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


I didn't know those Sock-ness Monster socks were Amie's! I loved those! Took pictures of them myself. Your so good at remembering all the vendors. I'm getting better -- I now ask for a business card or flyer from someone I might want to purchase from in the future. Fun weekend! Sorry I missed you on Sunday -- went by the Spirit Trail booth once but you weren't there.

By Blogger Mary, at 5:44 PM  

I missed seeing you this year Bess...and I missed my hug too! Jen's yarns are to die for. I had such a hard time deciding on the color of the lace I purchased. Until I can spend 2 full days there I'll have to be content to read your blog to see the things I missed.

By Blogger Linda, at 5:45 PM  

Now I feel like I've been to MSW this year--what a great report. Thanks for the links and details and observations. Can't wait to see what you bought!

By Blogger Nerdy Knitter, at 8:50 PM  

Hi Bess,
It's me, Meredith. Am I?....Could it really be?...Could I be so bold as to assume that I am the "M" you speak of below?...The "sweet surprise"?!! I would assume that many people came up to you over the weekend, introduced themselves and told you they read your blog. Some of them could have names that start with M. So, maybe I should not be so bold. But when I read that, I let out an out-loud "Awwwwww...". It really was a thrill to talk with you, and also talk to Jen. Next year, I'll give you both a hug!

By Anonymous Meredith from Columbia, MD, at 8:50 AM  

It's so wild to see the photos of my socks all over the internet now. My goofy dad started talking about building a shadow box for them and the ribbon, to which I replied, "you'll have to take them off my feet!"

Meredith - look me up! I'm near Columbia, we have a great knitting group that meets there regularly!

By Blogger Amie, at 10:08 AM  

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Monday, May 07, 2007  

Maryland Sheep and Wool 2007 Part 1

What could be so wonderful as to want to be somewhere and find that, what do you know, here you are. Right where you wanted to be. And it’s just what you wanted it to be. In spite of the link between Venus and Pluto - which, of course, if you are in love, is supposed to only deepen that love.

Well, I certainly am in love - with a place and a man and even after a weekend steeped in it, with fiber in all its glorious sumptuously tactile magnificence. Oh law, I’m even in love with that bird who is singing outside the window - someone new around here, with the most trilling of calls. He has all the sound of spring when it is promising to drag summertime into your life. He makes me feel as if I were 9 years old again and I have all summer to finish the Little House series.

Yes. I am back from MS&W and after all the driving and the hustle and bustle and frenzy and excitement, I am not only still in love with beautiful fiber and all the ways you can play with it, but I came home with exactly the right amount of new toys and treasures. Not so much I feel glutted, but enough to reassure me that there are still discoveries out there, waiting for me.

Each year the festival has a different feel to it. My first year it was an ocean of unfamiliarity where I dipped a finger here or there just to see what it felt like. The second year I went with a girlfriend and we realized that 1 day is not enough time to savor it all. Year 3 I went with 3 girlfriends and we spent the night, took classes, and oh lordy did I drop some $$. Year 4 changed from a fiber spree to a working vacation in less than a week, when J was asked to bring her Spirit Trail Booth to the fair the Monday previous. Whoa that was different and thrilling and exciting and stressful. Vendors don’t get out of the fair till about an hour after it closes and by then every restaurant in Frederick MD was full. Year 5 we were a little better organized. We had a native guide in A to get us to a restaurant with No Waiting.

Last year the fair was very very crowded. I heard numbers as high as 90K and it probably was that busy. This year it could have been even more so - with the parking lot closing in the afternoon on Saturday. I heard the backup on Rt. 32 was 2 miles long and that's already over a mile from the fairgrounds. But the crowd was steadier, there seemed to be fewer clogs in the isles and people were really cheerful and in the mood to spend. There was hardly ever what you might call a lull on Saturday and the expected ones on Sunday, especially in the early part of the day, were brief. I am sure J was happy with her sales. The few other vendors I know well enough to ask were also grinning and cheerful and bright eyed. And when the vendors are happy, it means the customers were too.

My drive through suburban MD was the least stressful ever. Including a wee stop for lunch it took just a wee bit over 3 hours. I got there in plenty of time to help set up,

to walk about a bit, to say hello to Tom Golding - and get another tension spring - and even to stand in the only real line I stood in all weekend - the Show T-shirt line.

The set-up there is really bad - way way too slow, especially for the day before the show opens. I suspect there were a lot of people in the line who were not vendors. In fact, I believe there is a growing crowd of folk who take advantage of the confusion of setting up and sneak into the fair a day early. It’s pretty mean because the vendors and show volunteers are madly busy and don’t really have time to monitor everybody who walks around the fairgrounds. Some of them want to buy even before vendors have their cash box out - and I’ve even heard a few cranky Friday sneak-ins complain when the vendors don’t stop and dig out some change. I think day-glo wrist-bands for vendors and their helpers, with one guard posted at the gate, would go a long way towards stopping that bad custom.

