Blog

Category

Currently showing posts tagged Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival

  • Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2017 Wrap-up

    Saturday

    This year's festival felt a bit different for some reason. Maybe it was the unusually cold, rainy weather. I used to take a bus with my LYS, but they closed this past year so I ventured out on my own Saturday. The weather was a concern since the night before I had put rainbow hair chalk in my newly bleached hair. I was worried I would end up looking like a drowned unicorn, but for the most part it was just misting on and off throughout the day. The illusion was safe.

    I had thought to give a free guided tour on Saturday but I didn’t get any RSVPs and it looked to be a soggy mess anyway. Also new this year, the festival was charging $5 admission. I admit I thought there would be a big line at the gate, but I had pre-paid using the app and thankfully there was no wait. One thing noticeably missing was the big Maryland Sheep and Wool sign at the gate. I kind of missed it. I feel like the entrance used to be more fun when they had yarn bombing leading up the path. I’m not sure why they don’t do it anymore.

    A welcoming sight was the Rare Opportunity Bakehouse where I bought some fresh baked cookies. They usually run out pretty fast so I made sure to buy some on my way in. They have some amazing vegan peanut butter cookies and chocolate peanut butter brownies that I went off the sugar wagon for.

    Baked goods in hand, I made my way up the hill to the Skein and Garment Competition building.

    This year I entered a couple skeins of art yarn and two photos (for the first time) and I needed to check and see how I did. To my surprise I got 1st and 3rd place ribbons in the art yarn category and a 3rd place for a black and white portrait of a BFL sheep.

    My first yarn is called “A Walk on the Beach as I Remember it” and the other is “May the Force Be with You”. Both are story yarns that I spun for the Twist Exhibition. The Beach yarn is comprosed of a collection of shells and driftwood from a walk with my father last summer on the beach in the town where I grew up.

    The other yarn represents the themes and hero’s journey in the Star Wars sagas through use of color and symbolism. In a bold move, I turned on the LED lights on my Star Wars yarn that was sitting on the table. I also pulled forward the vintage R2D2 and Chewbacca charms and some of the elements so people could see them. The LEDs represent the light sabers and I wanted people to see the full effect. The white-gloved volunteers guarding the entries must have thought I was a little nutty. But it was meant to be viewed with the dueling lights.

    One thing I hope they could  improve in the future is the display of the novelty/expressive yarns. It’s really hard to see all the elements when it is twisted in a skein and I’d love to see them hanging on the wall displays. Although the fiber art world is making strides with this category, I feel like it’s still not well understood or appreciated as stand alone pieces rather than just material for a garment or larger compilation.

    When walking outside I saw this beautiful shawl and I kind of stealth snapped a shot of it as she walked by. I wanted to ask her what pattern she used, but she was too quick and got away. Plus I didn’t want her to think I was stalking her. Even though I was definitely chasing her for a bit to snap a couple photos ;)

    Next stop was the Main Exhibition Hall where I was consigning yarn at Folktale Fibers and Middlebrook Fiberworks booth again this year.

    Besides dropping off yarn and saying hello, I also wanted to scoop up a skein of Anne’s new line of Vintage No. 2 yarn. It’s a special blend of locally grown 40% Cormo x Merino lamb's wool, 35% superfine Shetland, 15% prime alpaca, and 10% cultivated silk that she hand dyes. It’s beautifully soft and luxurious with subtle light blue color that would go beautifully with just about anything.

    Another crowd favorite is Loop. I snagged a rainbow center-pull bullseye bump and some loose carded fiber in my favorite hot pink and turquoise colors. I seem to have a collection of these bullseyes that I haven’t spun yet. They are too pretty to spin!

    Strauch Fiber Equipment - home of the Mad Batt'r. 'nuff said.

    I stopped by to say hi to the ladies at Solitude Wool in their usual spot in the Main Hall. They were featuring the beautiful Clearview sweater pattern by Amy Herzog in their Coopworth sport yarn. It makes me wish I could knit better.

