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  • Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival - 2014

    Yesterday I made my annual trek to Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival (MDSW). I've been going there for the last several years and I'm lucky enough to live within about an hour and 15 minutes away. I wanted to catch up with some fiber friends but sadly I got a late start and missed some people. I did get a chance to visit my favorite booths though and take some pictures. I didn't really get to see the animals because I spent so much time chatting with people. Next year I'll try to get more pictures of the woolly critters. Luckily the weather was gorgeous and so were all the fibery displays. 

    Here is my haul with Bleu doing the usual inspection:

    I really loved the yarn bombed fence line leading up to the main gate. Some volunteers really took the time to go all out. How fun is that?

    My first stop on the way in was Dancing Leaf Farm's booth where I purchased a really cool handspun yarn necklace from the very talented and always lovely Dalis (who was kind enough to pose for a quick picture in her booth).

    My new necklace (crappy iPhone pic, sorry):

    Outside Dancing Leaf Farm's booth

    Inside Dancing Leaf Farm's Booth

    Fibery Goodies Inside Dancing Leaf Farm's Booth

    Yummy Yarn Inside Dancing Leaf Farm's Booth

    My next stop was Mangham Wool Farm where I couldn't resist buying some fuchsia sari silk ribbon and Knit Collage yarn from this gorgeous display:

    I made my way around the outside vendors and stopped by to say hi to Kate of Gourmet Stash where I bought some of that hand dyed green merino top in the center of the pic and some SOAK wash for my yarn. She had reminded me that I wanted some and had a stash set aside. It smells great. I can't wait to use it on my next yarn rinse.

    This was her first year at MDSW and she really did a great job pulling it all together. I don't think people realize how much preparation goes into getting ready for a show like this months beforehand. We're talking pounds and pounds of hand carded punis. Congrats to her.

    Another favorite vendor of mine is Lavender Hills Farm. They raise cormo sheep which is one of the absolute nicest types of wool. I stopped in and chatted for a long time and picked up some roving from them. They also had some Angora bunnies in the tent. One day I will come home with one, I swear. I wonder what my cats would do?

    Walking To The Lower Corral and Main Exhibition Barn

    Next I walked down the hill to the Lower Corral area. There were a bunch of booths there that I always make a point of visiting. The first one was Avalon Springs Farm. I usually buy hand dyed BFL fleece and silk from her and of course, stop to chat. Karen is super nice and doesn't mind me asking all sort of questions. We got to talking about photography too, which is one of my favorite subjects (I was using my Nikon D5100). Here she is with friends and family:

    Inside Avalon Springs Farm Booth

    This dyed cultivated silk is gorgeous. I've been using it in my art batts.

    Inside Avalon Springs Farm Booth

    Outside Avalon Springs Farm Booth

    A new discovery for me was Rainbow Rapunzel. Her booth is so whimsical and full of colorful freespirited yarn. I'm so happy I stopped in. I ended up getting some cool old mill spindles and some dyed fiber.  I also got some yarn by the yard. She has a really cool display for some huge skeins on giant spools like they use for industrial wire reels. I almost got a tiara too but I don't think I could pull it off ;)

    I didn't know it at the time but one of my fellow fibertistas whom I know through Facebook, Stacy, was helping out in the booth. We were talking but I didn't know it was her until I got home. It's funny how I know a lot of people in the fiber community online-only and wouldn’t recognize them if I saw them on the street, or in this case, MDSW. I did immediately recognize the OMG crochet hook from Three Ravens hanging on the rack though. You can't miss it! This was a custom order for her that Rob delivered at the festival. There are lots of jokes about that one. I have a smaller version that is still ginormous.

    Hand Dyed Fiber at Rainbow Rapunzel

    I grabbed some of this fibery goodness too.

    Rainbow Rapunzel's Booth

    Check out the giant spools of yarn on the left!

