I live in Howard County, Maryland, but I’d never even heard of the Sheep and Wool Festival until after I’d joined Ravelry. Even then, as close as it is to my home, it was a few more years before I decided I really ought to go, and then there were a couple of times when I had one of those “oh, dear, that was last weekend” moments. So I’ve only been to a handful of them.
Sometimes I’ve dragged the family along. They bear up to it with good grace. After all, there’s plenty to see and do even if you’re not there to devour the yarn. Even so, they always want to leave well before I do. I’ve gone with my knitterly sister, but she, unfortunately, has trouble with the crowds. This year the plan was to go with a friend, but she was recovering from strep and really not up to it. So, this year, I went solo.
It was not a mistake.
Everyone is friendly. There was never a time when I couldn’t turn to the person who just happened to be standing next to me and share my delight at some new find, and I really enjoy being able to linger as long as I wanted to over new things.
I dropped off the projects I mentioned in last month’s post on Friday morning. There was not traffic at all getting down, and only a few cars in the lot. The yarn bombing was already in place, though.
I was just there for a couple of hours on Saturday morning. I left home in time to get there when it opened, but realized I’d left my ‘mad money’ at home, turned around got it and came back. That extra forty minutes was the difference between ‘this has slowed traffic a bit’ to ‘you have got to be kidding me’ density, and I ended up being directed to satellite parking. There was a shuttle which went from the edge of the parking lot to the front gate.
There’s no charge for entry, but I made a $5 donation at the entrance. I figure the vendors probably don’t cover the full cost of the fair, considering the amount of effort that goes into it.
My first purchases were some wonderful cranberry and horseradish chevre and some goat gouda from Caprikorn Farms. The chevre later received the 18 year old’s approval, but she found the gouda a bit too sharp. I also got some colbere and tomae from Shepherd’s Manor Creamery. My taster hasn’t sampled the tomae yet, but the colbere also received top marks.
Afterwards I got a nice skein of Malabrigo worsted (I’ve been regretting missing my chance since last year).
It’s a lovely variegated yarn, and I’ve been thinking about trying intentional pooling for a while, so I’m thinking it might be nice for a handbag, possibly felted. I’ve heard so many podcasters raving over their yarns, I really just wanted to see what all the fuss is about.
I also got a skein of undyed sport weight Yak fiber from Bijou Basin Ranch. I’m not sure what it wants to become, but I think it might end up playing with the buffalo sport I got from the qiviut blog contest a couple of years ago.
I went back yesterday (Sunday) morning. This time I timed it much better, arriving there minutes after the festival gates opened. I parked about a hundred yards from the spot where the shuttle stops at the main entrance.
I made another donation going in. I did hear one visitor wanting to know ‘what the five dollars goes to’…? I don’t know how she thinks the world works. True, there is some volunteerism going on. A boy scout troupe directs people to park and a local knitting group puts up a hospitality tent, for example. Even so, there are a lot of labor and resources pouring into this. If the Maryland Sheep Breeder’s Association actually makes a profit at the end of it all, I don’t have a problem with that, and I’m not sure why someone who attends the festival would*.
From this point on it’s all sort of a happy blur. I had to choose between sheepdog and shearing demos, because they were scheduled against each other, and I had a class which meant I could only see one. I watched the herding, and it was truly wonderful. I had a lamb burger (sold by the boy scout troupe which does the parking. someone told me this fundraiser is the only one they do each year). It was tremendously good, and not too crazy expensive for festival food.
I ended up with all kinds of awesome swag –
The lovely green and blue yarn comes from Feederbrook Farm. It’s organically dyed DK weight Blue Faced Leicester, which I’m thinking will have to become a shawl at some point. The suggestive looking wooden implement is a nostipinne from Mark Supik & Co. It’s a traditional tool for ball winding and oh, does it feel like it was made for my hand! This one is actually a bit longer than I’d like, but I’ll find a way to make it work for me, because the handle is awesome.
You can’t see the sticky note, but the copy of Grounded was autographed by Heather Ordover of Craftlit. She was there the day before (This is the second or third time I’ve just missed her at events like this. Hopefully she’ll keep coming down occasionally after she moves to Pennsylvania.)
I just had time for one more random purchase before my one class this festival. A workshop on modular knitting by Jolie Elder. As with all the classes I’ve taken at Sheep and Wool this one has lots of little pieces of information and philosophy which will be working their way into my knitting in general. It was really terrific to watch as several of my fellow students had their own ‘lightbulb moments’ about the importance of selvedge treatments, or how different decreases really make a tremendous difference… I just wish my friend Jill had been able to come along.
So that was it, except for hopping back to the bingo hall to pick up my socks and bag.
Oh, yeah. It was a good weekend.
* If someone has a problem with the association and their aims, then showing up to the event is hypocritical.
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