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Fiber Fun



This weekend, Mark and I went to the Southeastern Fiber Fair. It is a huge event for people in the fiber and textile industries, associated of course, with those animals that produce the fiber. The event was in Asheville, a three hour drive from home and featured three days of seminars and classes on subjects like spinning, felting, dying, how to breed llamas for enhanced color, or pasture care for sheep grazing. I didn’t sign up for any classes this time. I mainly wanted to see the vendors and check out what this new world was all about.  I figured if I was intrigued, I’d return next year for the long weekend to participate more fully. (And I will.)


As we packed up the car, I tossed a small and a large dog carrier into the back of the car. Mark didn’t say anything.

About an hour into the drive, I said, “I suppose you noticed the cages in the back.” 


He grinned and said, “Not like I didn’t already know there would be more than two of us returning from this trip.” 

Gotta love any fellow who knows you that well  (and decides to keeps ya).


I had been talking about wanting a female English angora rabbit with a pedigree, and I had read that several vendors would have them available at the fair. I have two angoras now, but they haven’t reproduced. This August, when the heat was unbearable, I decided to shave them bald and low and behold, my female had balls. Oops. No wonder the dang rabbit won’t get pregnant. I could have called the woman I bought them from, because she is my spinning teacher and a friend and she would no doubt change out my “he” for a “she”, but now that I’ve had these bunnies for a year, I’m attached. I couldn’t possibly send away little Cumulus (we named him after the cloud). So I determined the solution was to buy a female. Since I now have a stormy grey and a snow white angora, I was hoping for a light tan color called “fawn”. 
 

The problem was, as we visited the vendors with rabbits, all the fawn colored girls had already been sold. Gotta move fast at the fiber fair, I learned. But Mark and I both were very taken with a chocolate colored rabbit with a striking face (guaranteed girl – we’re no rabbit fools anymore – we check, recheck then check again), so we bought her.
 

Then the next morning when we returned to the fair to pick up the bunny, we took one last stroll along the outside stall vendors to peek at the llamas, and don’t ya know, we see one last beautiful fawn female rabbit for sale.


Mark said, “Heck, if you really want this color, go ahead and buy her.”

I figured if he was going to pressure me so strongly, I might as well indulge myself. So, I came home with two beautiful female angoras tucked neatly in a dog carrier. Yippee!



Denver’s school is an hour away, so she met us for the day. What we didn’t consider was the fact that she is highly allergic to animal fur, and obviously this place was loaded with it. Duh.  It didn’t take long for her to start sneezing and feeling bothered, so we cut the day short. We were there for the few hours and we all had a fascinating time.

We began by viewing the llamas. They were having a llama show that morning, along with a sheep and Angora goat competition. I happen to be very interested in getting angora goats, but I wanted to see these animals in the flesh first, so the goat area is where we headed. Mark was as fascinated as I when we viewed what looked like sheep, only with a goat like face. I am not enamored with sheep, they are timid and boring and more work than pleasure, so I don’t ever plan to raise them. (I should never say never, but so far, that is how I feel). But the goats area different matter entirely. Goats are curious, personal, and they make me laugh. The angora goats look like Shirley Temple if she were an animal. Too cute!





We watched the competition, learning about what is considered good conformation and good fiber each time winners were announced with an explanation of why the goats placed as they did. There were goats available for sale and we came close to purchasing one or two, but we had plans to visit Denver’s school for a day before going home, so we thought the timing wasn’t very good. We decided it might be best to wait until spring so we can be really prepared for a new breed of animal at home and think it through. Gotta watch that impulse buying when it comes to animals, because it demands a commitment long after the thrill of loving on the new cute fuzzy friend.  
 

Next, we saw the man who sheered our llamas last month – he was showing three llamas. One happened to be a registered, white male, only 4 months old. We both were taken with this gentle, pretty boy, and asked if he was for sale. He was, of course, and so Mark and I both began thinking about expanding our llama holdings. The problem is, our girl is registered, but the male is not, so whatever babies we have are worth less than if they had papers, because without two authentic registered parents, new offspring cannot be registered or shown (which is a popular thing with llama lovers). We have discussed neutering our male (who once was registered, but the last owner lost the paperwork. What do you expect from boys who name their llama “Niger”. Eesh. ) Anyway, he is a member of the family now, so it would be hard to just sell him off. We are thinking it might be nice to buy a registered boy in another color to expand our breeding possibilities. So we admired the young, white llama thinking about the situation.


(Here he is, but he didn’t turn around, darn it.)

We have the fellow’s number and we said we might call, but later we decided that perhaps we should wait until next year for a new llama too. We are expecting a baby in spring, so it is not like we need another male yet. Every mouth to feed in the winter is a trial due to the fact that there is a national shortage of hay currently, thanks to area droughts. It is weird that we must think this way (like farmers) but that is the reality of our new lifestyle. We are always considering our limits in regards to feed and pasture availability.



