The first two weeks, every August, the Wisconsin State Fair takes place only about fifteen minutes from my home. Every year my family goes; we grub on cream puffs, corn on the cobb, sandwiches made with bison or elk meat, and the occasional Krispy Kreme burger. We take my daughter down the big yellow slide where you ride on burlap potato bags so your legs don’t stick and fly down a series of hills. The slide is a fifteen second hit for us, and my three year-old just loves it. After we gorge, and slide, we often walk through the animal barns, and exhibit pavilions.
The exhibit pavilions always intrigue me. I wonder who these average Joe or Jane’s are that create the craft and food items on display, or who takes the time to grow the herbs and flowers that are judged. I also wonder who judges these items and by what criteria; I am sure this is written down somewhere for all to see, but I haven’t looked. This year I decided to enter one of my crochet shawl designs to be judged.
I didn’t know what to expect, and I definitely didn’t expect to wait an hour just to drop off my contest piece. My daughter was with me, and asking a small child to sit still on a bench for an hour is asking a lot. Luckily, I had thrown some snacks in my purse along with a hand held video game. She kept herself busy, and I kept my sanity, phew. The fellow hopeful exhibitors were all sitting quietly. They were all different, young men with sleek original photography, young women holding brightly colored costumed dresses, a retirement-aged couple walked in and sat next to us holding a large acrylic painting with an elaborate gold frame. Everyone had their niche, mine was crochet.
I came up with the design for my shawl from a Pinterest page that showed a shawl to be worn several different ways. I didn’t personally want to use a shell stitch for my shawl, so going-off the dimensions, I came up with a new patterned stitch. I wanted to make this a summer piece, something I could throw over my shoulders when we listen to music in the park on Tuesdays, so I chose Patons Grace as my yarn. This mercerized cotton is often my yarn of choice when working with small appliqués or jewelry. I had only made one other larger piece with the yarn, but I knew it draped well, and would be soft and airy. Keeping with the idea that this was a Summer piece, I chose a neutral off white, to go with most outfits. I embellished the piece with many brown buttons.
I didn’t win first place, but was proud that it was displayed and that I contributed. I also looked closely at the other contributors, there was some beautiful pieces created.
Since making my first shawl, I have made a few more, and in doing so, made adjustments to the design. I changed the yarn to Vickie Howell Cotton-ish, which is a little lighter weight, and still gives the airy summer vibe. I cut down the number of buttons from 18 to 9, which saves a lot of time when switching the style around. This, I’ve noticed, I’m a little crazy about. I love all the different ways to wear the shawl, it seems every time I go to the bathroom I change the way the shawl is worn. I also have experimented with color, which has turned out very fun. Here is an updated version of the shawl.
What do you think of this shawl? Have you ever entered your work into a contest? What have you learned from this? I’d love to hear comments, and get your feedback. Have a great end to the week, and happy crafting!