Saturday, October 22, 2005

A Wonderful Day at the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair!

Yesterday was such a wonderful day. I went to my very first fiber fair. The Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair is taking place in the mountains of North Carolina right now. I attended the opening day and they are continuing the fair today and tomorrow. I wanted to go every day, but my schedule would not allow it. I had to play the organ for a wedding today, and I also have to play for church tomorrow, so that keeps me home this weekend.

But, yesterday was free, so off I went to the mountains. The weather was absolutely perfect as I drove my little 4 cylinder car up and down the hills. It's a good thing I wasn't in a hurry, because my engine was struggling just to make it up those hills! I stayed in the right lane, along with all the slow moving trucks. I know one thing, if you want to see how good your car's engine is, just take it on a trip to the mountains! Some cars were just whizzing by....lucky ducks!

Since I was driving in unfamiliar territory, I ended up getting lost. So I stopped a couple times asking for directions. One wrong turn ended up giving me the most beautiful view of the hills I've ever seen. I was on Happy Springs Road - lovely!! As I was driving along, viewing the gorgeous scenery, I said out loud, "When I retire, I want to live right here!" Cabins, grazing animals, beautiful mountains, green grass, perfect skies, nice cool breezes. It really was a little bit of heaven.

Eventually, I arrived at my destination. The Western North Carolina Agricultural Center. Finally! I wasn't sure which building to go to first, so I pulled out the map I had printed from the website and perused the layout. I decided to go on into the main building. I was afraid to look at the animals first, because they might set off my allergies, which would make for a very long day. So, into the yarn and fiber displays I went.

As soon as I walked in the door, I was greeted with loads of handspun yarn. If I wasn't careful, I would spend every dime I had without taking another step. I decided to walk all around the entire arena before I bought anything. I wanted to see my options first!

I turned right at the top of the circular arena and looked at each display. Many of the vendors were just getting started setting up their wares, since I was there early on the first day. It turned out to be a blessing, because I was catching the sales before anyone else had even seen them. At one display, a lady was selling sock yarn for $2.00 a skein! I spent 10 dollars, and had 5 skeins of beautiful sock yarn as a reward. That stuff usually sells for about 8 dollars a skein! I was pleased.

I came upon one lady who had angora rabbits in cages. I was so taken with those rabbits, having never seen one up close before. They are so much bigger than I thought they would be! They looked like JUMBO rabbits to me.

I asked the lady if they like to be touched, and she said, "Go ahead, touch 'em all you want." So, I carefully put my hand forward and stroked the back of one rabbit. So soft! Like butter!! It took me a few minutes to take my hand away, because I was enraptured with the feel of it. If I wasn't careful, I would be walking out the door with a newly purchased angora rabbit! She told me all about the rabbits, how she takes care of them and how she shears their fur a few times each year.

As you know, I'm a new spinner, trying to master using my Ashford Traditional Spinning Wheel. I noticed that she had a spinning wheel set up in her area, so I mentioned that I am trying to learn to spin, and I've never seen anyone do it in person before. She said, "Oh, let me show you!" She was so sweet. She sat right down and started spinning. I asked her some questions, and she gave me lots of good information. I'm feeling much better about my spinning education now.

Next, she showed me some angora blended yarn. Unbelievably soft. I thought that I would never buy any other type of yarn again. No wonder angora sweaters are so expensive. It felt like baby skin.

Next, she showed me the alpaca yarn. She said that she raises alpaca also. The alpaca was just as soft as the angora! She showed me the difference in the feel of a hat made with wool, and a hat made with alpaca. Amazing. I decided that I had to forego my earlier plan and purchase some alpaca fur from this lady. Besides, she had been so helpful to me already!

I bought 4 ounces of dark brown alpaca, and 3 large bags of hand-dyed cotton roving. (It was soft too!) Altogether, I spent 20 dollars at her display. So far, I had spent 30 dollars in one hour. I decided to just look for a while, to keep my dollars in my pocket. I needed to make sure that I had enough money to eat and buy gas for my trip home!

After looking at all the other displays, I glanced at my watch and noticed that it was already 12 noon. My knitting class would start at 1:00, so I chose to break for lunch. Unfortunately, they had no food vendors, so I drove down the road and bought a chicken salad sandwich at Arby's. Those sandwiches are so good. I also treated myself to a cherry turnover and a small Mountain Dew. It made for a nice lunch.

When I came back to the arena, it was almost time for my class to start. I found the class, and chose a seat near the back. The instructor asked what kind of projects we were knitting on our own, I waited for the others to talk, then admitted that I was making socks. She said, "Why are you in this class? You don't need to know anything I'm teaching today." I said that I've never taken a knitting class before, so I just wanted some reassurance that I was doing things properly. She agreed to let me stay, and then we started her project.

It was a cute little amulet bag that looks like an owl. It was fun to make. I did learn a few things, so it wasn't a waste of money. When the class was over, I asked her to show me a few other kinds of stitches I needed to understand better. She was very helpful. I was amazed to hear that she has been knitting for 50 years! I don't think I'll make it that far, unless I live to be 90.

When I left that class, I walked over to the animal buildings. I had saved this for last, because I was afraid that my allergies would act up. This way, I could leave and drive with my windows open to clear out my lungs.

The animals were so sweet. I saw the llamas first. They seemed so kind and gentle. I took some photos of them, and they didn't even flinch. One of them was standing close to his owner, and the man wrapped his arm around the llama's neck and gave him a hug. It was so darling.

Next, I walked over to the alpaca display. They were just as gentle, with the most beautiful doe eyes. I was in love. I imagined myself living in a little cabin with an angora rabbit to snuggle, and an alpaca to play with. Dreamy.

I learned a lot about yarn, spinning, fiber, roving, animals, and knitting. It was a very productive day. I would only change one thing about it all. I wish I could have stayed for all three days. Next year, I'm getting a substitute organist so I can get away for the whole event.

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