Common Ground Fair ~or~ No More Drought in Unity Maine

We went to the fair as planned.

It rained.

Not the tenth- to a quarter-inch that was predicted.  At least an inch.  Maybe more.

We waited for the train in the rain (I highly recommend the train – it saves so much traffic and parking aggravation, and loads of walking.) Mom was generally happier than she looks in this photo – she hates having photos taken, especially with phones and for no reason.  🙂

image

We watched the sheep dog demo in the misty drizzle.  (Love to watch border collies move animals with their eyes.)

sheep-dog-demo

We visited the fiber tents and Wednesday Spinner Tent in a steady rain.

image

We ate lunch in torrential rains.

We took refuge in the folk art tent and watched some fun contra dancing.  While I knit (duh) and Mom and niece B shivered from the cold and wet, we all watched niece E dance with abandon.  Sister C and her husband R were visiting the fair for the first time, and they spent most of the day tracking after E as she went on horse-drawn wagon rides, made a beaded bracelet, hand ground buckwheat into flour, explored all the animal barns, and generally had a blast, heedless of the rain.

I didn’t do as much shopping as I normally would, I am not sure I found all the fiber vendors, as we got so cold and wet that we decided to head out before the contra dancing was quite finished (2:30 or so).

But I did get a bit of fiber!  I wanted to learn more about different kinds of spinning, and so I chatted with a few farmers before making my selections.  If it hadn’t been raining, I would have gotten more from some of them, but I didn’t want to carry huge amount of wet fiber around.

I got this – an ounce of Finn from a woman who raises what look like the happiest of sheep. I plan to do a little dying with this and see how dying on a dark base impacts the color.

finn

And this – Angora/wool mix.  I chatted with the woman in this booth about my spinning skills, and asked her how hard Angora is to spin – it’s hard, apparently, and she recommended a blend with wool, so this is angora and merino.  SO SOFT!

ackers-acres

This I found in the Bartlett tent.  Bartlett has a million colors of yarn, all of which I want.

image

But then in a bin, I discovered these little batts of unidentified wool (Debbie at the Purple Fleece said it feels like Romney, which is why I need to keep learning.  Her fingers can tell her this?  I need a label written in English.)

bartlett

And that is it.  Everything I bought at the fair. I spent perhaps 50 dollars, including ticket and lunch.  Very unlike me. I blame the rain. The absolutely only good thing about the rain is that it keeps the crowds way down, it was wonderfully uncrowded.  Oh, and I guess it is good that we got the rain, since we are still exceedingly dry around here.

I made up for the lack of yarn spending  on Saturday, when I went to Whorls and Purls at the Purple Fleece.  My roving of the month was waiting for me – inspired by a mushroom!  It just feels like autumn to me.  Here are the front and back, looking a bit different from each other.  I love the little touches of purple.

She also had a whole new batch of gradients that I had not seen before,  I got a two skeins of one of them.  I am not completely sure what I will do with these, but I am thinking maybe a shawl, because I need another one, ROTFL!  But with over 800 yards, I have a lot of options.

aquamarine.jpg

So while it wasn’t what I expected to be showing you, I did manage to get a wide array of fiber-y goodness this weekend.

Not sure if I will go to the fair in the rain again…if it rains on Friday next year, I might give it a miss.   I love the fair, but not the cold September rain.

 

Friday list

I took the day off to even out from last week’s crazy hours, and so you get  a Friday list this week. (You lucky thing!)

Oh, such a simple list!

Get up and dressed in a very special fair outfit, meet up with niece B, head off to meet Mom, then go to the (Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association)  Common Ground Fair!

It is supposed to be a rainy day, so the very special fair outfit involves shorts, sneakers and warm socks, a t-shirt, sweater or sweatshirt, a raincoat, and a ball cap.  All of which seriously impedes the ability to shop as all these layers fill the day pack when they are not in use!  A towel, shoes, and socks go in the car so that the ride home can be warm and dry.

