This was my fifth year at Maryland Sheep and Wool, so I feel a bit “seasoned” – even though there were some nice and welcome changes at the festival this year – more space for large vendors, recycle bins, extra lavatories. It was nice to see the organizers improving on a good thing – making it even better for the future. I initially planned to attend one day only, but then I had the opportunity to go both days – and that was pretty great! There is always so much to see, but I felt that I covered a lot of ground and actually saw nearly every barn and vendor section this year – and I think this is the first year I can say that!
I got to meet up with some wonderful people – many of them for the first time, and re-unite with friends I have met in previous years. This year’s weather was extremely hot and shade was a very sought-out commodity. So, the meetings all happened under the shade trees, in the shaded pavillions, or standing in the cold drink lines! One such meetup, near the lemonade stand, was the re-unite with Tania “Mikomiao”, a long-time Flickr contact. We met briefly last year, but had the chance to snap a pic this time. Tania was down from NYC for the day with several friends. I also had the wonderful opportunity to meet Kim and Heather as well as Heather’s daughters. Heather’s daughter Pia also happens to be a huge Penguins hockey fan – so it was wonderful to meet her!
I also got to see several Ravelry friends, and many more Flickr friends too. Funny how it takes a big festival like this to actually see the local people! I got to talk to Mai and Emily (who both live in the area, but we never meet up, unfortunately) and Tina who was down from NYC. And many thanks to several people who said hello and introduced themselves while standing in lines, walking down the aisles ~ it’s so much fun to meet everyone!
On Saturday, my mom and aunt and I melted in the heat, but still had a lovely day. My aunt is visiting from Alabama after years of hearing me talk about the festival – she finally got to experience it herself. She knits a lot, and like my mom is also interested in felting. They both bought a bag-full of roving, and my aunt bought this adorable felted animal book. I can’t wait to see what they come up with!
I picked up Jenna from the airport – in from Seattle – and I think this is her fifth MDSW as well (four of them we have been together). We enjoyed a fun night with Kris, Kelp Kelly and Allison at my favorite Indian restaurant… and although tiredness from all that heat (and sunburn) was hitting me square in the face, we also went to a pub for a few drinks. I was such a lightweight and I nearly fell asleep at the table! Nevertheless, it was great fun – and I only wish we had some photos to share! (that happened last year too with no camera!)
Stashbusting has been forefront in my mind for several weeks, and while I did make some purchases at MDSW this year, I didn’t buy nearly as much as in previous years! I tried to stick with unique fibers/designs that I haven’t seen in other places – as well as some very utilitarian non-yarn purchases…
Non-yarn purchases: Kookaburra Wool Wash, Size 10 55″ needles, buttons from Jennie the Potter, a *wooden ball winder*, and two knit patterns from Noni (felted jacket) and ShiBui (mohair pulli)
The wooden ballwinder has been on my list for three years – I always look at it at Stonemountain Fibers – but this year, I took action! Now, it is mine! I haven’t tried it yet… but as you can see below, I have some new yarn to try it with!
1. Farmhourse Yanrs Silk Spun Cotton, 2. Brooks Farm Acero, 3. Davidson Domy Heather – Sportweight, 4. ZWool Natural Dyed Wool, 5. Creatively Dyed Yarns Worsted, 6. Davidson Natural Bulky Wool, 7. Creatively Dyed Yarns Fingering, 8. Spun Monkey Handspun
I didn’t realize until I got home that several of the yarns are in three distinct color families – neutrals, blues/greens, and golden browns. I guess I am particularly drawn to these colors now! I don’t have specific patterns in mind for many of them – but single skein projects are usually hats and scarves/cowls, so that is what these might become! The Davidson Domy Heather in the periwinkle seems very well-suited for the Plain and Simple Pullover (Ravelry link) and may become that for a fall/winter layering piece. The Creatively Dyed Yarns and the handspun were my splurges – I just fell in love with the color explosions! The green CDY is a fingering weight and seems very well-suited for some funky socks. The worsted weight will probably be a hat. The handspun will be a hat and cowl or mitt combo.
For the second year in a row, we got to see all of Jennie’s lovely pottery pieces! Last year, Jenna bought a mug, and I picked up a necklace and several buttons. This year, I was thinking about a mug, but I held off. She does have a particularly cute cookie jar that I had my eye on! We met up with my friend Amy and Little J at Jennie’s booth, and Amy got a mug and a little bowl – Jennie’s stuff is just too cute to pass up! Here we are after the purchasing - hot, but happy!
Jenna and I enjoyed some downtime on Sunday afternoon over some potato ribbon chips. MDSW is such a fun festival, but they are *severely* lacking any healthy eating options. With the exception of drinks, this is the only food that I know of that a vegan can have at the festival – and that’s only after checking that is indeed fried in vegetable oil – and asking them to hold the cheese and sour cream. Any vendor who offered some healthier fare would do so well there! I do bring my own snacks – nuts, a fruit, etc. - but it’s another thing to carry in, and I would be happy to patronize a vendor that offered something other than meat-on-a-stick. I don’t like to complain, because I know that MDSW is a big effort by lots of volunteers – and they remain admission-free to keep people coming in – but a local vendor/community group would do so well offering up something simple like sandwiches, wraps, or falafel. I am wondering how a letter-writing campaign would go over…
Nevertheless, MDSW remains a highlight of the year – both in seeing friendly faces and sweet animals, but also in taking the pulse of the fiber community. Even with the down economy, it seemed like there were so many people out, enjoying the day, and buying lots of things. It is always a pleasure to buy quality products from small businesses – with the proceeds going directly to them. Even more of a pleasure to actually meet and converse with these vendors – and sometimes see the sheep/alpaca/bunnies/goats that the fiber came from!