Last weekend was the first weekend in May. If you’re a fiber fanatic, and anywhere within driving distance of the state of Maryland, you know what that means. It was the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. Which, for fiber lovers like me, is almost as good as Christmas.
(If I said it was better than Christmas, my family would be even more convinced that I am crazy, so let’s just keep that our little secret, ok?)
So, last Saturday I left the house at about 10 a.m. with my good friend Steve. This trip has become something of an annual event for us. Steve is my best friend from college; we were next-door neighbors at the campus apartment complex and met during a fire drill some 24 years ago. It was a good day. The weather was unseasonably hot, but we considered that a good thing, since the year before I had shorted the electronics of my wheelchair during the previous year’s trip. So, while the heat was a big topic among festival goers, the whole time I kept telling myself that rain would have been much, much worse.
The fairgrounds are about 40 minutes or so from my house, but this year, at about three miles out, we were stopped dead in our tracks. The traffic was truly horrible. But, I was with a good friend and we had Glee going on the iPod, so again, it could have been much worse. Still, it was two and a half hours before we found ourselves walking into the festival gate.
I had been e-mailing my friend Jen all the way, as I knew she had been planning to arrive at the festival much earlier than I was. She reported that she was making a trip to her car just as we were getting onto the grounds, and so we happened to bump into her near the gate.
At the same spot I ran into my friend Karen from work. all before we ever made it inside the grounds! Since we’d been so long in the car, Steve and I arrived at the festival feeling ready for lunch, so we set off looking for food right away.
We found a lamb vendor and someone selling lime fizzes right next to each other. The lines were long, so Steve got in one and I got in the other. The lamb vendor was one I don’t remember seeing before.
I ended up with a beautiful kabob for lunch, and washed it down with a lime fizz, both of which I consider to be a true festival tradition.
Lots of people tell me that they can’t bring themselves to eat lamb at the sheep and wool festival, with all the adorable lambs so close by. I don’t mind eating meat, so long as I don’t have to talk to it first, and the lamb is something that just makes the whole experience unique. I love the aroma of lamb as it is cooking. My kabob was like a whole meal on a stick, including lamb sausage, peppers, onion, tomatoes, mushrooms, and a baby potato. And the lime fizz was the perfect cooler for such a hot day.
One of the things I like best about the festival is the live music that is played in various locations throughout the grounds. When entering the Main Building, where a large number of vendors are located, I heard this:
Very soon I found lots of things to get excited about. One of the things that caught my eye fairly early on was an electronic spinning wheel device that looked so easy, that maybe even I could learn to operate it. I don’t spin, because I can’t treadle with my feet, and drop spindles and I don’t seem to get along, no matter how hard I try. (Emphasis on the “dropping” part of drop spindles, if you know what I mean.)
Turns out that this device has a foot pedal like that which you’d find on a sewing machine, but you can set it to tap once for on, and tap again for off. So, the kind people at the booth set up one of the machines so that it could be within my reach, and off I went!
This is the HansenCrafts miniSpinner, equipped with a Woolee Winder. I fear that I am going to have to get one of these things. I can do it! My first few tries yielded a couple inches of slubby, twisty yarn, but hey, since I’ve never really spun before I still need to get a feel for drafting and holding the yarn. Oh, no! I’m starting to use spinners’ words! I definitely don’t need another thing to be obsessed about, but I feel the bug biting. I figure if stuff a 20 in my sock drawer once a week, it won’t be that long til I’ve saved up, right?
Of course, there are animals everywhere.
And there are lovely examples of what one can make with their wools.
Of course, I did some shopping while at the festival. More about what I bought will be coming in a future post. But what matters to me most, I think, about this festival is the atmosphere. I know there are other fiber festivals around the country. I’ve never been to any of them, but I feel like I’ve got the best there is, right in my own backyard. It’s great for people who want to shop, a wonderful place to see and learn about fiber-producing animals, and a wonderful tradition that I look forward to every year. It’s a great gathering place for fiber friends, and I look forward to seeing people that I know there, year after year. I’m already looking forward to next year. There’s so much to do there, I keep telling myself, that I don’t really need to buy yarn.
Yeah, right. Stay tuned for that part of the story.