Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Welcome to the Black Sheep Gathering

BSG - Sheep Show
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
This past weekend was the Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene. I have to say that BSG is one of the reasons I really love that I started knitting.

I find it extremely amusing that I've managed to take up hobbies in just the right place and time. When we moved to North Carolina, I took up wheel pottery--and it turns out to be one of the best places in the country for it. Now that I've gotten seriously into knitting and spinning, I find out that Eugene is a more than excellent location for the fiber arts.

The picture above is a sheep-showing. A large part of the BSG is the animals. There are sheep and goats of every kind! I made an extra effort to snap pictures of some of the animals from which I've spun (by breed, not personally). Below are Wensleydale, Jacob and pygora goats.

BSG - Wensledale BSG - Jacob Sheep BSG - Pygora

The show opens Friday. This year I didn't plan on going on Friday, but our morning started early and the kids and I made a super-fast jaunt down to the Fairgrounds. DD was a bit put off by the smell again, but DS was ecstatic to see the animals. It was pretty difficult to keep him reined in, so we didn't stay long. We did make an extra-special side trip into the back of the barn to find "The Billy Goats Gruff" like we do every year.

BSG - "Billy Goats Gruff" BSG - "Billy Goats Gruff" BSG - "Billy Goats Gruff"

This was a special year for me. It's the first year since we had kids that I arranged to have almost an entire day for myself. We went to our gymnastics class in the morning (without Daddy, so he'd have a little break) and then I left the family behind to enjoy a whole afternoon of fibery overload.

BSG - Fogwash Soap
I spent the first part of the afternoon snapping my sheepy pictures, hoping to run into some people I knew (which I eventually did) and playing Black Sheep Bingo by accosting anyone wearing the appropriate name-tag. I also started my Spinning Wheel Testing Tour. This began with playing with a lot of the independent wheel-maker's fare and moved on to just about every single commercial model of wheel available. I had particular fun sitting down to spin with Carl Fricke (of Fricke spinning wheels and tools), and chatting it up with a number of other vendors. I also made my two planned stops--Fogwash Soaps (where I intended to buy some soap) and BMFA (where I intended to merely browse).

Alas, the best laid plans often go awry and while I didn't really want to buy a lot at this year's show, I did make my one yarn/fiber purchase of the day at BMFA when I ran across a Rare Gems Mill End I simply could not resist.
BSG - Rare Gems Mill Ends
I do think that one skein of yarn to take the edge off is not too much to hope for in a huge market like this one!

I sat down to try a few SpinOlution Wheels, but didn't find their toe-operated treadle very comfortable. They are quite interesting wheels, tho. I also didn't like that the booth selling them had alpaca as their test fiber. It may be luxurious, but it is also extremely slippery and difficult to work with on an unfamiliar wheel. I'd rather focus on the wheel and not on fighting my fiber. Apparently the SpinOlution wheels were sharing the booth with people selling alpaca, because as soon as I got up from my wheel I was practically tackled into coming over and viewing the fiber samples. I found the vendor's insistence annoying, and so I did my best to extricate myself quickly and politely. I never went back.

Instead I visited the spinner's circle and Carolina Homespun. Carolina Homespun had a lovely selection of wheels and really helpful people working the booth. The owner, Morgaine, is a fixture and impossible to miss. I should have gotten a picture because her silk coat was impressive (and I found out later she has several in different colors to wear to various shows!).

BSG - Knitmore Girls Podcast bag
After that, the Ravelry meet-up was announced. I wandered over and had a goody bag dropped in my lap by The Knitmore Girls Podcast. It proved to have a skein of Cascade 128 (bright blue with tweedy bits), some Abstract Fiber silk/merino top, a tape measure (can't have too many of those!), a sample of citrus Soak, a button, and two patterns in it. I think that's everything! It was a nice surprise, and it will serve it's purpose since I've blogged about it here and I'll most likely try out the podcast as well. There was some lag time to go around and meet-and-greet and to further fill out my Black Sheep Bingo card.

BSG - Celestial Fiber Arts "Pop Up" bag
I suppose I should pause for a minute and explain Black Sheep Bingo. It's basically an "ice breaker" for BSG. You sign up ahead of time as a player or a square, or both, and then the women that run it send out Bingo cards and tags you can wear to declare yourself a player. I did several circuits of the buildings where I was looking more for players than yarn or fiber! At the end, everyone's name is put into a hat (whether you have Bingo or not) and donated prizes are dispersed. We had a particularly amusing moment when a lovely project bag was displayed as the next prize and I announced to my friends nearby, "That's mine!" and not two seconds later but they read my name! Ha! So now I'm the proud owner of a gorgeous project bag from Celestial Fiber Arts.

BSG - Fiber Swap
When that was winding down I slipped out to my last "event" of the day. A couple of Ravelry people had arranged to do a fiber swap. Bring your extras, get something new. I decided that the five pounds of Romney I had from last year's fleece was more than enough. I took a pound of it and traded it in. I took out of the pile a pound of black alpaca/silk that was just lovely, and a small bag of Wensleydale locks dyed rosy pink, suitable for needle felting.

BSG - Fiber Swap
All in all I think it was a wonderful Black Sheep Gathering this year. I didn't get into every single amazing thing I saw. There were glass knitting needles and spindles, Spindlewood and Ken Ledbetter, and more types of wool than you could shake a stick at. I had an awesome Saturday, and to be honest, I'm not done. There's still Sunday to blog about. But I think I'll save that for another post.

No comments: