Like The Queen
Whatever happens to strike my fancy, but surely some sort of fiber content.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Sunday, May 04, 2003  

Maryland Sheep and Wool

Maryland Sheep and Wool

Where does one begin? Is it even possible to put it into perspective for myself, much less to share it with others? Eh. One can but try.

A bit of history - since I love it so. Last year was my first trip to THE event, and I was recovering from some serious respiratory distress - very draggy - and had just dropped a shameful amount on yarn, because I thought I would not be able to get to MdS&W. So I wasn’t really in a spending mood. It’s a good thing, too, because it was an overwhelming experience to see so many fiber folk with gorgeous stuff to sell. I did get a spindle and some fiber, and began my journey down the thread trail, but mostly I just shivered, stared, drooled and sighed.

It was much worse this year. I knew what to expect, I had things I wanted to get, and I was with an enabling fiberfemme instead of a tenderly patient BigDarling. I also was heaps healthier with more stamina. So the damage done was far greater!

Jen, the darling, and her lovely family made me so welcome on Friday night. They fed me luscious food, enfolded me with the chaos of pre-schoolers, and gave me a cozy bed to sleep in. She and I were up at 5:30 and out the door an hour later, tooling up Highway 15 towards Maryland. If you’ve never taken 15 across the Potomac it’s a treat you owe yourself. Between tall mountain cliffs covered with deciduous growth slices the silver streak of river, complete with islands, rippling current, and this time of year, canoeists. It’s a quiet stretch of countryside that is divided by that river, with two 18th century towns on either side. Leesburg, VA and Fredrick, MD are both worth a visit. Both a little high end, mind you, but so quaint and so pretty.

We got to the fair at about 8:45 and got up front parking. They let us in too, though officially the festival opens at 9:00. As I’ve often said, it’s tough to have a booth by the front gate because so many folk don’t want to shop early when they get there and are broke when they leave. But at one early booth I saw exactly the dyed mohair locks, extremely clean I had on my ListOfThingsToBuy. 3 good sized bags of it. About a pound and a half. Only, I didn’t want to buy right away. So I just looked. Besides, they were right by the gate - surely I could pick the stuff up at lunch. Heh. You guessed it. One of the bags was sold by lunchtime. I quickly bought the rest, because by then I’d seen about 1/3 of the fair and knew there was not much in the way of multi dyed mohair locks. I knew it wasn’t enough but it was a good start.

Jen had sent me a Fair book that I had studied last week - and discovered that there was an entire Main Building that I had missed last year - I’d thought it was full of animals and had never looked inside!! Whew. Be still my heart! It was overwhelming. The main building is almost half, certainly 2/5ths of the entire shopping area. And it was there the Koigu booth was with designs to die for, and a lady with gorgeous merino/tencil blend, and another with angora bats that were like melted butter, and the best bargains of all at Little Barn Ltd where I bought, for $12, one pound of beautiful cotton pencil roving in natural colors of brown, tan and cream. I had no intention of buying cotton pencil roving but who could resist? And he generously gave away bottles of water. And he had merino top in three weights of fineness. And I wish I had arms enough to spin all the different fibers he had.

It was in the main building that I found the Golding Spindle site. I have been lusting for one of his Celtic knot spindles since last summer. Mind you, now, I have a spindle that works well enough. And the beautiful HeyBaby, my Ashford Elizabeth wheel. But the photos in the Golfing adds in SpinOff really grabbed me. And then I went to their website and began to drool. And I teased my girlfriend about how she needed one even as I lusted after one myself. And I would probably still be lusting after one if they hadn’t had a booth at the festival. Because it’s easy enough to say “well, not this month” when you are thinking about calling someone up and ordering something, and you begin adding up shipping and the long wait and you look around your stash and see you have enough of everything you could need for three years. But when you are standing in front of the prettiest, lightest, most evenly balanced, long spinning, elegantly carved cluster of spindles, when one is in your hands, when your fingers are stroking the silky smooth wood, and when fortylevendyhundred fiber enablers are whispering things like “life is short, buy spindles” and “who deserves it more” and “it wants you to take it home” - Well! I mean, really, for goodness sake! What’s a girl to do?!? (Hint - easy answer)

In the main building, also, is the corner where fleeces are sold. Jen and I pawed over them all - agreeing that the winners deserved their ribbons and wondering how we could ever use, and where we would ever store, a whole fleece - and of course, realized how much easier it would be to go halves on one. We picked a small, very clean, Corridale fleece in a mixture of gray/tan/brown colors, grown by Carol Wright in Heath Ohio. We have PLANS for that fleece too. We’re going to learn to turn those crimpy dark locks into the yarn of our dreams and we are both going to knit Ragnar, from Viking Knits, with it. Sister sweaters from the same fleece. So just you check back with us in, oh.... 2005.

