A View from Sierra County

Small town life and politics, lots of knitting, and travels with and without my five burros

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Location: In the Sierra Nevadas, United States

I blog about rural living and social issues, and the creativity that comes from knitting, as well as post random pictures of the Sierras and my burros. "In order to be an artist, one must be deeply rooted in the society" - Simone de Beauvoir


Saturday, August 12, 2006

Spinning At the Nevada County Fair

I have been complaining about missing summer whizzing by, but when to sleep happy last night, having spent the day at the Nevada County Fair, a distinctly summertime pleasure. I had free admittance and parking, as a demonstrator for our guild, which watches over the display at Sugar Pine Lodge, of some of the fibery entries and displays. There is also a large textile display of quilts, embroidery, knitting and crochet in another building, as well as 4-H exhibits, livestock, and gardening exhibits, along with the usual midway and fair food, and still today and tomorrow to attend.

Although this photo absolutely does not do it justice, here is Amy's hand-painted Ashford Kiwi wheel, making its world debut at the Nevada County Fair, where our Foothill Fibers Guild has staged demonstrations in spinning, weaving and knitting throughout the fair's five-day run.

Here, Amy is spinning some of her "life-time supply" of fiber.

One of the best parts of being a demonstrator was watching the very young take an interest in the fiber arts. Children were fascinated with spinning, and I could honestly tell them that I had only been using my intriguing spindle for two weeks and here I was producing yarn from lambswool. Several children took to spinning like ducks to water, and these lovely little girls were engrossed with the rigid heddle looms.

Sharon had gotten this young man hooked on spinning; he headed over to have Jan teach him how to use her Turkish spindle when his aunt (a year younger than him) took his place at the wheel.... she was a natural and we sent them both home with instructions on making a CD spindle, resources to check on the web and a bit of practice fiber.

I believe that children are just yearning for the chance to touch real fibers and find their hands at work, making something, a chance that is sorely missing in their daily lives and our current mainstream educational experience. I also greatly enjoyed the conversations I had with children, wearing "Mutton Buster" t-shirts about the snakes painted on Amy's wheel, or the mechanics of spinning wheels, or how they did in the animal competitions with the goats, sheep or pigs they had raised.

And a very entertaining and educational display about silkworms and spinning silk.

Here, Jan is showing Amy how to wind off her spindle to get set up for Andean (also called Peruvian) plying... their hands are too fast for my lens!

The competitions included fleece and spun skeins.

A display of entries

The best part of working at the fair was getting to know Sharon and Amy better... we had discovered each other through blogging, and they have been friends and members of the Carson Sierra Spinners and Weavers, I had never met either in person. They were both so delightful and invited me to attend their guilds retreat/camp-out at the end of September, so it is on my calendar now... Sharon and I share a passion to get a different color than yellow from natural dyeing and Amy is a very skilled spindler, along with her magnificent production on her four wheels. She was able to point out some postural adjustments to my spinning technique that would make it more ergonomic and more effective at producing yarns, as well as gave me lots of encouragement yesterday, as I worked my way through about an ounce worth of CVM x Merino lambswool, a lovely thing to be spinning on a soul-satifying summer afternoon at the fair.


Blogger Jennifer said...

What fun! I was thinking about showing the Jr. Kindergarten spinning on the hand spindle this upcoming year. I definitely want to now! My kids are very interested in spinning and knitting.

1:30 PM  
Blogger margene said...

How fun to see the way you spent you Friday! Hope you're feeling better and the spinning is going well.

4:18 PM  
Blogger beryl said...

Thanks for helping with the demonstrations at the fair, Birdsong. Glad you enjoyed your time with us.

7:44 PM  
Blogger Sharon said...

It was a wonderful day, and meeting you was such a huge part of that. I think we are very fortunate to have such wonderful interests to share that would produce such opportunities for friendships. Lucky us~

8:26 PM  
Anonymous sheepshepherd said...

Wonderful Fair, my favorite one!!! I took my youngest and patient he was we got there in time to catch the wool breed sheep show. What a wonderful fiber show as well. The guild has so many talented people. Loved the silk worms. Got to meet Sara again after so many years in hiding. (raising children)... Happy day and inspiring.

9:52 PM  
Blogger The Purloined Letter said...

What a lovely post. I wish I had been there to see all the children getting a chance to play with fiber. Sounds like a lovely afternoon. LOVE that wheel!

We just went to our local fair--which seems much more commercial than yours unfortunately--where 7yo Son got to meet some other knitters, spinners, and weavers. He loved it! Things like what you are doing make so much difference to children.

10:45 AM  
Anonymous Jerome said...

As you described that day it seems that it was a beautiful day from your life. I am glad to see that spinning still has interest in our days.

5:38 AM  

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