Lake County Fair 2014 – Part 1

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Ok, I’m all set and ready to post about the Lake County Fair this year!  Here it goes!

The fair was hopping again this year.  I could not believe how many people were present on exhibitor’s night!  It felt like more than usual as we all packed into the Arts building to see if we had won. I was literally shoulder to shoulder with other participants for most of the evening.

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As always, there were so many wonderful crafts on display.  Quilts and afghans lined all of the walls, and every display case was packed.

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A sample of the knit and crocheted toys on display.

A sample of the knit and crocheted toys on display.

 

Some of the crocheted shawls.

Some of the crocheted shawls.

 

I had seven entries in the fair this year, and I ribboned in four.  My Radiating Star Blanket, my On The Road Shawl, and my Linen Stitch Scarf did not place.

There were SO MANY knit shawl entries this year, and they were all so great!  Go knitters!  Clearly, I need to amp up my game for next year if I plan to enter a shawl.

So many knit shawls!

So many knit shawls!  This is only a sampling of the competition.  I wish they were displayed open so that all of the detail could be appreciated.

I did well in hats this year. 

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Both my crochet and knit hats can be seen in the case behind me: crochet hat on the stand to the left and knit hat in the front right.

I earned a first place (blue) ribbon in a rather large category of knit hats.

My lace, knit Heart Hat earned a first place ribbon and my Broken Seed Stitch Socks earned third.

My lace, knit Heart Hat earned a first place ribbon and my Broken Seed Stitch Socks earned third.

 

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My only crochet entry this year was this Tapestry Crochet Heart Hat, and it took second place in another rather large category.  I was pleased!

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I earned a third place ribbon in socks.  I entered my Broken Seed Stitch Socks that I knit in cotton/bamboo.

The winners!

The winners!  My entry is on the far left (white ribbon).

More beautiful sock entries.

More beautiful sock entries.

My Fisherman’s mittens took second place (red ribbon) to a pair of white, lace gloves.

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My entry can be seen on the right of the photo. The white gloves that took first place also won the Sweepstakes Rosette for the whole knitting division (seen on the left of the photo).

 

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Knit and crochet glove and mitten entries.

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As always, I had a great time this year.  Stay tuned for yet another post about more great crafts on exhibit at the fair.  There were so many wonderful things!

~Happy crafting!

 

The Making of Decisions & The Making of Socks

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I’ve been contemplating the best way to post about this year’s Lake County Fair.  It’s already over a month behind me, and I don’t want to end up posting about it a year later like I did with last year’s post.  The challenge is that I generally like to post about the making of my projects, but many of the items I entered this year were made and entered before I could get any photos and post about them.  So do I post about the fair, and then write about how I made the projects later, or do I wait until I can post about each project’s creation individually, and then post about the fair?

You might have noticed from the conveyor line of posts in the last few weeks that I have mostly been trying to do the latter:  show you all of the projects I made (there’s a ton to catch up on, but we’re almost there) so that I can post about the fair and show you how I did. 

So the fair post (well, probably posts actually….I took lots of photos this year) is coming soon.  Some time well before August 2015 – I swear!

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Hand knits being unpacked all over my easy chair.

This past weekend was a three day weekend from work for me (due to Monday being Labor Day), so on Saturday morning I finally had a chance to go through my fair stuff to organize everything and get some photos. 

It is just my general personality to be a total stress-case, but lately I have noticed that I am beginning to enjoy my Saturday mornings a little bit.  Saturday morning is the perfect time, being right at the end of the previous work week, but still as far away as possible from the next one that my brain will allow me to let down my guard the teeniest bit so that I can feel something resembling a state of being relaxed.  It’s brief and it’s fleeting, but that almost makes it seem sweeter, and anyway, I’ll take what I can get.

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So Saturday morning I had my coffee, and my yarn, and my ribbons and my knits and I just went with it.  Half of the living room looked like the Arts building at the fair exploded. 

