A few weeks ago I heard about an event in Minnesota called Shepherd's Harvest. It's Minnesota's Rhinebeck and I immediately and passionately exclaimed (all over Ravelry) "I WILL BE THERE!!!"
...only to discover the next day that my work schedule wouldn't allow for that to happen. I was so crushed! I had only just learned that this event even existed and, really, hadn't invested an exorbitant amount of time imagining what it would be like, but I felt so sad. Luckily, my coworkers are familiar with my
And so it was that I attended my first ever sheep and wool festival, and boy, these things do not disappoint! (Although, somehow I forgot to take a single picture.) My one and only goal was to buy my first fleece. I really wasn't interested in yarn or the rainbow of dyed fiber that was available (I'm technically on a yarn diet. It started on May 1st. I didn't tell you. Fiber doesn't count.) I did a buttload of research about sheep breeds and what kind of fleece would be best for the type of fiber preparation and spinning techniques I thought I might want to use to produce a certain type of yarn. Armed with this knowledge, I wandered the booths looking for the perfect fleece.
On Saturday there was a fleece judging and silent auction which I was not able to attend because I had a symphony concert to play, and I was certain that every last fleece worth buying would have been snatched up that day. I am so glad that I was wrong! I felt confident in my ability to choose a fleece that was right for me based on what I had read and watched about how to pick a fleece, what to watch out for, and so on. I saw some beautiful fleeces, but passed on them because they weren't a breed I was looking for, they were a bit too dirty for my first fleece, the staple length was too long, the fiber was too coarse, etc. This whole time as I wandered from booth to booth I thought to myself, "Wow, Peter. You're being really practical and systematic about how you're choosing a fleece. I bet this is what it's like all the time." ...and then I walked into the next booth and was immediately drawn to one of the fleeces on the table and as soon as I felt it, I felt a wave of inexplicable intoxication much like the way one might feel when they have their first taste of the best chocolate in the world, or the first juicy strawberry of spring, or sinking into a warm bath after a long day of work. I lost all sense and knew that, regardless of any practical reasoning, this fleece was destined to be mine.
I know that this picture is quite disappointing because it doesn't begin to demonstrate the power that this fleece had over me. The color in real life is rich and gorgeous, the fleece itself is full, soft, and so springy that it feels like a sponge when you press into it and just by sheer luck, it also happens to be exactly what I was looking for. It's a 5.5lb CVM (California Variegated Mutant) fleece from Crosby Hill Farm and to make things even more spectacular, the sheep was coated which means that the fleece itself is incredibly clean and free of vegetable matter and other foreign objects. This fleece is sure to provide me with YEARS of spinning pleasure and I can't wait to begin the process.
I would have been happy to have stopped with one fleece because I was so elated to have found exactly what I was looking for, but I had made a mental note to visit the Hollyhock Alpacas booth to see what they had to offer. The Hollyhock farm raises Huacaya alpacas (the fluffy ones) and I was curious to see a huacaya fleece because the farm I volunteer at raises Suris. Well, it turns out I didn't just see a huacaya fleece - I took one home with me, too.
But honestly, how could I say no? This is a cria fleece, which means that it was the alpaca's first shearing (a cria is what we call a baby alpaca. No, I don't know why) and as I'm sure you all know, baby alpaca is soft, soft, soft! I was so fortunate to have snatched this one up as it was their last cria fleece for sale.
I also took a three-hour spinning class on Sunday morning and although I was perhaps a little disappointed with the class overall, it did provide me with the opportunity to try a number of fibers that I had never spun before - silk, yak, cashmere, and cotton. The yak was my favorite.
I'll be back tomorrow to introduce you guys to the four alpacas I've been spending my weekends with. They're such charming boys, I'm sure you'll love them!