    This year, Maryland Sheep and Wool featured Romney sheep so this was right up their alley. One of the very first raw fleeces I bought was a Romney from Solitude Farm, and I think it’s a nice all around breed that can be used for a variety of projects. Although classified as a longwool, it is more of a medium staple length and can be pretty soft. It’s good for new spinners and even better if you haven’t scoured a fleece before because it is not as temperamental or greasy as a fine wool. They’re a cute looking sheep too, ranging in white to various shades of natural colors. If you get a chance to go to one of their open houses in scenic Northern Virginia, you can see their fiber flock up close and purchase hand dyed yarn made from their wool.

    My fiber friends Christiane and Melissa were a joy to see at Wild Hare / ThreeRavens. They are so talented and share my love of vivid colors and art textures.

    After making the rounds at the Main building, I went outside to see some of the outside vendors and sheep in the show ring. Near the main gate is a beautiful booth run by Dalis of Dancing Leaf Farm. She sells beautiful hand dyed yarn and hand felted wearables and is always fun to stop and have a chat with. She was one to appreciate my rainbow hair roots.

    I passed by some Jacob, Bluefaced Leicester, and other longwool breeds being shown.

    I was particularly impressed with a young girl who took great care and pride in showing her sheep. She was all smiles and really seemed to be enjoying the whole process.

    I waited in line for my favorite vegetarian food vendor, Artichoke French. It started to rain but it was so worth it. I googled the recipe and I think I’m going to try to make some at home.

    After stuffing my face, I had the energy to brave the fleece sales. The crowds had actually gone away and a huge improvement from last year was adding a tent at the back for checking out. There seemed like a lot more room to maneuver and I took some time looking at fleece.

    I found two Finn fleeces that I loved. They were pretty pricey (this show seems to have prices jacked up a bit) but I thought they were worth the splurge. One was coated and felt like pristine clouds of soft fluff so I knew I’d enjoy washing it. I also bought a white merino that was not coated and I knew would be a little more work.

    Sunday

    I returned on Sunday and met up with my friend Kristin (August Moon Farm). We made our way to the Main Exhibition Hall. I wanted to buy my first Bosworth spindle and I was sooooo excited.

    I decided on a small zebra wood spindle that I can travel with. I went to show my treasure at my home base, the Folktale/Middlebrook booth, and Anne did a test drive with some of her fiber. It’s lightweight and spins beautifully. I will treasure it always.  

    I also met up with Jennifer who curated the Twist Exhibition I was in last Fall. She was with her friend, Jolie, who created the other Star Wars story yarn from the show and it was so cool to finally meet her and talk about our yarn. The fiber world is small indeed.

    I went for a last look around the Main Hall and then headed out to the Lower Corral to stock up on some spinning fiber. Miss Babs was still hopping.

    Other inside vendors

    Feederbrook Farm has some of the nicest BFL washed locks you can find, so I bagged up a couple pounds (Oops! I had no idea I stuffed that much in there). I use the locks in my art yarn - I just love the little curls. Lisa also sells beautifully hand dyed yarn from her own flock of sheep.

    I had to buy some rainbow-y battlings at Hobbledehoy to lift my spirits as the clouds were still looming. I’m not sure what I will make with them yet, but it will be super cute no doubt.

    I waded through the mud a few tents over to say hi to my other fiber friend, Karen of Avalon Springs. Her colors are so amazing and bright and I always just stare in awe and take lots and lots of pictures.

    Outside vendors

    I wanted to get see the sheep so I went back up to the barns and saw Martha from Black Sheep Farm and her moorit colored yearling Merino ram, Cinnabar.

    He was competing for Best Overall Fleece and had already won ribbons for Champion Colored Merino and Best Natural Colored Fleece. I’ve previously bought a couple amazing fleeces from her so I was cheering him on. I think a longwool sheep ended up with the ribbon, but he was my favorite. Also pictured here is Letty (I photographed last year) showing her Karakul ram, Cleatus.

    One of the more photogenic breeds is Scottish Blackfaced sheep and they seem to always have the best lighting in the barns too. I met another photographer and the woman who raises them and we talked about a visit to see the farm. Their wool is not very soft and is better suited for a rug wool, but they are really beautiful to look at.

    Other sheep in the barns:

    Look at those ringlets!

    As I was leaving this sheep was looking to get some handouts. He was the size of a small pony. Thank goodness he didn’t try to break out in earnest.


    At the end of the day I collected my ribbons and entries from the competitions and headed back home. Another year come and gone by so fast. Where did the time go? Next year I hope to do a better job organizing a trip to the festival. Maybe on the Sunday when it's less crowded? Hope to see you there in 2018!

  • Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2015 Wrap-up

    Maryland Sheep and Wool signAll images and content © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. To license an image please contact 222 Handspun

    Sit back and grab a cup of coffee because this is going to be a long one!

    Last weekend I went to the 42nd Annual Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival (MDSW) which is one of largest and one of the longest running fiber festivals in the United States. They were also celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Leicester Longwool sheep returning to the U.S. 

    For those who are not familiar, the event features over 200 vendors, fleece sales, classes and workshops, sheep breed shows, skein and garment and sheep to shawl competitions, sheepdog and shearing demos, and live entertainment. It’s held over the first weekend in May at the Howard County Fairgrounds in West Friendship, Maryland and about 60,000 – 70, 000 people attend each year.

    Festival Entrance - Saturday Morning Early Shoppers

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Maryland Sheep and Wool entrance

    Leicester Longwool Sheep

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Leicester Longwool sheep

    On Saturday I took a bus from my local yarn shop, Cutthroat Yarn in Leesburg, VA, and I got to hang out with a really fun group of ladies. I took a bus for a few reasons: 1) It forced me to get up and go really early. 2) I didn't have to drive so I could enjoy the scenery and conversation. 3) It's a chance to meet other people who are just as crazy about fiber as myself (or close to it).

    They had breakfast food and drinks and were crocheting matching headbands for everyone. We made good time and got there early at around 8:45.

    Cutthroat Yarn Bus Trip to MDSW

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. Cutthroat Yarn bus

    Cutthroat Yarn Bus Trip to MDSW

    Cutthroat Yarn bus

    Arriving at the Festival

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW

    There is an air of excitement as you approach the festival. They were already letting people in the gates early and you could see vendors scurrying to complete their last minute preparations. The Central Maryland Knitting Guild did the yarn bombing for the festival again this year and they did a fabulous making the path to the main gate look festive and inviting.

    Yarn Bombed Fence

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Yarn bomb

    Yarn Bombed Tree

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Yarn bomb

    Yarn Bombed Tree

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Yarn bomb

    Yarn Bombed Fence

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Yarn bomb

    Yarn Bombed Fence

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Yarn bomb

    I spent a full Saturday and better part of Sunday visiting and talking with as many friends (new and old) and sheep as I possibly could. The weather was great and there was lots of food and folk music to enjoy while you shopped or relaxed in the shade. There is a lot to see and do besides shopping from sheep herding and shearing demos, to entering contests and competitions. 

    For first time attendees it can seem a bit overwhelming, especially on a Saturday. You will find long lines for some of the necessities such as the fleece sale, a few very popular vendors, restrooms, and food trucks (in that priority order!). But don’t let the lines deter you. That’s where you meet the best people and kindred spirits and you get to talk about your love of all things fibery and not seem weird at all.

    Lining up for the Fleece Sale Early Saturday Morning

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Fleece Sale

    Festival Lunchtime Crowd

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival crowd

    Relaxing and Spinning in the Shade

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW festival crowd

    Sheep Going For a Walk

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Border Leicester sheep

    As soon as I arrived, I passed the line for the Fleece Sales and I made my way to the Main Exhibition Hall to drop off some handspun yarn I had the honor of consigning in Folktale Fibers / A Little Teapot Designs booth. They were a late addition to the festival this year and as first time vendors, did an amazing job pulling it all together last minute. These are some super-talented ladies and I was so happy to hang out and be a tiny part of their fibery world for a couple days.

    Big Pile O' 222 Handspun Yarn

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    222 Handspun yarn MDSW 2015

    Folktale Fibers

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Folktale Fibers Booth

    Spot the 222 Handspun Yarn!

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Folktale Fibers and a Little Teapot booth featuring 222 Handspun

    A Little Teapot Designs

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Folktale Fibers and a Little Teapot booth

    Folktale Fibers and a Little Teapot booth

    Fiber Bonsai Trees. How cute are these?

    Folktale Fibers and a Little Teapot booth

    I had to get some of this honey and oatmeal soap. I couldn't resist handmade soap that looks and smells this good.

