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


I am so glad I saw you!. I wished we could have talked more 9as always) but your hug was the best thing to remind me that I was "home" among friends.

PS I DID get a wheel!

By Blogger purlewe, at 11:19 AM  

Yes yes yes, Miss Purlewe is "one of us" now!!!

And Bess... oh, my so beloved Bess... Can't I just quit work and come play with you forever? I so adore you and every moment spent with you....

By Blogger Amie, at 11:22 AM  

I'm glad you made it home safely and are on the mend! Spending any time with you is a true joy. Very sorry I didn't get to say goodbye properly. xoxoxoxo

By Anonymous Clara, at 12:37 PM  

Oh how happy I was to see you, BessH!!! You are as lovely in person as you are on-line. And, boy, can you drop a mean spindle...

I am so bad that I bought stuff from Spirit-Trail even though there was already a box in the mail for me at home!

By Blogger Carol, at 1:27 PM  

There's nothing like a hug to/from Bess to make a special day supreme. I miss you a great deal, and so sorry you weren't feeling well! You two take care of each other.

Love you lots -

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:07 PM  

Hey sweets.
So lovely to read your MD saga - what a joy to have time w/you & time w/you at Jen's booth. It's like I told ya: you'd charm the daylights out of everyone - & you did ^..^
Thanks so much for your support.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:33 PM  

Oh, I'm so glad you had such a great time and are safely home.

By Blogger Carolyn, at 10:10 PM  

Oh yes, Bess's Giant Green Trash Bag of Fiber! Those colors are almost enough to make me want to spin, but I'd still rather weave. Maybe after I retire, if I ever get to!

By Blogger Catherine, at 7:30 AM  

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Monday, May 09, 2005  

And so another Maryland Sheep and Wool festival has come and gone - and what a festival it was. I’ve spent the past 10 minutes just trying to figure out how to begin recording the wild ride of emotion, sensation and action that was the past 3 days of the biggest wool festival of the year.

so where to begin . . ?

Friday morning - no Thursday evening I came home to find a huge pile of firewood by the stove. Now, this has been the coolest spring I can ever remember. Like something out of a Canadian climate bag - we have needed a fire in the stove more nights than not. I had called LD to come after work and bring in a load because Mr.HeartAttackMan isn’t supposed to lift more than 10 lbs yet. “But none of the logs are more than 10 lbs - see? They’re all small pieces” - was just not good enough for me. So - how was I going to drive off for the weekend iin someone else's car? What if he tried to launch the boat? Cut down a tree? Build an addition to the house?

I don’t like to get into wrangles about other people and their bodies and how to care for them. Not with children and not with adults. When I was BossLady of children I just created a house where there was almost nothing that was off limits. Don’t want your kid to eat candy? Don’t ever have any in the house. Don’t want to quarrel about messy kids rooms? Keep their doors closed. I loved being a mother and, now that I’ve adjusted to the empty nest, I don’t ever want to be one again. This is an adult house hold and all adults are responsible for themselves. Nevertheless - I don’t want my adult partner to go heart attacking himself all over the place while I’m gone either. I have plans for that guy and I’m not ready to send him on his heavenly journey.

So I had a pretty sleepless night Thursday and woke Friday with the exact perfect wife angel words needed to wring a promise of self-care from the man. I also woke with a decision. I would not ride up to J’s house and ride along with her to the fairgrounds. I would (gulp) pull out DeLorme’s, (clench teeth) chart a course, (take 10 deep breaths) and drive past the border and into the land that says Here Be Dragons (somewhere north of Fredericksburg) all by myself. Yes. It’s true. The highway wimp actually put rubber to the road in that vast sea of frenzied, harried, impatient, crazed OthersInCars.

Not that I drove up I-95 or onto any of the other -95’s that you must brave in order to hack your way past D.C. No sirree, not me. I found the coolest little path through the madness that got me from my house to the Howard County Fairgrounds in 3 hours without a single screech of tires or sweat bead popping out on my fair brow. I am so proud of myself. I am still amazed that I actually strode into that orange zone of the map all by myself. I am completely excited at the thought that now I can go visit A all by myself! I don’t have to wait till she has time to drive down to see me! Wooee. This girl has moxie!

