Friday, October 23, 2009

SAFF Is Here!

We're finally at SAFF! After waiting for months, my sister, Rheta, and I are having the time of our lives at the Southeastern Animal & Fiber Fair in Fletcher, NC. I've been told by several people, "Prepare to be overwhelmed." They were all correct. I can't believe the size of this fair. It's being held in the Agricultural Center here near the Asheville airport. So far, I've filmed a sheep shearing by Paula Ashworth, an incredible site watching an entire fleece being lifted in one piece from the small sheep. We've seen dozens of vendors with handspun, hand-dyed beautiful wools and fibers from alpaca to bamboo. I've finally been able to see up close the different breeds of sheep and to touch their wools. There is so much variation in the textures of wools such as Corriedale or Jacob's or Shetland. There are angora bunnies galore with the sweetest expressions. Too bad I'm not able to keep rabbits anymore at home; there are quite a few I'd like to add as my pets.
The Jacob and the Cotswold sheep have been the most interesting so far. I had a lot of fun filming and taking pictures of the various sheep and goats today. I didn't get to see the Jacobs yet. I believe they're arriving tomorrow. Some of them may have up to six horns and are really wild looking. I bought two sets of Jacob roving which is outstanding. I can't wait to get home to spin it.
There are classes galore. I haven't signed up for one yet, maybe tomorrow if one is open. I wanted to be free to see the demonstrations such as the sheep shearing today and the "Sheep to Shawl" demos going on tomorrow. I've also learned quite a bit from talking to other participants, such as the difference between spinning wool and cotton. I learned that you have to boil the cotton after it's spun to bring out the true natural colors and to set the twist. I also found out that it is illegal to grow natural species of cotton in most parts of the state because it might cross with the hybridized white species of cotton that are commercially grown today. I bought two bags of cotton roving to try. I'll try to take before and after pictures.
I did come across another rigid heddle loom which I couldn't pass up. I now have an Ashford 32-inch rigid heddle loom with stand which will find a place of honor in my studio at home. I already have plans for some rag rugs and woolen shawls. Well, more tomorrow.

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