Saturday, August 9, 2008

deadlines, goats, and inspiration

**Notice the date below, yes, this is how long it is taking me to get posts up for right now.... i have taken the PC to the DR. to get it checked, and have been stirring it up on the verizon technical support lines..... hehe, i'm very proficient at those angry *MY (fill in the blank) hasn't been working and i want it fixed NOW or i'm cutting off my contract and you won't get one red cent from me!!!* that certainly gets their attention! so hopefully the problem will be fixed soon!

originally written: july 30th

the deadline approaches. i have 2 weeks and 2 days to submit pictures of my creativity 350 project for judging!! i'm getting nervous i'm not going to finish! i have completed the feet and heels of both socks and am half way through knitting the intarsia motif (the numbers 3-5-0) on the right sock. it may seem weird that i decided to knit them in this strange order, but there a couple of reasons for that.

the first *and most important* reason is that i'm terrified i'm going to run out of yarn. since we were broke when i ordered the yarn, i ONLY bought what i thought i would need to make one pair of socks, without allowing any extra yarn for screw ups!! but then i made a decision that i thought would make the socks more interesting; instead of knitting both intarsia designs horizontally on the leg of the sock, i would knit the left sock's motif horizontal and the right one vertical. that complicated the knitting incredibly, not necessarily in terms of skill level, but in terms of time and the amount of yarn i had.

that brings us to reason #2 for my strange order of operations: most socks can be worn on either foot, but since i did stripes, this makes a visible line of color changes and the smartest way to hide that is to position it on the inside of the leg, also meaning if you wear the left sock on the right foot, you will see the line of color changes on the outside of the foot, where everyone is looking at and *should be* admiring your hand knit sock.

#3: since i'm knitting the intarsia on the right sock vertically, it is taller AND will take more yarn than the same motif knitted left to right. to make sure that i wouldn't run out of yarn and also to know how tall i would have to make the left sock, i had to knit the right one first. i hope everyone's still following me after that!!

once i'm done knitting the intarsia on the right sock, i will put the entire sock's worth of live stitches on hold with spare double points or waste yarn (instead of binding off so i can go back and knit the ribbing later) then i will have to decide where i'm going to put the design on the left sock. i'll have a TON of length to work with, but i'm 90% sure i'll place the motif in the top 1/4 of the length and somewhere it can be seen from the front and/or outside of my leg.

i did have a good diversion from all my creativity 350 knitting this week! an odd sequence of events led me to a VERY small town fiber festival, one that i had never heard of, no less! in november of 2007, i attended my first fiber festival in boerne, texas, called kid 'n ewe. i was actually shocked once i got there at how big it was for being in a kitschy boutique-style town.
there were 2 large buildings with vendors only, and a third *the llama barn* that was for llamas and alpacas mostly, but also had a great selection of anything and everything that could possibly made from the animals, and of course, spinning fibers and fleeces.

one of my favorite vendors there was kai ranch mohair, a texas based business. they had the most beautiful mohair i've ever seen, in the most beautiful and fun colors and most of it was locks, locks and more locks *my favorite*!!! a couple of months ago, i had pretty much used up all of the precious locks i purchased from them, so i emailed them to see what they had available. although i didn't end up buying from them at the time, they added me to their email list for store updates. out of the blue, i get a message from them asking everyone to come by and visit them in junction *a town about an hour away from where i live* for the !!!NEW!!! fiber fair running concurrently with the TAGRA *texas angora goat raisers association* show. i was stoked!! this was the first time i'd ever heard of the show, and for everything you hear about texas being one of the world's largest producers of mohair, i've never seen or heard of ANYTHING going on locally, so i had to go.

i started looking around the web for more info on the show, concrete times and vendors and such, with absolutely no luck. so, i asked my mother in law to go with me and we figured we had a 50% chance of having a good time, and at the very least, it would get me out of the house and away from chaos for a couple of hours.

