Sunday, August 11, 2013

Fair Enough, Part 3: The Day of Reckoning . . . and Funnel Cakes

On Saturday, my husband and I made our long-awaited trip to the Iowa State Fair.  We went with two of my Home Ec friends, Cassie and Angela.  We were glad to go with two people who had such an appreciation for hard work, craftsmanship, and the success of friends.  We were very excited to see two Home Ec patrons practically sweep the hand knitting division.

Sooooo many blue ribbons.
After winding through the breathtaking quilts and evening gowns, we found my matzah cover.  My first impression was, "I got a ribb--wait, they hung it upside down."

*Sad Trombone*
While the border is a circle made of the steps of the Passover seder, the middle of the pattern contains the word "matzah" in Hebrew.  That definitely has a specific orientation, and they hung it 180 degrees in the wrong direction.  I found a fair worker and explained the issue.  He asked how it is meant to be displayed, and I replied that it is meant to be flat on a table, on top of food.  He said that if they had known that, they might have been able to put out a table to drape it on, so I will know that for next time if I make a similar item.  He also said that I am probably one of 3 people over the course of the entire fair who would notice this problem.  That is probably true, but I still worked very hard on the item and would like it displayed correctly.  My friends wondered why they didn't use Google to figure it out, but frankly, I don't think they had enough knowledge of the subject to even know what to google.

So, how did I actually do?  I got a 4th place ribbon in the Embroidered Holiday Decoration class!  I am still gathering my thoughts on this . . .

On one hand, there were only 4 items entered in this class.  (Contrary to my prediction, the class was not dominated by Christmas decorations.  Two of them were for Thanksgiving and St. Patrick's Day.)  

On the other hand, I have looked over the overall results and the judges clearly do not feel obligated to just give ribbons to everyone, even in smaller classes.  There are even categories with the results, "First place--no award given.  Second place--no award given.  Third place--Mary Sunshine, Ames."  If I got a ribbon, then it is clearly because the judges felt I had successfully achieved a certain standard of skill.

On the OTHER other hand, the three items that placed ahead of me were all small quilts with some embroidered blocks. In contrast, my item focused entirely on the embroidery.  (A barricade prevented us from examining the pieces more closely, but it appeared that I used a wider variety of stitches as well.)  Were the other items considered better because they were quilted, even though this was in the Embroidery division?  It seems like these items should be held to two entirely different standards in separate categories.  On first glance, a quilt probably does look more impressive than embroidered white cotton.  There is also some talk that most of the judges are quilters.  Ultimately, I will not know the judges' reasoning until I receive my critiques.  

This is another reason why I was glad I went to the fair with my husband and friends.  When I said, "But--"they cut me off.  "No, there is no 'but.'  This is an accomplishment and you should be proud."

And now for something completely different!

Old-timey linotype machine
"Sun Bonnet Sues" of Many Lands
When you want to go hunting and look good while doing it
All hail the Iowa Urban Poultry Queen!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Project Round-Up--8/8/2013

I'm working on many mini-samplers, and not all of them really warrant separate posts.  Project Round-Up will be a regular feature where I showcase these small projects.

After finishing my State Fair matzah cover (still waiting for results!), I had to decompress by working with bigger needles.  I have been knitting blankets for all of the upcoming babies that are befalling my friends, and I finally wove in the ends of a finished blanket and mailed it off to a new, happy mother.

Once I felt rested up to go back to embroidery, I finished Drop Cloth's Sampler of the Month for July.  Before I get to that, I realized that I hadn't posted a picture of June's.

These are filling stitches--the kinds of stitches that you use to banish empty space.  Used judiciously, they can really add a nice pop to your pattern.  I was surprised at how nice the simple seed stitch, made of one or two parallel straight stitches, looked when done with different colors.  The battlement couching was the trickiest because it required some exact work, but it produces an effect that looks like 3D plaid.  It also got the most compliments.

July was chain stitches.  These also presented a challenge, because these are based on making intersecting loops.  When I made a mistake, I would end up needing to start all over.  A few of the more complicated stitches, like Cable Chain and Checkered Chain, required looking at instructions from several different sources before I found ones that made sense to me.  Still, this sampler gives me a lot of great ideas for the future.  I liked the way the basic Chain Stitch looks as an outline for the flower stems.  My friend Cassie uses a type of Chain Stitch for lettering on her projects, and I can see that it makes a solid-looking outline for when you want something different from typical backstitch.

According to Instagram, the sampler for August features Satin Stitch.  I'm going to be honest--Satin Stitch is my least favorite stitch to work on.  I trust that Rebecca's innovative samplers will convince me otherwise!