. You could literally buy wool and look at the sheep it may have been shorn from the season before. For people of a certain disposition, this is remarkably cool. I am of that disposition.

I ended up buying four skeins of hand-spun wool, a lambskin, and some new knitting needles. I nearly bought this awesome little Vermont-invented spinning wheel called the Hitchhiker, but remembered I had a car payment due and was able to resist. When I was all shopped and sheep-petted out—I went to watch Jim do a shearing demo. He had quite the crowd. I sat down and a woman behind me tapped me on the shoulder. "Are you Jenna?" And she introduced me to her family, explaining that she read my book and I was the reason they now had chickens. This was beyond flattering, and made me kind of blush. I really like that the closest thing to celebrity I have attained is being recognized at a sheep shearing demonstration by new chicken owners.

I got home from the festival and decided to accept my symptoms and take it easy. I was now feeling tired, and coughing a lot. So I went about the normal evening chores of feeding hay, chopping wood, carrying water, collecting eggs and breeding rabbits and then came inside to collapse in front of the fire on the new sheep skin and work on Wildwood Flower on the Dulcimer. Now that's a hell of a Sunday.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah it is....happy you enjoyed yourself! Mine was spent hauling wood :( ...your sounds so much more fun.

October 5, 2009 at 7:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That sounds like a wonderful way to enjoy your day!

October 5, 2009 at 7:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure why it left a bunch of numbers for my name instead of 'nytesong.' Sorry about that--I promise I'm not spam!

--Michelle of Vanilla Icing (

October 5, 2009 at 7:26 AM  
Blogger Sarah Sanders said...

How fun to spend a day surrounded by sheep and wool!!! :o) I can't wait to (hopefully) find a similar sort of event in my area! I'd be the one walking around with a blissed-out, just-can't-stop grin on my face. :o) Glad you had a great time - feel better soon!!

October 5, 2009 at 8:35 AM  
Blogger mySavioReigns said...

"I really like that the closest thing to celebrity I have attained is being recognized at a sheep shearing demonstration by new chicken owners."

lol, I nearly fell over laughing at this line.

Cool Sunday!

October 5, 2009 at 8:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have great sense of humor. Hope you feel better.

October 5, 2009 at 9:30 AM  
Blogger Sarah Rachelle said...

They HAVE festivals like that? Do you know if there's a website that has wool and sheep events listed?
Anyway, what a wonderful way to spend a day! I'm so glad you had a good time despite your cold. Your modesty about your book made me smile. You inspire so many people! We're just grateful how much you share with us. Thank you!

October 5, 2009 at 10:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like so much fun! I missed my local fiber fest the other weekend for circumstances waaay beyond my control, so I'm also a bit jealous ;-)

It also sounds like you need to make sure you rest up and take care. Feel better soon!

October 5, 2009 at 10:57 AM  
Blogger Brook said...

I recently bought a Road Bug spinning wheel (made by the same person as the Hitchhiker, only without the "hand" handle). I love it. When your pocketbook can handle it, I whole-heartedly recommend you go for it :)

October 5, 2009 at 11:25 AM  
Blogger Alison Russell said...

I miss going to sheep & wool festivals! I love the smell of a (well-skirted!) raw fleece :) Unfortunately they're too much temptation for my wallet right now. The Hitchhiker looks like a sweet little traveling wheel! I'm aiming for a Bosworth Charkha, myself.

October 5, 2009 at 11:39 AM  
Blogger Karen Sue said...

If you're looking, it may be your
4-H or co-operative extension office or someone to do with the local fairs could help you locate someone who could tell you where its all happening! I know a lady with a sheep or more and then go from there....
Jenna,did you buy random yarn you fell for, or was there a plan? When I buy material, often there is no plan, just an unmistakable urge to take it home with me!! So this winter, I am planning on something scrappy to put these urges to good use!!

October 5, 2009 at 2:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like such a interesting place to go --even if you don't have sheep. What a nice sunday.

October 5, 2009 at 3:02 PM  
Blogger Stacey said...

Sheep and wool festivals rock. I missed the one in MD. All the vendors are very tempting on the wallet.

October 5, 2009 at 4:19 PM  
Blogger Donna said...

There is nothing better than getting to spend the day at a fiber festival. Please post some pics of your purchases. I want to see what you bought and what are your plans for the yarn?

October 5, 2009 at 7:06 PM  
Blogger Denise said...

Hey wait a minute Jenna dont you have a wheel? I distinctly remember you getting one and then you were going to spin some yarn from your own sheep...

I dont have any room to talk though, I have a wheel and a couple of spindles and still buy yarn although I have promised not to buy any more until I use up some of what I have.

Hi my name is Denise and I'm a fiber addict...;)

October 5, 2009 at 9:41 PM  
Blogger Dawn Dutton said...

Hi there Jenna and Friends,
I went to the Jefferson Sheep and Wool Festival in Jefferson, Wi in September. It was awesome. I would recommend anyone who loves sheep or wool to try to attend a local festival. Lots of County festivals also have sheep and wool spinning as well. There is a new book out listing some of the sheep festivals that are well attended. I saw the book online somewhere but did not buy it yet. When I run across it I will post the title.
What are you going to do with your new yarn Jenna? It is hard not to buy yarn or animals.. I am a sucker for both.. my husband keeps me in line... ha! Enjoy your purchase and hope your feeling much better today... hugs and well wishes from Wisconsin...

October 5, 2009 at 9:59 PM  
Blogger Dawn Dutton said...

The name of the book is Fiber Gatherings by Joanne Seiff.
I guess the author went to 11 of the top sheep/wool festivals in the USA. Good photos of animals and wool. Lots of good reviews on

October 5, 2009 at 10:05 PM  

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