Tag Archives: Stanwood-Camano Fair

Another fair is past, time to look forward to the retreat!

Well, back to the modern world of cell phones and internet connections. I have to say this year’s fair was the best I’ve had in years!! Even though it rained, and of course it had to rain heaviest when we were judging fleece. For three hours I stood and clerked for our judge with rain pouring off the canopy and down my back, trying to keep the fleece dry was indeed a Herculean effort!

We had some beautiful entries this year from a beautifully finished felt purse created by a 14-year-old exhibitor, to a knit tam made from lace weight spindle spun 2 ply yarn, but my real favorite was the crochet collection by exhibitor Chris Cockett. The story behind these crocheted items is one that will amaze you!






Crocheted with 2ply hand spun silk thread

The tiny ornaments to the left and right of the doily are a booty and a moccasin, edged in metallic sewing thread, and the moccasins have dangling beads as an embellishment. They are no bigger than 3 inches long, and 2 and a half inches tall. She used a size 7 steel crochet hook, and 2 ply hand spun silk thread which was not the most evenly spun. Her work is highly skilled, but even more so when you find out the whole story.

Chris had a stroke earlier this year, it was quite severe, leaving her paralysed on her left side. Now, as crochet experts, we know that we use our non-dominant hand every bit as much as we do our dominant hand. Chris and I crochet very similarly, we hold our work and control our tension with our left hand, we dance a bit, with our fingers on the left hand manipulating the threads for tension purposes. Not only could Chris not feel her left hand, her entire arm was numb and jerks suddenly as nerves get messages through from her brain.

The day after her stroke, while still in the hospital she demanded her crochet, she has been crocheting since she was a little girl and didn’t want to lose her beloved craft. Two months after her stroke she began to crochet these beautiful and nostalgic ornaments, and the cross bookmark. She complains that the doily took her three weeks to complete, instead of the one week it would have before the stroke.

As a hand spinner as well as a crocheter, let me tell you the challenge of working with silk like that! It likes to mate to itself, and is difficult to rip out, it’s so fine that it knots up, and it loves to tangle. It is slippery, and stains easily, and it’s hard to keep an even stitch when the silk is as varied in diameter as this particular skein is (thick and thin spots).

When she brought the entries in last Wednesday, I cried, she cried and we hugged. Crocheter to crocheter, we both know what it took for her to accomplish this feat of skill. We both know how much the craft means to her, it has been her sanity for many troubled years, and her joy to gift those she loves. She makes gifts for her nurses and doctors, and the receptionists at the offices in town, her grand babies have little dresses and sweaters, and she decorates dolls too. Her fillet crochet is gorgeous, and yet she has been looked down upon before by those who do not recognize crochet as a skill. This year was different. She sat in the log cabin demonstrating and I would point her out to people and explain that the lady pictured above her work was sitting with us, and tell her story (she didn’t want to herself) and explain how amazing these pieces are under any circumstance let alone doing this post-stroke.

And now, ladies and gents, you know why I do the fair. Every year there is a story, every year someone in our department reaches a point of victory. They find out just how capable or creative they really can be in their art forms or in their lives, and sometimes the two cross over. It is an honor to know this self appointed, “Determined German” and I only hope that someday if I should be in the same situation I would have the guts and grit to persevere and over come my obstacles.

You can meet Chris at our upcoming retreat this October! To sign up for the retreat go to the CLF Webpage and click on the links!


It’s Fair Time Again!!

I know this blog has been quiet, too quiet. For that I am truly apologetic!  But once again it’s Fair Time in the Stanwood Camano area of Washinton State. As superintendant of the Hand Spinning and Fleece department the end of July and beginning of August find me frazzled and frought with creative bursts of energy followed by lows of exhausted drooling.

I would not change it for the world. For a week each year I am in a wonderful old log cabin, spinning wheel, carding brushes and crochet hooks at the ready to mystify and dazzle the general public. Children swarm our outpost of pre-modern life, and old folks come to tell us the stories of the aunts, grandmas, uncles and grandpas who taught them how to spin, or card, wash f;leece. warp looms, and of course crochet and knit. We are a refelction of what used to be, when everyone knew everyone else, when the smell of fresh baked bread was a daily thing to take for granted not a priveledged event. We harken back to lazy summer afternoons, where you could sit on a porch and shuck corn for hours, or shell peas, or snap beans, while someone told stories of their childhood days or fishing tales where fish got bigger with each telling.

We remind people that communications happen best you speak to someone kindly, with a smile, and attend to them with interest, not a text message or a yap fest without empathy. We remind people that it takes more than two hands to get a job done, and that somethings don’t really change. We inspire and teach, and we learn, we learn so much every year.

Why just today an older woman came in to visit with one of our volunteers, and told stories of stilling on her grandmother’s wood fired stove, learning to crochet on weekends early in the morning, waiting for the house to warm up. She’s crocheted for about 70 years, and spoke of the 12 lapghans she crocheted in the past four weeks to give away to the senior center, to folks who were “old”  What did I learn? I watched my teenaged daughter’s face as she listened to the woman tell her stories, and then the two of them talked crochet. There wasn’t anything “new” in what I learned, perhaps it was more of a reminder, that really the whole world can move as fast as it wants, tech can make us reach across oceans, and make life go by faster thant he nano-seconds we like to keep track of, but there is nothing more prescious than a young person listening to an older person and then feeling safe to tell her stories too.

We often forget in our quest for knowledge, in our quests for perfection and success that our lives are short, and time is more often best spent visiting, in person, and listening to each other, and yes, learning.

I’ll be at the Stanwood Camano Fair in Stanwood WA from 10-8pm Wednesday Aug. 4, taking entries, and then come on by and see me Friday Aug 6 thru Sun Aug. 8, 2010. We have a fabulous time, come pull up a chair on the porch, I can talk and spin at the same time, or maybe we can just crochet together. You tell me your stories and I’ll tell you mine!

Fair Week again…and the Sock Summit!

If you’ve been with the CLF over the past two years (which by the way our Birthday is July 26th!) then you will know that for about two weeks a year my life is consumed by the local community fair! I love it!

Today I went out to the fair grounds, opened up the old log cabin, and swept, mopped, and dusted. Things weren’t too bad, no rat droppings (yay!), a few mice had tried to take up residence, but thank heavens were not in evidence. I do not have to paint, or do any major repairs to the inside of the building. Starting Tuesday from 10 am until 6pm and on Wednesday from 10am to 8pm I will be recieving entries for the Hand Spinning and Fleece Department at the Stanwood Camano Community Fair. This really is the “Best lil’ fair in the West!”

If you are in the Puget Sound Area and want to have some real old fashioned fun with the family or sweetheart come on out! I’ll be running around doing Superintendant type stuff, but let the folks in the log cabin know you’re on the fair grounds and I’ll try to meet up with you!

We have the best time every year, and we’d love to see you! And yes, of course crochet is very represented!Bec Thomas and Laurie Wheeler Spinning

Oh and the Sock Summit! I’ll be leaving on Thursday Aug. 6 to head down to my friends’ house in Oregon City, Oregon (near Portland), to stay for five whole days! YAY! Some of that will be playing with sock yarn, and sockie kind of activities at the Sock Summit. Some of that visit though is just for me, unadulterated visiting with folks! YAY!

If you’re at the Sock Summit I hope to run into you at the mega vendor’s market, that’s where I’ll be lurking!