I know, you're probably wondering, so how did Sarah do on her state fair craft-stravaganza? Did she ever decide what went where? Most importantly, just how tiny was that miniature quilt? Even if you weren't, guess what? I'm going to tell all.
Getting ready for the state fair was a heroine's journey, if, that is, you like your heroines unshowered, strung out on Stumptown's finest Guatemalan beans, and running on a few hours' sleep. It was a crazy time, as I was preparing for a business trip to New York (including a presentation to my boss assigned at the last minute), thinking about doing last-minute training for the Hood-to-Coast (more on that later), and oh, I don't know, raising children? Working?
The night before the fair entries were due, I invited Larissa over to craft together, enlisting my husband to remove the children for the evening. She wrote about it here ... needless to say, much of my time was spent removing scissors from the general area of Truman's eyes. I'd finished Licklick, my reds-of-all-kinds shawl, and Truman's pixie hat but for the weaving in. All that was left to do: make a quilt. When all I had was a few teensy squares and lots of great ideas. And decide whether I'd enter one of my existing "creations" in the animal/toy, stuffed category, and whether I'd try to sprint to the finish with the blanket whose strips were waiting on the table next to my desk.
Larissa and I had a lovely time, and I stayed up late piecing together the majority of my miniature quilt. The next day, I finished up work early so I could meet Larissa (by bike! training remember) at Abundant Yarn for a marathon finishing session. I weaved in ends and then I began the hand-quilting... which was very, very slow. I kept looking at my watch and counting down the hours, then minutes, until we'd have to leave to make Mill Ends before the 6 p.m. entry deadline.
Larissa had to stop by the post office, and I finished the final edges of the quilt in the car in the parking lot, and then as we drove to Mill Ends, a whopping 12 minutes before the deadline. And the best part? We weren't even the last people to turn in our goodies. There were at least two behind us.
Here's a rundown of my entries:
- Blanket, child's. Class No. 817, Lot No. 02
This was a true labor of love, a wedding present for my sister Jenny (only 16 months late, and counting). It's out of Noro Silk Garden, and I adore the pattern, which I designed. I realized the night before that I'd made strips #4 and #5 of this trapezoidal-shaped blanket the same length, meaning that finishing wasn't going to happen. Maybe next year....
This pattern is so sensuous. The way the strips feel, heavy and soft against my legs when I knit them, turning from knit to purl, right side to wrong side, is a heady experience. When I'm knitting these strips I never want to stop, I think I'll always have one of these wraps in progress. The big question, of course: will I ever figure out how to attach them (or will I just make my mom crochet it together for me)?
I keep gazing at this photo, and at the strips curled up like silky, woolly snakes everywhere I look. This is really the blanket of many colors, isn't it?
- Toy, stuffed. Class No. 817, Lot No. 28
Licklick was inspired by a monster at Mabel's, which has a tongue you can pull out. Everett and Truman loved it, so I found some fun yarn in my stash and just started knitting. I couldn't possibly tell you how it was done other than "bottom up" and I used the mitten trick of holding stitches "blank" with scrap yarn for the tongue. I doubt Licklick will win any sort of ribbon, yet, I adore him.
Not only is Licklick made imperfectly, but the very moment I completed him, Truman dunked him in the wading pool. Licklick likes to swim, it turns out, but then he gets all fuzzy!
What's more, as I was getting my entries together to head to meet Larissa, Everett came running. "Licklick jumped out the window!" he cried, tears spurting everywhere. I had to crawl under spider webs and through camellia bushes to retrieve him. He's an adventurous sort.
- Hat. Class No. 817, Lot No. 23
This, I think, is my best work, executed on a business trip of scrap yarn bought at a garage sale (something wonderful wooly and hand-dyed) and Silky Tweed in light blue. I'm knitting a second one for my friend Liz' baby, Eve, and I'll post the pattern eventually. It's called the "pixie hat" although Eve's will be named "oatmeal jammer" because of its pretty berries-and-oats colors. The cable pattern is loosely based on Trellis.
It's meant as a summery sunhat, which is why I made the brim wide and curvy. But I can never just finish a hat with a normal top, I have to make it sprout like the magical creatures that hats truly want to be. Thus, the curvy pixie-licious-ness on top.
- Original item designed by exhibitor. Class No. 817, Lot No. 27
I think this shawl is beautiful; it's everything I dreamed of, and more. If you can't tell, I'm currently infatuated with cables, and I wanted something to make with the gorgeous candy-striped yarn Kim spun. I had leftover Noro Silk Garden in "reds" from Jenny's blanket, and I just cast on and started cabling. Hmmm, I thought, I love the idea of trapezoids right now! So I started increasing one stitch on each end, every right-side row.
Hmmm, I need more cables! I thought, so I started adding cables in the front. It was totally extemporaneous and I can't wait to get the finished product back from the fair so I can (a) wear in and (b) count stitches and write the pattern down. I may try to sell this pattern, but I promise to give you lots of free ones to compensate. I call it the "reds of all kinds" wrap, or is it the "reds of many kinds" wrap? Who knows.
Want to see more? Check out the Reds of all kinds wrap tag at flickr.
- Animal/toy, stuffed, under 12". Class No. 826, Lot No. 03
I meant to design something new for this entry, but instead fell back on the lovely Maeve. Hopefully no one buys this fashionable lady until after I pick up my entries from the fair.
Best of all, I think, you'll recognize (if you look closely) a little bit of Maeve in the miniature quilt, below. (I noted it more precisely on this photo.)
- Miniature quilt, pieced. Class No. 827, Lot No. 11
Oh, how pleased I am with this quilt. I gaze at the photos in awe. It's a realization of years of idle planning, ideas spun while breastfeeding or showering, scraps squirrelled away. I've been making teensy little squares of some of the fabrics that went into my artsy toys, Halloween costumes, quilt patches, and garments made over the past few years. And then there was the wedding dress.
I made my own wedding dress of raw ivory silk, with an embroidered silk bodice and lots and lots of silk crepe for the lining. I designed and helped my mom sew all the bridesmaids dresses, in a variety of gorgeous reds and pinks and oranges. What to do with all those precious perfect scraps, but quilt them?
Naturally, they wouldn't work beautifully in a bed quilt, as they are, after all, silk, and we do, after all, have children who like to sleep (and pee) in our bed. A miniature quilt was an excellent place to put them. Plus: short attention span here.
I really love what I did here, it's a riff on black and white, formal dress and casualness, domesticity and art and technology. I think I want to call it "love and marriage" or "a few of the domestic arts." I wonder if it will win anything?
If you read my entry form carefully, you'd know: I'm also entering cookies (drop, chocolate chip, Class No. 446, Lot No. 04) and cupcakes (Class No. 445, Lot No. 10). But hey! They're not due 'til next week. Expect more stories of baking to come, and perhaps I'll finally avenge my blue ribbon (should have been purple!) from the Beaverhead County State Fair, circa 1984. Ish. YES. I do hold grudges. (Updated to add: I never had time to bake on Tuesday night because of the suddenly-scheduled-launch of That's Fit. Oh well. Next year.)
See you at the state fair!