Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Cunningsburgh Agricultural Show

A few years ago a friend twisted my arm into volunteering to manage the sheep barn at the Whidbey Island Fair.  The previous 'superintendent' of the barn decided that after 30 years she deserved some time off. So I stepped into a 'job' that included hiring the sheep breed and fleece show judge, putting together educational displays and even doing some barn maintenance.

Franna Pitt exhibiting her Champion Shetland Yearling Ewe at the 2012 Whidbey Island Fair ( See The Sheep Barn Blog)
 Our county fair is stretched out over 4 days with another day prior to the fair set aside for the local veterinarian to examine all of the sheep that will be exhibited at the fair for good health.  When the fair is done, we all go home happy, but exhausted.

Elizabeth Johnston in Shetland recently sent me several photos that a friend of hers took at the local agricultural fair in Cunningsburgh.

Shetland ewe

The Cunningsburgh show is an agricultural show on Shetland that is held annually on the second Wednesday in August. The first show was thought to have taken place in 1935.  However, unlike our local county fair, it is held entirely outside in a field for just one day.  It seems that this is not atypical in the UK.  We attended a fair a few years ago in Masham in the Yorkshire Dales that set up temporary pens for the sheep right in the town square.

Judging cattle
Here too for the Cunningsburgh show, temporary pens and rings are set up for the day. The show accepts entries from anywhere in Shetland, unlike some of the other Shetland Shows which only serve a specific area.  Like our fairs they include exhibits in both animals, hobbies and food items.

Shetland collie
What I love about these photos is the opportunity to see the Shetland sheep that are being exhibited at this local agricultural show.

Shetland ewe

Shetland ram

Shetland 'black' sheep

Shetland sheep with interesting facial markings

Shetland ram lamb

Not a bad way to run an agricultural fair, although is looks a bit cooler than our fair (that by the way was held the same time in August)!

Shetland ponies

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sea Shanties,Wooden Boats and more Allovers...

Elizabeth Johnston in Shetland sent me photos this week of some of the 'allovers' she's been knitting this summer.  I set the photos aside so I could post them at some quiet moment later.  Then, off we went to see Tom Lewis sing sea shanties at the Wooden Boat Festival over in Port Townsend, WA.

Shanty singer and song writer - Tom Lewis
Tom Lewis originally hales from Belfast, Ireland, but has been living in Canada for the last 30 years.  He retired after 24 years in Her Majesties Royal Navy serving on diesel submarines and now preforms traditional sea shanties as well as writing his own original songs.  Shanties were the working songs used on the big sailing boats of old.  They provided the rhythm to the jobs of hauling on the lines and helped to alleviate the boredom of these tedious jobs.

Schooner 'Adventuress'
After listening to all of the wonderful music and seeing the tall ships in the harbor at Port Townsend it is easy to image what the harbor in Lerwick, Shetland must have looked like in an earlier century, filled with tall ships from the Baltic, Scandinavia and Britain. I could also imagine the diversity of knitwear that came and went from Shetland on these ships, not to mention the subtle influences this busy port had on the pattern development that evolved into the knitted 'Allover'. 

'Allover' custom orders that were knitted by Elizabeth Johnston

Patterns continue to evolve at the hand of the knitters today.  Elizabeth uses her own patterns in her bespoke knitting.  The allovers she recently finished were custom orders and have already been shipped off to their new owners.  The black and gray vest in the photo above is Elizabeths pattern 'Selkie' or seal.  The colorway is new - one that the customer got a hand in choosing.  It included yarns dyed with madder (red) as well as some dyed with onions skins (yellow).

Close up of 'Nyuggle' vest
The second vest is a pattern she has titled 'Nyuggle' - which is a mythical pony in Shetland.  This pattern included yarn that was been dyed with lichens as well as some dyed with onion skins.  The matching hat is modeled by her 6 year old granddaughter.  It features a small silver spinning wheel charm on the back.

'Nyuggle' design hat with spinning wheel charm