I had a fantastic time at Maryland Sheep and Wool this year. I drove out and stayed with a friend in Baltimore which isn't too far away from West Friendship, MD. I wasn't able to convince anyone to go with me to the festival (in fact, I got weird looks) but it turned out pretty nice because that meant I could take my time everywhere. Oh, by the way, this blog post is going to be liberally sprinkled with sheep pictures.
My goals for the festival were:
- a sweater's worth of worsted weight wool in black
- a spindle
- something from Jennie the Potter
- a fleece from the wool auction
I met all of my goals and actually ended up coming home with more than that (big surprise, right?).
As you've probably heard already, it was HOT. Temperatures were in the upper 80s and the sun was out in full force. I had plenty of sunscreen, a hat and water so I was prepared for the long haul. After waiting in line for a while, I got to the festival and parked at the far ends of the earth. Later in the day, after many people left, I moved the car much closer!
My fiber festival strategy is to first walk through every building, looking but not buying. It helps you get a feel of where everything is and to which vendors you want to come back. On the MDSW Ravelry board, I already knew a couple of vendors should be on my radar because they had products I wanted to see in person. Additionally, wandering around everywhere gives you an opportunity to see where the shady spots are and really good food vendors!
Really all of this wandering around was a way for me to wind over to the wool sale, not going to lie. I had a fantastic time digging through all of the different bags of fleece. One goal was to buy a fleece but I hadn't decided what kind yet. In the past, I've tended to like dark fleeces in blacks, browns, and dark grays. This time I thought I would get either a white or light gray fleece but hadn't decided which breed. OK, that might be a slight lie. I really wanted a fine wool and the cormo just called my name. I spent lots of time choosing between a small white cormo and a light gray cormo blend. In the end, I went with the 100% cormo. Now I know why people have been raving over cormo. I washed up a little last week and started combing it. Love at first lock!
After buying my fleece, I was wandering back towards the car because I didn't want to cart my fleece around all day. As I was passing the official festival swag building, I noticed that the line wasn't long at all. The festival doesn't have an entry fee and is almost entirely funded by the sales of the official festival gear (well, that and vendor fees). At my first MDSW, I decided that I didn't need any more t-shirts and really liked the idea of getting a bag instead. That year I got a tote bag and this year I got a shoulder bag in a nice blue.
Another advantage of going to the car was that the Podcaster Meet and Greet was being held near the main entrance. A whole bunch of my favorite podcasters were going to be hanging out meeting people and I wanted to get in line to say "hi."
The Meet and Greet started a little late but everyone seemed to have fun chatting in line. The goodie bag that Jackie of KIPing it Real was fantastic! It was really nice to put faces to the voices. Some people looked very different than how I had imagined.
At the car, I took the opportunity to have a snack, apply even more sunscreen, and move my car to a closer parking spot. It was so hot by that point that many people had gone home. It was a really easy way to get a good parking spot.
When I went back to the festival, I decided to wander over to the auction. I didn't bid on anything but it was a lot of fun to watch.
By this point, it was very, very hot and I thought that going inside a building with cement floors and shade was a very good idea. The skein and garment competition is not something to miss. The amazing projects and skill levels demonstrated was simply amazing. One of my favorite projects had to be this needle felted sheep.
After wandering around the skein and garment competition building in awe for a while, I stopped by the boy scout food building and got lunch to go. Yum, lamb burger and a GIANT ice tea. Let me tell you, I loved that big glass of ice and tea. It was just about time for a sheepdog demonstration so I took my lunch and wandered down to the arena. It's always fun watching the dogs work.
I think my favorite part of the demonstration was the farmer who has been demonstrating with his dogs for over 15 years. He was the owner of the sheep, too, and they kept trying to run back to him. He looked like a very old school type of farmer but I saw him pet one of the sheep on the head when they were all clustered around him.
Because I was at the very end of the fairgrounds and the day was starting to get late, I made my way back through all of the vendors. It had cleared out a lot since the morning because so many people had left for the day. I ended up doing the bulk of my shopping then and then went back to Baltimore for the night.
The next morning, I hadn't planned on going back to the festival but woke up at an obscene hour of the morning and had nothing to do for a long time. There was a spindle that was really tempting and the sheep to shawl competition was going on so I went back for a couple of hours. For those of you who don't know, the sheep to shawl competition is where a team of spinners and a weaver take a freshly shorn fleece (so fresh they shear the sheep right there), spin the yarn and weave a shawl in a couple of hours. Here are a couple of the different teams.
Every team has a different theme which makes things very fun. As you can tell, the team in those first two pictures chose a Harley Davidson theme! The teams do a mock-up of their shawl beforehand and have their warp already strung before the competition. I wish I knew who won the competition.
On Sunday, was able to watch more of the sheep show. Listening to the judges is always so informative and I feel like I always learn something new. One of the judges is especially good with explaining the breed standards and how the different sheep in the class come up to that standard.
The last thing that I did before leaving the show was watching an impromptu shearing demonstration. A shearer set-up shop between two of the barns and was shearing those sheep that had full fleeces for the show. Once they are shown, their fleeces can be removed so they don't die of heatstroke in the summer. The different owners were offering the fleeces for sale there on the spot.
So you are probably wondering, what did you get already?! I got:
- 1 Cormo fleece
- 2 trindles (funky looking spindles)
- 6 round clay buttons with sheep on them
- multiple snarky buttons
- 1 MDSW shoulder bag
- 1 4 oz bump of BFL top
- 1 2 oz bump of 100% silk
- 1 mug from Jennie the Potter with cute sheep dancing all over them
- 2 skeins of Miss Bab's Yowza Whatta Skein in Obsidian (a semi-solid black)
- 2 tubes of the best hand lotion EVER - Marcha Labs Wool Wax Creme