In a previous post, I mentioned that I won eight ribbons at the more recent Will County Fair.  Well this year at Lake County, I won four:

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Blue ribbons are hard to come by at the Lake County Fair, so I am always extra happy to win one.  The ribbons never have the year on them (why IS that?) so I generally write the year, and which project the ribbon was awarded to on the backs of them so that years (weeks?) from now, I can remember.

In other news, I continued work on the newest project to hit my needles:

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This Simple Skyp Socks pattern is one of the most popular free sock patterns on Ravelry at the moment, so I thought I should get in on the action.  The pattern is actually really cute and clever. 

I just love the colorway of this yarn I chose from Ellen’s 1/2 Pint Farm but holy cow, I didn’t notice how fine the weight of this yarn is until I started making my socks!  It is a really light fingering weight – almost approaching lace weight.  I ended up knitting my socks with size 0, bamboo, double points but have since switched over to my beloved Kollage Square double points in size 1 because I was having pain in my hands and fingers.  Bamboo needles in size 0 tend to bend, and the constant fiddling of them into position was taxing my hands.

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I’ve been enjoying this book by Betsy Lee McCarthy, and recently read through the section on all of the options available for approaching the knitting of socks:  use of double points, one circular needle, two circular needles, magic loop etc… 

I am an old school purist when it comes to knitting my socks:  I’m pretty sure I’ll always be a double point girl.  I found it interesting that in the book Betsy suggests knitting both socks at the same time on side-by-side DPNs in order to keep the socks identical and to avoid the “second sock syndrome”.  I have considered doing this before, but never committed to it.  I was inspired enough by Betsy’s argument that I actually decided to knit my Skyps on side by side DPNs.

At this point, I am all of the way through the cuff and leg on sock one, and I am now about 1/3 of the way through the cuff and leg on sock number two.  Then I’ll go back and do the heel of the first, and then the heel of the second sock.  Then gusset, then instep, foot and toe until both socks are complete.  It might be nice to actually finish both socks at roughly the same time.  It will definitely be a different feeling.  I guess I’ll see if it catches on with me.

~Happy knitting!

Will County Fair – 2014

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The Illinois Will County Fair is going on this week, and I entered nine items this year:  eight were knitted and one was crocheted.

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What’s a knitting blog without some sheep photos?!

I’ve been out to the fair three times already this week.  The day after judging for the Arts entries was apparently the day before the scheduled judging of the sheep, so they were looking extra snazzy.

I did fairly well in the fair this year.  I ribboned in all but one of my entries (my crochet hat did not place).  I won eight ribbons and $40 in premium money.  Oddly, there were very few entries in the knitting division this year, and I felt like I won nearly half of my ribbons by default. 

There were only two knit shawls entered this year, one of them being mine, and my On The Road Shawl ended up taking second place.  See what I mean about winning some ribbons by default?

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I have to admit that at first I was a little disappointed not to have taken first when there was only one entry to compete with, but once I got a good look at the shawl that won, I got over it.  Isn’t it pretty? 

The first place knit shawl (not made my me).

The first place knit shawl (not made my me).

It has a lace bottom and if you look closely, it’s also lightly beaded.  It might be my favorite knit entry in the fair this year.  I love the yarn.

I entered my Radiating Star blanket, and again I took second place by default.

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Only two entries (my blanket and one other) were made in the knit afghan (any pattern) category, and the first place blanket also took Best of Show for the whole division, so it’s hard to feel bad about that!

I did get a legitimate first place ribbon for my knit scarf!  I entered my Leaf Scarf just to see how it would do, and it was the winner.

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I entered my beloved Rayures cowl as well, and it took third:

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The knit hat category was one of the only ones with several entries, so I was really glad that I knit that second (improved) Scrollwork hat.  It took second place.

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My sister’s mittens took third place of only three entries.

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And my Snowflower socks were the only knit socks entered this year!  Where did all of the knitters go?!

First place ribbon by default.  Kind of a buzz-kill.

First place ribbon by default. Kind of a buzz-kill.

 

The night before the fair, I realized that I had entered my set of kitchen towels into the wrong category (hand towels), so I was not expecting to have any luck there.  I was surprised to find that I took second place!  It appeared from the tags that they had combined the two groups, which was a good thing for me.