(woops. sorry. soap-boxing here.)

But there truly is no cloud without it’s lovely lining - for guess who was in the T-shirt booth! Sheila and Michael Ernst, the couple who make the most gorgeous glass buttons! They sent some with a friend’s booth last year and I bought 2. This year they had their own booth and oh my goodness. Not only did they meet my button needs but oh, my, yes! I got my treat of the fair there on Sunday afternoon.
Not such a great photo, but that's Sheila on the right.
We worked hard all afternoon and by about 6 things looked like this:

It never looked like that again - for those racks emptied out like snow melting in the springtime. In fact, that rack of sock yarn was filled and emptied twice more. It was a very good show. Jen is offering something new this summer, a Sock of the Month Club and a Yarn of the Month Club. It's a limited edition club. SotM will ship out 3 exclusively hand-dyed yarns and an exclusive sock pattern along with some fiberish surprise treats. The YotM Club will offer a sock, a scarf and a shawl pattern with correspondingly more yarn for these projects, but the same exclusivity as the sock club. More details here.
We stayed in Sykesville at the Inn at Norwood - pricey but very close to the show. And they kindly set up an Internet computer for guests - which is why I could post on Sunday morning.

A fun part of working a boot is that you (mostly) stay in one place and people file past. You're far more likely to see friends and acquaintances if you stay put. Of course, if you were to ask J, you wouldn't think I stayed put, because she had to come back 2 or 3 times to find me. And I swear, I didn't get a commission from them, but I sent a passle of folk over to Yarn Barn of Kansas booth because they had the Melba Montgomery drop spinning dvd.
Joe and Angel, of On The Lamb, caught up with me and shared the exciting news that one of my students from last month had started her first adult sized sweater - this, after taking my class. Woo woo, I love that sort of feedback. I got a great hug from M, a giggle from some other KR Forum and Retreat buds, and some conspiratorial whispering in with B. She and I are making Plans. A sweet surprise was M, who stopped by the booth and introduced herself, saying "I read your blog." What a compliment that was. Still feeling a little special about that.

I didn't see anything in the skein and garment that made my heart stop - like last year's felted ruffled silk scarf or the drop spindled lace weight shawl. Lots of gorgeous stuff, including these blue ribbon socks by our A. The quality of workmanship was very high and the entries were a joy to look at. It's rewarding to see so much good design and good craftsmanship in the fiber world.

With 4 people in the booth someone can always take a bit of a walk about or a bathroom break. There were enough port-a-potties this year - at least, enough for me, but not enough toilet paper. We bought tissues on Sunday but of course, the crowd wasn't as big either.
Two big fiber holes this year were hand painted mohair in general and the Koigu people in specificity. Don't know the details about the Koigu booth but it wasn't present. Little Barn had been moved so that it's loooooong lines could snake out the door without blocking any other vendors. As for the paucity of hand painted mohair - well - it meant the Spirit Trail mohair disappeared fast and of the other vendors offering it, probably only Ellen's Half Pint Farm had any really pretty and large quantities to sell. The big yarn was sock yarn, again, this year, with lace a very close second. I wasn't on the lookout for sock yarn or even lace yarn, although two booths offered mighty temptations.

Hunt Valley Cashmere has gorgeous kits in the $25-50 price range and yarns at very very kind prices. $28 for hundreds of yards of laceweight. They are also offering a club - The Great American Cashmere Afghan Club.
I couldn't find a website for them, but here's an address:
Hunt Valley Cashmere
6747 Whitestone Rd
Baltimore MD 21207410-298-8244

Just Our Yarns also had a great buy on cashmere laceweight yarn - $38 for ... well, lots and lots. Maybe 500 yards. Gorgeously hand painted too, and not just our ordinary pales plus back. There were forests and flames and ocean beach colors too.

It was those 6 blue tubs of yarn and fiber in my den that kept me from indulging in cashmere or weep weep, in corriedale - a whiteness soft spongy gloriousness of corriedale that whispered "Aaaaaarannnn Sweaaater. Aaaaaaran Sweaaater" to me all weekend long. I hope to goodness I got their card, because they don't seem to have an Internet presence.

Ruppert-Liberton Corriedales had the absolutely whitest, softest most luscious yarn. At $25 for 250 yards for Australian Corriedale - it wasn't cheap but my goodness for the quality, it was a great buy! After all, the purpose of shopping at MS&W isn't to save money but to buy something you couldn't get anywhere else - or not without a heckuhva lot of effort.

Other great places where I stopped, but did not spend, were Stony Mt. Fibers - that's my sneaking-up-on-Barbara photo below.

And here's a picture of the famous Wall O Color at Liberty Ridge Farms.

Both are wonderful places to shop but this year I was looking for specific things. So. What did lure the $ out of my wallet? Seems like this post is long enough, and I haven't taken any photos of my loot, so I will just have to write about them tomorrow. I leave you with a cute lamb photo just to prove it really was a SHEEP and wool festival.

posted by Bess | 8:03 AM