Great new knitalong starts today over at Fringe Association. We are IN on this thing.

Blue-Ribbon Knitting!

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Our state fair is a great state fair,
Don’t miss it, don’t even be late.
It’s dollars to donuts
That our state fair
Is the best state fair in our state.
“State Fair” lyrics by Roger Hammerstein
Dear Kay,
I’ve been trying to figure out why I’m in such a slump. What is WITH me? How many two-ball UFOs can a person have lying around the house? How much unfocused, ill-conceived, misdirected knitting can I stand? At what point do I start selling off the stash on eBay?
I clearly need a little focus. I’ve been thinking, and it occurs to me that a goal would help. I mean, David has his piano recital. Clif has the climactic end-of-year preschool circus. Hubbo has, uh, work and stuff. If I were more organized, I’d join that Master Knitting thing, but somehow I don’t think I could stomach hearing the brutal truth about my knitting skills.
I finally figured it out. I’m going to enter the state fair.
The Tennessee State Fair, like just about any state fair, has pig races, milking demos, funnel cakes, and plenty of mules. It also has a building that was known for many years as the Women’s Building, where all the non-cow-related, female-only competitions took place. Canning, baking, needlework. Needlework, you say?
When David was small, I’d take him to the state fair to see the goats. We’d wander through the Women’s Building, now called Creative Arts, and there would be pickled okra, jars of tomatoes, and a whole lot of smoked hams. I loved trying to figure out why that one particular apple pie got the blue ribbon.
And needlework: I’d see loads of smocking, sewing, crocheting, and knitting in dusty glass cases. The collective domestic effort of all these women was palpable. I was transported back to 1945.
The deadline for the 100th annual Tennessee State Fair Creative Arts Needlecraft competition is August 30, and the fair ends September 18. I think I can cook something up in time to enter. The rules are totally complicated, and there are tons of categories. I love that.
If anybody would like to return to 1945 with me, let me know. I would love to do some blue-ribbon knitting with other like-minded folks. There are state fairs in every state–even Hawaii, though I’m not sure that every state has needlework competitions. It’s a quick Google to find out about your state’s fair.
If you don’t have a state (you know, if you live in another part of the world), send your stuff to me and I’ll enter it in the Tennessee State Fair for you. Nancy (so friendly!) at the State Fair office says anyone can enter, so I see no reason why somebody in, say, Denmark, shouldn’t go for a blue ribbon.
Must run–I’ve got knitting to do!
Love,
Ann

32 Comments

32 Comments

  1. I love it! What a great idea. Do you think you could you knit something that secretly (or not-so-secretly) references Zuckerman’s Famous Pig? Because that would be automatic blue-ribbon knitting in my book.

  2. A friend here in Toronto wants to enter stuff in a little local nearby fair. The prizes are maybe $5 for the best knitted sweater (that cost you $150 and hundreds of hours to knit). So far, I haven’t fallen for it, and this deadline is June something. Do you have to design something or knit from a published pattern? (I bet that’s part of those complicated rules, right?) Well, best of luck and keep us posted and if I ever finish something here I can start something new, and at least pretend it will be in a fair. I have a note up on the fridge listing the things that have to be finished… My son is nagging me.
    And did Clif ever get all those postcards?

  3. Lovin’ this idea, even if I have no earthly idea what I could make to enter. I’m going to go off and daydream about it right now! Can’t wait to see your selection.

  4. When I was around 7, I think, my mother knitted a full-length fisherman cable coat. It was the most gorgeous thing I had ever seen. She was going to enter it in the state fair, but somehow, it didn’t happen. Anyway, that was the year the pavilion burned!!
    Take out insurance.
    XO

  5. The quilts and sweet little smocked dresses are my favorite part of the Topsfield Fair, here in Eastern Mass! Maybe I’ll do it too!

  6. GO GIRL! I would not dare my knitted stuff, but one year JUST ON A LARK I entered some strawberry jam I had made, just for fun (and it was free to enter). I won 2nd prize! Whoa! I’m way too proud of this (I have small kids and no life) and it has never happened since. BUT it happened once. I bet a published author (digital and otherwise) like yourself would have a fighting chance. Go ANN!

