Sunday, May 6, 2012

Merry Maryland

Man, I love the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival.  This year the carpool included me, Kris, Jess, and Judy (just like last year) – here we are after arrival (and immediate trip to the restrooms before the lines get too long – we have time-tested strategies that we employ):IMG_1254On the way home, Kris asked us to rate our festival experience.  I gave it top marks this year because I did everything on my list and had lots of additional fun, too. Here were the things on my list:

Have stress-free parking experience.  For the second time, we took the back route, which meant no lines backing up on 144 toward the I-70 exit.  We got the best parking spot I have ever had.  Score!  We arrived about 8:45.

Buy fiber for SPAKAL.  Remember I decided to participate in the Knitmore GirlsSPAKAL (Spin Along Knit Along).  I calculated I would need 21 oz of fiber.  Then I rounded up to 24.  And then I got paranoid (some folks who have knit Eadon say the yarn requirements are a bit skimpy) so I planned to buy 30 oz. I needed something that would show off the cable pattern well, so I was open to a natural sheep color, or a solid/semi-solid dyed fiber.  There were many attractive options, but I settled on some solid, dyed Corriedale from Stony Mountain Fibers in Charlottesville, VA.  The color is a deep purple called Eggplant:IMG_1297This is roving (not top – so carded, not combed) and I’m tickled to be working with an actual breed from a specific farm rather than generic wool. But I’m ALSO happy to be working with a bit of color.  I was mighty drawn to the color “lima bean” but decided that eggplant was a more sensible choice for my wardrobe.  The bag was pretty poofy:


The fellow at the booth said that an arm’s length of roving is about an ounce, so Jess helped me measure it out into the bag.IMG_1267You can totally tell she’s counting out loud in this photo. 

Another goal we had for the day was to have our annual photo with celebrity Clara Parkes.  We had to tweet her out, but we got her!   Clara was lovely, as always.  I was so distracted I forgot to try to get her to tell us what her next book project is about.  Oops.  So much for my sleuthing skills…


And thanks to Patti Anne for taking our photo!IMG_1283 My only other goal was to discover fun stuff, and that I did.  My first purchase was a new-to-me fiber blend of 85% Polwarth and 15% silk from Misty Mountain Farm in Amissville, VA.  This colorway is “Blue Spruce” and I got 8 oz, enough to spin some really soft yarn for some kind of shawl or scarf for me.IMG_1294 After that purchase, I found Judy in the Creatively Dyed booth.  Here she is on the inside – I found it was easier to chat with her from the outside.


That cracks me up.  Soon after that, I discovered a really fun booth by A Paca Fun  Fiberworks.  When these ladies say “fun,” they mean it.  The first thing that caught my eye was this really cool yarn bowl.  Most yarn bowls are made of ceramic, but this one is made of fabric.  No breakage!IMG_1318 And there is a magnet under the flower thingie, so if you need to free your yarn from the guide loop, you can:IMG_1319 So clever.  Even Clara liked this bowl!IMG_1280At the checkout, the ladies said that anyone purchasing a yarn bowl (actually, they call these Knitty Pots) gets 12.7% off any roving or batt.  Why 12.7?  They just like the number.  (See, fun!)  I looked around and quickly became smitten with this “Alpaca Kaboodle” batt made of alpaca, bamboo, firestar, and silk:IMG_1313You can’t really see the sparkle in these photos, but trust me, there is a little bit.


They were also having a contest to name this Whatcha-Call It.  It’s a magnetic board covered with felted alpaca, with hooks at the bottom.  I want to know what they finally decide.  Winner of the contest wins a gorgeous alpaca cape worth $300+.IMG_1260The fun and clever ladies at A Paca Fun also host alpaca scarf parties for groups of 4-6 people at the farm.  You get to tour the farm and dye studio, hug the alpacas, learn about fiber processing, and make a scarf on the felt loom.  The party even comes with coffee/tea and cookies.  I have a feeling some Gettysburgians might be organizing an alpaca scarf party in the future……

More fun stuff was found at the FiberOptic booth.  Jess made a beeline for this place, but it was new to me.  They had some really neat gradient-dyed roving and this one came home with me:IMG_1301 It is 4 oz of a 80/20 merino/silk blend.  I will see if I can spin it to a fingering weight and chain ply to keep the colors clear.  I’d like to make one of those window pane-ish Stephen West designs (like Spectra or Clockwork).  The gradient yarn would be the windows and I would need to spin or buy a solid to be the panes. I think a neutral grayish-lavender would coordinate well.  (I seem to be into the purple/green combos lately.)