after driving an hour AND getting lost *thanks to the LACK of advertising they had done for their show* we finally made it! as soon as we got a little closer, i got nervous. there was one tiny covered but open-air pavillion type structure and all i could see was goats *which wasn't a surprise since the main purpose of this get-together is an angora goat show and sale* and to be honest, i'm not quite sure what i WAS expecting, as this is only my second public fiber foray, but i'll just say, i was a little stunned. driving around the other side of the building, we did see ONE area where someone had set up shop, so we decided to reserve judgement and go have a look around.

the judging line-up. i couldn't get everyone in one frame *see below*. the main purpose of the TAGRA show is the judging and selling of the angoras. there were more goats that weren't in the judging.
there were all age groups showing their goats- the youngest is the little boy above, and the oldest was a woman of around 70!! it was pretty funny to see them wrestling with the animals!!
this was the biggest goat there, i'm pretty sure he got first, but i wasn't paying that much attention. my husband called right after they started pulling goats out of the line for placement.
*i would like to say that this paragraph is making me sound like the bitchiest fiber snob, but i assure you, i'm not!!! it's just that there are a lot of little back-woods towns in the hill country of texas that can be VERY creepy, not in a "deliverance" sort of way or anything, but i'm NOT your average texas gal, ya'll. sometimes my look isn't readily accepted in the stock show/rodeo type of atmosphere, and, in alll fairness, they're probably terrified of me, too. this was the merging of two very similar and yet intensely different worlds and people*

we got out of the car and took in our surroundings for a moment..... there were more angora goats in attendance than people, and 3 vendors *one of which was an elderly woman selling her handmade goods*. we walked in and stopped at the first vendor we came to- a husband and wife angora breeding team from oklahoma.

they had some really nice rambouillet fleeces *and a couple of prize winning charcoal-colored angora fleeces *which was new for me, because i have never even seen a colored angora goat, much less been able to closely examine one's fleece!!* i began chatting with the ladies there, asking questions about the fleeces, admiring a 1980's ashford traditional and ashford's new golden child, the joy. in less than 15 minutes, she was asking me if i wanted to take her joy for a spin! how could i turn that down?!?! while i was spinning we continued talking, and as soon as i mentioned my LACK of spindling skills. she rushed to her car and brought back a bag with two home made spindles and some roving.

i reluctantly conceeded to giving her spindle a try. my hands had forgotten the movements, and i felt quite awkward and self conscious *i've always been a little ashamed that i could never pick up the most basic spinning, which is practiced all over the entire planet..... by four and five year olds* she was watching me very closely, giving me tips when i needed them and letting me figure it out on my own when i could. her intuitiveness was inspiring. although i was still using my park and draf method, within a couple of minutes, i didn't feel so awkward anymore! and as my brain soaked up some of her experience, the roving began to flow freely from my hands and turn into yarn.

crowning achievement of the day- the tiniest little skein of handspun i have ever seen!! it's size does not measure the importance of it, however- i'll probably keep it for the rest of my life.

i spent most of my afternoon spinning and talking at her table. she encouraged me to perfect spindling so that i could teach it to others *which i've always wanted to do* and for some reason she was more than overtly suggesting that i open up a shop at some point *as i've said a million times, there are no spinning supplies, teachers or resources within 45 minutes of where i live. i don't think i'll ever forget her. and now i'm convinced that i was where i was supposed to be that day.
oh, yeah and i almost forgot!! i couldn't leave without buying something!! i couldn't resist getting some beautifully dyed kid mohair roving (right). but along with the old favorites, they had added something new to their store- faux cashmere!!! it's actually nylon..... i've seen it on some of the websites, and heard it was devilishly soft and luxurious, but i've never seen *or felt* it in person!! i can only describe the feel of it as a mixture of angora bunny fur and bamboo!!! *but when i said that, the lady looked at me like i was on crack, so it may not be accurate!!* it also has a hint of the sheen of bamboo. i couldn't get large quantities of either fiber, but i can't wait to spin them up!!! lisa *who does the dyeing at kai ranch* said that the cashmere takes up dye extremely well.
aren't those color ways awesome?!?! i L-O-V-E the faux cashmere (right)

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