I went to Windsor today to volunteer at the Fiber Frolic. This is the 11th year for the Frolic and my virgin foray … and Oh. My. God. I’m so sad that I didn’t got yesterday too.
Wonderful people, great exhibits … both fleece, fiber, supplies, animals, and what you can do with them. We watched a sheep and an alpaca being shorn. I’d rather be a sheep because they bound the feet of the alpaca. He (or she) didn’t appear to be particularly happy about it and was quite vocal. We saw a shepherd and his four Border Collies (and a Bernese Mountain dog named Sadie that he was caring for) demonstrate good, and not so good, sheep herding. It’s simply amazing what those dogs and their master can do. The “better trained” dogs can pick out white or brown sheep and know the difference between sheep and goats. He did have one dog who was young and green. She was very naughty but absolutely hilarious to watch. The vendors were plentiful and had lots of stock for day two of the Frolic. And I was in yarn heaven. It also humbles me because despite the fact that I’ve been knitting for twenty plus years, I know so little about where the fibers come from. I’d love, one day, to shear an animal, process the fleece, spin the wool and knit a garment.
I learned that there are several varieties of alpaca fleece. The youngest “Cria” alpaca provide the softest fleeces. It’s not unusual to have different quality fleece from different animals (obviously the thicker the fleece, the more valuable the animal.) One vendor had fleece blankets on display; not only could you purchase them but it enabled this relative novice to feel and learn. And crave!
Fiber people are such lovely people and are happy to share their knowledge. I spoke with a woman who has a Cashmere goat farm in Washington, ME (where we went to summer camp as children and were counselors together) and she was delightful to chat with and I learned a lot about Cashmere goats. I even held a one week old kid at the adjoining booth –
I was in love. Cashmere goats live to be about ten years old. When they get old, the others in the herd will pick on them and they are put down. The ones that I got up close and personal with were a beautiful silvery gray color and they all have the most beautiful eyes. Cashmere goats don’t give a ton of fiber every year … but they sure have a lot of personality!
I had a lovely day today at the Frolic and hope I can get there again next year … for two days (and take a class or two!) Yup, I’m hooked!