And the biggest joke of all was that I got to the fair before J did. The huge building was only just filling up - though there were vendors who were almost finished their displays. It was cool in the building - for the day was cloudy. The weather forecast was for sunshine and high 70’s which makes wool buying and wool selling so much fun. I had a chance to walk around the booths - sit down for a good 15 minutes with the Goldings and talk turkey about the Flora wheel I intend to own - check out which buildings the two vendors I was planning on actually buying from were going to be.

There was a drumbeat of excitement coursing through my body and my energy level was sky high when I looked up and saw M walking across the main building floor. Shouts, laughter, hugs and there was J, looking like she was crushing down her own giddy excitement while she tried to concentrate on the ThingsWhichMustBeDone to set up a booth at the Mecca of wool festivals. I showed them where her booth space was, near the big open end of the building - big enough to pull her trailer up into the building and still leave room for 2 other trucks and all the foot traffic. Swiftly she told us which things went first and we began unloading the trailer while she went to register. We’d hardly begun when Princess C showed up with her impish smile and willing hands. Before we were finished, Dear B arrived after having wandered around Frederick looking for the hotel and finally deciding it would be easier to find us and then follow us back. So there were many hands and we made light work of setting up the booth.

There are so many superlatives about the MSW that it’s too bad there is one really sucky drawback: Finding a restaurant that doesn’t have a 1 hour wait for a table anywhere within a 30 mile radius of the show. I left my car at the show the whole weekend and rode back and forth with DearB and J left her car and rode with C&M. We were in Frederick by 7:30 on Friday and couldn’t find a place to sit down - there was just NoRoomAtTheInn. I figured it would be bad on Saturday and we’d planned to make dinner reservations since there was likely to be an even bigger group that night. Alas, everything close to the hotel was a chain restaurant and none of them will make reservations. We were all too exhausted to check out the in-town restaurants, nor was there time anyway. We had a delicious, but extremely noisy meal at the Longhorn Steakhouse and were back at the hotel by 9-ish to call home, hear that Mr.HeartAttackMan was being quiet and good, and help J skein up sock yarn.

Saturday morning - early enough - we were gathering in the lobby for breakfast. Everyone there was a sheep’n’wooler, but we were the only vendors + friends. DearB was in the same hotel as we and so was Catherine. The fun of helping at a booth at the festival is three-fold. You get to park close to the action. You can go in early. You eventually get to see everybody because you stay in one place and they all pass by. The Saturday crowd started out healthy, swelled to unbelievable proportions and was still ejecting stragglers 20 minutes after the show closed at 6. M, the incomparable, manned the cash box. She never gets flustered, she remembers to get all the information needed, she understands how to work the calculator that computes sales tax, and keeps the bigger bills out of the way in her belt so that mostly there are only ones in the cash box. I am completely amazed at her unflappability because when I sit there to give her a break I am stupid, hold up the line being too chatty, forget to write everything down and take hours to fill out the sales slips. In fact - I bet I am more of a hindrance than a help, though J is too sweet to say so and waits patiently for M to return and do it right. What I can do is point out my favorite fibers to customers, and eventually remember to Shut Up and let them make up their own minds. I can also keep my eyes peeled for sticky fingers and pilferers. Also, it’s probably good to see several people in any booth at any given time. At least, I am always a tee tiny bit intimidated if there is only the booth owner in a space - afraid I’ll be pounced on - something that’s happened to me a few times at craft fairs. And that is only true if the booth is not one I am specifically curious about. If I really want to talk about the product (seldom, but it does happen) then of course I like it best to get the owner’s undivided attention.

With 3 warm bodies, though, there were several opportunities for me to peel off with Catherine or DearB and have a look around. The biggest crowd throughout the weekend was Little Barn. They always have fabulous prices, but this year they were selling Alpaca Yarn for some unbelievable price like $2.95 a skein. The line stretched on and on and on. They had bags of silk waste threads and I would love to have bought one but I didn’t want to bother them on Friday while they were setting up and I was not going to stand in some line for an hour during the show. I can mail order the silk threads, because they were not the big ticket item. The sad thing though, was that his long lines blocked the booth beside him. I wouldn’t be surprised if it blocked two or three booths beside him and I am mighty glad we weren’t one of them. I suspect they’ll be moved next year to a corner spot so the line can trail out a door.