    Here's some of the yarn from a giant spool (crappy iPhone pic, sorry)

    Outside Rainbow Rapunzel's Booth

    A perennial favorite is Hobbledehoy. She has such a great sense of color and texture. I fell in love with all of this yarn:

    And I bought some batt-letts too

    I stopped to take an Instagram since she said I should do so on this sign in order to win some goodies: (bonus points for the awesome marketing by the way)

    Last stop in the Lower Corral was Feederbrook Farm. They raise BFL, Teeswater, and Shetland sheep. She's super nice and I chatted with her for a while as I bought some of her gorgeous undyed and dyed BFL locks. I'm going to wait till the Fall and see what she has for Teeswater fleece. That's something to look forward too.

    Inside Feederbrook Farm's Booth

    Inside Feederbrook Farm's Booth

    Dyed BFL Locks and Raw Shetland Fleece from Feederbrook Farm

    Into the Main Exhibition Hall I found Susan's Fiber Shop. She was featuring yarn and fiber from Jazzturtle, Wild Hare, and a brand new 'pick me picker' which I missed apparently in all the chaos. 


    Susan's Fiber Shop Booth

    This looks like Ashland Bay merino top. I like this display. Did you know I'm an Ashland Bay dealer? I always forget to mention that. I'm probably going to start listing their fiber in my Etsy store soon.

    Then, I stopped by Loop and was confronted with this wall of awesomeness:

    They looked wiped since it was the end of the day, but she was gracious nonetheless and I bought some spinning cloud fiber from her. I admired her handspun yarn while I waited to check out.

    The troll doll one was the best. I love how her yarn is all so fat and ropey. I found so much inspiration on this trip. I'm gonna try more corespinning when my Aura wheel with the Overdrive Head finally arrives.

    One last look at Loop. Ahhh....

    I had to swing by Solitude Wool and pick up some Clun Forest roving in this amazing peachy salmon color. I think I've bought most of what they have in that colorway. They were still busy and I was tired, so I didn't stay for too long. After the main barn I had to get some food for the road. They always have really good fresh squeezed lemonade, which totally hit the spot. As I made my way back to the parking lot, I paused to take some pictures of the yarn bombs.

    Some final thoughts and minor regrets (what's a journey without a few regrets, I say?)

    * I wish I had the energy to go back on Sunday but I was just too pooped. I got a late start on Saturday and didn't see all the things. I also missed some folks I wanted to meet. We introverts need to recharge after a long day, after all.

    * I totally forgot to get Maple Sugar from Justameer. Dangnabbit. I get some every year - it's tradition! (even though I haven't used up last year's yet).

    * I forgot to ask what fiber was in the spontaneous spinning cloud floof I bought from Loop. I was also so overwhelmed with the self-striping bumps in her Wall of Awesomeness at the end of the day that I didn't even buy one. I should have just grabbed one, any one.

    * I always lose my car. This year I even took a picture of the sign where I was parked in "D" (as in Darling) section on my iPhone when I got there. My proof:

    I still couldn't find it and I was so fed up and tired, so I enlisted help from the boyscouts who looked bored and were tooling around in a pair of golf carts since there wasn't much traffic to direct anymore. (OK, I was tired, walking up hill 2x in the long grass and carrying two giants bags of fiber, with a blister on my foot - all after not eating lunch yet at 4:00). The troop master sarcastically remarked that no one in 40 some odd years of the festival had ever lost their car, especially since they put up signs. Yeah, yeah. Funny. I'm that girl, OK?

    So then he asked me for a description of the car, which I realized is sooooo generic (gray Toyota Sienna) until a light bulb went on in my head and I blurted out "The license plate says YARNIE, it's a Virgina Farming plate". Thank goodness for that - a distinguishing feature. I knew there was a reason to get a vanity plate. One of them remarked that he remembered seeing the YARNIE license plate earlier and thought it was cool, so he was sure we'd find it in no time. They got all excited by the mission (I think they were super bored at this point in the day) and I hopped in one of the golf carts and the boyscouts had a race to find my yarn mobile. We whizzed up and down the rows and aisles at top speed. I had been warned by the troopmaster that none of them had driver's licenses yet, but somehow I was feeling reckless, albeit a little old at the same time. But that's a story for another day.

    Sure enough, our cart won the race and I got in my car and promptly ate my cold grilled cheese sandwich and remaining sip of fresh squeezed lemonade that I bought with my leftover cash. I had exactly one dollar left in my pocketbook. Just then it started to rain a little bit.That was a fun ending to the day.