This year we are going to Thorndike to catch the train to the fair – a ten minute train ride that hopefully saves lots of traffic congestion and walking from distant parking lots. We would rather spend our walking around energy AT the fair, not getting TO the fair. Conveniently, the train drops us off near the flush toilets!  Mom planned this change, can you tell?

Mom and B will want to spend loads of time with the farm animals large and small.  Fortunately, the animal barns are always located fairly near the fiber and yarn tents.  I am excited this year to check out spinning fibers by local dyers.  Still not ready for a whole fleece (haven’t got hand carders!) so I won’t be lugging three bags full of wool around the fair.  Maybe next year? But I do plan to get some pretty, unique yarn and fiber.

And who knows what I will find in the Maine-made artisan tents?  So much great stuff is made here.

We have a new family rule this year for the fair, though, that I have to keep in mind – if you buy it, you carry it.  So maybe I will leave a layer of clothing off so I can carry more. We’ll see how cold it is.

Then there is the food – !  Cousin B will likely be selling his wood-fired pizza, so delicious – and there is so much more.  The food has to be Maine-sourced, which can make an interesting meal – but we harvest crab meat, and grow potatoes, and make maple goodies….I am hungry just thinking about it.  I will take pictures there and pictures of the things I buy, and share them with you as I do each year – it will be like you came with me to the fair – get ready for a fun day!

 

 

 

It got cold, all of a sudden

I suppose not really, but it sure feels like it. The last few days have been very cold, and extremely windy, which makes very cold feel like bitter artic cold.

Good thing I have lot of cowls and shawls and hats and socks, right?  I do need more sweaters though, and that is a fact. Better move one up the queue.  🙂

Today I was huddled at my desk in a wonderful cowl I made a few years ago (with some fabulous handspun yarn I got at Common Ground Fair – it has PEARLS spun into it!) around my neck, my giant gray fluffy Pi shawl wrapped around my shoulders and torso, and my boss cracked up.  I asked him if he wouldn’t mind paying the heating bill.  🙂

But now I am warmer, and have put the shawl away for a time. But not very far away – I feel the draft when the door opens and it does that frequently in the mornings.

 

My knitting is moving right along – slow on this project, as it is one I only work on when away from home (my “mobile” project)

image

and faster on this one, which I work on each evening.

image

Just about done with the tenth repeat of the third chart – love the pattern and placing the beads as I go is getting to be not as cumbersome as at first – I am developing a rhythm for that, too. Can’t wait to see what the 4th chart looks like… and the 5th and 6th… 🙂

Yarn peeks over the back of the couch at me, calling me, reminding me that I promised it would be next…and maybe it will be.  But maybe not as well.  I have so many conflicting projects and goals pulling me – slowly and steadily build inventory; knit up the stash and make me some warm things; make more pretty jewelry because I love playing with the beads; try some of the ornament patterns I have bookmarked… which could also be inventory building, right?

 

I barely have time to go to work.  And it is so cold out there, I really don’t want to…

Fair!

If you have followed me for any length of time, you know that each September I head to Unity Maine for the Common Ground Fair.  Along with several tens of thousands of my closest friends and relatives.  🙂

In years past, I have tried to do it all – check out the amazing crafts, the fabulous farmers markets (there are two, one at each gate) the animals, and OF COURSE, the fiber-related things.  There are also concerts, contradancing, demonstrations, all kinds of energy-related exhibits, and beautiful furniture made by fabulous craftsmen and women.  It is amazing!  And the food.  Heavens, it is good, organic, locally grown stuff.

And I usually am half dead by the time I need to leave and find the car, which is miles (it seems) farther away than it was in the morning.

This year, I went with Mom, niece B and cousin P, and had a specific list of yarn I wanted to find, and a small allowance for yarn I did not know I wanted to find.  🙂

Mom is nothing if she is not brilliant, and she realized somewhere on the long drive that we four had different things we wanted to focus on.  B wanted to see animals up close and personal.  P wanted to shop the crafts booths and farmers markets until she could carry no more.  I was all about the yarn. Mom had no agenda except to avoid the usually mobbed craft tents.  So she suggested we split up then meet for lunch.