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If you haven’t been out to the Will County Fair this year, it will be going on through Sunday (8/24).  Go check it out!  And if you can, knit up some entries and participate next year! 

Tomorrow I will post more about the fair, including my favorite things entered by others.  It’s always so much fun to see what other people create and come up with!

~Happy knitting!

“Relaxing” on Saturday

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This past weekend, I found myself preparing for yet another fair – this time, the Will county (IL) fair.  I will have nine entries this year if everything goes as planned.  So I spent my weekend knitting, and stressing about the knitting, and stressing about the things I should be doing instead of the knitting. 

Since Saturday was a cool, overcast, nearly fall-like day, I decided (after hours of knitting feverishly indoors) that I should go out and finish my knitting while enjoying the day on my deck.  Since the dogs spend most of the week stuck indoors while I’m at work, I thought this would benefit them as well.

So I gathered my knitting, and my dogs, and my coffee, and my cell phone, and a bed for the dogs, and the citronella candles and headed out to the deck.  After cleaning off the deck chairs, lighting candles, placing dog beds, and filling water bowls, I realized that I probably would already have been done with my knitting had I just stayed inside….

In any case, I tried to take the opportunity to let got of some stress and enjoy the weather and enjoy my knitting.  I’m really bad at relaxing. 

As you can see, I was still sporting Peanuts PJs.

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I was finishing a cotton, kitchen towel for a fun category in the fair called “Three towels, all different, any type”.  The category is not just for knitting, so anyone making any kind of towels can enter, and we all get judged against each other.  It’s way fun (for nerds like me).

 

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One of my dogs settled into his place under my seat, and we all did our best to relax like normal people (eh hem) on a Saturday.

I eventually finished the towel, and I absolutely love it.  It is knit from Bernat kitchen cotton which usually costs more than I am willing to pay, but I got this ball on clearance (I’m guessing due to the color).  It is so soft with great stitch definition.  This towel will definitely get use in my kitchen after it has its big day at the fair.

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In other news, look what also found its way onto my needles over the weekend:

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Yep, I decided to reknit Scrollwork in a different yarn.  (Darn it!  I was so excited about that Rambouillet…).  This time, I used some wool tweed as the pattern called for.  I actually forgot that I had this Plymouth Tweed.  It was also bought on clearance several years ago.  It gave me an opportunity to use my new ChiaGoo stitch markers that I just got at Stitches.  They look like candy:

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I finished Scrollwork #2 Sunday night, and it does appear that it will be my knitted hat entry in the upcoming fair. 

~Happy knitting!

Knit One…. Crochet Two…

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Since I haven’t been posting as much as I would like lately, I thought I would share what is currently on my needles….. and what was recently on my hook!

Last year, I decided to enter not only some knitting, but also a crocheted item into the county fairs.  I couldn’t find any fair-worthy pot holder patterns for my entry this year (but I think I found a pattern for NEXT year), so I decided I would crochet a hat instead.

I chose this:

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It is a tapestry crochet pattern.  Tapestry crochet is sort of like stranded colorwork in knitting, except with single crochet stitches.  The resulting fabric is really thick because you carry all of the yarn strands within the stitches of your work.  For this reason, it is often used for elaborately patterned baskets. 

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I chose some worsted weight wool yarn for the project in colors I thought would work well together.  All of the yarn was from my existing yarn stash.

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My hat about half way done. You can see why this technique is often used for patterned baskets.

I should have chosen a sport weight yarn, and dropped down a few hook sizes because my hat came out way too big to be a pull-on cap as the pattern intended.  In order to shrink the hat, I soaked it and ran it through the dryer, which did help to some degree.

 

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Since the hat could still work as a ‘slouch’ style hat, I added a really large pom pom to the top to weigh the hat down and make it slouch better when worn.

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I entered the hat into the Lake County Fair this year, and despite its challenges, it scored a second place ribbon.  I was excited and happy to have ribboned.

