Friday, August 17, 2007

San Mateo County Fair Ribbons

I'm back from Ottawa in Canada, where I attended my cousin's wedding. We stayed at a chateau by White Lake, about 45 miles west of Ottawa, the capitol of Canada. During our trip, we missed the opening of the San Mateo County Fair on August 10. I had entered three items:

- Lyra, the large table center designed by Herbert Niebling

- A smaller doily, also designed by Niebling

- Swallowtail shawl, designed by Evelyn Clark

The Fair requires that the items entered have been completed within the last year. This was the first time I had ever entered anything at the County Fair. The fine knitters at IBKC (Itty Bitty Knitty Committee) who meet in San Bruno had entered items at the 2006 Fair, and it sounded like so much fun! I decided to do it this year, even though I wouldn't be around for the majority of the Fair days, August 10-19.

When I got back from Canada, I found a note from Jeannette at IBKC who told me I had "cleaned up" at the Fair. She told me to read Erica's report about the IBKC group's Fair winnings. WOW! I couldn't believe my eyes! So many of us had won ribbons!

We decided to go to the Fair on Thursday, the day after we got back. When I had dropped off my knitting for judging before we left, I was given an envelope with two tickets to the Fair and a free parking pass. One great thing about exhibiting your work is that you can attend the Fair for free. The cost of entering is only $2 per item, so my three items only cost $6 to enter. The Fair tickets cost $9 per adult.

We took 280 South to 92 East and exited on Delaware St. After parking, we walked in the front gate and were greeted by two dandy cowboys on stuffed horses, handing out the daily schedules. The first thing we noticed in the schedule was: "Pig races?"

Okay, we would have to see those.

Then we wandered around looking at the livestock exhibits. The camels and goats were penned outside one of the buildings. Inside another were cows, chickens, ducks, sheep, and turkeys. We almost entered the "guess the weight" of the steer contest, but then wondered where we would put it if we won. Seriously, I don't know what the prize was for that contest. The hogs were pink and black and lying on their sides in the shredded cardboard that covered the pen floors. We read in the San Mateo County Fair brochure that recycled shredded cardboard would be used in the exhibits instead of straw, in an effort to keep the Fair "green" -- but I did see some straw.

Next we walked over to one of the outdoor music areas. The forlorn band that was playing only had a few people sitting in the audience. Of course it was midafternoon on a Thursday, not a peak time for rock audiences. We stood and watched for a little while, even though, out of the corner of my eye, I could see the name of the adjacent building, "Oak Hall." My knitting was inside, and I could hardly wait.

Inside the door was a table hosted by the Peninsula Quilters. These quilters were sponsoring a number of special prizes at the Fair, so quilts were entered in abundance. They literally covered every wall, and a special standing display in the center of Oak Hall. We saw some of the knitting, some baby things and afghans, and then I spotted - Jeannette's Valkyrie hat! I also found Erica's baby afghan which had won a blue ribbon and some other entries by the IBKC group.

We walked up to the Lace Museum table, where two women were working busily on some amazingly intricate Torchon (bobbin) lace. I love intricate lacy things, and these ladies must have infinite patience to work the beautiful edgings with such tiny threads. This is the lace made on a special pillow, using many pins and bobbins to shape the lace.

Then my husband tapped me on the shoulder and whispered, "I found it." He walked me over to the display cases which held the tablecloths, doilies and other laces. There they were!

My small Niebling doily had won a 1st place blue ribbon.

My Swallowtail Shawl had won a 1st place blue ribbon and a Judge's Choice, Special Award rosette.

And my pride and joy, my Lyra table center, had won a 1st place blue ribbon and the "Best In Show" rosette!

Each award has a monetary value, only about $10 to $25 each. But that wasn't my reason to enter. The fun of seeing my work displayed in an exhibit dedicated to earnest amateurs in various arts, is more than enough compensation.

After visiting Oak Hall, we sat down for a traditional carnival lunch of Polish and Italian sausages, fries and lemonades. The Fair is only once a year, okay?

Suddenly, we heard screams and squeals of enjoyment -- the pig races had begun! We quickly ran over to the pig racing area and saw the little pink squealers running for the finish line! I didn't have time to pick a favorite, but it certainly was a highlight of the Fair.

The bucking Mechanical Bull riders were having their share of fun. I have to say that the fellow operating the bucking controller must be a sadistic fellow -- either that, or he just wanted to move the line along a little faster. Young riders began on a slowly rocking steer, and gradually were shook, bucked, and thunked, harder and harder, until they fell off. Hm, not so good for the sciatica.

So, now I'm thinking about what to enter next year.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention, our little pooch Duke was so happy to see us when we got home from Canada. He really is a wonder. He's 12 years old, and still acts like a puppy, jumping up and dancing on his hind legs whenever we come in the door. Here's a photo of our best pal during a quiet moment.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Myrtle Leaf Shawl ... Finished!

Just in the nick of time! I'm on my way to Ottawa for my cousin's wedding ... with the completed Myrtle Leaf Shawl from Victorian Lace Today!

I don't have time for long descriptions, and no, I didn't even measure it. But it's longer than my blocking board and not quite as wide (about 22" x 70" I'd estimate).

The yarn is Cherry Tree Hill Cascade Lace (100% silk). The color is Moody Blues, which lends itself well to lace - soft, watery blues with just an occasional hint of teal. Contrary to other silks I've used, this color did not run at all when I wet it before blocking.
When I get back from vacation, I'm off to the San Mateo County Fair to visit my entries: the Lyra doily, another Niebling doily, and the Swallowtail Shawl. Wish me luck!