    Folktale Fibers and a Little Teapot booth

    Folktale Fibers Handspun Yarn. Yarn rainbows. 'Nuf said. They disappeared in the first hour or so before I had a chance to snag one.

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Folktale Fibers and a Little Teapot booth

    A Little Teapot Designs Jewelry

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Folktale Fibers and a Little Teapot booth

    A Little Teapot Designs Handspun Yarn. I couldn't stop petting this yummy soft yarn!

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Folktale Fibers and a Little Teapot booth

    Making Some Fresh Art Batts

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Folktale Fibers and a Little Teapot booth

    Sunday - Anne Spinning Yarn  

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Spinning yarn - a Little Teapot booth

    Spinning yarn - a Little Teapot booth

    Next, I went to say hi to my buddies at Wild Hare Fiber Studio's booth. I’m always attracted to anything bright/neon and Melissa had the coolest animated sign outfitted with a blacklight to show off her neon yarn. 

    Wild Hare Fiber Studio

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Wild Hare Fiber Studio

    Wild Hare Fiber Studio

    Three Ravens was sharing the booth space and had some yummy squishy hand dyed faux cashmere top in bright colors that I grabbed right away. I also picked up some special order size 100 knitting needles that are going to be a gift for someone. I kind of want to keep them though because they look so cool (even thought I don't knit). They kind of inspire me to want to learn.

    Three Ravens Fiber 

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Three Ravens

    I made a quick stop to say hi to my friends at Solitude Wool and checked out all their pretty yarn and fiber. If you haven't tried their new Llama-rama yarn you need to. It's a lovely soft blend of Virginia grown 50% llama & 50% Romney wool. 

    Solitude Wool

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Solitude Wool

    Solitude Wool

    I hurried over to Loop to get my bullseye bump fix. I was not going to miss out this year no matter how packed it was in there!

    Main Exhibit Hall Shoppers

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Main Exhibition Hall

    I pushed my way in and grabbed two bumps and got out. 

    Loop Bulleseye Bumps

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Loop Fiber

    I didn't want to miss the Fleece Sale this year either, so by the time I had gotten set up in the booth and shopped a bit, the line to get in had mellowed out. There were literaly piles of bags of fleece so deep on the table on the left that I couldn't see them all. I just grabbed a BFL and Merino and got in the check out line. They are two staples that I will dye and add to art batts. I have enough colored merino so I went with the white. I really should have taken a closer look at some of the more hard to find breeds but it was too chaotic for me and I didn't have a plan.

    Note to self: Know what you are looking for before going to the fleece sale, otherwise you may spend a lot of time aimlessly looking in bags of fleece and trying to remember what you just looked at on the other side of the room. It can be a bit like the wedding dress sale at Filene's Basement. Have a price in mind that you are willing to pay for a breed and VM (vegetable matter) state (covered or uncovered?) as well as a total budget. If you can get a buddy to go with you, you can split a fleece. I did not have a fleece buddy and missed out on some nice ones that were just too much for me. 

    Fleece Show and Sales - Showing different breed samples

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Fleece Sale

    Fleece Sale

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Fleece Sale

    Piles of Fleece 

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Fleece Sale

    Colored Wool

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Fleece Sale

    My BFL Fleece

    It's pretty dirty but I think it will wash up nice. Good price at $36. 

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Fleece Sale BFL

    My Merino Fleece

    A nice cleaned covered fleece. Sound with no breaks and good staple length. Fairly soft and good overall for the price.

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    merino wool fleece

    This year, I tried something for the first time. I entered the Skein Competition. I have to admit I was pretty sure I wouldn't do very well because most of my yarn is not very traditional and other competition winners that I have seen usually are all pretty uniform and neutral looking. Not that that's a bad thing. I really admire a well-spun perfectly balanced fingering weight yarn in natural gray, that's just not what I usually make. So I had myself convinced it was a wasted effort, but I was up for proving myself wrong.

    I entered three yarns, one that I actually really liked which was a worsted N-Ply "traditional" style yarn from a Loop bullseye bump in the Plied category, a super bulky 2-ply with beehive coils in shades of bright lavender, and a "story" art yarn (both in the Novelty category).

    I walked into the Skein and Garment Competition building and went to the back where the yarn was and I spotted my traditional style yarn. No ribbon. I thought OK, I'll do better next time.

