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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Black Sheep Report Part 1

Well, we arrived in Eugene on Thursday afternoon and visited with a woman I had worked with when I was in college. She didn't know that we had a fourth child, and being a grandmother herself, she had lots of fun playing with the kids. After spending a couple of hours with her, we picked up a few necessities and headed to the hotel.

Our little place had a small kitchen with a refrigerator, two burner stove, microwave and coffee machine. When you travel with four small children, this is a necessity. The kids were exhausted, so we settled them in and I took the car to pick up breakfast and lunch foods and get some Wendy's for dinner (nobody felt like making dinner that night).

We ate dinner rather late, and just got the kids ready for bed right away. Rich and I took some chairs from the hotel and sat in the corridor with our books, my knitting and some oreos and milk, for him, coffee, for me. We took an early bedtime ourselves, though, because the next morning was the opening of Black Sheep and the Sheep to Shawl!

We got there in time to watch the Sheep to Shawl teams spinning and plying the wool (I have photos of some of this, and the finished work, for those who are interested). The shawls were woven, not knit, and the warp was already threaded on the looms. They had five teams of five, and they had five hours to complete the shawl. The shawls were judged on appearance and quality of workmanship, and if there were a tie, the winner would be the one who finished first. We checked back on this periodically as we browsed the market.

Here are some examples of the wonders awaiting people at the market:

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This last shot is of some yarns that were spun and handpainted out of fiber from my high school American History teacher's sheep, alpaca and angora goats. He and his wife raise the animals, and she spins and dyes the yarn. I bought about 475 yards of handpainted suri alpaca laceweight from them. I will get a photo of that up soon. Fox Hollow Farm and Fiber should show you a little more of their stuff.

We had a nice time visiting with him, and looking back on the old days. They seemed older to him, I think, as I showed up married and with four children.

The boys were especially interested in the spinning, spinning wheels, drum carders, swifts, skein hang ups, basically the tools. This spinning wheel in particular caught our eyes.

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They were all interested in the sheep and the goats and the angora rabbits, but I didn't think to take pictures of those, so you'll have to take my word that they were lovely and wonderful. We watched several shearings, and some of the demonstrations. But, that was in building four and we are still in building one.

At the place with the rainbow of roving balls in the above photos, we saw a fellow plying a beaded strand onto a single of wool. I forgot to ask if they sold it and don't have the name of the place! I would so buy beaded yarn. But, I have a picture of the yarn on the bobbin and of the plying itself.

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We took a break for lunch out front, and after eating, we let the kids run around a bit.

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They were being real troopers, but the day was wearing on them.

Then it was back to the market. I didn't take any classes this year, and I regret not buying any raffle tickets, but there is always next year. I sat and spun at some of the wheels that Woodland Woolworks brought. I left them reluctantly, because this year was not the year to purchase a wheel for me.

There was plenty else to tempt me while we shopped. I came largely in search of lace yarn and lace patterns and found them. I bought a pattern for an Autumn Breeze Shawl from Hokulani Farms that I saw last year, and Fiber Trends' Seascape Shawl pattern.

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I very nearly bought some of this lady's yarn, at Hand Jive Knits, the purple to the lower right of the shawl. However, I waited and was rewarded by an amazing silk-camel blend at Skaska Designs. 1600 yards of it. This is an example of their shawl patterns.

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There were, of course many offerings of handpainted yarns in many colorways to please the eye.

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These, along with many others, are made by Blue Moon Fiber Arts. There were several of their yarns that I coveted.

At one point, I ran into a woman with whom I went to high school. It turns out that she now works at a local yarn shop in Eugene, Soft Horizons. It was fun to watch her surprise at discovering I was the mother of four, and I got to show Rich and the kids off to her.

By about 2:30, though, the kids really had had enough. They went to bed late, woke up early, had no nap or quiet time and had spent all day walking around Black Sheep (or being pushed around in the stroller, which is also quite nice for holding your knitting bag, purchases, etc). So, we headed back toward the hotel, stopping to pick up some sandals for Alexander and Amira (they had a 60% off sale at Payless). Alexander picked out some particularly hideous sandals, that I knew he would love, because the sales lady described them as water socks. I wish she had just pointed out the sandals and kept her mouth shut, but there you go. Amira was asleep in the car with Rich and the other boys, and she makes no complaints or requests about how we dress her yet, so I brought sandals out to her to measure against her sleeping feet, and picked out some adorable white leather sandals with bows.

That night, we had our dinner with Fr. Bryce and Deanna, who also had their daughter in law and New Baby Grandson visiting them from England. I think we overwhelmed this only child, first time mother, but she seemed to like us anyway. We had a nice little barbecue in their backyard and ate s'mores. We missed out on getting the picture of Amira covered from head to toe in toasted marshmallow and chocolate. She's so lucky, we never let the boys eat stuff like that at her age.

The kids, feeling no reserve or shyness, immediately grabbed the box of toys that were out and loudly played trucks and whatever else was there. Amira really took off on her walking this past weekend. She was doing alright walking from one wall to another, or a piece of furniture to another one, but she finally really got going this weekend. So, I will leave you with a parting shot from our last day there. And you can take a look at those sandals!

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