Black Sheep Wool Gathering in Eugene, Oregon, is big. Really Big. It’s the one and only major fiber show in our ‘burb. One half of our little fairgrounds is devoted to sheep and goats, all with lovely, lovely locks.The other side is replete with vendors and the competition exhibition area.
The challenge for me is in getting my satisfaction in just one day. The gathering is held on the same weekend as my honey’s big birthday bash. This year, I spent Friday at the gathering and manged to get my man to the gathering for an hour on Sunday, too. It was soooo fun!
I perused the whole show, goats and sheep and vendors alike, in a couple of hours before buying anything, except the one item I’d been thinking about for the past year. I picked up a Jensen’s Turkish Drop Spindle, the Delight, straight away. It’s a sweet little spindle. I found a soft tencil-merino wool blended fiber in pink and white for my new spindle’s first yarn. It’s the lightest weight yarn I’ve spun so far. I love it.
Every year, Black Sheep Wool Gathering holds my favorite competition, the Sheep-to-Shawl competition. Teams of five or six begin the day with bags of wool and tools and end the day with a finished, beautifully woven shawl. They card the wool, spin it, then weave it in the span of six hours, using no electricity whatsoever. It’s amazing. Many even take time to talk to onlookers about what they’re doing while they’re doing it. I learned a bit about carding using a drum carder this year. Last year, I just stood there watching the teams spinning in an overwhelmed stupor. It was my first year at the gathering and I’d only been spinning (drop spindle) for a couple of weeks at that point. What those spinners did with their spinning wheels looked incalculably challenging.
The spinners in the competition last year had spoken of draft and tension and a whole lot of other details that sailed right over my head. This year, I wasn’t quite so intimidated by those spinning wheels. I even tried my hand at an espinner for the first time. I’ve longed for a spinning wheel, but no one makes one for those of us who stand more than we sit. The Hansen Crafts Minispinner is a sweet little electric wheel that doesn’t need pedaling, so it can be used by someone who likes to sit, stand, or even recline. I have the utmost respect for those folks who can spin at a traditional wheel, but I’ve come to accept I’m not one of them. Sitting that long in such a stationary position aggravates my back. Plus, I like to move. I sat far too long when I was young. So, an electric like the Minispinner is perfect for me. It was fun, too.