    Then I went to the other table with ribbons and my Lavender beehive yarn had a second place ribbon! I was so excited but I couldn't see my other yarn. My first thought was they tossed it because they didn't know what it was or something. Feeling a bit confused, I went back to the front and there on the table where you walk in was my Monster Mash-up Story yarn! I had walked right by it. It had a blue first place ribbon and a special award ribbon for the Novelty class. I was so excited. Not just because I had won my first ever skein competition, but the fact that the judges "got" my crazy looking art yarn. So I guess you never know until you try and this was really encouraging for art spinners like myself. Here are my skeins and descriptions:

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. MDSW 2015 ribbons-skein competition

    “Friendly Monster - Mash Up” Story Yarn. S11 Expressive (novelty) yarn. First Place and Special Award - Novelty Yarn Category

    Fiber content: wool, llama locks, recycled sari silk, cashmere, acrylic. Corespun, autowrapped, coiled, and chain plied. 18 Yards, 2.7 Ounces

    This is a highly textured story yarn meant to be worn on its own or used as an embellishment in a finished piece. This was wheel-spun using a combination of some of my favorite fiber I've collected recently, much of it from locally grown farm fleece that I processed, drum carded, and dyed. I combined several techniques to trap wild locks and suspend more delicate fibers. 

    It tells the story of a friendly but misunderstood monster, with each section of the yarn representing a moment it's journey to love and acceptance. Or, it's just a really weird looking yarn. Your call.

    MDSW 2015 ribbons-Special Award Novelty Skein

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    “Lavender Bunches” S11 Expressive (novelty) yarn. Second Place Novelty Yarn Category

    Fiber content: Merino and Corriedale X Wool, Angelina, Recycled Sari Silk. 46 Yards, 3.5 Ounces

    I wanted a soft and bouncy yarn with that could be used for next-to-skin soft wearables like a knitted cowl or scarf. I started by drum carding top (some I dyed myself) with sari silk and Angelina fiber then I spun two singles on a wheel, one very thin and the other thick and thin, and then plied them together. 

    This was inspired by a photo I took of bunches of dried lavender tied in purple ribbon.

    MDSW 2015 2nd place-novelty yarn

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Skein and Garment Competition Special Awards

    These were the Special Award winning skeins. The junior category winners were really impressive. Coincidentally I ran into the Junior winner with the purple skein at lunch. She was very excited and I was really happy for her. It's so cool to have that much talent at that age. 

    MDSW special awards skein competition

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    This was just stunning.MDSW 1st place skein competition

    This shawl was knitted from yarn spun from an entire handspun Jacob fleece and won Best in Show.

    Best in Show Shawl

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW 2015 skein and garment competition

    Photo Competition

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW photo competition

    Over the years I have developed relationships with other spinners, fiber artists, and farmers and this is my main opportunity to catch up with them and do some serious shopping. Although I got to see the vendors I really wanted to, I missed a lot of people I had hoped to run into that I basically only know online. I think I'll have to do a better job next year planning a meeting place and teaming up for the fleece sale etc.

    What I really like about this event is that it’s not just for knitters. There is a big hand spinning community in the area and many vendors cater to art yarn spinners and carry premium fiber in an amazing array of colors and textures. If you are looking for eco-friendly small farm raised fleece and rare breeds you will not be disappointed by the huge selection.

    One of my favorite vendors is Avalon Springs Farm. Besides gorgeous hand dyed yarns from her own fiber animals, Karen carries Blue Faced Leicester wool locks in my favorite color, hot pink, which I always make a point of stocking up on. I really hope to visit her farm this year and photograph the sheep.

    Avalon Springs Farm 

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Avalon Springs Farm

    Another great source for hand spinning fiber and some of the softest, loveliest wool you'll find in the greater DC area is Feederbrook Farm. I bought a bunch of hand dyed BFL locks and some natural colored washed fleece here too. 

    Feederbrook Farm 

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Feederbrook Farm

    Feederbrook Farm

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Feederbrook Farm

    Hobbledehoy is a another favorite of mine with her bright colors and luxury fiber batts. My only problem here is deciding which ones to choose so I got a couple.

    Hobbledehoy

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Hobbledehoy - 222 Handspun

    Hobbledehoy - 222 Handspun

    The force runs deep in this family. Liz shares a booth with her talented mother, MarigoldJen.

