This past fall my mom and I went to the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival, simply known as Rhinebeck to those in the crafty circle. We took a two-day spinning class to learn how to start with a design then spin the yarn we need. We had assignments to spin different types of yarn - a tricky thing to do because people naturally tend to spin a certain yarn. We spun and made cards to keep track of all the important traits of a handspun yarn - wraps per inch, twist per inch, etc. Most importantly we learned to keep checking with our sample to make sure we kept spinning the same yarn. Then we knit up swatches to get a sense of how the yarn will look. All in all, a lot of good stuff was learned. Too bad it was inside a metal shed and I had to wear fingerless gloves and every sweater and jacket I had with me to stay warm.
Here are some sample cards, yarn and swatches:
You can see two swatches with the same yarn. I knit the first and it was way too solid. With a larger knitting needle, the swatch was much softer.
When we weren't learning, we were shopping. The amount of fibre and yarn was unbelievable. It was hard to know where to start. We got a good sampling of different fibre, including a couple bags of dark grey Leicester Longwool.
The fair was so busy. Women lined up early the first morning eager to be the first to look over the fleece and yarn. By the time we were done on Sunday, the back seat and trunk were stuffed full of fibre.
Barns were full of sheep, goats, llamas and alpacas. And we got to watch a sheep dog trial too. Those dogs are crazy smart. I guess maybe it helps that the sheep are not so bright.
We had a great time and are planning to go back this fall. On the way home last year, we stopped at the Corning Museum of Glass and made a lampwork bead. It was way easier and way more difficult than I imagined. You definitely need lots of practice. Amazingly, I didn't burn myself on the torch. I'll post a photo when I decide how I want to make a pendant with my little glass creation.