Of course, in order for us to wear sister sweaters, Jen had to buy a spinning wheel and while I am as good an enabler as the next fiber nut, here I demurred - because when somebody drops that sort of $$, she has to make the lonely decision all by herself. But she had already tried out several wheels and knew what she wanted, so looking for it at a fair like this makes sense. If I had known what I was looking for a year ago, I may have been tempted as well. And she found one too - and took the plunge just before lunch.

A big part of the fun of this year’s trip was all the people I got to visit with. First were the Knitters Review Forum folk. Jen, of course, et moi, and Martha, whom we had arranged to meet at 10:30 by the competition building. We had a grand tour of all the entries; so many beautiful things, such skill, such artistry - but I will say - nobody had entered anything as magnificent as last year’s grand prize winner - a blue knitted coat in a multitude of hand spun novelty yarns. But that is mho - and I’m an admitted novelty yarn junkie. The three of us stopped by Hunt Country Yarns and I swear - Bob Kelly and his wife are miracles. They are always glad to see you and Mrs. K, who has only ever talked to me over the phone, remembered me, gave me a genuine smile of welcome, really truly, nobody could be warmer than those two. And Bob had a new spindle he’d bought from a vendor making reproduction medieval spindles. oooooo. but I had already bought Celty so I only admired, I didn’t yearn.

We dashed back to the car to drop off our loot and pick up our lunch. It’s funny - you can sometimes tell how a person is feeling just by looking at them from behind - and as we hustled back to the main gate I could see Lissa’s long red hair fanning out behind a body that showed that little tense stand one makes when one is afraid she’s missed The train, or is on the wrong block. Such hugs as we shared when we finally got through the gate! Such laughing and hugging and hugging and laughing. And suddenly there was this converging of smiling faces. I’m grinning still, remembering that happy lunch, the excitement, the plans, the laughter. The addition too, of new faces, new names - new friends.

We say often how we belong to a network of fiber folk, now that we can connect via Internet. It’s true, too, on a more spiritual level, that we are connected to all the world’s fiber people - but this time it was just so evident - so vivid - so physical. IRL I believe is the netcode. Well, lunch was very IRL.

But everybody had agenda stuff left, shopping lists, fiber lusts. So after an hour we were off again. I was a little worried, because I had only found half of one item on my list. And everywhere I looked were other things to tempt me. But at Stony Mountain Fibers I found the merino multi I was looking for and, by gum, the darn color is called “Laurel” and I hope I quit forgetting. But I also think I have enough to finish up the yarn for that sweater. I’ll do some judicious blended spinning to cover up any dyelot differences. By the way, it looks very yellow in the roving - almost a little garish - but it spins up very green with the perfect hint of autumn reds and golds. And told Barbara to look for my check in the mail along with my registration for the Random Rovings workshop. And once again it was such a treat to realize that she’s not just a nice lady who sells spinning wheels and fibers. She’s a friend.

So, with one and a half items ticked off my list I went in search of Hershey’s chocolate brown wool - which I found in a heap of lambswool in the Main Building. And on the way I found more dyed mohair locks in colors that were close enough to blend beautifully with my original purchase into mountains of fall foliage colored loopy boucle to knit into a chichi jacket for meme.

By that time my ankle was hurting a little. It was nigh on to 4 o’clock, I was frighteningly low on funds, and had also reached that point where buying was not fun - no matter how gorgeous things were. I had intended to pick up some glorious angora bats, dyed in sunshine colors - but couldn’t bring myself to spend. Nor could I buy any of the fabulous handspun, hand dyed yarns. I honestly thought I’d get out of there with a little cash till Jen and I were at the gate and realized there was still a little avenue we’d missed - and there was that lovely lady who sold angora - and you know - a girl just has to have a little angora in Her life - and her partner in the booth had those hat blocks made of heavy plastic that sold for only $25 (one can also get them from Paradise Fibers, but then, you know, one has to pay shipping).

The day was packed so full of experiences - so full of joy and friendship and happiness. It was just a perfect day. And yet, there were still so many things I didn’t try or see or do. I wish I could have watched more of the animal judging. I wish I had seen the sheep dogs in action. I think I wish I had tried that heart attack on a stick, a deep friend Hostess Twinkee. I would have loved to watch more of the auction - to have stopped by Rita Buchanan and introduced myself - to have looked at more of the books and videos available. But there were only so many hours and my body could stand only so much stimulation. Thank goodness Jen was driving half the way. I got a good long sitting rest back to her house as we wended our way through the beautiful hillside country. And BigDarling called while I was there to make sure I had had a good time and to ask if I’d pick up Texas Chilli in Fredericksburg.

So in the twilight of a beautiful May evening I scooted home to hugs and dogs and a freshly mowed lawn. Tired, happy, sated, stuffed, and stashed for at least till next year.

posted by Bess | 8:23 AM