March 30, 2014

Wisconsin Sheep and Wool, Part 1, guest blog by blondviolinist

 

“Hey, I’m going to Wisconsin Sheep & Wool to pick up a spinning wheel. You guys want to come along?” asked my friend Carol. Silly question! Of course we wanted to come along to one of the biggest sheep & wool festivals in the central US!

So in mid-September four knitting enthusiasts packed up our travel knitting and our water bottles, and headed for Wisconsin. The festival is held in Jefferson, a small town near Madison, WI (a few hours north of Chicago). A sheep & wool festival isn’t just about knitting. It’s about everything related to sheep, including herding, shearing, baby lambs, and (most importantly for Carol & me) spinning wool into yarn!

When we made it through the front gates of the fairgrounds, our first goal was to go through the barns where the vendors were set up. So much brightly colored yarn! So many squishy braids of wool waiting to be spun!

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Though many vendors were local, there were also vendors who’d come from across the US to be a part of Wisconsin Sheep & Wool. There were spinning wheels and spindles and buttons and ceramics and finished shawls and pretty knitting notions.

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There were even spinning wheels made from PVC pipe!

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The aisles in the vending barn were crowded, but if you accidentally bumped into someone it wasn’t usually too bad, because most of us were well-padded by our purchases!

After I’d wandered through the sale barns once (you have to scope things out before you commit to purchases!), I headed out to watch the sheep dog trials.

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I’d only seen sheep dog trials in arenas before, so it was fun to see them in a big field. It made photographing the trials a bit challenging, however!

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(“You’re not REALLY going to make us go in that pen, are you?”)

While I sat & watched, a man & his border collie came over near the bleachers, and started answering the crowd’s questions about herding dogs and herding trials. It was especially interesting to hear him explain how shepherds use dogs’ natural pack-hunting instincts to train dogs to herd. I knew about the slinking-low-to-the-ground being a hunting thing, but I didn’t realize the dogs bring the sheep back to the shepherd because in the wild they would bring the sheep back to the rest of their pack. It made sense, though!

Still unable to decide what I wanted in the sale barns, I wandered off in search of food. On my way, I found the rug displays.

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Who wouldn’t want a wooly hippo wall calendar?

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The felting projects in the crafting competition were also fun.

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Then it was time to head over to the sheep shearing demonstration!

(To be continued!)

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