Brilliant.  We made sure we had phone numbers in case of missed connections, and off we went!  She and B settled into a slow and careful animal experience, including a horse drawn wagon ride. P waded into the crafters tents.  I wasted no time finding the “Maine Fiber Farm” tent.  I did remember to take photos of the tent and displays for you.  I have no idea who the random shoppers are, but there were many of them, doing what I was – just touching and absorbing the feel of the stuff and the colors.

image

Can you believe this felt? the detail is just beautiful.  And that goat – it looks real to me.  🙂

image

This yarn is cashmere, they also had quiviet – but I took the photo for the screen – lovely carved wood.

image

Everyone is so creative!

image

colors and fiber

image

and colors and fiber

image

and colors and fiber (and this is where I made my planned purchase – my favorite wool/angora vendor!  So soft inside a hat)

image

and colors and fiber

image

and colors and fiber

image

and colors and fiber

image

and look what you can do with it!

image

amazing hats on an amazing hat tree!

There were many merchant tents all around the fiber farm tent, I did not get photos of them all, but I did check them all out.  And made only ONE unplanned purchase, the bookkeeper is thrilled. But it was tough, there are so many beautiful yarns made in Maine, and the colors – I need them all!

There also was a fleece tent.  I went in, wandered through and left, feeling fortunate that I have not yet really learned to spin, because there were some amazing purchases to be made in that tent.  Some day.

I wandered back toward the animals, and stopped for a little border collie demo – fun to watch, but not as exciting as the real trials are.  And since we had border collies when I was a teen, I am well aware of how well they catch a Frisbee.  (My brother can also attest to how effectively they can round up a teenager on a bike and keep him in the yard, whether he wants to stay there or not.  :-))

Then it was meet up time in the food area.  We all found each other easily, and wandered through the fast-growing crowds in search of the perfect lunch.  By now I was getting tired, and so I chose my lunch by the most important factor – shortest line.  🙂  I had a fabulous baked potato smothered in cheese and broccoli, P also got a potato. Mom went for a little bit longer line but more special lunch and got a crab meat roll.  it turns out B and Mom had already eaten a huge pile of freshly made potato chips, so B was not hungry.

image

Some of the crowds in search of lunch.  (No, lemons don’t grow in Maine, but funnily enough, water is their main ingredient, so they are in! They also sold cider)

We grabbed our favorite spot to settle – on the little farmhouse steps, and settled in for a long rest.  Mom was done with the fair, even though she never looked at a skein of yarn.  P had scoped everything out but not bought a lot, she wanted another foray into the crowds.  B was enviously eyeing the young women wearing herbal/dried flower wreaths in their hair and thought she wanted one.  I was almost out of money, but wanted to be sure to get some maple candy on the way out.  So, Mom and I sent P and B off to find their treasures, and Mom and I sat in the shade waiting for them.  I had my knitting, so was very content.

When they returned, bedecked with flowers and packages, we worked out way to the farmers market for candy, carrots, and a few other things that looked too good to resist.  If I thought we had room in the car, I would have bought a fabulous new drying rack.  Instead, I grabbed a card so I can get one sometime when we have fewer people in the back seat.

We decided to ride the tractor wagon back to the parking lot, but still had quite a hike to the car – I don’t get how the fields grow so big in a mere 6 hours!

So it was a different fair experience, but a good one, and I did get yarn, which is a major reason I go.  🙂

One thing we either missed or wasn’t there this year was ice cream.  Very sad!  We got back to Belfast, where we had all met, and P took us to a great place downtown for a small sugary treat before we parted.  Our timing was great, as the place was closing for the season on Sunday.

