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The Cumberland County Fair.

I love the Fair, and I feel like Cumberland County gets somewhat unfairly maligned locally when compared to the earthier Common Ground and more grand-scale Fryeburg Fairs (both of which I also enjoy).

I’ve never been into fairs for the midway or the rides that take up a big portion of the fairground real estate (though I do enjoy a good cheese fry and bit of fried dough), instead for me,  it’s all about the animals and the opportunity to see folks showing off their passions, be it raising rabbits, ox-pulling, quilting, or pie-making and Cumberland excels at this as much as any other fair I’ve been too. It’s also the closest, which certainly doesn’t hurt when you’ve got a 1 1/2-year old in tow and may need to make a quick exit when the tired grumpies strike.

But LMC was enamored with the whole fair affair, and held up for an impressive 3+ hours. And there was a lot to take in in those 3 hours: we saw animals, listened to a favorite local bluegrass band (Tricky Britches), watched 4-H-ers guiding sheep through an obstacle course, visited a petting zoo, tried our hand at train-car pushing, and caught the first part of a junior rodeo.

The feeling that I get again and again is, while this is a fun little jaunt for me and my family, this is a big showcase for the presenters and worth all the pomp and circumstance they can muster, even if it means that almost every major event starts with another rendition of the National Anthem.

So here’s to you young lady who taught us all about the Argente Brun Rabbit, and the kindly gentleman who explained his concerns the effect vacuum tapping technology may have maple trees. Here’s to you Channel 13 Chief Meteorologist Charlie Lopresti and your 990 pound pumpkin. Here’s to you cow-wrestling teenagers and the veteran who played Johnny Cash songs on his harmonica to the goats. And here’s to you 4-Hers who rocked the obstacle course and especially the ones who had to life their sheep over every obstacle – the Fair is yours, thanks for letting my family visit, we’ll see you next year!

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Lamb

It’s been two years since my last visit to Fiber Frolic. I’ve been spinning for nearly two years! I fell for needlefelting! Both of which open my Fiber Frolicking world!

Baby Bunting Cardigan at Dirty Water Dyeworks

While there were tons of beautiful yarns I didn’t pick any up this year (though it was all I could do not to buy this Sweet Bunting Cardigan kit on display at Dirty Water Dyeworks, but since I don’t know any babies or soon to arrive babies to knit for I held off).

Aimee and the baby lamb

similarly, I think it was all Aimee could do to not walk off with this 4 week old lamb.

Purple Fleece braidsAfter having been to a number of fiber festivals, it was nice to see some great stuff from vendors I hadn’t seen before,like this roving from Purple Fleece, which I didn’t pick up and this menrino/tencel braid from  Highland Handmades that I did.

Highland Handmades

I must have been in a whimsical mood on Saturday, because my other two purchases where these charming needlefelting kits Off the Beaded Path (I’ve already started one) and the frog and bead stitch markers from Enchanted Knoll Farms

Needlefelting kit

Fortunately I still  had some funds left over for the superb fair food (gyros and sweet potatoes fries – yes please!!)

Lunch

After lunch there were more friends and fleeces to snorgle

Ram

Look who we spotted!!

And look who we found in the rabbit barns!!

Show Fleeces

Can I say for the record, these fleeces were lovely and make me want to move up to a wheel so I could justify the poundage?? Fiber frolic is such an enabling event, for reals. Good thing I have Tour de Fleece coming up soon, so I can get back into some serious spinning!!
Baby lamb and its adoptive family

(PS -for another take on this trip, in which my right shoulder makes a cameo- visit Aimee at 52 weeks, 52 hats)

Sheep Puppet

I’m leaving for a business/fun trip to Chicago today, but before I left I wanted to jot down a few words on my trip to Rhinebeck.

Rhinebeck Flair

As group of seven of us left bright and early Friday morning, divided into, as the running gag was all weekend – an old people and a young people car – henceforth referred to as OPs and YPs.

The YPs car before:

Car Before

We left early so we could make a detour to Northhampton, MA to visit WEBS: “America’s Yarn Store.” Yes, we stopped to buy yarn, before we spent a weekend at a sheep & wool festival, buying yarn.

The Gang Outside Webs

WEBS is huge.

Webs is Amazing

We even spotted a Great American Afghan (Karen’s nemesis) live and in the wool.

Great American Afghan!

And if the main store wasn’t big enough, there’s a warehouse.

Webs warehouse

We, as a group, found a thing or two… I ended up with a sweater’s worth of Williamstown for my 2010 knitalution (to design and knit a full-sized sweater).

Webs haul

That night we landed at our hotel, ordered in some Chinese food (that came with a complimentary bottle of Grapette Soda), and read aloud from the Amish romance Novel, The Parting.

Saturday morning, we made sure we were at the gate at opening:

Line to Enter

Our first stop was the Evergreen Farms booth for an angora. Maggie had recently lost her bunny Cocoa Bean and was debating whether she was ready for a new one. Petunia convinced her she was.

Maggie & Petunia

After a quick stop at She Shoots Sheep Rhinebeck Style photoshoot (I think  Maggie, Bristol and myself were models  #9, #8, and #7, respectively. I’ll post a link when the slideshow is up), we headed out for the vendors.

Vendor Tents

After the first two barns I had checked off my three must-haves from my shopping list: 1750 yards fingering weight yarn in a natural grey for a Pas de Valse sweater from Snowshoe Farm Alpacas,  semi-solid sock yarn from Persimmon Tree Farm, and an eye-catching spinning fiber from Gnomespun Yarn Fiber Arts. Fortunately for my wallet I slowed my pace and bit and my final two pruchases of the day, buttons for my knitalution sweater from Jennie the Potter and a BFL/Silk braid of roving from Gale’s Art waited until after lunch.

Ravelry MeetUp

After lunch, we headed to the Ravelry lunch meet up and got to meet Sarah, Casey and Mary Heather.

Mary Heather

We also made dead center behind the banner in the official meet-up photo, which hasn’t been posted yet.
Ravelry Lunch Meet Up

We spent a bunch of time with some folks who raised Soay sheep, an primitive sheep breed . I didn’t note the farm unfortunately.

American Soay

By 3ish – we were tuckered out and stopped for a apple cider doughtnut break, before leaping back into the fray.

Karen & Doughtnut

We left the fairgrounds at 4:45. We left the parking lot an hour and a half later. (Noting for future trips, leave early!!)

After a break back at the hotel, the OPs went out to dinner and the YPs went to the Ravelry party in RedHook. We arrived too late for the goodie bags and cupcakes, but did get a chance to hop in the photobooth and chat with some lovely folks.

Ravelry Party

On Sunday, we packed up the cars (don’t worry, we didn’t really store the bunny in the back), had breakfast at a local diner and headed back for a few last hours at the fair.
Car After

We caught a sheep shearing (the sheep’s not a fan)
Shearing

and picked up a few more items. I snagged another sock yarn, this time from Sliver Moon Farm, and fought off Maggie for some into the whirled roving. I have received much mocking from my knitting group for my color pallette/phases and how my knitting often matches my outfit. I have been firmly ensconced in a blue and yellow phase (my Manu and a pattern I’m releasing at month’s end is a good example), but it seems pretty clear that my next phase is definitely leaning green.

My Rhinebeck Haul

All in all, the trip was fantastic and totally worth the drive and slightly sketchy hotel. We’re aiming for a return trip in 2012. If you’re planning a Rhinebeck trip, I’d make the following suggestions:

  • Book your hotel early. We did it about 3 months in advance and everything good had been booked by then.
  • Break up your days and catch some events. We wish we had seen some more of the events or taken a class. It all gets a bit over whelming, just doing vendor after vendor.
  • If you’re doing both days, leave early on the first day. The traffic out of the parking lot was awful day one.
  • Talk to as many strangers as you can. Every person I talked to (usually started by one of us complimenting the other’s knit-wear) was super nice and friendly and you have an automatic topic of conversation. I wish I had takend the time to chat more.

