Sunday, May 4, 2008

Maryland Sheep and Wool!

9 AM, Saturday Morning. We (myself and my accomplice in yarn-buying) are in the car, ready to go (albeit one detour to Caribou for very needed caffeine).

We enjoyed a nice drive through the countryside, followed by a nice hour of sitting in knitter-traffic. We finally spotted this:


And we knew we'd made it.

I had read that the Sheep and Wool Festival was well-attended, but I guess I never really believed it until I saw it with my own eyes.


The place was packed.


Seriously, look at these crowds.


Wow. And besides the sheer volume of people, there was more yarn than I could possibly comprehend. (Or buy, for that matter.)




I mean, seriously. I almost died from sensory-overload. This might be what Heaven is like. Except for someone should also be handing out free Cokes or something.

And yes, for those of you that find wool-shopping in May to be slightly insane, there were plenty of other non-yarn goods to buy. There were rows and rows of local plants.


There were beeswax candles.


There were even honey sticks of different flavors!


We were instantly overwhelmed. Clearly we needed to get our bearings and figure out a plan. We consulted the map, and upon doing so, we realized the place was even bigger than we thought. We hadn't even found the main exhibition hall yet. Good lord.


The main exhibition hall was also, as you can imagine, packed.


I saw some prize-winning wool, freshly shorn right off the sheep.


And the happiest wall of sock yarn you ever did see.


But no, we could not get distracted by just any old sock yarn. We could buy that online. No, we were here for something else entirely.


Two words: Drop Spindle.


Oh yeah. We were in, and we were in deep. For those unfamiliar with all of my knitting jargon, a drop spindle is the gateway to spinning your own yarn from the fluff of shorn sheep. These are Bosworth spindles, which is what I got. Erica got a Golding spindle. We're going to compare spindles, once we figure out what the heck we're doing.

Once you figure out how to spin with a drop spindle, you eventually graduate to this:


A full-fledged spinning wheel. And then I can go all Rumpelstiltskin on you and spin straw into gold. (Steven says we have absolutely no more room in our apartment, so I think I'll have to stick with the drop spindle for now. Besides, I don't really feel like pricking my finger and falling asleep for a hundred years. That would be mighty inconvenient.)

I was going to buy some Socks that Rock yarn, but the line was too long.



Also, there was a more important line we had to consider.


(We opted for the porta-potties instead of the restroom line. Time was limited, and we had priorities, people. I shall not discuss the horrors of a porta-john at 1PM during a crowded festival. Use your imagination. Yes, it was that bad.)

Okay, let's cleanse that image -- Look! Pretty flowers!


These made me smile - they were so vibrant!




In fact, the most remarkable thing about all of MDSW (as the locals call it) was just how colorful everything was.




We especially liked the Brooks Farm Fiber displays.


On looking at these pictures, I kinda wish I'd bought some of this stuff. There was a Clapotis made from some Duet yarn that was beautiful. (Can you see it in the picture there, hanging from the rack? I can hear my credit card softly weeping already...)



And Erica liked this stuff:


And since I am an enabler, I will now remind her how pretty it was. In the silver-ish color....(evil grin). :)


We also happened upon the Art Show. There was a handspun, handknit sweater that won Best in Show.


And I hope my spinning will someday look like this, with the barberpole effect.


I think the comments on the Judge's card are so cute -- "Congratulations on a lovely job!" It makes me want to enter my own projects...


After a little more wandering, we happened upon our other required purchase. Fluff to spin on our new drop spindles!


I wanted some really bright, fun fluff -- which is actually called "roving," come to find out. And this roving was awesomely bright. I bought two different kinds -- a solid color to practice on, and a fun multicolored version for when I get better at spinning.


I have already spun up a little of the practice stuff. Its extremely fun and addictive.

Also fun and addictive? Llamas!


In my alternate existence, I would like to live on a farm and own some llamas.


And I'll bet you don't know what's cuter than a llama? (Lots of things, right.) Ok, let me rephrase. I'll bet you didn't realize that Alpacas are different than Llamas, did you? And did you know that Alpacas are really adorable and kind of resemble pugs?


In the cheeks, mostly.


Come on. You know you want one as a pet.


Our final purchase of the day (well, I watched vicariously as Erica purchased it, but whatever) was a few small prints of these adorable cartoon sheep pictures. This one is "High Strung" and I got a little business-card sized version of it for my office.



Upon arriving at home (after the advice of a local police officer sent us to the only gas station within 100 miles -- we needed Gatorade and potato chips, big time -- and then sent us on a tour of the back roads of Southern Maryland), I surveyed my purchases and realized that I actually didn't blow the bank like I'd intended to. (Steven is cheering.)

Here's my drop spindle. Its made from Zircote wood. Erica also gave me some of her extra practice fluff to spin.


We bought our roving from Gale's Art. I adore the colors.


Isn't it gorgeous? This is my "practice" stuff.


And here's the multicolored one.


I am very excited to spin this one, but a little nervous too. I don't want to screw it up.



The only yarn I bought was from a lady named Roz.


How could I resist?


This will eventually become a Baby Surprise Jacket, but I'm having trouble finding the pattern. I should have just bought the book while I was at MDSW. Oh well. I'll buy it online from Barnes & Noble.

And that's it! (I know, aren't you shocked? I am just a picture of self-restraint.) Maryland Sheep and Wool was an overwhelmingly awesome and exhausting experience. I fell asleep dreaming of spinning all my fluffy wonderfulness.

(Also, twenty bucks says I've bought that Duet yarn online before the week's over.)



Erica said...

ok (a) how did I not see that duet yarn? It is wonderful! and (b) the yarn you bought (the purples and blues) might be one of my favorite yarns that I've seen. I can't wait to see what it makes. And those selbuvotter mittens that won a prize - that will be me next year (stop laughing - I already made one pair!)

The Mulvihills said...

This looks FABULOUS!!! I'm not even a knitter and I want to go next year! Super cool! I can't wait to see pics of what you make!