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The red hat in the front right corner of the case behind me in the photo (below) was my knit hat entry which actually won a blue ribbon this year.  I love fair season.  My items are still on display at Lake County Fair at the time of this post, but up next for me will be the Will County Fair. 

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Since I have no socks to enter in that fair this year, I picked up my only half completed Snowflower socks that I started making for my cousin Sharon a year and a half ago.  I thought I could finish the second sock, enter them into the fair, and then finally send them to Sharon, who lives in Canada, when the fairs are all done.

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So far so good on that plan.  The second sock is currently in the Soak wash in preparation for blocking, and I expect to have the pair ready in time for the fair in another week.

~Happy knitting!

Better Late than Never: Lake County Fair 2013

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I decided that if I don’t post about last year’s Lake County Fair right now, I probably never will.  It’s nearly the 2014 fair season already, and there is only so much time left for procrastination!

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This was my second year participating in this fair, and I really enjoy it because there are always so many entries.

In 2013, I entered a hat, socks, a shawl, a scarf (all knitted) and a crocheted pot holder.  I was excited about the pot holder because it was the first crocheted item I had ever entered into a fair.  I have been crocheting since I was a little kid, but I prefer the appearance of knitted objects, so I don’t do a lot of crochet these days.

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My entry took 2nd place, earning me my first ribbon for crochet (red ribbon in photo above).  Personally, I loved the blue chicken (see photo above) which – oddly – didn’t place at all. 

I made a partner for my pot holder for entry into the Will County Fair later in the summer, and the set took first place.

The hat I chose to enter was the Butterfly Beanie (seen with blue ribbon below):

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I entered my Red Maple socks:

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I entered my Cladonia shawl:

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After being a little disappointed that I didn’t take any first place ribbons in 2012, I was pleased to have won blue ribbons (first place) in knit socks, knit hats and knit shawls this time. 

The scarf division was huge in 2013.  I think that there was likely somewhere around 30 entries.  I entered my Painted Cables Scarf (a previous first place winner at the Will County Fair), and it did not place.

Here are some of the scarf entries (my entry can be seen at the far upper right of the photo):

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The following photos show projects entered by other participants (meaning, none of them were made by me).

More scarves:

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I love to see all of the afghans that have been entered.  Here are some of my favorites:

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Here was the Sweepstakes Rosette winner:

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My favorite entry in the fair had to be this crazy, crocheted, ruffle pillow.  This thing was HUGE!  It was something like three feet in diameter.  It took a second place ribbon.

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There you have it:  my 2013 Lake County Fair experience.  Now I can look forward to this year’s fair season.

~Happy knitting!

Will County Fair — 2013

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I should be calling this post “better late than never“! 

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The Will County Fair was held from August 21st to the 25th last year (2013) at the Will Country fairgrounds.  I entered this fair for the first time in 2012 (see that post by clicking HERE), and really liked it.  After my experience in 2012, I knew I would enter the fair again, and I did so in 2013 in a BIG way with ten entries. 

My pretty friend Dawn came with me to see the results after judging.  She’s from Wisconsin, so not only is she super-nice (have you ever noticed that everyone from Wisconsin is just really nice?), but she also loves to visit the cows.  I think the cows liked it too!

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It’s not hard to get carried away with your own fair entries at this fair (especially when you knit as much as I do!) since you can enter each class TWICE.  For example, you can enter two hats into the knitted hats class, meaning you have the potential to ribbon twice in one class.  Many fairs will only allow one entry per class.

The other thing I noticed when looking at the fair premiums book this year is that knitting and crochet were present in more than just their own designated divisions (as they are in most fairs).  This meant that outside of any class entry (hat, socks, afghans…) in the knit and crochet divisions, I was also able to make some entries into two other divisions:  ‘Textiles’ and ‘Infant’s Garments’.   Recall, each division will have a Best of Show awarded as well, so I was eligible (in theory…) to win three Best of Show ribbons.  But I didn’t win any of them.  Blah.

This organization really makes it worth submitting entries!  I ended up with a ton of opportunities to ribbon, and I did end up doing fairly well.  I nearly doubled my money spent in entry fees and brought home 9 ribbons:  four 1st place ribbons, four 2nd place ribbons, and one 3rd place ribbon. 

