A State Fair State of Mind
I wasn’t a “state fair” kind of person until I was.
It was September of 2004, and I had entered this afghan in the Wilson County Fair in Wilson, North Carolina:
I had stayed up all night working by artificial light to appliqué the little 12 double crochet circles onto the blanket. Then the sun rose, and I no longer needed to work by artificial light.
I was exhausted when I finally drove to the county fairgrounds to drop off my entry.
So tired, in fact, I never made it to the fair; so it wasn’t until I went to pick it up that I found out it not only got a blue first place ribbon, it also got a nifty purple one for being the best of all the crochet afghans of 2004.
I didn’t even bother to read the words on the ribbon. It was purple, and that was enough for me.
After that I decided that maybe, just maybe, I should drive the fifty-plus miles to the state fairgrounds in Raleigh to enter the piece in the state fair competition.
After doing some hasty research, I discovered that I still had time to meet the entry requirements. I tacked on a few more crochet circles, hopped in my truck and took my piece to the state fair, and the afghan that had done so well at the county level garnered yet another blue ribbon.
From that point on, I became serious about the state fair.
My first entry had been a lark, but after that, the state fair became my opportunity to express myself in crochet, and now that summer is here, it’s getting to be that time of year that at my home known as “state fair season.”
It is the time of year when I get out all of my hooks, seemingly every skein of yarn I own, and begin working on my state fair project.
When I lived in North Carolina it was a season that straddled the summer and fall, but now that I have moved to New Mexico, the state fair entry and due dates are different, and state fair season no longer straddles the change from one season to the next but is a season within a season — a kind of über summer in the middle of regular summer.
Which changes my perspective.
I have often used the state fair as an opportunity to create a new crochet design from the ground up, but this year I am contemplating picking a single motif that can be worked in a number of different ways simply by changing colors.
This approach has several advantages:
- I only need to use one hook
- I only need to learn one motif pattern
- I can use my current yarn stash
Using what I have
We have recently moved, and this one-motif “use what you have” approach would allow me to focus on color. It would also give me a reason to unpack all of my crochet materials, which means that there might be a side benefit of my garage and life becoming more well-ordered as the season goes by instead of more complicated and messy.
It would also represent an embrace of the scrap aesthetic that I find so dear. The unexpected juxtaposition of colors from different eras and the way putting the vintage next to the modern with a splash of retro creates a melding of color and sensibility that can be enchanting — just like New Mexico, the state I now call home.
Starting from the ground up means designing motifs, making sure they fit together, and choosing colors play nicely, and all of that is more than I can do right now, but I also don’t want to miss out on my first opportunity to participate at the state fair, so instead of trying to do what I can’t, I will focus on doing what I can.
The flamboyant afghan
First rising to crochet fame in the 1970s, this motif was designed by Liz Dominick in the early 1970s.
Here is one of my early efforts to capture the beauty of the original design in the yarn options available today:
The pattern is currently experiencing a resurgence of interest, and I am one of those who is interested. After all my years of crochet, I have just the yarn collection to work with and it includes some yarns from the era of it’s initial design, including this rather special green which I have been saving for a worthwhile and worthy project:
Lessons to be learned
When I work on a state fair project, I never know what I am going to learn, I only know that I am going to learn something, and the I get older, the more I hope that the something I am going to learn does not involve staying up all night.
But with my hook in my hand and yarn at my side, I will be ready for whatever this year brings.