  7. Should I even admit how much I’ve been thinking about this idea since I read your post? I want one of those blue ribbons too! Perhaps its because I live in an agricultural state but I think I’m going to enter my local fair too. Thanks for throwing down the gaunlet Ann.

  8. Your post prompted me to check out the VA State Fair. I am tempted to enter the new “Duct Tape” items category and wonder if Addis are slippery enough to knit with it?
    http://www.statefair.com/pdf_2004/OpenAC2004ADuctTapeFifties.pdf

  9. Wow! Getting in the way-back machine now… but forget 1945. I’m going to 1967-ish, when, as President of the Happy Homemakers of DuPage County 4-H Club, I won blue ribbons for my Lazy-Daisy cake and for a v. cool Twiggy-esque dress I entered in the fair. I swear I’m not making this up. I think I was 12 years old. The ribbons are around somewhere, along with photodocumented proof. But enter now?!?!?! Oh, Ann, I’m such a sucker for this kind of stuff! After I calm down a little, I’ll let you know. :-)

  10. ROFLMAO, ann, was that a veiled not-so-much-hint-as-blog-friend-command to enter one of my shawls into the Tennesee State Fair? OK. I will. But to save you the return postage, just keep it afterwards.

  11. Nothin like a blue ribbon for inspiration. You go, girl.
    We have a little fair here, they call it the HOT Fair which is supposed to stand for Heart of Texas. Hah. I usually enter canned goods and get a few ribbons for my trouble. Our prizes are: first prize (blue ribbon) $3, second (red) $3, third (white) $1. But…all those dollar bills are fresh from the mint crispy clean. Special, you know?
    Maybe I will enter some knitting this year. To keep you company.

  12. This is very funny coming right after the “slice of sloth” post ;-))
    If I weren’t putting life on hold for a week or two thanks to some upcoming surgery, I’d enter in the Tennessee fair…but I think you’d win :-)

  13. My parents have been telling me I should enter the state fair here in Minnesota. You inspired me to look it up–and, I had no idea! they give away money and gift certificates as prizes. Wow! And here I thought all you got was a ribbon. Who can turn down a chance to earn more yarn?

  14. Oh my goodness, Susan, the Dupage County Fair!!!
    I grew up in Wheaton :o)
    Now I’m all excited to enter a pair of my handknit socks. It will be nice to show them off to folks who care about knitted things :o)
    Maybe I will make a buttonhole bag :o)
    Donna…now in Wisconsin

  15. Susan and Donna … the DuPage County Fair?!? We’re living in Massachusetts now, but the Home Before That was in West Chicago. I’ve totally been to the DuPage County Fairgrounds.
    The Mother of All Fairs, though, is the one referenced in the R&H song, the Iowa State Fair (that it happens to be my native state does not color my opinion of its standing AT ALL). I’m always thrilled and amazed by the beautiful work on display there (and the Butter Cow, and the Talent Sprouts, and The Avenue of Breeds, and the funnel cakes …) … and now, Ann, you have me thinking about entering something of my own. Hmmmm. Possible. Very, very possible.
    Off to check the Fair’s website …

  16. I’m a huge fan of the Virginia State Fair, and have entered a quilt each year for about the past six or seven years. Last year I also entered a couple of sweaters. I’ve done pretty well with both, and quilt winners get serious prize money! (In my world, $50 is serious money, and that’s what 1st place gets.)
    I enter all my quilts in competitions, and there’s no question that having that entry form looming over me is a great incentive to get off my duff and do the work.
    And I LOVE the Fair! I haven’t missed a Virginia State Fair since my first one, at age six, in 1967! Bring ON the fried dough!

  17. That’s a great idea. Don’t know if I’m advanced enough for a state fair yet, but maybe that’s just my low self esteem talking lol. I have thought about trying the masters program though, sounds like something that can grow with me.

  18. How did you know? I was just thinking this afternoon that I should enter something in our local community fair (state fair would be way too much stress for me, thank you). I’m thinking Fair-Isle socks. What’s everybody else thinking?

  19. Go for it, Ann! The very first thing I entered in a County Fair — a lacy sleeveless top from an old S/S Vogue Knitting — won a second place ribbon. Utterly thrilling. The Yarn Lady (http://yarnlady.com/) offers gift certificates for first place winners in each division at the Orange County Fair here in California, and that’s just at the county level. If that’s not an incentive, I don’t know what is.

