Thursday, August 27, 2009

Arlington County Fair

My Metro vest was a Reserve Grand Champion at the fair.

You've seen all these projects before, but here they are with their ribbons from the fair. I haven't knit much at all since I finished the vest with the south side knitters gave me at New Year's, but I gathered up my entries for the fair. I knew the vest would be a contender, but I never expected a grand champion ribbon. It's a first for me. For those not familiar with county fair protocols, Each department (in this case Art Needlework) is divided into Sections (in this case Knitting) and then each Section is divided into Classes (for example, sleeveless sweaters or vests, pullovers, scarves, hats, baby sets, etc) In addition all the participants are divided into Divisions (pre-K, 6-12, teens, adults). For each class there are potentially three ribbons - blue for first, red for second, white for third place. The blue ribbons from all the classes compete for Champion (first place) and Reserve Champion (second place) in the Section. Then all the eChampions compete for Grand Champion (first place) and Reserve Grand Champion (second place) in the Department. So my metro vest beat out not only all but one item in the knitting, but the crocheted items, quilts, sewn dresses, hooked rugs, needlepoint, embroidery, etc. That would be more impressive if there really were multiple entries in all those categories. I can remember when the fair was really competitive, but this year there really weren't all that many exhibitors. The judges always reserve the right not to award all the ribbons, so my sweater ascended up the competition even though it was only the Reserve Champion in knitting (the pink rosette ribbon in the picture) The Grand Champion was a lovely knitted lace shawl. I entered the Jitterbug cabled sleeveless sweater almost as an afterthought and it won a blue ribbon. (I entered it in the pullover category because you can only enter one item per class, and I entered the other vest in the sleeveless sweater category. ) I entered the scarf in the "exhibitor's choice" class, a catch all for items that don't clearly fit in other classes. I entered it together with the hat I designed and a short narrow scarf to show how the hand-dyed yarn produced three entirely different designs with the same stitch in different widths (fractals), and the set won a red ribbon (2nd place). The judge wrote nice comments on the back of the entry tags: "Gorgeous color and design work, beautiful stitching, woven ends need to be clipped" and 'wonderful cable pattern and beautiful use of fine multi-colored yarn. Reminded us of a Monet garden" for the south side vest and "Great stitches and use of multi-color yarn" for the scarf/hat set.
I encourage all you young knitters to seek out your local county fair and enter your knitting and other crafts. It's fun and gratifying, but not nearly as satisfying as when there was real competition. I'm afraid my old competitors have died off or gone blind and too arthritic to enter the fair, and the creative new generation of knitters isn't aware of the fair tradition. (Or maybe with blogs and websites satisfy the need to share and make the fair tradition totally unnecessary. ) Once again, as a bleeding edge boomer, I'm caught between two models, a bridge between generations. My grandfather was a professional fair manager - in the first decade of the 20th century he was manager of the Van Wert (Ohio) County Fair, and later was the full time manager for the North Carolina State Fair and then the Ohio State Fair. So I'm his direct descendent, but I'm also a contributor to this blog and Ravelry. Have you all seen a butter cow?
Last year when my job was less stressful I knit up a storm. Since January I've been sucked back into the mainstream implementing the Recovery Act/Economic Stimulus programs at my agency and I find I have no creative energy at all. I've tried three times to start a new project and keep coming up empty. Hopefully the economy will recover and so will my knitting, soon.


Ruth said...

Well done!
Let me know if the pattern had any complications.

Elizabeth said...

Congrats on all of the ribbons! Those are some lovely knits.

I think your point about the proliferation of online knitting forums, blogs and Ravelry, making the fair format a little unnecessary is interesting. It also seems like sometimes the "new" knitting craze may think of itself as a wholly different thing, a different age than County Fairs.

BUT, I think next year I'll have to figure out where the nearest fairs to me are and how to enter things--it would be a really cool way to meet a bunch of knitters!

(Also, thanks for posting to our blog, even though it's been so dead for most of the summer!)