30th June 2008
"We're going on vacation" - I'd say to my friends.
"Oh, where are you going?" they'd ask.
"To Eugene for the Black Sheep Gathering, of course" I answer.
The third weekend in June has been our traditional vacation for the past 8 or so years. It is the Black Sheep Festival in Eugene Oregon.
The Gathering has 4 main parts -
The Sheep Show, The Wool Show, The Fiber Arts Show, and The Vendor Fair.
Quite frankly, in the number of times that I've been to Black Sheep, I've never really paid any mind to the wool show. I wasn't spinning then, we didn't have any fleeces entered, and it really didn't interest me much.
That all changed this year.
The judge this year was Lettie Kline from Kalamazoo, MI. Lettie has over 25 years experience raising Karakul sheep and has co-authored a book about making braided wool rugs called "The Shepherd's Rug" that is available on her web site. She also writes wonderful stories for the Black Sheep Newsletter. She pretty much knows her stuff when it comes to wool - and she is, admittedly, fond of Shetlands.
Lettie was wearing a microphone and evaluates each fleece as she goes along, so you know what her thinking is. First off, she went through all the fleeces, looking and touching, moving some around. When she picked up Luna's fleece and took it to the "head" of the table, we (The Shepherd and myself and our friend Donna)
held our collective breaths.
Lettie explained that one thing she looks for in Shetland fleeces is denseness in the locks, and Luna's fleece is indeed dense. It is also very soft and passed the "rub" test when she rubbed the locks on the side of her arm and along her neck. The fleece has good staple length and is very "strong" when you pull on it.
Several times she went back & forth between first and second place fleeces - The Shepherd is chanting (in his mind, of course) "Pick mine, pick mine, pick mine" And she did!
Luna's fleece got The Blue Ribbon for Shetland "Yearling and Younger" fleeces. Moni's fleece was 7th and, for reasons we now understand, because of her descriptions of fleece qualities, Jewell's fleece was at the very bottom of the batch. It's not a bad fleece, it just didn't have the denseness that she was looking for.
The Shepherd's Pride and Joy. Already slated for a couple of additional fairs - hope she does as well there.
Someone asked me if we won any money.
Nope, just braging rights.
And hopefully this will help to sell this handsome little dude - her half "brother" from this year. He's well on his way to having just as nice, if not nicer, fleece! Any takers?
Letty judging fleeces
Luna's award winning fleece
Handsome little dude