Sunday, June 06, 2010

The Kindness of Strangers

This past Saturday was the Bellingham Highland Games - the 50th Highland games to be held here, in fact.

The games are located at Hovander Homestead Park, a lovely park that is actually a working farm. We have gone for many years, sometimes just The Shepherd goes, as it is a LOT of walking and difficult for me to get around.

This year they invited our Spinner Guild to come and demonstrate spinning - here is our fearless leader, Yvonne, demonstrating to an interested party how the drum carder works.

We were a small but enthusiastic group. Kiesha is a new spinner and this was her first Spindrifter event. I hope she will be able to come to meetings - It was fun to meet her and get to know her a little bit.

Why, you are asking yourself, did I title this post "The Kindness of Strangers"? Well, one of the things about this park is, it is HUGE - and even though we parked in the special parking area, it was still the distance of "several blocks" over gravel roadway and bumpy grass to get to where our tent was. (there had been the promise of an electric cart to bring our things in - no such luck - they had one lady for, oh, several thousand attendees) -

I had figured as much might happen, so I had my gear packed up on my luggage cart. Bag with ball winder, hand carders, extra bobbins, blanket in case it got cold, fleece vest in case it got cold, etc. And my trusty Ashford Traveler wheel.

The Shepherd was in charge of the chairs and a bag of wool (which we hoped we could sell, but didn't) so after we parked, and got directions to where our tent was, he headed off to our tent to get our chairs set up. Did I mention that it was about 9:00 a.m. when we got there - and the pipers were already piping and the drummers were already drumming...

So I headed out from the gate - I must have looked pretty forlorn, as soon a couple came up and offered to help me with my stuff. I was grateful - even if the fellow appeared to be 10-15 years older than I, he definitely was getting around pretty well - he pulled my cart and his lady friend carried my other bag. Pretty soon, The Shepherd came back from the other direction to "collect me" - Thank you so much to these kind folks who offered their assistance.

Here is Yvonne's clan tartan shawl that she wove on her loom. She had it up as an example of what could be made - I had also printed out pictures of the shawls that we made last year at the Skagit Highland games and at the NW Washington Fair so people could see what we were working on.

Yvonne and her husband have Spinner's Eden farm, also here in the county, where they raise Registered CVM/Romeldale sheep. She donated one of her lovely fleeces for this project, and as you can see from the singles that I spun, it will make a pretty grey/oatmeal colored yarn.

We started with Yvonne's washed fleece, running it through her picker. Now that is a dangerous looking contraption if I've even seen one (and of course I didn't get a picture of them using it - oh, well)

Then using the drum carders and hand carders, we got the fiber ready to spin. All this was very interesting to the public - and we spent a fair amount of time showing folks how and what we were doing.

Oksana is a very accomplished spinner and knitter (her shawl won Grand Champion in the wool show last year at the fair) She knitted the beautiful sweater that she is wearing.

It is interesting to watch people when they walk by our booth - men, especially, will just stop in their tracks - I think it is something about the "mechanics" of a spinning wheel - they are generally fascinated with the whole thing. It is fun to explain how wool goes from "sheep to sweater".

Our tent was actually pretty centrally located to the events of the day. This tree, just a few feet from the tent, holds a special place in my heart. The Shepherd and I donated it to the park about 15 years ago after an old friend of mine passed away. It has been through a few floods, but it is still growing strong.

Speaking of people who were fascinated by the spinning process, this little fellow just had to know what we were doing and how the spinning wheel worked. I pulled him up onto my lap and we spun a little bit of string together.

I'm sorry that I didn't get any pictures of the pipe bands. One of the unique things about our games is that we have some of the best pipe bands IN THE WORLD just across the border in BC, including the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band who are 6 time and current World Champion Pipe Band. They did their "pre-competition" practice just on the other side of that tree - what a joy they are to listen to.

When he wasn't off wandering around the vendor booths, The Shepherd sat with us - but he went over to the main field when the band competition started in the afternoon. Our day ended at about 5:30 after the band competition was over and the mass band finished (now, that is always something to see - close to 3 or 400 pipers and drummers all marching down through this little "glen" where the band competition takes place. Kind of takes your breath away)

We packed up, and after helping Yvonne take down the tent, headed back to the car. Amazingly enough, a young girl who had stood and watched me spin, and her mom were also walking back to the parking lot and they also offered to help me with my gear. What nice people - and I hope that they will take up my invitation to come to one of our meetings to learn more about spinning.

OK, it has been just horrible weather around here the past week, but it was forecasted to be "nice" on Saturday. Partly cloudy, in the high 60's. Well, as you can see from the sky in some of the pictures above, it was a very nice day. When I packed up the things I was taking with me, the last thing on my mind was sun screen. I mean, look at the picture of me with the little boy - I was in a long sleeve, turtle necked shirt, (earlier wearing my winter coat), with my fleece vest and a blanket packed in my bag in case it got cold. So now, I have this goofy looking "farmer tan" on my left arm - yup, it goes all the way to my knuckles. The Shepherd said I need to get outside more... but all in all - it was a very fun day.


Michelle said...

I'm so glad your event was on Saturday; it was beautiful here then, too. Yesterday, not so much!

Anonymous said...

What a fabulous looking event! Sorry 'bout the sunburn!

Sharon said...

Those are the best events - I agree. Children are so curious and willing to try. I think it's because they're not afraid of failure. I have noticed the same thing about men - mechanics. How's it work, how many yards an hour do you get? Fun - thanks for sharing.

Kathy said...

How great to FINALLY see a picture of YOU at one of your "dos"! (I had remembered you were to have a pretty exhausting weekend, so purposely didn't call)
So, put that Shepherd to work and have him walk around with one of his sheep at the next one of these. It's a great "draw" and marketing tool for his Shetland fleeces. heeheehee
Great post! I, too, appreciated your Farmer Tan, girlfriend!

Leigh said...

Ouch. You're sure it's a tan and not a sunburn? Looks like it was a great day for a really fun event.

HisTek said...

Looks like it was really fun. I love bagpipe music, and watching OTHERS spin.
Good idea about the Shepherd parading a shetland sheep around for next year.