Estes Park Wool Market: some comments, and a few goats and sheep

posted in: Knitting, Spinning, Travel, Weaving | 2

The Estes Park Wool Market was held near the roof of the Rocky Mountains this weekend, and I was there both days. I just cruised around and visited and generally took a break from being in the office and beset by deadlines. Yes, I got some work done, but it was hanging-out-and-learning kind of work. It was both productive and low-key.

I don’t have many photos, because I was knitting and listening and watching and chatting most of the time (I had a spindle, but never stayed in one compatible-for-spinning place long enough to pull it out).

If you just go to Estes Park and visit the vendors, it’s worth the trip but you’ve missed a lot. In addition to the fiber-related vendors, the sheep-to-shawl, the skein and finished item competitions, the workshops, and the regular sheep and goat fleece show, the Estes Park Wool Market brings in a lot of species- and/or breed-specific shows. This year, these events included:

  • Camelids: 2008 AOBA (Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association) Certified Alpaca Fleece Show
  • Camelids: Paco-Vicuna Fleece Show
  • Camelids: ALSA (Alpaca Llama Show Association) Llama Show
  • Camelids: Llama Fleece and Fiber Show
  • Goats: Angora Goat Show
  • Goats: 2008 Nationals of the Colored Angora Goat Breeders Association
  • Goats: Cashmere Goat Show
  • Sheep: Natural Colored Wool Sheep Show
  • Sheep: 2008 Bluefaced Leicester National Show
  • Sheep: Classic Breeds Specialty Show (Shetlands, Black Welsh Mountain, Icelandic, and Jacobs)
  • Sheep: White Handspinning Sheep Show

There was even more, of course.

Whenever I go to a festival without a teaching agenda, I can’t possibly see everything that goes on, so I pick a couple of activities that seem interesting and/or handy and that I don’t know enough about and I settle in for a while.

Animal judging takes time. On Saturday I spent several hours around the Colored Angora Goat Breeders Association contingent’s 2008 national show. There were a lot of great goats, and I have no photos of them. I did complete about another inch of my blue Aran-style cardigan (I’m on the body).

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I wandered around the vendors’ barn on Saturday afternoon, managing to see about half of it after the morning crowds had dissipated.

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And on Sunday morning, I watched the Youth Showmanship part of the goat shows, which was open to any young person with fiber goats to show but the part I saw was definitely dominated by the cashmeres. The three classes were: Novice, 10 and under; Junior, ages 11 to 13; and Senior, ages 14 and up. Most of what I saw were the senior exhibitors.

Here was one of my favorite goats:

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This is, indeed, a cashmere goat, although the cashmere (undercoat) has been combed out. Each of the exhibitors carried a great big bag full of fiber so the judge could evaluate that as well as the animal. There’s one edge of a fiber bag visible on the left side of the picture above. In the photo below, you can see one of the bags of fiber produced by the goat in the background: the exhibitor has goat lead in one hand and fiber in the other.

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That goat in the front was called "Grandma" by the judge. This goat apparently has triplets every year. And, as the judge pointed out, she is "still covered in cashmere" (even though a bunch had already been combed out and was in the requisite bag). The cashmere the judge was referring to is the soft down that looks like fluff all over her. Grandma was awarded first prize in the "aged doe" (adult female) class, and she and one of her offspring took home the blue in the "mother-and-daughter" class as well. I liked that she won lots of recognition. The judge remarked several times on how old she was, and how good she was.

Later in the afternoon, I made my way through the goat, llama, alpaca, paco-vicuna, and sheep areas, with intervening forays into the vendors’ area to see what I’d missed on Saturday and to visit with friends. Sunday is lots quieter than Saturday.

I’m quite fond of Karakul sheep. I like spinning their wool, too. Long ago, when I was learning to spin, I ordered three Karakul fleeces—black, white, and gray—and washed and spun them all. It was a great experience and I wove the results into a rug. Karakul makes fantastic rugs: colorful, durable, with appealing texture.

Here’s a lovely red Karakul, with a black one behind her and a multicolored one on her left. I haven’t seen mixed coloring like that lefthand sheep before (at least not on a Karakul).

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The Karakul’s coloring looks like it has had an influence on our dog Tussah’s. Tussah will be featured in tomorrow’s post.

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2 Responses

  1. We spent time in the goat tent last year. It’s certainly interesting to see how this varies from place to place. Cashmere seems to rule in CO. In other areas, pygoras or angoras are the main attractions.

  2. I became completely enamored of the sheep. I’m usually drawn more to the llamas, alpacas, bunnies, oh my, and adore how frisky and friendly goats tend to be. I had always thought sheep were kind of slow and bovine and not-so-bright, but they seemed very with it and sweet.

    Mad for those handsome Jacobs!

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