Monday, October 19, 2015

Rhinebeck! with a side of Tokyo

Extremely long and photo-heavy post!

I am feeling very tired and depressed today. I spent the last 4 days getting up at 6 am and leaving the house between 7 and 7:30 am to get to the NY State Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck. The early days were for volunteering and helping out because I had to be there ahead of the crowds. The later days were when I took classes.

The energy level is so high at the fairgrounds that it is both energizing and draining. Regardless of where I am, and what I'm doing, I feel the need to smile and be cheerful. It is such a wonderful feeling to be around people I like, absorbing the happiness of the people around me, soaking up the wool fumes, and enjoying the fact that so many people are having a great time. But the need to be energetic and interactive is draining. I already miss it and can't wait for next year. It is a very strange feeling of opposites.

On Thursday I volunteered to help out at the workshops. I checked in people and gave them instructions and helped them located their classrooms. It starts with a trickle but then there is a flood and we want to get people checked in and in their classrooms on time. So there is a mad rush when the lines build up. I left after checking in the afternoon classes and came home and took a nap. I had a lot of packing to do for my class on Friday. It was 'The Yarn you Want' by Amy King of Spunky Eclectic. She wanted us to bring some yarns we wanted to copy and fiber to make those yarns. Oh dear!

I wanted to make sock yarn and elastic yarn and lightweight, warm yarn like Shetland jumperweight. So I took a bunch of different fibers, preparations, and blends. I weighed out 2 oz of each of the larger quantities. I also needed to pack my Hansen, its accessories, and other tools.

It was amazing. I made 4 ply sock yarn that was elastic!
 The yarn on the left is commercial Opal sock yarn. That is what I wanted to copy. I analyzed it and it is a 4-ply yarn. I knew the composition but we burned some samples of yarn to analyze the types of fibers in them. My first sample is on the left. I used a Corriedale roving I bought in New Zealand. I spun it woolen with a long draw, thinking that would give me the most elasticity. I got the grist, but not the elasticity. Also, it was a bit more lumpy than I liked for socks. Amy suggested I try spinning the same fiber worsted with a short forward draw. I did that and go the second gray sample on the left. It was a bit more elastic and much more even.

Then she asked if I had any other fibers. I had some Polwarth in color so I could see the twist. I was having a difficult time seeing the twist on the gray. Polwarth has more crimp and is a softer fiber than Corriedale which has a crisp feel to it. It isn't harsh, but has a mind of its own. She also suggested I under-spin the single and over-ply it.

What this means is that if I think a good plied yarn is 12 twists per inch, I should aim to spin a yarn that is 8-10 twists per inch. Then ply it to the 12 twists per inch, not the 8-10 that would result in a balanced yarn.

So that is what I did with the Polwarth and I am sold on this technique. The yarn is quite elastic - much more so than the Corriedale where I didn't do this. I am a bit gobsmacked that worsted spinning results in a more elastic yarn than woolen spinning. Who knew! Amy says that it isn't always so and one really should try both to see which works best.
 This is my finished sock yarn sample. It is a 4-ply just like the Opal.
 The grist is not too far off!
 And here are the 3 little skeins all in a row. I had only a 3 bobbin lazy kate with me. So I spun 2 singles on 2 bobbins and then double the amount on the third. I wound that off onto an Andean plying bracelet and plied from the bracelet and the 2 bobbins for the 4-ply. Not the best set up as I was not able to keep a consistent tension on all 4 singles. So there are some pigtails and other not-so-nice plying in there. I'll do better with 4 bobbins.
I finished this up last night. It is from my Sunday class. I took "All the Singles...Yarns' - also from Amy. We did a regular singles, a lace-weight singles and a thick-and-thin singles. I haven't completed spinning the other two. I put them on different bobbins so I could keep the yarns separate. This is the thick-and-thin singles before it is finished. I was able to practice the slub technique that I learned from Jacey Boggs-Faulkner last year. The wine is merino, the blue is BFL and the natural is two colors of Shetland.

After the Friday class - which was all day, I dashed off to scribe for the fleece judging. This was another of my volunteer duties. I found the judge had already done most of the primitives and had a scribe so I just stayed and watched, We usually have a couple of scribes per judge so we can switch off and take breaks. The other scribe had to leave after the primitives but she mentioned that she wanted to buy one of the Gotland fleeces but didn't want all that quantity. So I offered to share it with her. We picked out one of the two that she liked - the smaller one - and then the judge had to select the first, second and third fleeces for the category. The two we picked got first and second place. The one we were leaning towards, the smaller one, was first. The other scribe left and my judge went on to the colored fine fleece category. We worked through them and then we had to wait for all the other judges to be done so they could pick the first, second and third for the colored fleeces from all the categories and then the Champion and Reserve for the entire fleece competition.

At this point, the judge's sister, who was a vendor, came over and asked how long it would be. She was tired from setting up and wanted to go home. I offered to give the judge a ride back to her hotel as it was on my way home. It took a lot longer than we anticipated and the poor judge kept apologizing to me. But that was OK because I got to see them do their thing. They went through all the first place fleeces and picked out their top 3 favorites and then had a discussion about which one should be Champion and which one should be Reserve. However, there was a slight problem which was discovered after their decision was made. The ribbons were marked 'Best Colored Fleece' and 'Best White Fleece' - not 'Best Fleece". So they awarded two best of show fleeces. And guess which one ended up being the Champion in the colored category? Our little Gotland fleece. At that point I was pretty sure we wouldn't get it.