Passing by Jen’s booth were so many wonderful KR friends - too many to try to mention for fear of leaving someone out. What was fun was to hug and laugh and smile and remember. What was more fun was to see new customers find Jen’s unbelievable offerings. Her yarns really are special - and it was too bad she had so few of them. They almost leapt off the racks, especially the sock yarns. Her fibers are so unique - and she has so many of them - that spinners are almost dumfounded when the walk into the booth. I heard spinners say that they had thought they were knowledgeable about wool till they saw this booth - One woman told me that Spirit Trail had become her favorite booth at the fair. Several folk came back twice, opening wallets and clutching bags. When I think that this is her first year at the show and she was such a last minute vendor she didn’t appear in any of the publications - I can’t wait to see what happens next year! I hope she’ll invite me back as a booth babe and perhaps between now and then I can become less sales-slip challenged.

Still, among the folk I bumped into at the fair, were two really neat surprises. One came when I was just wandering around the main building. Suddenly a vaguely familiar smiling face called out “Like the Queen!” and it was Janie! We’d never met in person but her knitting group meets at the B&N near my parents house so I feel like she’s a kind of neighbor. I knew she was coming - the surprise was that she recognized me from this blog. TheQueen is so much my alter ego/vent/inner self that being recognized from here really makes you an instant friend. You already know so much about me!

The other surprise was when FF walked past the booth. Not that she would be unexpected at MSW - she’s a serious knitter - in fact, she is one of the inspirations that pushed me back into knitting - but she’s from that Other Life - the library world. I felt like the kid at the grocery store who suddenly sees his school principal in the bread isle. Do you remember how it felt? “How did He get here? I thought he was kept chained up in the school building.” And one of the first things she did was ask about Mr.HeartAttackMan. Now - how did she find out about him? Hmmmm. I don’t think I’ve told any library folk yet.

Well, it was cool to see her and wonderful to see everyone. Half the reason I go to these things is to see the people. I sure don’t need to see more wool. Of course, life is not just filling necessities either.

Late in the afternoon, A showed up with the unbelievable yarns she’d spun during 3 and a half days of instruction. She was already a pretty durn good spinner to begin with but my goodness - you should see her work now. She’d taken the pre-festival classes with Judith MacKenzie McCuin (We got so we referred to her as Judy Mac and I hope she would have laughed had she heard us since we are all big fans of her) and I can’t wait to corral her alone and make her teach me everything she learned.

No doubt about it - we were exhausted by 6 o’clock. A Group Of Seven had gathered, all of us staying at the same hotel, so we made plans for dinner as we covered up the booth. DearB had a card from the steak house who had told us they would accept a call in reservation 30 minutes before we expected to get there (where we could wait another 30 minutes probably) so she called them. Oh Ho - that promise was only good for tables of 4 - if we wanted to seat 7 we could wait 2 hours. Yes. I kid you not - the wait was 120 minutes. And it never got any better no matter what we did. Olive Garden - hour and a half. Ruby Tuesday - 30 minutes - Pizza Hut delivery boy? 45 minutes. Really. It was awful. There has to be a better way to eat in Frederick Md. than the ChainstoreChowline and before next year I am going to discover it. I don’t care if it is mother’s day weekend and I don’t care if 30,000 people have flooded that town. Other people had tables where they could sit and eat and by golly I am going to find one for us.

We were tired, dusty, hungry and in spite of several bottles of water, slightly to severely dehydrated. In the general high gear excitement that had been juggernauting through our collective psyches the past few days, idiotic things had crashed around us. My only jeans had split in the rear. Catherine had left her gas cap at some pump station along the road. Cell phone calls had not made it through the hazy reception. Worse yet for me - I could feel the beginnings of a pollen encrusted throat closing allergy attack coming on. Serious liquid refreshment was needed and Catherine, DearB and I decided to hit the WalMart for repairs while others phoned home.