Across the aisle from FiberOptic was the Jacob Sheep Conservancy booth.  I bought some Jacob sock yarn (95% Jacob/5% nylon) from Jenny Jump Farm there a couple of years ago and made these socks for S1.  She says they are one of her two warmest pairs and she reaches for them often in the winter.  They are holding up really well, despite lots of wear and washing, so I got another skein to make a pair for myself.  (In case you’re wondering what the other warmest pair is, it’s these.)IMG_1311 My final purchase of the day was 3 skeins of yarn to make the exceedingly popular Color Affection shawl.  This has been in my queue since the pattern was released, as I so enjoyed knitting the Different Lines shawl.  I tried to get out of my color comfort zone and, at the same time, pick things that will fit with my wardrobe… and I came up with this:IMG_1304This is Cephalopod Yarns Skinny Bugga! (80/10/10 superwash merino/cashmere/nylon) in colors Bess Beetle (brown), Ghost Moth (rose/brown/gray), and Grey Scalloped Bar Butterfly (light gray).  I got it at the Cloverhill booth. IMG_1307 Whew! That was Day 1.

Day 2 started early.  I left the house at 7 because I wanted a really close parking space, as I had my wheel and kate and a bunch of accessories to lug in with me.  I changed a setting on my phone before I left my driveway, and read an email from Miss Babs saying I had won a contest and got a Color Affection set of 3 yarns!  Wow!  Jess and I spent some time in her booth on Saturday, but I became overwhelmed (crowded, hot) and left without getting anything this time.  What luck!  After my spinning class, I popped by to get my kit.  They let me pick any of the sets they had of “Yet” laceweight yarn (65/35 merino/tussah silk).  Here’s what I got:IMG_1337

This looks like a hank but is really a kit – they’ve just twisted 3 skeins together: IMG_1338These colorways are Pewter, Shaken not Stirred, and Swamp Thang.  Am I really going to knit TWO Color Affection shawls?  You betcha!  The laceweight one will be a different fabric.  They had a sample in the booth and it was sooooooooo squishy. Miss Babs was awesome.  THANKS, Miss Babs!!!  Here she is, the color genius herself:

IMG_1326But back to the morning… I took a plying class with Maggie Casey which was very helpful.  This is the only shot I got of her:IMG_1325Look how attentive everyone is.  In my experience, spinners are ALWAYS this way around Maggie.  And rightfully so.

After my giddy trip to Miss Babs’ booth, I stopped by the show ring to see the Parade of Sheep Breeds.  Here’s the “green room” area outside:IMG_1327I spied Deb Robson there – no surprise.  This is totally Kinneared and not very good:IMG_1328 She spent much of the parade in photojournalist position:


I wasn’t in a very good position to get decent shots of the sheep, but this one of some of the 47 (I think) breeds on display will give you an idea of the variety we saw.IMG_1335 So many shapes and sizes!  There were some baby lambs out there, too.  Did you know lambs can jump vertically from a standstill?  Hilarious.

Thanks for reading this far.  MDSW 12 was fabulous.  Now I have to go wind some yarn……


  1. Inquiring readers want to know: did you get a great parking spot on Sunday, too?

  2. So many pictures, it's almost like I was there!

  3. Whew! I'm exhausted. I got to go to Sheep & Wool without the sweating and crowds. But also without the yarn, sheep, snacks, cute critters, celebrity stalking, hanging with friends...

    Knitty pots! Hah!