Now off to Chicago! Be back Sunday.

With four apple picking adventures under our belt, I present the Cleaver’s Guide to a Successful Apple Harvest Trip:

1. Pick a beautiful fall day
Fall Color

2. Get apple cider doughnuts first. It’s no good picking on an empty stomach.
Apple Cider Doughnuts

3. Eye your prey
Our Prey

4. Don’t be afraid to use tools to get the best fruits.
Up High

Up High

Down Low

5. Pick the Most Photogenic Wagon to Haul your Harvest
Hauling the Harvest

6. Don’t be so focused on the apples that you miss out on other marvels.
Grasshopper

Pitch of the Patch

7. Waste Not, Want Not. Rotten apples explode fabulously when flung from a slingshot.

Apple Slingshot

Letting it Fly

8. You’re never too old for a petting zoo.
Kidding around

Happy Sheep

Conversing with a Cow

Any More Hay?

9. And never too big to stop being silly.
So Tall!

10. Pick up more apple cider doughnuts on the way out. It’s only once a year!
Worth the Drive

Apple Varieties

It’s fall in Maine, which means Fair Season and for the even slightly crunchy granola of us, it means the Common Ground Fair hosted by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. When I went last year, I was unemployed and recently arrived from Chicago. I went because I was told there’d be yarn.

Down the Fair Way

This year I went up as part of a group of seven from my Tuesday night knitting group. We left Portland at 7:30 and even getting slightly lost, managed to avoid the long line of traffic that you get after about 10 am. It was cool when we left, but the weather couldn’t have been more perfect. We wandered around the fair for about 6 hours seeing all the sights.

Knitting Socks

Second Place Pumpkins

German Angora

Little Off The Top

Golden Fleece

And yes, we bought yarn and fiber. I bought lots of fiber because this is my first fair trip as a spinner. The haul, as displayed below is as follows: Llama fiber from Botanical Shades (Orange on spindle and purple), “fudge sundae” wool-bamboo-silk blend from Pleasant Valley Farm (dark multicolor ball), and wool and sparkle blend from Enchanted Knoll. The sheep sculpture is from Maple Lane Pottery.

Spinning

I spin now, did I mention that yet?

Mr. Cleaver got me a drop spindle for my birthday and I’ve be happily leaving tufts of wool all over the sofa since July. But really, we all knew it was just a matter of time, right? I look forward to sharing more bits of fibery/handspun goodness here in the coming months.

Spinning Samples #1 and #2

My first (grey) and second (white) spinning samples, apx 1.1oz each, wool fiber from the Portland Fiber Gallery and Studio.

I have to admit that growing up I hated fair season.  

Line to the Fair

To me it meant nothing more than dancing on hot concrete stages that were every form of uncomfortable and I never got to do any of the fun stuff, like rides or games – except for once. Of course the piece de resistance of bad fair experiences was in high school when I volunteered to do a “Say No to Drugs” Puppet show, only to arrive at the booth to discover that I’d have to spend all afternoon sitting under a table next to the Vote No on 9 people. Not cool.

Nevertheless, when Maine fair season kicked off last week, I was thrilled and have now gone to not one, but two fairs. Since I took hundreds of photos, I’ma gonna break this up into two posts.

First, Marjorie, the woman who essentially taught me to knit, called and asked if I’d like to go with her to the Common Ground Fair. Run by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardens, this is meant one thing to us knitters: fiber, yarn, and the creatures that wrought it.

We had beautiful warm weather and a fantastic time.

There were pie cones:

Pie Cone!

Lots of fiber:

Fiber Types 

Spinning (which I really really want to learn, weaving too):

 

Spinning

Llamas:

Well Raised

Sheep:

Ewe

Sheep Herding:

Sheep-herding demo

And it wasn’t all about knitting-related things, we also saw Native american dancers and drummer, chair makers, basket weavers, and boat builders.

They start-em young

But we did both some some lovely golden yarn from Enchanted Knoll Farms. Because really, it’s all about the yarn, right?