Tuesday, May 5, 2015

I wish to go to the Festival!

IMG_5873 The Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival was just lovely this year. We had fantastic weather. This year, Steven was visiting from Austin and my whole family went because they didn’t want to miss a single moment with him. We knew it was going to be a great day when (a) we got a fantastic parking space close to the entrance, and (b) this was on the car right next to us:  IMG_5866

Somehow I didn’t take very many photos this year. Too busy shopping, perhaps? We took a break for lunch on “the grassy knoll” (as Kris calls it). I happened to sit next to Sasha Torres from Sheepspot, whom I recognized from her newsletter. She used to do the podcast SpinDoctor (which I miss) and now she’s selling small-batch, breed-specific yarns. You can see the pile of fleeces she bought earlier in the day piled up behind us – these will end up on her website. She let me snap a lock of something (a breed that started with a “t” with which I wasn’t familiar) and I heard the “ping” – that was pretty cool! Here are Caitlin, Sasha, and me:

IMG_5885 My first purchase of the day was enough fiber to spin yarn for a sweater. I got it at Sweitzer’s Fiber Mill, which is located not too far away in Seven Valleys, PA. I will try to organize a field trip for our knit group to go tour the mill sometime this summer – they were very open to the idea. I LOVE touring places (remember when Julie and I went to the Kraemer mill? SO FUN!).IMG_5880 I saw a huge bag of gorgeous greyish fiber streaked with various other muted colors, and just loved it. I asked what it was (it was labeled by price but not content) and was told (somewhat sheepishly) that it was mill leftovers that they carded together. I asked if it was wool. “Yes,” she said “but a bunch of different breeds.” I said “it’s so soft!” and she said it had some alpaca in it, too – but more wool than alpaca. By this time I was sold and I bought 24 ounces. I think this will end up being way more than I need for a sweater, but that gives me plenty for sampling and swatching. IMG_5945 I also found some buttons that go with this fiber PERFECTLY – they are from Dimensions and they are raku. This is a type of ceramic firing. There are 6 buttons:


After that, I saw an opening to slip into the Into the Whirled booth, and I took it. Last year, Caitlin and I admired their batts – but I didn’t purchase one because I felt I didn’t deserve it somehow. Well, I’ve spun a LOT of yarn this past year and so I bought myself a batt! Isn’t it pretty? I purposely DID NOT buy the green and turquoise one I initially picked up. These are colors my mom will like, and I have in mind making a Clockwork or Spectra or something like that for her. IMG_5930 Also, this batt is made of Falkland fiber, which I’ve never spun. So, instant self-enablement. See how I did that?


After lunch, we made our way through some of the barns. That’s where I found Gale’s Art. I wanted to check out her hand painted, hand printed sock blanks. Sock blanks first appeared some years ago, and I wasn’t intrigued at all. But Gale takes them to a new level. They are so beautiful to begin with, and then you unravel them to make a sock that is really unique. Susan B. Anderson kept instagramming hers as she knit them, which is how I got hooked (you can see photos in this blog post). Here is the one I bought (selected by Boy 1 – this will become socks for him):IMG_5936 I don’t know how she makes these. The background is hand-painted, I suppose… but how she gets the print quite like that I don’t know. Maybe some kind of resist technique? IMG_5938 It sure is beautiful.

Then we all headed over to the Bartlettyarns tent. This is where I got the blue yarn last year that just became the super warm cardigan (with the too-short sleeves that need to be fixed before next winter). He makes lots of gorgeous heathered yarns and I thought S1 would dig them. She did! We bought enough of this to make her a sweater. This is the sportweight yarn – it should knit a thinner, drapier sweater than the blue one I just finished. A cone is 4 skeins. I thought I needed 5 skeins, so I bought a cone plus one skein. It pleases me to have purchased a cone of yarn. IMG_5925 I thought I was done shopping then, but I succumbed to one more delight: a silk hanky. I have never knit or spun a silk hanky but I’m game to try.IMG_5942 This thing has lots of layers, kind of like phyllo dough. You pull them apart and then work with the fiber. This is from Briar Rose Fibers (this was her first time at MDSW, but I’d seen her stuff at Sock Summit 2009 and Rhinebeck). Gorgeous. This time I DID buy my favorite color palette. Caitlin said “but it’s such a great version of those colors!” and that’s all it took… IMG_5944Despite buying a lot of grey fluff, I came home with a rainbow of colors. Here’s the loot all together: IMG_5951Steven did some shopping, too, but in an entirely different palette. Here’s his haul:  IMG_5934 Pretty different, huh?! I didn’t even realize Spirit Trail Fiberworks sold grey yarn. But Steven found it!

IMG_5909 We also had a fantastic demo from The Drafting Zone person about how a walking wheel works. I have seen these used several times but never understood it until now. This woman gave such an amazingly clear explanation that I dragged Steven and Caitlin back there to hear it again.


And you know what? The chakra is just a mini-version of the walking wheel laid flat:IMG_5906 We also saw an angora rabbit being spun into yarn while the bunny rested peacefully on the spinner’s lap. This trick always impresses me:


They also had baby bunnies – just two weeks old and their eyes still shut! IMG_5895

It was another great year at the festival.



  1. What a wonderful trip! At first I was sure that the mill leftover fiber and perfectly matched buttons were my favorite things, but those sock blanks are pretty incredible also. As colorful as your purchases are, the palette for Steven's purchases is also quite beautiful. Thanks for sharing them all!

  2. Thanks, Bonny! It was a fantastic day. I'm in awe of Janelle's organizational skills, as usual. Couldn't have asked for better weather or better people to go to the festival with -- "The wool is just sheep. The sheep are just wool!"

  3. I almost feel like I was there with you, looks like you guys had a great time.

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