The other scribe was free on Saturday am so she was going to get in line early to snap up our fleece. But it wasn't going to be on the back table with the primitives! It was going to be up front with a big multi-colored ribbon on it! What were the odds that no one would buy it? She ended up being second in line and the person ahead of her bought that fleece! So we didn't get it. She bought the second place one - which is a lovely fleece - and had it divided and weighed out by the time I met up with her at lunch time. I'm pretty happy. I'll post pics of it later with my other purchases.

On Saturday, I usually hang out at Jennie the Potter's booth and help out. She always gets a huge crowd bright and early on Saturday and can use all the hands she can get to help out. It is fun and I love hanging out with her and her other helpers. I helped put merchandise out before the festival opened, I helped pack, re-stock, etc. Whatever was needed till about 12:30 pm. Then I was free to wander. I went and hung out in the workshop area where I was supposed to meet the other scribe. After that, I went and met my favorite vendors. I showed Sheila Ernst the necklace. I tried to get into the Hansen booth but failed. It was too busy. I wandered around some of the barns and bought 2 spindles and some fiber. I stayed away from the crowded areas as I just couldn't take it. I usually wait for a bit after the festival closes to leave so that I am not stuck in the traffic. I didn't wait long enough. There was a long traffic jam at two points on the way home.

I already described Sunday morning. I was in class with Amy. On Sunday afternoon, I wandered the festival again. I bought another fleece. Pics to come. But here are some photos around the festival from Sunday afternoon.

 While we were in class, someone delivered a Norm Hall Great Wheel that Beth Smith had bought. One of my classmates tried her hand at spinning on it.

 It snowed a bit on Sunday afternoon. Just snow showers but it was cold and windy. The leaves were gorgeous though!
 The outside of the Fiber Optic booth.
 Looking down the aisle in one of the letter buildings.
 Hansens lined up, all in a row
 The Miss Babs booth was packed even on Sunday afternoon.
 Into the Whirled was quieter although I heard it was mobbed earlier and some of the lower rows were quite empty on the racks.
Aren't these leaves on the ground beautiful?

And now across the world to Tokyo! We were there for work and I wanted to spend an extra day to
see the Imperial Gardens and the National Museum, which were closed when we were there last. But first, in our hotel lobby, overnight, a Halloween diorama appeared.

One of the interesting things in Japan is that restaurants put plastic models of their food out so patrons can look over the food before going into the restaurant. It is like having the menu outside to browse, There is a whole industry that makes these food look-alikes. We ate at an Indian restaurant one night because it was close by and I was tickled by seeing plastic Indian food!

We were staying outside Tokyo so my colleague and I took the regional train into Tokyo Station. This is our train coming in. They are all punctual and very easy to navigate.

Tokyo Station is near the palace so we walked there. But it is a long walk. I am just going to give you some snippets of the photos I took in and around the gardens which are open. Parts of the palace are not open to the public.

This is a music hall. I loved the architecture.

 Looking out through the gate. There is an inner and an outer gate.

We then took the subway to Ueno Park. This is the subway train arriving.

In Tokyo Station, we had to navigate a long hallway to the subway. In the middle there is a large cavernous hall which has little booths during the day. This sculpture - which is of actual locomotive wheels - is also there.

Ueno Park was packed because it was a Saturday in the summer. There was a little market there - selling household goods. We saw lovely porcelain dishes. I bought a small wooden bowl to use as a support spinning bowl.

We also sat and watched these dancers both on our way in and our way out. They were dancing all day.

 The National Museum building. We went into one of the side buildings to see a special exhibit on the Queens of Egypt.
 One of the other buildings reflected in the pool. I think this one is the art gallery but I could be wrong.
 Inside the museum, there is a door leading out onto a patio which looks out over this tranquil scene. I did not take pictures of the artifacts even where it was allowed because they never come out well.

On the way back, our station was packed with people leaving. I think there was a comicon show in the convention center near-by. We were going in the opposite direction so felt like salmon swimming upstream in the am and the pm. You can see the crowd through the train window.

 Our flights left on Sunday evening so we also went into Tokyo on Sunday morning. We went to the Senso-Ji temple. I had been there earlier in December when there was hardly anyone there. This time was different.
The gate has this big lantern.

 The bottom of the lantern.
 There is a market outside the temple. I wanted my colleague to see this. It is tourist-y but Japanese people buy things there too. See the crowd?
 The temple itself.
 Looking back from the temple level. The smoke is from incense.
 Inside the temple.
 Lovely paintings on the ceiling. I didn't take pictures of the actual inside of the temple as it is a place of worship. These are in the area at the top of the stairs before you enter the temple.
 In contrast to the crowds in the front of and inside the temple, there is a small set of shrines on one side that are peaceful. This Buddha is there.
 A view of those shrines.

Another building in the temple courtyard. What a lovely structure!

And that is it. We caught the train back and took a bus to the airport and flew out. I got 20,000 steps the first day (Saturday) and 14,000 the second day (Sunday)!

I hope you are still with me after this long, long post. But there is so much to tell and so little time to write about it all. 

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