Close Encounters of the Sheepy Kind
I am really a fortunate knitter. I live very close to one of the best fiber festivals in the country and I get to go (almost) every year and not have to spend any money on a hotel room. This means more money for yarn. Yay! For me, The Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival is almost (if not more) anticipated than Christmas. Where else can you look at, touch, and buy thousands of different kinds of yarn or fiber related supplies?
The Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival has been getting busier and bigger. In the last few years, they have been opening up more vendor space in outside fields and there were definitely more food vendors there this year as well. My friend and I got there early to do our food shopping. They have great sheep’s milk cheeses, goat cheeses, fresh lamb, and local honey. After we had that all secured in our coolers, we got down to our serious shopping.
This next photo is one I took just before lunch. You can see that the midway is just packed with people. We were so busy with our shopping that this is really the only picture I took the whole morning.
Later, after our lovely picnic lunch by the car, we went to hear Sue Blacker from Blacker Yarns in the UK give a talk about the value of breed specific yarns. This was truly a treat and I learned a lot about the yarn and wool industry. I left that talk convinced of two things: we pay really very little for our yarn and we need to support the preservation of our sheep breeds (i.e. buy more yarn!). She said that they are considering ways to make the UK yarn that they produce more readily available in the US. I am looking forward to that! In the meantime, you’ll just have to order online from here, which I plan to do as soon as I can save some more yarn money. While I wait, I can play with this lovely ball of yarn.
Sue was kind enough to bring samples of all different kinds of yarn that they stock. I sure wish I could have gotten a picture of all the yarn piled on the table, but I was too busy squeezing yarn! We each got to take home a ball–yay! I chose this nice gray Gotland Yarn, a breed I hadn’t heard of yet. My friend got a ball of North Ronaldsay, a sheep breed whose main diet is seaweed, imagine that!
After the talk, we did a bit more shopping and, thankfully, it had really cooled down and it was a lot less crowded as well. Before we left, though, we had to go visit all the sheep. We saw all kinds and I even got another skein of Gotland yarn from a farm in Pennsylvania.
There were cute little lambs.
(I know this is not the greatest picture, but isn’t he cute anyway?) And we also had great fun with some particularly outgoing sheep.
The sheep was licking my arm! The sheep were really very sweet and we had some very nice conversations with both farmers and vendors. And, of course, I got some yarn!
If you live close by, I highly recommend you make the trip to the festival. It’s free and it’s fun. They have lots of vendors and other activities that kids and those who do not knit or spin would enjoy. It was a wonderful day and I am already looking forward to the next one, but first, I have a little bit of knitting to do!