Decency and safety restored, fortified by a stop at the liquor store, we returned to the hotel to await Mr.PizzaMan. 7 women in a hotel room with 2 6-packs and a gallon of pizza-wine is a dangerous thing. It might even be called a coven if they were all spinners and knitters. How fortunate that there was no-one with a tape recorder, though the wit was scintillating. Some things are better allowed to float into the atmosphere. Fortunately, a second glass of wine at least put me in a better frame of mind. Unfortunately - I had forgotten something important.

I can do wine and I can do Pizza Hut and I can even do both if I do it in Xtreme Temperate Mode. But 9 hours after lunch I am unlikely to be very temperate. The combination of gurgling wine soaked pizza and pollen encrusted lungs made for a very sleepless night for me. Though we turned off lights and crashed to the pillows by midnight, I was awake till 3:30 praying that I had not developed an allergy to wool and when I finally did drift into an uneasy sleep it was only to awake croaking like a frog.

It was then I was really glad that I’d driven myself. There was no way I was going to be worth jack in Jen’s booth. Nobody was going to believe I didn’t have consumption. Thank the good lord that Sheila was flying in and planned to hang out with us. She even told me she’d been fiber faired out as a customer and was glad to switch roles. She’s an old hand as a booth babe anyway and is far more knowledgeable than I. Better still, I bet she’s more help at the cash box too. So though I might have felt like I was letting Jen down - I knew I really wasn’t. What I knew was that I hated to leave the fun. And in spite of mix ups, allergies, and any other slight inconveniences, I really was having fun.

DearB - who had fulfilled all her shopping ambitions (with a Fricke drum carder and a merino fleece!!) - and Catherine who had found her loom at last - wandered the fair with me while I made the two important stops I absolutely had to make. Stony Mountain Fibers for 3 new bobbins for HeyBaby was the first stop. Yikes! Bobbins have gone from $6.00 to $9.00 since last year! Is that the weak dollar? Dang. Well - I have 10 bobbins now and that had better be enough. Next stop was Liberty Ridge Farms where I fulfilled (and filled a lawn’n’leaf bag) my Color Needs. Yes. I stood there and plucked color from their Wall-0-Wool. Almost 5 lbs of it. Reds and Greens and Yellows and Purples and Blues and Oranges and all of it whistle clean. These are colored bats of merino/mohair blends. Liberty Ridge isn’t the only place that sells this sort of thing, but I like their colors the best and the cleanliness of their fibers is without equal. They are also one of the first booths I ever shopped at that first year I came to MSW and there’s something sweet about returning to the source. But I wouldn’t do so if they didn’t offer top quality.

After that we had lunch - I had a lamb gyro that was simply delicious. A final stop at Spirit Trail to bid my dear ones good-bye and I was in my yellow pollen-mobile and on my way home. There was more traffic than on Friday but the drive was still pretty easy. I stopped several times to get even MORE water - I never did feel like I could quench this allergy thirst - but was home just before 3. BD and TheDarlings were at a bluegrass festival - my birthday gift to LD. When I drove up to the house, Aunt Priss and Capt. Jack were snuggled together at the corner of the house. Happy puppy wags - head tucking big dogs were my warm welcome home. I took an hour to change sheets, photograph my haul (Promise Promise - I’ll post them tomorrow) and take a bath. After that I was dead to the world till about 7 when I woke to the sweet green and gold light of a springtime evening. In pajamas and sandals I puttered around the house till I saw the springy lope of BD, walking down the lane. We met him where the lane curves out of sight - big dogs first, dashing up for pets and strokes, cutelittlebabypuppy next, all flop ears and tail wags. But the biggest hugs were for me - huge loving bear hugs complete with kisses and squeezes and laughter and grins and smiles and gladness.

The circle is complete now - and I have today off. My throat is better and since we aren’t in full pollen season I have real hopes of being all fixed by tomorrow. I shan’t talk much today but I’ll bask in the happiness of home and ... spin up some color. I’m thinking of a sampler sweater in all those magnificent colors ...

posted by Bess | 9:10 AM