Fair Offerings

A Visit To The State Fair

Nicely sewn and expertly lined outfit.  Well earned blue ribbon

Nicely sewn and expertly lined outfit. Well earned blue ribbon

Generally when I visit the State Fair, I have with me a family member or friend to enjoy it with.  I can hardly wait to get inside the building that houses the handicrafts, fiber and other sundry arts.  They glance at all the fiber arts and note the entries with a ribbon, but I need more.  I want to see the stitching, See where the artist lives, look at them from different angles and take in the results of their individual techniques and color choices.  There’s also some demonstrations with people from different guilds to talk to.  My “fair” partner always waits patiently, but I hurry along, because I know they’re only being polite, their interest has long since faded.  This year I went alone, purposely, so I could tarry along as leisurely as I like.  What a difference, I saw less of the fair, but spent more time, and met some awesome artists.

Done with squares, this quilt has a lot of movement.  Perhaps changing one color choice would have earned a ribbon

Done with squares, this quilt has a lot of movement. Perhaps changing one color choice would have earned a ribbon

The handicraft building was right next to the entrance I came in.  Convenient!  There were quilts, lots of quilts.  The best of show was very patriotic, in fact there were a number of patriotic pieces with Best Of Show ribbons (note to self).  There was one quilt in particular that should have had a ribbon, but sadly was over looked (maybe the ribbon fell off?).  It was done in squares, but had movement.  It looked like a Celtic knot of sorts, and we know how much I like Celtic Knots.  The needlework was amazing, some of it quite stunning, including: embroidery, cross stitch, needlepoint, crewel, laid gold-work and some huck.  There was an array of crochet and knitting, some lovely afghans and doilies.  There was a well-earned ribbon on an outfit.  A blazer and skirt constructed with a lining and expertly sewn.  I wish I wrote down the artist name as it would be worth a trip for a little one on one workshop.  There were tables forming a square where different artists sat demonstrating their craft and educating people who showed an interest.  All were very nice and very approachable.    

Nice laid gold and silver embroidery piece.  I think it would have gotten second place if the piece laid flatter.

Nice laid gold and silver embroidery piece. I think it would have gotten second place if the piece laid flatter.

There’s other non-fiber arts in the handicraft building.  Lots of neat displays from the school kids on all sorts of subjects.  Some great photography was displayed, you can pick up hints and tricks just checking out ones with a ribbon, and great art with pencil and paint too.  The woodworking was insane.  Beautiful woodworking with lots of ribbons, I just wanted to touch them all (darn those “no touching” signs, and pesky witnesses).  Some great ceramics, and oddly enough, aquariums.  The fiber arts have to come last or you’ll completely overlook the rest.  I checked my time, I spent several hours in that building.  I met some nice Angora rabbit breeders, the wife is a fellow spinner (with my dream wheel), it was all I could do to not ask if I could give it a go.  It’s too bad the email address on her card doesn’t work, she would have been great to keep in touch with.  I had a chance to get a good look at some rare and not so rare breeds of sheep.  I even got a shot of a few Shetlands, tiny as they are even for sheep.   There was a vendor in Cracker Country that had some hand-woven and crocheted rugs for sale along with some woodworking finds.  I was impressed with their display, and snapped a shot of it.  I found a few weaving tools (sold as hair or shawl sticks) that I couldn’t leave there.  I brought them home and fine tuned the shape and smoothness for some nice Inkle Pick-Up tools.  I love new weaving tools, even if I have to re-purpose something – nothing a variety of sandpaper and elbow grease can’t fix.

Inkle Pick-Up  weaving tools.  Sold as hair/shawl sticks.  A variety of sandpaper & elbow grease for fine tuning

Inkle Pick-Up weaving tools. Sold as hair/shawl sticks. A variety of sandpaper & elbow grease for fine tuning

I ate surprisingly little, oddly enough, without a witness in sight.  There was a few things I was dying for, but I just didn’t feel like I had the room for them (another advantage to tight jeans).  The fair vendors have an odd sense of what’s digestible.  I found a few unsavory things that may have stanched my apatite.  It’s been about 5 years since I’ve been to the State Fair, but I remember a lot more demonstrations, especially in Cracker Country.  I miss those, I find them educational and interesting.  I consider that a loss – a fair fail, so to speak.  The Expo Hall was lacking, I remember it being more robust.  There was also a complete lack of hand-weaving and hand-spinning in the handicrafts building.  Not one hand wove item, and not one single skein of hand spun yarn.  I need to check online to see if there’s still a category for them.  This means I’ll need to attend the Strawberry festival to get my fill of fiber arts with ribbons.  Perhaps I’ll see some weaving and spinning there.  If I bring a friend, I’ll have an idea how long to tell them to go on their own before looking for me.  It’s great to see that Florida has so much talent, and we see only the tip of the iceberg.

A website devoted to learning, sharing and teaching a wide range of fiber arts. Inkle, Tablet and Navajo style weaving, Spinning, Knitting, Crochet, Sewing and Lace Making. Silver Work, Beading and Tool Making grace my bench as well.

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