Sunday, May 7, 2017

Brisk and breezy–MDSW ‘17

For the first time in many, many years, I did not go to the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival on Saturday. The weather forecast predicted chilly temps (highs in the 50s) with 60% chance of rain on Saturday, so I decided to try Sunday instead. It was still chilly and windy today, but it only sprinkled a little bit – not enough to wish for an umbrella. This means I missed Dave (Gettysburg College ‘09), but I bumped into Anne (Gettysburg College ‘05 and fellow librarian):IMG_5441

Oops! I caught Anne with her eyes shut against the pollen (which is especially high this year). Going on Sunday also meant I caught Franklin Habit’s lecture about the history of knitting patterns:IMG_5465

In case you’re wondering, the reason “B” is for “purl” is that “B” meant “backstitch” which is the same as the purl stitch. (P was for knit, or “plain.”) Franklin was exactly like I expected him to be based on his writing – personable, knowledgeable, and funny. I loved that Julie, Alison, and I were able to catch this talk.IMG_5466

Another good thing about going on Sunday is that I was able to see a bit of the Sheep to Shawl contest. The team themes and costumes have evolved quite a bit since my last StS, when most participants were wearing old-timey clothing. This year, one team was The Blues Sisters:IMG_5426

And one had a Hairspray thing going!IMG_5432


I saw some beautiful things in the Skein & Garment competition, including this hooked project that I presume was made one square per day over the course of a year:IMG_5445


I thought the kids did an especially good job with their poster entries this year (and isn’t it interesting to see which breeds they think are cool?):IMG_5451

I wish I could have seen this entire poster, but the ribbon was taped to it – I tried to brush it away but it didn’t budge:IMG_5453

Now for some booth porn – here are some shots from Brooks Farm Yarns (Kris’s favorite) and Bartlettyarns (I’ve knit two sweaters from that yarn):IMG_5458


I watched a little bit of sheep judging – these are Corriedales:IMG_5464


But I know what you are all waiting for – what kind of stash enhancement did I achieve this year? I think I did pretty well. I really wanted to find some down breed fiber to spin to make more sock yarn (inspired by my Southdown socks earlier this year). I am going to embark on a historical knitting recreation this summer, and I didn’t think I would find appropriate sock yarn to buy – so why not just make what I need? I went shopping armed with a list of true Down and Down-like breeds. This confused most vendors who asked if they could help me find something. However, I did score at a couple of places. First, I got the last bump of Clun Forest roving at Solitude Wool. It is a happy, sunny yellow – which is fine with me!


I also got a 4 oz bump of Dorset roving at Solitude. They make a Dorset sock yarn, too, but it is very thick. They call it “hiking sock yarn” and I’ve worked with it before. It’s just not right for these special socks I’m going to be making.



But this is the big find for me – at Singleton Fiber Mill, they have a roving blend that is 90% Clun Forest, 5% Romney, and 5% Alpaca:IMG_5472

It is a little hard to see in this photo, but the roving has several colors in it (2 blues and a purple). That variation will give a dimensionality to the final yarn that I very much like. I got 5 oz of this to make sure I had enough. This was Singleton’s first year at MDSW, but I knew them a little from my 2015 trip to the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival – that’s where I got the fiber from which I made the “greenbow” yarn. It was so beautifully prepared and easy to spin. I was thrilled to find a Down fiber in their booth this year.

I got one more bump of fiber to spin – this organic Polwarth from Middle Brook Fiberworks. It is such a dreamy light gray. I want to make a 3-ply yarn that matches (in size) the gradient yarn I spun from the Into the Whirled Falkland batt last year. I have my eye on the Pania of the Reef pattern to use both yarns. IMG_5481

That’s it for fiber. I had my eye out for some sportweight yarn that would be suitable for a baby sweater (machine-washable and soft) and in the favorite colors of the mother (blue and green). I really like what I found:IMG_5483

This will become a Baby Surprise Jacket for a baby who is due in August!

I also got a bunch of consumable items, some of which are gifts. If you haven’t tried the maple cream yet, you really should:IMG_5468

I also got a couple of small tools. The tiny carder can be used to clean hand cards (or used as a tree ornament), and the mini-loom is for swatching without having to warp up the loom:IMG_5471

I made one final purchase with permission from home – a queen-size wool blanket. We have really enjoyed the wool blanket we brought home from Iceland, but it is not bed-sized. It’s really just a throw that is useful on the couch. I looked at these blankets last year and really liked them… this year I took the plunge. The wool is grown in Maryland; it is processed and woven in Canada. I love the cheery yellow color and think it will be perfect in the winter. IMG_5485



With that, I got my yearly bag of kettle corn and headed home. Another great year at the festival!IMG_5467


  1. What a great MDS&W recap! I really like how you've shown us a bit of everything, including cool sheep breed posters, hooking, Corriedales with excellent posture, and that gorgeous yellow blanket. I hope you'll tell us more about your historical knitting recreation!

  2. You crammed a lot into one day! Franklin is a hoot -- glad you got to see him in person. And I can testify to the tastiness of maple creme! That sunny yellow blanket is amazing. We used to have some old wool army blankets (twin-sized) that my brother and I used on our bunk beds. They were the best. I might just put one of these on a future MDS&W visit shopping list.

  3. Sigh...I'm so sorry to have missed it this year! Thank you for your documented pilgrimage to Brooks Farm on my behalf. I love your wool blanket!