The team of people who volunteer at the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair came up with a crazy idea after fair last year… A cooperative challenge where the contestants must enter at least one item in each department of the Home Arts building. Cooperative, as in, unlike the Homemaker of the Year (won by the person with the most blue ribbons in the most categories) more than one person can “win”. And the entries don’t have to be blue ribbon worthy – just an attempt at learning a new craft. It is a challenge, because there are 17 categories you have to complete.
Now I’ll be honest here, this has me a little nervous. I pick things up quickly, but I have a *small* problem with perfectionism, and I see the opportunity here to make myself crazy. But this is a cooperative challenge – so we are all helping each other – a knitter will help a person learn to knit, and then take advice from that person on how to sew. We are a crazy, competitive crew – but we are also very supportive of one another.
My Nana taught me to knit and crochet when I was 9. I took to crochet like a fish to water, but knitting I just didn’t get. My first year at fair, 2012, I entered two pieces of crochet (and won a 1st and a 3rd place). It was a lot of fun, and pretty addictive…
That winter, I caught a nasty case of pneumonia, and while on bed rest, swore that I would let no fiber craft best me. So I watched a ton of YouTube videos (I highly recommend Very Pink Knits – her videos are fabulous) and taught myself again. One thing I think really helped me was switching from American knitting to Continental – much faster, and much easier to purl.
The next year, 2013, I entered knitting, crocheting, drop spindle handspinning, and tatting (which I learned to do at the request of my mother, who wanted me to teach her. She hates it.) I picked up 7 blue ribbons, and a champion for my handspinning.
In 2014, my third year of fair, I went a little nuts. I learned a ton of new crafts, and entered knitting, crocheting, lace (both bobbin lace and tatting), hand spinning, doll making, needlepoint, made cheese and canned apple butter. I also entered a category called Mixed Media (where you use at least two different crafts to create an item). I came away with 9 blue ribbons, a champion for my cheese, and because those 9 blues were across 6 categories, won the 2014 Homemaker of the Year award.
2012 – 1 First, 1 Third (one category)
2013 – 7 First, 3 Second, 2 Third, 1 Fourth, 1 Champion (4 categories)
2014 – 9 First, 5 Second, 5 Third, 3 Fourth, 1 Fifth, 1 Sixth, 1 Champion and the 2014 Homemaker of the Year (9 categories)
What I Need to Learn:
I am pretty confident of my ability to turn something out in the green categories, a little worried about the orange, and absolutely dreading the red items… I’ve done some basic woodworking before, and a lot of antique refinishing with my mother. And I think I’ll actually like rug braiding. But I have hated everything to do with sewing ever since I was a small child. I don’t know what it is about sewing that I don’t like, but those are the categories that will probably kill me. Did I ever tell you about the time I was hemming my pants and I accidentally sewed the leg hole shut? Sigh…
- Animals / Toys / Dolls
- Lace making
- Food Preservation
- Baked Goods
- Decorated Cakes
- Rug Making
- Accessories (sewn items that are not clothing)
I’ve decided to compete with a group of friends from Fair. You can follow our progress on Facebook using #AllArtsChallenge, and of course, I’ll have updates right here. Just sort by category “All Arts Challenge”.
I have a Pinterest board set up with ideas for the competition… I have it to the right of this post -> check it out! If you have an idea, send me a pin!