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PROFILE : Shear Pleasure : Rita Dayton may be found at the Ventura County Fair wearing, spinning, talking up wool.


Indeed, sheep are more of a passion than an income for her. It takes every spare moment in the course of a week to knit a pair of high boot socks, which sell for $25. Creating sweaters, which go for over $200, is inefficient.

The answer for most entrepreneurial knitters is the knitting machine.

"I don't want to do that," Dayton said. I want a hand-raised sheep, hand-spun wool, and clothes hand knit."

And so, her profits--at least monetary ones--are illusory. But it's OK with her.

"Other people spend money going to a psychiatrist or dressing for nice restaurants," she said. "I spend my money this way, and it comes out the same."

* WHERE AND WHEN: Rita Dayton and her sheep can be seen at the Ventura County Fair through Aug. 26. The Fair is located at the corner of Harbor Boulevard and Figueroa Street in downtown Ventura. Fair exhibits will be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and the carnival and midway, from 11 a.m. to midnight. General admission is $5, seniors 55 and over and children 6 to 12 pay $2, and children under 5 get in free. On-site parking costs $3.


Age: 54

Occupation: Shepherd

Favorite sheep in her flock: Texas. "She is from Texas and that's her name. She has really fine wool and she lambs every seven or eight months. She's just real hearty. She's sort of the boss there. She has this secret code with me. I secretly give her extra treats. She goes behind the barn or stands away from the others and makes eye contact with me or gives one very low baa."

Fastest she's ever knitted a pair of socks: One week. "I don't even finish a pair a month on the average."

Number of pairs of wool socks she owns: 12. "Some are over 10 years old. When the feet wear out, I just cut them out and make new feet."

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