Sunday, May 2, 2010

Wonderful Weekend of Wool

Whew! Another Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival weekend has passed.  Here’s how it went down (long post)…

On Saturday, Kris and I arrived bright and early and walked through the gates at 9 am, which is ostensibly the start time.  I say “ostensibly” because the first vendor we talked to said she had customers in her booth at 8 am.  The parking lot was pretty full at 9 am, so I can only imagine the hoards of people who arrived earlier than early.  Kris and I started at the Jacob Sheep Conservancy booth because she wanted to get a free spindle and a ticket to come back later in the afternoon to learn how to spin (we learned about this project on Ravelry – 100 tickets were available).  I browsed while she got set up with that, and walked out with 2 fun things: a batt to spin made of alpaca and Jacob, and some 2-ply Jacob sock yarn (5% nylon) in a gorgeous natural grey.  The batts (mine is 3 oz) were arranged so artfully on a shelf, each wrapped in colorful tissue paper and tied with a ribbon, like bouquets of flowers.  I didn’t take a picture of the whole lot, but here’s mine (along with some other finds from Saturday): IMG_6050That’s the Jacob sock yarn at the far right.  It’s from Jenny Jump Farm in Belvidere, NJ.  And here is it close up: IMG_6051 Jacob is a heritage breed that is very easy to recognize because it has 4 horns.

Next Kris and I flitted from barn to barn, trying to stay in the shade because it was getting very hot very quickly. I spotted Clara Parkes walking along and she stopped to chat.  I couldn’t get the topic of her next book out of her, but she says it “won’t let me down” and she’s working toward a September deadline.  And she has her next book lined up for after that.  Hmmmm, what could possibly top The Knitter’s Book of Wool?

Then I popped into one building to visit Jennie the Potter.  I saw her stuff at Sock Summit last year and have harbored a twinge of regret at not buying one of her mugs.  (Here’s a nice article about her from  So I bought one this time.  IMG_6054 IMG_6055 IMG_6056

Oh, and some buttons that were too beautiful to pass up.  I fully realize I was influenced by Anne Hanson’s recent use of Jennie the Potter buttons, but I submitted to the urge to buy them anyway.  Aren’t they lovely?IMG_6057Next we went to the Main Exhibit Hall to check things out, but it was super hot in there and difficult to move because of the crowds.  We did brave the crush at the Miss Babs booth, though, and I got this pretty handpainted BFL top in color “Sprucey.”  The wool is mixed BFL (75% white and 25% dark), which adds some complexity to the colorway, as the dark and light wools take the dye differently. IMG_6052Kris got some fun sock yarns at Miss Babs, too.

There was a neat button vendor next door to Miss Babs named koko noelle.  Since I had already purchased buttons for a yet-to-be-defined knitting project, I held off here.  But I got a necklace made from a button.  That’s totally different and showed great restraint, I thought.IMG_6058 That was it for my Saturday purchases.  Kris and I got something to eat and then went to the Dining Hall for Judith MacKenzie McCuin’s talk called “How the West is Woolen: The History of the Pendleton Blankets.”  It was hugely interesting and we saw samples like this:IMG_6044After the talk (blessedly located in an air conditioned building), we staggered about in the heat for a while, but then we gave up.  It was extremely crowded and intensely hot with not a cloud in the sky.  We left about 1:30, not even making it until the mass spinning lesson that we planned to attend.  Kris said “you can just teach me at home!” Weird, eh?IMG_6079Sunday is family day at the fest.  Our plan was to hit the fairgrounds early and leave when the kids had enough, before the “chance of scattered thunderstorms” materialized in the afternoon.  We got there right at 9 am and the parking lot was WAY less full than it was on Saturday.  We got the best parking space I’ve ever had on a festival day.  I headed straight for Misty Mountain Farm, which is near the main gate but was too crowded for me to get into on Saturday.  It was far less busy and I was able to score a few purchases.  First, 8 oz of this naturally colored BFL fiber (top, I’m pretty sure):IMG_6105 While I was waiting for that to be measured, I had plenty of time to peruse the dyed fibers on the shelves, and I chose 4 oz of this Polworth top (I haven’t worked with Polworth before) in color “Sand Pebbles”:IMG_6120 Sorry about the abrupt change in backgrounds.  It started to rain while I was photographing out back and when I was able to resume, I couldn’t put fiber on the wet patio stones.