B and I headed for home – tired, but not as tired as I would have been if I had tried to see everything.  Another year, I think I will go on Friday again – much less crowded, and I feel like I am able to cover more ground.  And maybe before then I will win the lottery so I can buy more yarn.  lol.  And a wagon to haul it all around in all day.

B had a really good time, and loved her animal fix.  She came up with a “brilliant” plan, too.  Mom should get chickens which are B’s favorite animal, so she could visit them. That way, Mom would have lots of eggs, and B would have pets.  And I should get about 20 angora rabbits and a spinning wheel and make my own yarn to save money (little does she know!)  She will come help clean the hutches and play with them.

As expected, Mom and A nixed these brilliant ideas, and so B will have to get her own house and have all the rabbits and chickens she can handle.  Probably more!

For the record, the twenty-year-old who laughs at the old ladies (us) for going to bed so early every night went to bed BEFORE us and slept 12 hours. I think she liked the fair.

So, here’s the yarn I got –

The planned purchase of the blue wool/angora from Hidden Brook fibers in Stow ME.  I made a hat with this color last year, and have someone interested in the same hat in a smaller size, so I was glad to find the color.  🙂  Of course this is a phone photo and the color is way off. It is a pale summer sky blue.

image

The unplanned purchase of wool/alpaca – just could not resist this skein.  It will likely be a hat – maybe lined or trimmed with the angora blend? I felt silly buying this yarn at the fair, because the farm is right in Belfast, and I can go there any time and buy more.  But it was there and I was there and I had the money for it burning a hole in my pocket. I have two sweaters in their yarns, and love them. Alpaca is really warm, but not heavy. It does pill, though, so I probably won’t make more sweaters with only this yarn, but  I WILL make more hats with it! (And again, color is bad, it is much less purple than this and more blue. Also not as strong colors.)

image

Both are so warm and soft…

So that is my Saturday fair adventure – I wish you could have come with me – maybe next year?

 

half a Friday list

Sneaking this in – I’ll only be working half a day today, so I put together a short little list for this afternoon.

I will hit the grocery store on the way home, and the PO.  Company coming for the weekend!  My niece from college again.  We have a big event to draw her to us this time, plus of course, free washer, dryer, quiet room and good food.  🙂

Once home I plan to tidy her room which might not be the way she left it.  🙂

I’ll also tidy the living room and dining table, as I seem to have smeared my way around the house this week.  After that, it is knitting and visiting with her while we make lasagna.

A will be home late, but I am sure B and I will fill the time while we wait for her!  A few games, some good food, and possibly the last swim of the season.

brrrrr

2015-CGCF-Postcard-border-240px

This weekend is the Common Ground Fair “celebrating rural life” put on by MOFGA (Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association.) Niece B has never been, but wants to be a farmer, loves her chickens, and misses all of her pets, so it will be a fun day.  I of course will get some yarn.  And hopefully lots of photos.  I can’t even begin to explain to you the fibery goodness of this fair, and it isn’t even a fiber festival!  there is just so much that is amazing at this thing, I wish I didn’t get exhausted halfway through it. I’ll show you the photos and tell you what was great about it when I write next week.

Sunday will be chores, I am guessing, since they have to get doe sometime, right?  I want to get a bed ready to accept garlic, which should be planted any time now.  And check and see if my little pumpkin is ready to be picked – it is all orange now, but how do I know it is really ready?  I have no clue, but will wing it.  🙂 I’ll put the asparagus to bed for the winter as well.  Lots to do, might not get it all done this weekend.  Or this life time.

What are you doing this first weekend of fall?

Friday at the fair

common ground

This weekend was the long anticipated Common Ground Fair.  I headed out early with Mom and Cousin P, and it was a GLORIOUS day, weather-wise.  We couldn’t help but compare it to other years where we swam through pouring rain to go to the fair, or slogged through ankle deep mud to see the animals and fiber, or froze and huddled by the cows to keep warm.  🙂  Not so this year.  This year we are in a dry spell – no mud.  The skies are bright and clear – no rain. While it was a cold morning, it was nothing a pair of wool socks and a hooded sweater couldn’t fix.

