Tuesday, May 05, 2009

More Maryland Sheep&Wool

Have I mentioned how very wet it was at the festival on Sunday? It poured all day. Only the most ardent festival goers were there, and even so, it was a crowd. One thing I've noticed, after attending so many festivals, is how comfortable I am with the "back of the house." I hung out in the sheep barns for a while, talked to the farmers, snuck into an out of the way bathroom, met two girls from farm families who brought their 11 day old ram lamb with them (to the bathroom) and then headed out again. The backside of a festival looks a lot like this. Miles of pick-up trucks, RVs, and tents. Farm trucks, with trailers and manure. From the "front side of things" where the customers are, it's a sea of women shoppers with a very few men. Back in the barns, in the show rings and behind the scenes, you can see that the festival is not just about females! Three young men were having a serious conversation in the rain...and all of them were at the festival's back of house.

This year I was pleased to see some breeds that I appreciate being celebrated. There was a large display about Texel sheep--a breed that is good for meat, cheese and lovely medium fleeces with nice crimp and long staple length. (great for spinning from the lock)

I also saw that the very lustrous, mohair-like Teeswater sheep have made it east! Teeswater, in my opinion is as close to mohair as any sheep wool can get--it's a fascinating wool that I thoroughly enjoy spinning. There have been some West coast breeding programs with AI that I saw back in 2007, (and I'm sure it's been going on for a while) but it was nice to see these Teeswater rams at Maryland!

At this point, I'm not a big spender at festivals. I figured I'd buy just a very few things, some spinning wheel oil, a hook for my Canadian Production Wheel, that kind of thing. I surprised myself. First, I bought a handmade wallet for the professor (he loves tri-fold wallets) and a belt. It seemed practical, I've been needing a belt! Then, on Sunday, in the rain and cold, I started thinking. Winnipeg will be cold. The professor is going to need a warm hat for those -40 days...and moments later, the trooper's hat (with ear flaps) from Shepherds Flock. My feet were already cold, so shearling slippers also hopped off the shelf and into my bag.
While waiting to meet up with my mom, I bumped into the Old Mill yarns booth. I'm not sure what came over me, but I think I fell in love instantly with the color palette of their Domy Heather yarns. It's a fingering weight yarn, 495 yards in a skein for $9 a piece. The hand is firm and crisp and the heathery color was so appealing that I started serious shopping. I'd meant to buy some contrast yarns to match green Danish yarns the professor bought for me in Arhus, Denmark several years ago. Suddenly, I was buying a whole 'nother fair-isle's worth of yarn. These things happen. :)

When we got back to the car after my book signing, I could no longer feel my feet, so off came the muddy shoes and handknit socks. I drove the hour and a half home to my parents' house in those slippers! On the way, my mother "played" with her own purchases, and she whipped something out of her bag. Apparently when my mom visited with The Barefoot Spinner (a friend of hers) and shopped, a present came home for me! Two skeins of her beautiful hand-dyed sock yarn--more fingering weight--were gifted to me from The Barefoot Spinner! You can bet I'll be knitting more Mary Jane Socks soon. In case you were wondering, all the patterns in Fiber Gathering that don't have a designer's name at the top? Those are my designs. In fact, that's even my foot in the book photo!

Despite the cold and wet, it was a fun day. I'm paying for all this socializing and damp weather now with a case of the sniffles and a quiet day in my parents' guest room. Hopefully it will disappear by tomorrow, when I'm catching a flight up to New England.
Thanks for all your positive comments about the Due North mittens! The pattern is now available for sale HERE. Hope you enjoyed the armchair traveling to Maryland in 2009...read this with a cup of hot tea and you'll be so glad you didn't experience the very damp real thing!

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Blogger Deb said...

I hope your sniffles don't manifest into something worse.....we are praying for lovely weather for NH S& W this coming weekend. Not sure I'm going to get there but I'm going to try. I'll be sure to look you up if I can. Have a wonderful trip and take care :)

May 5, 2009 at 3:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so envious of you having such lovely venues to go to - but it is great just seeing what others get! I have enjoyed stopping by your blog.

May 5, 2009 at 10:45 PM  

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