Monday, July 20, 2009

Australian Sheep and Wool Show Part 1: The Show

Well, it’s the time of year again! The Australian Sheep and Wool Show was held this past weekend in Bendigo Victoria. This particular post will be about the trip and the show itself. Later (hopefully not too much later), I will write another post about my purchases and any knitting or spinning I've done before, during and after the trip.

We drove over without incident Wednesday, arriving at our cabin at the Central City Caravan Park in the mid afternoon. We always stay there when in Bendigo. As the name suggests, it's near the center of the city, and certainly doesn't have the park like atmosphere of some of the caravan parks located on the edge or outside of town, but they have roomy, clean deluxe cabins with two bedrooms, good heating systems, excellent bathrooms, and all the amenities we could want. We like to stay with the tried and true.

Audrey, a spinning/knitting friend of mine, had followed us in her car, and was spending the first night with us in our cabin. She and some others had rented a holiday home for the rest of the weekend, from Thursday on, but on Wednesday night, she was bunking in our cabin.

Shortly after we arrived on Wednesday, we decided to visit Bendigo Woollen Mills before it closed. As it was already 4:00 in the afternoon, I was lamenting the fact that we didn't have longer to shop. Audrey made the bold statement: "Oh, I can be in and out of there in 20 minutes". About 30 minutes after we arrived at the shop, she had perhaps 50 balls of yarn strewn out all over the bargain basement floor and was asking me to help her decide. And yes, I WAS tacky enough to remind her of her "in and out in 20 minutes" statement. The poor girl had never been to Bendigo Woolen Mills before. She just didn't know the extent of what she was getting into!

Thursday, Audrey went off to her accommodations, and we went for an early morning shop in the downtown area, where we got Chris a couple of nice shirts at Rivers and a vest at Lowes. He’s losing weight too, and is drowning in his old clothes. In the afternoon, we went driving a little way out of Bendigo to walk some trails from one of the tourist books. We walked about an hour and half and then headed back to the cabin when we started running out of daylight.

Friday morning, I got all dressed up in my new courderoy shirt and Colorado pants and was rearing to go!! Gotta love the new clothes and the new figure!

Chris and I showed up at the show on Friday morning at about 9:00, but we split up shortly after arriving due to him not being all that keen on looking at the things I like to look at. My first goal was to get a quick look around. Soon enough, I got stuck into my main mission, trying to find a portable wheel. I had been saving for one for months, along with just “mad money” for fibre and such, and was determined that if I didn’t actually leave with one, I would certainly leave with a clear idea of which one I was going to get.

I had ruled out electric wheels because frankly I just don’t want one. I find the motion of the peddling soothing, and an electric machine a bit cold and impersonal. Now I understand that there are those who just love their electrics, and good for you if you do. I would be the last to want to change your mind, but since I started spinning and thinking of such things, I’ve always known that they just aren’t for me. Being a control freak, I need to be in constant control of my speed and direction.

This left me with, essentially, two options. I could get the Ashford Joy, which I was leaning toward, or I could get the Majacraft Little Gem. I thought from the outset that the Joy was prettier, and I liked the fact that it comes with a single treadle option. With just one pedal, my choice of chair or the angle in which I sat wouldn’t be as important, a good thing when one is using the wheel as a travelling wheel and are never sure just what kind of seating will be available at the end of the road. However, various friends had encouraged me to at least try the Majacraft Little Gem before buying.

So shortly after arriving at the Sheep and Wool Show, I went in search of the Ashford booth.

To my surprise, I found Bella there. Bella is the owner of The Walking Wheel Studios in the southern suburbs of Adelaide, where I shop for fibre and accessories in the city. The Ashford folks had only brought a double treadle Joy, but I sat down and tried it, and liked it just fine. In many ways, it spun very similarly to my Ashford Traditional.

I then went and searched out Mandie, the owner of Ewe Give Me the Knits (aka EGMTK). She was nowhere to be found in the two main pavilions, so I walked down the row of buildings that lined the front of the showgrounds, going in one after another. Finally, in the last building on that lane, I saw her.

She handed me over to this fellow who showed me how to use the Majacraft Little Gem. It’s main difference to the Ashford models is it’s orifice, which isn’t really an orifice at all. It’s more of a large wire oblong loop that sticks out the side of the flywheel, and you just thread the leader thru there. The tension of the brake is also much more sensitive than that of the Ashford. A tiny micro-twist can make all the difference. After a few false starts getting used to the new system, I was spinning on it. I’m not sure if it was the difference I liked the most or just the way the spin felt, but I was enjoying the spin immensely, and in the end, I was the proud owner of a Little Gem.

I didn't stay too long on Friday morning, as I had Chris with me and really didn't want to eat at the showgrouds, as the food there is hardly the type of stuff my body is now used to eating. Besides, I wanted to get the new wheel safely in my possession and back to the cabin before it went poof and disappeared or something. So we left the show at around noon, went to Bendigo Pottery where we really didn't see anything we liked, and then went home for a bit of lunch. I did get my hand stamped, so after lunch, Chris took me back and dropped me off, and I spent a couple more hours meeting a greeting old friends and new and shopping.

One of the first stalls I stopped at that afternoon was Colonial Lake Books owned by Brenda Bartel. I've bought plenty of books from her before, and bought a couple this time as well. She's a tried and true favorite, and her stand was the perfect place to lose track of time.

During the course of the day, I ran into Mel (womaninashoe) on Rav, and snapped a shot of her in her element, digging thru the bin at the Pear Tree Yarns stall.

It was so nice to catch up with her again, and I even met a couple of her yunguns too. She is just the sweetest girl. And the jumper (aka sweater) she's wearing is one that she knit herself. She said it was her very first "big person" project, as it seems she's always knitting for the children.