  20. Thanks for the inspiration Ann! I have just the pair of socks I would love to enter in the Broward County Fair! Now I just have to check the rules to see if they have a craft or knitting competiton as I know Dade County (Miami) does!
    My entry would be my Daffodil Entrelac Socks if I can pry them off my mom’s feet! :)
    And btw ladies, I have *finally* given in to the blog bug so come visit!! (and have a look at the socks!)

  21. Ann, I totally love the idea of entering the Tennessee state fair, even though I’ve never been to a state fair, or even Tennessee. Will you send me the rules? I’m sure I can rustle up something for one of those many categories.
    Although perhaps not lace if Thomas is entering!

  22. It’s old home week for exiled Chicagoans! I, too, have fond memories of the DuPage County Fair, though not as an entrant…yet. See what you started, Ann?

  23. Look what I just found right in my backyard:
    http://www.MasonDixonFair.com/
    Ha!

  24. State Fair? County Fair? (Or in my case, Provicial Fair?) Too intimidating for me, but I been thinkin’ about our *Town Agricultural Fair* for the past few days. Our town has about 900 people in it. Could be fun!
    I agree with Ashley, you lace knitters enter a spider-webby shawl with words knit into the webs! Wouldn’t that be fun?! Har har!

  25. I love the ‘web’ idea. ‘RADIANT’! or perhaps, ‘SUPER FANTASTIC’?
    Ann–You have fun with this, honey. I’m not sure I have the moxy. Although I was planning to knit ‘Sunday Best’ for Joseph…..would that be Fair-worthy you think? And which fair–Nebraska or New York?
    Cristina–I checked out the Mason-Dixon Fair but the only needlecraft is quilting! Boo-hoo!
    love, Kay

  26. Too funny, I’ve been hurriedly finishing my Kiri shawl so I can enter my next shawl in our county fair. I haven’t thought about the STATE fair, maybe I can enter both… hmm
    Sonoma County, California is present and accounted for! I wonder how many folks you’ll inspire to enter their local fairs!
    Do I sense a “fair-along” right around the corner?

  27. Ah, the Iowa State Fair (my new adopted state) it’s the largest or the oldest or the biggest (or, heck, all three?). This year will be my 29 year old boyfriend’s 31st year (he was there literally in his mom… making her sick the whole way). To suggest he miss a year is to cause near cardiac arrest!
    The Hall of Breeds is my all time favorite but we do make a point to hit the 4-H building (if for nothing else so he can take a mental walk down memory lane).
    Can’t wait to see what you knit!

  28. Do the Puyallup: Washington State. They do have knitting; I saw it last year**. The judges seemed to like lace and fancy fair isle. It’s tempting to consider!
    **pictures of fair knitting here:
    http://mousepotato.typepad.com/knittingdoctor/2004/09/you_can_do_it_a.html

  29. I checked my state fair website and they don’t even have a category for knitted items! Hmph! However, our little parish fair does. And they give a whole $2 prize with the blue ribbon. :D

  30. Rats! The Iowa State Fair website says that the “Creative Arts and Crafts” competition is open only to Iowa residents. I could use my parent’s address and my maiden name … no, that would be cheating.
    I’ll have to look for a fair closer to home, I guess.

  31. Whoo… I’ve got things I could enter in the MN state fair… I might have to do that this year! What an idea!

  32. ::googles:: Ummm, Mississippi State Fair purports to have a category called “Arts and Crafts” but I’m not sure what that entails. Macaroni sculptures? Finger painting? Woodworking? Latch-hook rugs? Please advise. Guess I oughtta call that number they list. Most unhelpful their Fair Commissioner is.
    As for the participation in a state fair, a few years ago my Aunt Kaye (not to be confused with MD Kay, but like her, on my list of favorite people) quit her job, moved to another state, and started entering state fairs (though for flower growing, not knitting). She won first prize for her zinneas. We all chuckled and thought her a bit eccentric. I may, in fact, be about to live someone else’s life. And not the one where I get to quit my job, move to the South of France, and subsist off croissants and a nice chevre. Although I don’t know who’s life that is exactly, it sounds nice, no?