    Yarn From Marigodjen

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Marigoldjen - 222 Handspun

    Outdoor Vendors

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Vendors - 222 Handspun

    Dancing Leaf Farm

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Dancing Leaf - 222 Handspun

    Felted Wool 

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    wool - 222 Handspun

    One of my favorite activities at the festival is watching the Sheepdog Herding Demos. They usually have some less experienced dogs mixed in with the older ones and it’s really fun to watch them do their job so enthusiastically. The demo I went to had some seemingly laid back Bluefaced Leicesters and a young sheepdog who was very eager to herd them. He did a great job despite not wanting to “lie down” when he was asked a number of times.

    Sheep Herding Demo

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Sheep Herding demo - 222 Handspun

    Sheep Herding demo - 222 Handspun

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Sheep Herding demo - 222 Handspun

    It’s amazing how the sheep really stick together as a tight unit. I was admiring the way their fleece swayed as they ran around the ring.

    Sheep Running Together

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Sheep Herding demo - 222 Handspun

    MDSW Sheep Herding demo - 222 Handspun

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Sheep Herding demo - 222 Handspun

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Sheep Herding demo - 222 Handspun

    MDSW Sheep Herding demo - 222 Handspun

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Sheep Herding demo - 222 Handspun

    Sheepdog Getting the “Lie Down” Command (Again)

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Sheep Herding demo - 222 Handspun

    Sheep, sheep, and lots of sheep. I missed them last year so I was determined to get some photos this time around. They had lots of ewes with their little lambs in the barns, which of course meant every time someone walked by there were “oohs” and “ahhs” (myself included).

    Bluefaced Leicester Lamb

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    lamb - 222 Handspun

    Gotland Lamb

    Gotland Lamb - 222 Handspun

     © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Bluefaced Leicester Sheep

    BFL sheep - 222 Handspun

    Natural Colored Border Leicester Sheep

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

     - 222 Handspun

     Border Leicester Sheep Border Leicester sheep - 222 Handspun

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    American Teeswater Sheep 

    American Teeswater sheep - 222 Handspun

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    American Teeswater Sheep

    American Teeswater sheep - 222 Handspun

    American Teeswater Sheep 

    American Teeswater sheep - 222 Handspun

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Hog Island Sheep

    Hog Island Sheep - 222 Handspun

    Romney Sheep

    Romney sheep - 222 Handspun

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Romney Sheep

    Romney sheep - 222 Handspun

    Romney Sheep

    Romney sheep - 222 Handspun

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Jacob Sheep

    Jacob Sheep - 222 Handspun

    Border Cheviot Sheep

    Border Cheviot - 222 Handspun

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Leicester Longwool Sheep

    leicester longwool Sheep - 222 Handspun

    Getting Ready for the Show Ring

    Showring - 222 Handspun

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    The Show Ring

    Showring - 222 Handspun

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Posing at the Show Ring

    Showring - 222 Handspun

    Each year I go back, it seems I know more and more people and get to make new friends from all over when standing in the line to buy fleece or just chatting on a bench outside. “What did you buy?” or “Did you make that?” are great conversation openers. I always bring business cards with me and have Facebook and Instagram open so I can follow other fiber enthusiasts whose names I might otherwise forget.

    How do you best enjoy a huge festival like Maryland Sheep and Wool? My advice is to plan ahead. I wrote down the booths I wanted to go to and circled them on the vendor map the day before. I brought some cash, but most everyone takes credit cards (except the lemonade stand and some food vendors). If you can carpool or take a bus, that’s a nice way to enjoy the ride.

    So pack some snacks and water, wear walking shoes, and bring extra-large collapsible bags. You never know when you might score a freshly shorn fleece just about to be thrown out with the trash like I did late Sunday afternoon. Remember to keep your eyes and ears open (free fleece!), and don’t be afraid to ask questions or chat with strangers. Most of all have fun!

    My Saturday Haul. I managed to check of all my to do list items plus a little more.

    MDSW haul - 222 Handspun

    My score of the day - the mystery trash fleece that is actually pretty nice.

    Here it is after I skirted it.

    trash fleece - 222 Handspun

    All images copyright 2015 Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce without permission. 

    View this story on Steller