Pear Tree Yarns, as usual, had a lovely stand set up:

Pear Tree Yarns

And I had to have a chat with the girls from my favorite knitting magazine, Yarn.

Earning a special mention here for very pretty products and wonderful presentation is Glenora Weaving and Wool. I had to buy something here.

One stall I didn't buy anything at (yes, there IS one) was Sylvia Park Mohair Farm. It wasn't because she didn't have pretty things. She certainly did, but I'm just not a big fan of mohair. Still, I had to include a photo here of the darling little animals she was selling.

In the next blog entry, I brag shamelessly and in some detail about all my purchases. But I'm leaving that for then, as this post would be far too long if I tried to cram everything in this one, not to mention more picture heavy than it already is. So for the sake of brevity, here’s a picture of my “Friday Haul” in it’s entirety.

Friday's haul

Friday night, we went out to a charming Indian Restaurant in downtown Bendigo and then headed back to the cabin to settle in. I couldn't wait to set up the Majacraft and have a spin. While Chris watched the Ashes (for the American readers, this is a cricket match between Australia and England and a very big deal over here), I spun away on my Little Gem.

Saturday morning was the day of the Ravelry brekky. I overslept, due to staying up too late Friday night playing with the new wheel. Once up, we started scrambling around, but the Chris got a nosebleed, and in then end, I never made it to the brekky. I do sincerely regret that I missed it, but sadly I can’t undo what is done.

I got all dudded up in my other new outfit, and off we went. (Shots of me are purposely added because my mommy insisted ;)

The original plan for Saturday was for Chris to drop me off at the breakfast, and then go on his merry way. He had planned a long walk for the day, and a bit of exploring in the same area that we had gone to Thursday, after which he would wait for me at the cabin until I called letting him know I was ready to leave. As it was, he dropped me off at the show, again around 9:00 in the morning.

I went in search of the Ravelry group. Near where they were "supposed" to meet after the brekky was this lovely stand that I just couldn't stay away from. "Wooldancer" has some lovely things, and I just couldn't walk away from there without buying a few things. I hadn't met her or seen her things before, and both were an unexpected treat.

I ran into Tara (aka Fiestywench), who showed her extreme pleasure in getting her photo taken.

I suppose "making" my blog isn't the honor I thought it was. The poor girl has worked herself to the bone to make the Ravelry event happen, and according to everyone there, the brekky was a huge success.

Then later, I even got threatened by Spinningwoodie when taking his picture, but it's going in here anyway. See, I'm not scared!

That's Ron, and his lovely wife Roz was somewhere behind their busy stand there. Ron makes gorgeous wooden spinning accessories, along with shawl pins, buttons and such.

I also dropped by Virginia Farm Woolworks which had a lovely selection of yarns, fibres, dyes, spinning wheels and accessories.

Right across the hall from there was the Sheep Incognito stall, displaying wonderful whimsical pictures of sheep. You'll have to have a look at the website, as any explanation I might attempt of what the artist, Connie Togel, does on canvas wouldn't do it justice. If you only click on one link I've provided in the post, I suggest you click on this one!! Ahh, but now I know what to ask for for Christmas!

I also ran into Jane of Moseley Park on Saturday, but for some reason, never got a picture of her stall (please forgive me). She had some lovely things though, and I did buy a skein of laceweight silk from her in a lovely garnet colour, but more on that in the next post.

I stayed until after 3 in the afternoon, and even though I didn't believe it was possible, I bought even more stuff on the second day than I did the first.

Saturday Haul

Getting back to the cabin, I pulled out the Little Gem again (aka Matilda) and spun until around 8:00 that evening, when I had to pack it away in it's handy carry bag for the trip home, along with all the rest of the things I could reasonably pack early.

We left for our trip home early Monday morning, once again with Audrey trailing behind us. It was an uneventful, even quiet trip, and Chris really couldn't believe his luck where traffic was concerned. I hardly noticed the traffic, or lack thereof. I was knitting and merrily dreaming of spinning my heart on the new wheel with allt he lovely, even exotic fibres I'd bought, or what I would knit with what yarn.

Well, that's pretty much it folks. The trip in a nutshell. I had a blast, even if I did miss the brekky. Nothing will keep me away next year!


Rosie said...

Good on you mom, for insisting Robbie put a picture of herself here for you.

Doesn't she look fabulous, especially in her new clothes!

Anonymous said...

I am absolutely stunned! I am ashamed to say this, but I would not have recognized you, had I passed you on the street!! I am so excited over your "new look". This is, by far, the best post of yours, that I have read. The photos and the story combined makes me feel like I was there, too..(wishful thinking). The Little Gem is so cute, and looks really practical. All the goodies are very beautiful. I know you had a well deserved great time, and even though you missed the breakfast, you did, I assume, at one time or another, get to visit with some of your friends. I am anxiously awaiting your next post, along with some more pictures
and perhaps add one of Chris, who is so supportive for your love of knitting. Again, I say, keep up the good work. I am extremly proud of you! Love, Your MOM

kae said...

so jealous of all the goodies at the show! Wish WA had something like that..

MrsDoF said...

It feels like I had a nice visit with you. Thanks for all the lovely pictures -- so much about yarns I have learned.
I usually just make a stop at the craft store, or pull something out of a bag that a neighbor left on the porch ;)

Anonymous said...

Thank You, Rosie, from the bottom of my heart! Oh yes hon, she looks fabulous, but most of all, it is what is on the "inside" of my daughter, that is beyond words. She has a heart of gold, and such a smart, level head on her shoulders. I love her to pieces, and am so proud of her in many, many ways. Love, MOM