And finally, I nabbed this skin of Dizzie Lizzie’s Superwash Sock yarn (merino/nylon) in color Arrowroot:IMG_6109Wow!  I couldn’t believe how much easier it was to shop on Sunday than on Saturday, even with my kids in tow.  Emboldened by this success, we all headed for the main exhibit hall.  We split up – S1 went to check out the rug hooking booths with Boy 1, and I grabbed Boy 2.  Boy 2 touched the Jamie Harmon yarn and was instantly entranced by its extreme softness (if you’ve ever touched Jamie’s yarn, you know what I mean).  We ended up deciding to get 3 skeins to make him a simple raglan sweater.  He picked them himself.  I really, really hope he wears this.  I am still carrying some baggage from when I made Boy 1 a sweater from Jamie’s yarn and he wouldn’t even try it on for a photo, much less wear it.  But he was 3 at the time and didn’t have any part in my decision to make the sweater.  I’m hoping that Child Participation = Success.  Things look promising so far:IMG_6063And finally, we put in a little time at the Shelridge Farm booth (which, again, was far too busy for me to get into yesterday).  I got some solid yarn to make the Treetop Socks (knee socks!) for myself in color Willow: IMG_6117 And S1 picked out this lovely sock yarn in color Leaf for a pair of Cookie A’s Nebula socks for herself:IMG_6119 Leaf is deliciously heathered and was a finalist for my own choice, so I’m thrilled that she chose it.  We saw a sample of the Nebula sock at the booth and both fell in love with it.  They were sold out of the pattern, though, so I’ll have to find that elsewhere.  Both of these sock yarns are Shelridge’s Soft Touch Heather, which is 3-ply fingering in 85% wool/15% nylon.  LOVE IT!  I bought some a couple years ago to make S1’s Celtic Braid Socks.

And finally, I had one last little falling down on the way through a barn.  I got some Jacob roving in 2 natural colors, about 4 oz each:IMG_6123 The lighter color is from Tannery Spring farm (no website) in Schaefferstown, PA, and the chocolate is from Spot Hollow Farm in Trumansburg, NY.  I thought I’d make a colorwork hat or mittens from this yarn once it’s spun.

In addition to these little spurts of shopping, we also checked out the Sheep to Shawl competition and chatted with one man whose daughter was on a team.  I was telling Boy 1 how the competition works, and this guy piped up and told us about the sheep he raised.  He gave us a bit of fiber from the shearing, and his wife showed us a video (on her Flip camera) of the shearing that happened earlier that morning at the start of the competition.  I was impressed.  Boy 1, not so much.

But he did enjoy watching a woodturner at work.  He was making a darning egg while we watched.  He also makes drop spindles.  We signed up to win a free woodturning class with him – we’ll see!IMG_6078We also looked at a lot of sheep and alpaca, watched the sheepdog demonstrations, checked out the skein and garment and fine arts competition winners, looked at the yurt, and ate ice cream or funnel cakes (there is a family split about which is the better fair food).IMG_6070 And then, by 11:45, the kids had had enough, so home we came.

I am still marveling at how much more comfortable Sunday at the festival was compared to Saturday.  It was a little cloudy on Sunday, and breezes blew through occasionally (heralding the rain to come in the afternoon).  That, plus the lower attendance, made things incredibly more pleasant than Saturday.

Now, I’d better get to work at my wheel. 

(And just for the record, I DID do my 20 minutes at the spindle on Saturday!)


  1. OMG...thanks for such a comprehensive post. I can't believe how much nicer the weather was compared to last year. What a difference.

    Wow, Saturday must have been HELL in order for you two to leave early.

    I love the mug and would have been behind that purchase 100%. The buttons and the necklace are very nice.

    I was dying to see if you were going to post about Jaymie Harmon. I love B2's choice. You know that is my favorite of hers.

    Very funny about the family split in fair food. You didn't mention the kettle corn - but I am assuming that you brought the big sleeve home with you :)

    Can't wait for next year!!!

  2. Great post! And, of course, I'm jealous. I especially enjoyed the picture of Boy 2 clutching his yarn. Love that look of excitement on his face!

    I remember those mugs! Glad you snagged one. And so glad that Sunda was way less stressful than Saturday. Maybe the boys are getting big enough and shopping tolerant that you could just go on the Sunday?

    Looking forward to the day when I can make it up there again.

  3. Dear Readers,

    Janelle was being generous when she said that we both needed to leave at 1:30...I'm pretty sure she was worried about my health. It was SOOOO hot and, after sitting for an hour in the air conditioning, I felt a bit faint to be back out in the humidity. It WAS a lovely day, all in all, but I'm willing to bet that she was more fit than myself and could have braved a longer visit.