NH Sheep & Wool Festival 2006...and The Floods of 2006
Rather than posting yet another photo of the New England Floods of 2006, I am going to share a photo of the beautiful yarns I got at the NH Sheep & Wool Festival. I'll tell my story of the Floods below.
Yarn first! The two skeins on the left are from Ward Brook Farm in Candia, NH and are hand-dyed by Ingrid. She has a wonderful eye for colors that she told me she didn't develop until she hit menopause! Now there is something to look forward to, huh? I will use them to make the fabulous Stained Glass Hat pattern I got from Green Mountain Spinnery from Putney, VT. They had about 50 of these hats in wonderful colorways displayed in their booth and I couldn't resist. They were selling kits but I chose to pick up the pattern and use yarns I already had. I'll use the colors with black and see what happens. The pretty pinky silky number in the front is a Merino/Tencel blend from Mountain View Farm in New Boston, NH. I bought a skein from Donna last year and it became Mittlets. I loved it so much I had to have another. It's amazingly soft and knits like a dream. Donna sells mostly gorgeous hand-painted rovings for your spinning pleasure and I have a couple tucked away for when I learn to spin but I consider myself lucky to have gotten there early enough to grab up this gorgeous skein of yarn! The two silk skeins to the right actually came from a member of my knitting group but I thought I'd share them at the same time. That big skein of pinks/purples/blues with a touch of oranges is appropriately called "Licorice Twist" and came from The Spinners Hill Shop of Bainbridge, NY. The entire booth smelled like licorice and it was lovely. It is an absolutely delicious 100% Merino hand-dyed yarn and I'm planning to use it to make Danica which is my learn-to-entrelac project and my prep for the Lady E stole. I also picked up a cute magnetic notepad with a sheepie from my LYS, The Elegent Ewe and had a lovely chat with Jacquelyn Fee who graciously signed my copy of her book "The Sweater Workshop" which my knitting group is using for a knit-along. We have already started our next Jackie Fee sweaters together. The sweater I'm making will have a "pit pocket" which Jackie showed to us. The sweater is for DH who thinks the pit pocket is fun. Shan's husband threatened her with never wearing a hand-knit sweater again if she put one in his. LOL!
And now...the rains. I've read a number of posts from people who were at the Festival regarding the weather and subsequent conditions at the fairgrounds. Just to put it all into perspective for the non-natives (we're "New Hampshirites" btw, NOT "New Hampsters" but we usually use "Granite Staters", it's easier >g<) For those who are under the impression that it rains every year...yes, it did rain last year. Not a measurable amount but it did drizzle all weekend. I didn't even carry an umbrella and I was at the Festival all day both days. 2003 and 2004 were both beautiful, as I recall, I know I got sunburn one of those two years. 2002 was difficult what with the backside of Hurricane Ivan trailing through, hardly anyone's fault...
This year is NOT anywhere near the norm though. I say "is" because for most of NH, it isn't over yet. Around 6:30 am Monday the state of NH broke its own record for rainfall in May and we are barely halfway through the month. There are over 600 roads damaged or washed away and closed due to the flooding. Lots of schools and businesses are still closed and entire towns are still shut down. Many, many people are displaced and homes are damaged or destroyed. A state of emergency has been declared by the Governor. The damages are listed in the tens of millions of dollars and the rivers are just starting to recede but there is more heavy rain expected over the next couple of days. There are still dams in danger. We've seen over 15 inches of rain across the state since last week.
I live less than a mile from the fairgrounds at the top of a hill in a huge New England farmhouse that was built aomewhere around 1850 +/- a year or three. We have a granite-lined, dirt-floored full basement that hasn't taken on water in over 30 years. After pumping for 4 days, we are now down to about 1/2 inch of the just over 3 feet of water we'd taken on and for 14 hours on Tuesday we were maintaining at 7 inches because the pump had caught up to the influx. We were literally at the "as fast as we pump it out, it comes back in" stage. We have had no heat or hot water for 5 days now but we are in good, no great shape compared to many others in the area. We have power, we have a fireplace and we have dry wood. Our home isn't seriously damaged just a little damp underneath. We will have to have our oil burner and possibly our hot water tank replaced, we'll know later today or tomorrow when the heating guys get to us. Our family and pets are safe. Our town schools are open again and our town businesses are still operational. We also have wonderful friends (with plenty of cold beer) who are making sure we can get hot showers. ;)
Other than all that...I thought the Festival was wonderful. I'm sorry for the vendors who didn't make the sales they should have because a lot of people didn't brave the wet. I'm sorry for the booth tenders who were cold, wet and cranky because of it. And oh lords, it *was* wet! The fairgrounds was turned into a series of lakes that made just getting around a challenge and the rain came down so hard at times it was downright scary! Sheepies and other animals had to be moved out of their barns and live with their people in vendor areas but they seemed to adjust well. There is a wonderful photo of a group of guys crossing a "lake" on the fairgrounds using a series of folding chairs and the water is almost up to the seats of the chairs! Now that's Yankee Ingenuity!
The goods offered for sale were amazing! Beautiful fibers in colors to make you drool! Fabulous textures that made even damp and cold hands itch to feel them. Patterns, books, spinning wheels and accessories, gadgets, fiber-themed pottery and paper goods, needles, sheepies, llamas, alpacas, goats and bunnies...anything and everything for the knitter, crocheter, weaver, spinner and more. It was a feast! Those who stayed away because of the weather really did miss out!
I got to meet Debbie at Purple Fleece who I've chatted with via the Knitter's Review Forums. DH is still talking about the spinning wheel made of PVC pipe that Debbie had at her booth! A sure way to a handy guy's heart is to build something unexpected out of PVC pipe! I didn't ask Debbie to help me with my spindle issues because honestly, my hands were so wet and cold and stiff from carrying the umbrella that I didn't think I'd be able to spin but I do appreciate her willingness!
The most fun for me was wandering about with my new knitters. They shopped and asked questions and had so much fun that we almost forgot about the deluge. Kim will be making socks 'til next Festival with the sock yarn she bought! Well, that is, as soon as Kim learns to make socks! Shan has sock and sweater yarn for her entire family and trumped all of us by winning THREE items from the Vendor Auction! Mandy (who I got the silk skeins from) got some gorgeous green merino/silk blend that she is going to combine with a variegated she already had for what should be a really beautiful sweater for her.
So I'm glad that those of you who came from "away" made it home safely and I hope you've all dried out by now! I'm sorry you got wet and cold and cranky. I hope you didn't get so wet and cold and cranky that you won't come back next year. Pray for no rain next year or that maybe the date for the NH S&W gets changed so it isn't planned during the May showers!
I'm back to sweeping/sucking the last of the standing water out of the basement so the heating guys don't get electrocuted and hoping we can get hot water by Saturday. I'm also praying there isn't more heavy rain this next week.
See you at the next NH Sheep & Wool Festival! (rain or not ;P)