I took T down to Florida to escape the cold and visit my parents. I had a bit of a brain vacation and computer detox. I’m coming back feeling much more inspired and ready to create. I’ve got chickens on the brain. Sounds crazy, right? Well, turns out that the Florida State Fair was running while we were down, so on Valentine’s Hubby took us to the fair. For anyone who’s never been to a state fair, it’s a carnival with the added benefit of showcasing civic pride. Farmers can show their animals and get them judged like a dog show, then the animals are exhibited in halls and tents for the public to look at. (Crafters, cooks, bakers, and gardeners can also submit their work to be judged and it is also exhibited before being returned, more on that later.) It turns out that chickens, like dogs, have breeds, types, coloration, size, and even feather texture. There’s a huge variety and they range from beautiful roosters that look like they walked off a Provencal plate to “silky” birds that look like balls of fluff with feet and a beak.

Silky bantam.jpg

The ones that really caught my eyes are the mille fleur varieties. You can’t really tell here, but in person they’re almost metallic gold with random white and black feathers that looked lacquered.

There are so many color and pattern variations I came out of the Poultry and Bunny Barn totally inspired! And I’m leaving out the turkeys, geese, ducks, and guinea fowl.

We also checked out the Blue Ribbon Building where the handicrafts were being exhibited. I was not impressed with the displays they put together. When you’re trying to submit your work to be judged, there’s a long lists of categories such as “Knitted/Crocheted Blanket— Juniors (age 11-17)” and qualifications. Whoever decided to create the displays this year made displays that looked more like a shop window with the wares artfully displayed behind glass with no mention of what category it was or how it was evaluated. They were all tagged with the name of the craftsman and the town of origin and the ribbon winners had ribbons, but no further explanation or why these items were grouped together. It was hard to figure out why this quilt was the blue ribbon, and this one was an honorable mention. The one place that they did well with the display was for the needlework section. All the framed needlepoint canvases, cross stitch pictures, and embroideries were hung together so you were able to see the level of workmanship and compare the pieces. I left that building feeling kind of let down. On the one hand it’s really nice to see a bountiful display of handiwork, but it’s also upsetting to see it displayed in a way that you can’t really see them or get a feel for the level of work. I think I’m going to submit some pieces to the Maryland State Fair. Most of the knitted items on display seemed really doable to me. Plus as handicrafters it’s really important to submit! Many states are eliminating categories due to lack of submissions. It’s easy to think that what you’ve made isn’t blue ribbon worthy, but you get really good feedback from participating in events. How will you know what to improve without someone evaluating your work?

I also did some shopping with my mom wherein I discovered my pressing wish for a chambray shirt-dress. I dragged every denim-ish dress I could find into a fitting room with me and discovered that none of them fit worth a damn and were made from mystery fiber. Luckily, I have a nice striped chambray I picked up at Fabric Mart’s Black Friday sale and that McCall’s pattern everyone has been making lately. I’ll make adjustments once I get over this head cold and have energy again.

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