We wandered through the Maine Marketplace tents and found Cousin B’s pizza at Harvest Moon Wood-fired Pizza.  Said hello to the gang before heading off to the crafters tents.  Oh my goodness, the things people make!  Jewelry, hand-wovens, knits, wood work, pottery, amazing things. These tents were filled to the brim (and around the outside) with all the things Maine Artisans make, and it is awe-inspiring.

Then it was over to the animals and then fiber land.  I spent a long time – an hour or more in just one tent, and came out with a skein of luscious 60/40 merino/angora bright pink yarn, in a weight somewhere between sport and DK.  It is soft and luscious and bright, and will make a great addition to my hats.

pink angora

By then it was lunch time, and so we braved the crowds and of course got pizza – mmmmmm it was yummy.  We sat on some steps in the sunshine and enjoyed the good food and great weather.  By then, the crowds were building, which none of the three of us were excited about – it is why we go to the fair early on the first day.

pizza

So, we made a plan to get some cash, hit the flushable toilets and then shop our way back to the car, drop off purchases and then head back in for the contra-dancing.

By the time we got to the gate, I knew I was done, and asked the others to please not worry about me, but I was going to stay at the car and nap and knit.  Turns out they were just as tired, so we headed home.

It was a great day,and I came home with a good amount of yarn for someone who didn’t have a lot of money and couldn’t find two of her favorite vendors in the giant fair. I found some great mini skein packs at the Bartlett tent – I wish I had money for more of these guys! I MIGHT have found some yarn for my leftie shawl…

berry

peacock

And bread from Borealis Breads, and maple candy and a new thing – Maple jelly!  Can’t wait to try that on some peanut butter toast… or vanilla ice cream… or crepes… I also got a little something for the cats – best catnip ever – in little toys and bags.common ground loot

And as we walked back to the car at the end of the day, I noticed my shoes were dusty.  Not wet, not muddy.  Dusty.  A good day.

Friday list

Well, I was thinking that I would do a fun exciting list for you guys but I just don’t know. The Common Ground Fair is this weekend, and it is THE place to go to get wonderful locally grown/spun/dyed fiber and local food And look at wonderful expensive jewelry. But I can’t find a soul to go with. (Crimson Crow if you are reading this, I hope you will go with me, I sent you an email earlier) and it is enough of a chore that I don’t want to go by myself. Except I could get yarn… but it is a nuisance to get to, and to park at. But I could get yarn…

Anyway, I don’t know about that. If I don’t go, then I will:

-Finish getting the pool ready to go to the dump
-laundry (always)
-start putting the gardens to bed, clearing out annuals, etc.
-Bring houseplants in from the deck
-Do a little more pruning on the bank, and maybe pull some crabgrass out of the garden and then move daylilies from the bank to the garden – follow that?
-grocery shopping
-PO
-Crocheting
-I might call my sweet sister and see how we can get that last skein of Quince and Co yarn to me, as I ran out last night, and I want to finish the shawl, so I can start wearing it. It is getting cool!
-I should call my dad, too…
and write some email correspondence I have been putting off. But I probably will continue to put that off.
-also, get photos off camera so I can share them with you, I think I have some beauties. Or potential beauties when I crop out the strange things that appear in my photos.
-Work on the mystery knitting project so I can share it with you.
-Another thing I know I will do is finish up Aunt Nan’s birthday card and mail it off. It will be last as Friday is her birthday. Oops.
-And I will weigh in for the Biggest Loser. Yep, we are starting that again this week. We have eaten plenty in preparation for it, I must say. Might just defeat the purpose, right?

You can see how much fun I will have if I don’t go to the fair.

Crimson Crow, PLEASE call me. Save me from this drudgery. 🙂 Are any readers out there near enough to Maine that you would like to experience the great Maine organic rural living agriculture extravaganza known as the Common Ground Fair with me? Leave a comment, we can make it work.