We had fun looking at the beautiful llamas. I was jealous, because these llamas are so tame they give their owners kisses. My llamas are standoffish by comparison.


Llama people are fun to talk too. They have this wonderful enthusiasm for the beast, and they are quick to share information. We learned about “click and reward” systems of training, and people shared their experiences. I’m now thinking it is time to work with my llamas at home. Heck, I want kissing llamas too. We must be becoming llama savvy over time, because out of dozens of competitors,  the animal we were most impressed with happened to win the overall best in show. Apparently we have an eye for llama superiority. Who knew?  This does not seem to carry over to my own llamas, of course, because I happen to think they are the bestest llamas in the world, despite their flaws. Love does that to a gal.
  

I took a huge bag of my own llama fiber, a box of my collected angora wool, and a sheep fleece I’d purchased online to a vendor with a fiber mill. They will professionally card into roving, making a variety of blends from my base fiber, and in four months, I’ll get it back washed and ready to spin. Fun.



I purchased some hand dyed roving to spin now too. It was fun shopping at the booths because there were such vibrant, interesting blends and color combinations. We could run our hands along all kinds of llama wool, natural sheep fleeces, every kind of yarn imaginable and see finished products like hand knit scarves, hats and sweaters etc.. We saw demonstrations of looms, spinning wheels, carders (I am dying to get one of these) and other fiber instruments.

There were soap makers there too, and I inspected their wares (in a competitive way, I confess.)


It was a great day. We stayed in a lovely Victorian Bed and Breakfast and next went to visit Denver at her jewelry craftsmen school. I’ll tell you about that – but not today.

I’m late for a quilting class this morning, and IT’S HALLOWEEN. Gotta make pumpkin soup today, don’t ya know.


Later.  . . boo.

 

About Ginny East Shaddock

Director of Heartwood Retreat Center, Ginny is also a writer. This is her personal blog with essay form writing about life and reflection. My entries are often lengthy and random, because I'm not here to promote or sell anything. I'm not expecting followers - just find this format a good place to think with the pen.

3 responses »

  1. I wondered how long it would take you to write about that weekend. Always love it when I’m mentioned in the famous blog. Can’t forget about the eldest child, ya know 😉 Happy halloween, since I couldn’t get a hold of you all tonight and I love ya! _den_

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  2. Hi, I previously attended Mark and Ginny Hendry’s Kiddance workshop. Gosh, that was about 8 years ago. I’ve been traveling throughout Asia for the past 20-years and would like to implement a comprehensive Kiddance syllabus program throughout Asia (specifically Singapore, Thailand, China and India). Here’s some stuff about me: <A href="http://http://www.billcalhoun.com“>http://www.billcalhoun.com http://www.ezyhealthholdings.com/ext/emag1.html Looking forward to hearing from you. Regards, Bill Calhoun <A href="http://http://www.billcalhoun.com“>http://www.billcalhoun.com http://www.billcalhoun.blogspot.com

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  3. Well, what do you know. It took me a minute to place the name, but I do remember you, Bill. You (and a few others) gave me the right to say our program went INTERnational. Fun. Amazing how this blog turns up people I would never guess would bother to find me.Kiddance is a strong program – and timeless – though I am not devoted to youth dance education anymore. I retired two years ago. We sold our studios, closed out the Kiddance company, and stopped guest teaching to invent a new sort of life- though there are people who sure tempt me to come out of retirement often. I continually get orders for our products and offers to teach masterclasses. Nevertheless, I am trying to move on from dance and explore other art related careers. I am a fish out of water now, gasping and floundering on the shore, wondering why the heck I thought I could survive without swimming (dancing). I’m sure, as a fellow dancer, you can imagine how such a choice wreaks havock on the identity. But the fact that I am not currently active with my children’s dance program does not mean I wouldn’t love helping you to incorporate it into your plans. Frankly, the idea of our work being implimented in Asia is not only flattering, but pretty interesting on multi-levels. And while I left dance, dance didn’t leave me. I am filled with ongoing ideas and new concepts that really would love to find a home where it is appreciated and nurtured in it’s origional state. I will get in touch with you. Until then, good luck and let me say that I admire your ongoing passion for dance education. You have always been someone who continually expands his horizons, with ongoing research and developement at the forfront of your growth. The world could use more teachers like you in it – people who are commited to technique, creativity, and sound foundations rather than surface glitz. Guess that is something easier to embrace in Asia than here at home.  For the record, I won’t help you unless you can produce some pretty cool pictures (and stories) of Asia. Make me (the new country girl with wanderlust) jealous, Bill. Ah, who am I kidding. I already am.  Regards.

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