Up first, in the Textiles Division – a section called Towels.  I had never entered this section before, and honestly, wasn’t even sure I should have been entering since it was not a knit or crochet division.  In this section, there were eight classes for towels of all types, most involving sewing and embroidery.  I noticed one class entitled “collection of 3 kitchen towels, each different”.  There was no mention of how these towels could be made.  I wasn’t sure what the heck it meant, but since I love (LOVE LOVE LOVE) knitting cotton towels for my kitchen, I thought it was worth a shot to pick the best three I had made, and enter them, just to see what would happen.  I was sure this was not what the category was meant for, but hey, knitting creates cloth which then qualifies as a textile, right???

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 Well, the judges saw it my way, and I actually took first place (blue ribbon) in the category!  I was shocked. 

The other section in Textiles that I entered was Pot holders.  I entered a section called “crocheted pot holders, set of 2”, and again, took first place (blue ribbon). 

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    Folded Flower Set

 

 

 

I liked the watermelons and the piggies better than my pin wheel pot holders, but I was happy for the ribbon.

 As a long shot, I also entered this same section in a class called “Hot dish mat, any kind”.  I entered a really simple trivot that I had made just for fun earlier in the summer.  It was actually one of a set of pot holders I made, now in use in my sister’s kitchen.  It took third place by default (only three entries in this whole category!!!).  It can be seen all of the way at the bottom of the picture below (white ribbon).  Notice, the blue ribbon winner in this class took the division Best of Show (big purple ribbon).

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 I knit my first baby sweater earlier that year, and I entered it into this fair.  This class was set in a division called Infant’s Garments.  I really like the sweater that I knit (The Maile Sweater pattern in Malabrigo fingering weight yarn, colorway: eggplant), and even used vintage buttons from my beloved antique button collection on it.  I was hoping for a real shot at Best of Show. 

The night before the fair, I was rushing to block and finish everything to my satisfaction (as usual), and I ended up accidentally overblocking the sweater to within an inch of its little life.  It looked totally stretched out, and it was too late to do anything about it. 

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It took second place!  Argh!  I worked so hard on that sweater.  I was bummed to have missed a shot at Best of Show (all of the blue ribbons in a division are judged against each other for Best of Show). 

Here is the super-cute, fluffy (not stretched to the point of fatigue) first place winner:

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Notice that this entry also took Best in Show for the division.

Here was my favorite baby sweater that I photographed, not only to share the cuteness with you, but also because I must make one someday too:

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You can click the photo to see the details (duckies!!!).  I just LOVE this sweater, and as far as I could tell, it did not win any ribbons.  Fairs are funny that way.  Sometimes, you just never know.

 All of my other entries were in the division called “Knitted Articles”.  I entered two hats, and took both first and second place in the class (seen at the top of the photo below).

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 I entered two pairs of socks and again took both first and second place in the class:

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RedMapleSocks2    BrokenSeedSt4

 

 In scarves, I entered both my Breath of Fresh Air scarf and my Linen Stitch Scarf.  The first did not place, and the Linen Stitch scarf took 2nd place.  Somehow, I took no photos of my winning scarf at the fair, but here is a pic of the scarf after I made it:

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And last, but not least, here are some additional winning entries (not made by me) that I loved.  I just had to take photos so that I could share.  This bag, clearly a first place winner, was huge, and so well done!  That green color never gets old to me.

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I can’t remember what class this ribbon was for, but it had to have been either ‘crocheted baby blanket’ or ‘crocheted afghan’.  Either way, it’s gorgeous!

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Here was one of my all time favorites at the fair.  This pencil drawing of a horse is so amazing.  This person is SO talented!  You have to see it in person to get the full effect. 

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There you have it:  my Will County Fair experience for 2013.  This year, I will make a mental note to get better photos of my own entries.  I also entered the Lake County (IN) Fair in 2013, and I will try to post about the fun I had there soon.

~Happy knitting!