Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Shepherd's Harvest 2012

The 15th annual Shepherd's Harvest Sheep & Wool Festival was held this past weekend, and I had an especially wonderful time at this year's fest.  The weather was gorgeous with blue skies, a breeze, and was warm enough to enjoy being mostly outdoors.  I had decided to be brave enough to enter a skein of yarn into the spinning competition this year, so I needed to arrive early at the festival.  One of my best friends accepted my invitation to join me for the day, so I picked her up early and we drove over to the Washington County Fairgrounds in Lake Elmo, MN. 

The skein competition has four categories - fine, sport/worsted, bulky, and novelty.  I entered my skein into the fine category and was nervous and excited to subject my work to expert opinion.  The judges this year were Deb Robson and Shelley Hermanson.  Deb Robson, as you may know, is a fiber superstar (former editor of Spin-Off magazine, most recently co-author of The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook), and Shelley Hermanson is a local fiber expert who has taught countless students all about spinning and knitting.  In fact, when I got my first spindle, I arranged to have a private lesson with Shelley at her home.  So I was very nervous, in a mostly good way, to have these two women evaluate my spinning. 

After dropping off my yarn for the competition, my friend & I wandered over to the animal barns to see the sheep, goats & llamas.  It was really lovely to be one of the first festival attendees to go through the barns - no stress, no crowds, no kids (just the goat variety).  Seeing all of the fiber critters is really special to me, definitely one of the big highlights of the festival for me.  I took pictures of my favorites:

An outgoing, curious Romney ewe:

A sweet and inquisitive Romeldale lamb named Isabelle:

A llama with wicked eye liner:

and I love those long llama eyelashes:

A 12-week old, bottle-fed Horned Dorset ram lamb named Dobbie.  Here he is, content and curled over the shepherd's lap.  Apparently he gets to wear a diaper and come into the house to watch TV with the family.  And he loves playing with the dogs on the farm. 

I fell in love.  I wanted to take him home with me.  Dobbie loves to be stroked and petted - he soaks up all the attention like a little warm wool sponge:

A trio of Jacob ewes... love their horns!

Another trio of fiber females... these ladies are angora goats:

And there were plenty of rabbits at the festival this year.  Here is a young cutey:

After enjoying the animals, my friend and I went to the outdoor arena to watch the herding/stock dog demonstrations.  Another fun highlight of the festival:

In addition to the animal barns and vendor buildings, the festival has exhibits like the yurt and the historical spinning tent:

After enjoying the animals, the sheep herding, and outdoor exhibits, it was time to find out the skein competition results.  I was overjoyed!  I won second place in the fine yarn category!  My hands were shaking as I touched the ribbon and read the judges' comments on the entry form.  It was so exciting!

Still flying high from winning a ribbon, I managed to practice impulse control when walking through all of the vendors.  I didn't buy any fiber of any kind during the festival - no fleece, no prepped fiber, no yarn!  I was sorely tempted a few times, but I stuck to my stash management goals and exerted some retail purchase self-control.  I did bring home a few items, but no new fiber! 

I picked out a llama statue from Peru, a small flock of sheep magnets, and a Kundert spindle.  Kundert is retiring soon, so I grabbed the opportunity to add one of his beautiful spindles to my collection before they become unavailable.  It spins beautifully, so I'm very, very pleased with the purchase.  Plus my friend helped me pick out the spindle, so in addition to being an excellent tool, this spindle will be a favorite souvenir of this festival and will always remind me of spending the day with my friend. 

On Sunday, I had to drive back to the festival to pick up my yarn and ribbon.  Deb Robson and Carol Ekarius, the authors of The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook, were having a book signing on Sunday afternoon, too.  So I ended the festival on a very high note, with getting my copy of the book signed:

I hope everyone who had a chance to attend the festival also had a wonderful experience!  I'm already looking forward to next year!


  1. Congrats on the ribbon, I absolutely love your yarn! I also enjoyed looking at your pictures. There really needs to be more of those festivals by where I live.

  2. Thanks! I'm grateful to have a festival nearby my home - but I want to go to some of the really big fiber fests someday, like Maryland or New York. Kinda like a spinner's pilgramage, eh? :)