Sunday, May 14, 2006

Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival Report


Yesterday Chris and I went to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival,
where I think I touched every skein of yarn and bundle of fiber in
every single display (it was held at a lovely country-ish fairgrounds).
I spent most of the day running around by myself, lusting over amazing
yarns, gadgets, and bags/piles of unspun fiber. Every hour or two we
met up for a break.

At the end of the day, after I gushed about everything, Chris said:
"Aren't you going to ask me how my day was?" So I did, and this is a
summary of what he told me: Chris spent the day eating every type of
lamb he could find (I don't know where he puts it.) He had a lamb
burger, lamb chili, lamb stew, and to top it off, a leg of lamb
sandwich. We also bought two large eclairs, which we had for "dinner"
with some coffee later that night, as we watched Poirot on DVD. There
was a lot of fairgrounds Food (I didn't get a corn dog...), and every
kind of cooked lamb you could imagine. Plus the ubiquitous fudge and
baked goods, which are seldom found in the city.

The temperature was about 80 degrees, the sky clear and blue, and the
people were was so much fun! Many people, of course, were
wearing hand made creations. One woman had on a sweater of some kind
and the most amazing coat--long, knit with fine yarn in all kinds of
muted jewel shades, which was actually made up of what must have been
over a hundred 2-inch "mitered squares." (You'll have to google that
one if you don't know what it means...too hard to explain.) Another
woman, who I've met at a yarn store in Alexandria and who recently
published a knitting book called "Wendy Knits," was amidst a noisy
gang of young-ish knitting women on a hillside (obviously online and
in-person knitting groups meeting up for the afternoon). She was
wearing a lovely mauve knitted short sleeved top that--had I not known
who she was--would have made me wonder if she'd knit it or bought it.
So talented!

Of course, I came home with some great finds, including a drop spindle
that really WANTS to spin and spin. One of these days I'll find a used
spinning wheel and bring it home, but for now I'm content with
spinning "by hand." In fact, we saw the most outrageously gorgeous
throw made out of fine, lacy octagons--and the yarn had all been spun
by hand on a drop spindle. I love "antique" connects me to
my ancestors :-)

I also found amazing wool--enough for a sweater--for $8 a skein (475
yards)! To give you an idea of what a great buy that was, your typical
"yarn store" skeins are about 100 yards and cost about $11 to
start--going up well over $30 each. (There was plenty of the expensive
stuff around, too.) The best yarns (and prices) were obviously from
the small "spinneries" and sheep feels good to support
them, too. The big corporations don't really need much help.

Another of my finds were skeins of pure alpaca in a glossy chocolate
brown--each tagged with a photo of the alpaca the wool came from! They
have VERY cute faces...sweet and shy. And some silk/wool yarn in a
variegated rose/mauve/brown/plum colorway from a Texas farm (another
great buy). It's a "test product" (most of their other yarns are
merino wool and mohair blends), so the owner told me to e-mail him and
tell him if I like the yarn, what I like, and what I don't like. That
kind of attention to quality sets the small vendors apart, in my

We spent the whole day out in the country with wool, dust, hay, and
who-knows-what blowing in our faces, and we each only had one
coughing-allergy attack. But when we got out of our car in the city we
were immediately assaulted by the DC pollen and were wheezing when we
reached our door. Hopefully city planners will soon learn how to plant
trees and shrubs in a more natural way, instead of choosing the male
plants only (which produce far more allergens). Out in the country
things are in balance...fewer people have allergies there. It's
interesting to see that played out in a physical way.

Well, that's the Sheep and Wool report...Great craic, as the Irish
say! (Look it up...)


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