Monday, May 04, 2009

Maryland Sheep and Wool, 2009

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of introducing my sister to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. She was appropriately overwhelmed and excited. As it should be.

We both set out with a budget in mind, only went slightly over on wool processing, and both came home happy. Here's how it happened:

Whose Fleece?

When we arrived at the fairgrounds, it was just before 11:00 am. We were waved past the main gate, and made to turn into the "exit" lane of the parking field, which meant we walked - RIGHT INTO THE BACK GATE BY THE MAIN BOOTH! Thank you so much, festival parking crew - you let us out right where we wanted to be. I quickly grabbed the fleece I picked up at my friend Gregory's farm two weekends ago, and we hit the main barn to find a dark colored fleece we would share.

We thoroughly enjoyed looking at all the fleeces for sale, and finally managed to narrow it down to two - a chocolate-y Lincoln (I think - it was lovely locks, that I do remember), or a dark, fine merino. Since Gregory herself was working at the fleece tables, we asked her opinion. After getting the "okay" for both, we finally decided on the merino (from a sheep, apparently, named "Branaugh" - perfect!), hoping to find some sort of lock-type fiber for her in a booth later in the day. We also considered a small Karuk (?) fleece - very long, hairlike, and apparently a bit coarse, but decided against it.

We asked at the checkout about processors and were given several names, but finally decided on Zeillingers, since they were just out the back door! The prices were great (only $30 to wash my 6 pound fleece from Gregory, and just over $100 - at an 8% discount - to process the merino into combed top). I can't wait until I get it back! It will be a good project to start over the summer, since that is when it should arrive, and hopefully can be spun up to keep me busy all Winter long! My goal is to "need" a new fleece by the next year's festival! Wish me luck!

My only regret is not at least taking a picture of the lovely merino fleece before it was sent out. Next year's game plan will include at least one of these three options:

1) take a damn picture, already!
2) pull off at least one lock, put it in a ziplock, and hold onto it to see the difference in the original and the final product. I could've sworn this was a dusty brown fleece, but it's listed as gray by the processors on my receipt - my sister confirms it was more steel-y gray than brown, so it should be interesting to see what arrives on my doorstep in a few months!
3) Grab a good hunk to keep and process myself. After washing my own fleece on Sunday (more on that later), I think I could handle it, but at the time, I just didn't want to muck up that lovely fleece!!

Live and learn, right?

Make Mine A Double

One of the best parts of this year's Sheep and Wool is that I got to meet Dave of The Merlin Tree. I bought my lovely Hitchhiker wheel from him just after Christmas, and have been spinning like a madwoman since. After renting an Ashford Traditional for my sister to try out while she's visiting, I decided that I really wanted a double treadle wheel. So, I took my wheel to the show, and dropped it off with Dave to be converted to double treadle. It's really an inexpensive upgrade, and I think the payoff will be well worth it. I can do a good deal with the wheel as it is, but I think I'll be much happier with it as a DT.

Dave in show mode.

And also - you just can't beat the customer service of a true Vermonter, or a Vermonter at heart. Dave is both. Kilt and all.

LOVE him!!

Man Candy

While we're talking men here, let's get a little lewd, K? The following may be found offensive. You've been warned!

Those of us familiar with the festivals know Tess' Designer Yarns is a big hit. Well, this year, she may owe some of the hubub surrounding her booth to the LOVELY, LOVELY MAN. CANDY. she had working the register. Here he is striking a pose.

I mean, COME. ON. As if we weren't drooling before! Do the triceps do it for anyone else out there?

If I were a competing yarn vendor, I'd be mad. That's what you'd call an unfair advantage, Tess! Shame on you!

But, um, please feel free to bring him back next year!!

Oh, The Lovelies

And now, I'll stop babbling and get to the good stuff. Here's the haul from this year. Don't forget, there's unphotographed fleece out there in never-never land. 8 pounds of it!!

-2 ozCormo (!) roving - beautiful red color - almost a watermelon shade?

-4 ozBrown and blue rambouillet from Spirit Trail Fiberworks. Yum - but I can't find the pic!!!! Ack!
-A skein of Creatively Dyed (!) worsted. Ahhhhhhhhh.
SO glad she was able to take advantage of a last minute cancellation - I was so excited to see her there! It really made my day to see her reaction to my completed Whisper Cardigan, done in her sock yarn. She LOVED it and had her daughter snap a picture. Maybe I'll be a superstar!
-4 oz bamboo and 1 oz nylon for blending into other fibers when I spin. No pic. Kinda ho-hum.
-Some gifts that shall remain unnamed for now, as they're for a swap partner, and I don't want to spoil the surprise!
-WPI tool from a really nice woodwork vendor - The Spanish Peacock.
-Upgrade to my wheel, plus two more bobbins when he sends it back, from Dave at the Merlin Tree. Again, Dave is wonderful, and so very nice and friendly. I'm very glad I bought one of his wheels!

Anyone else? Did you visit this year? Do you plan to visit the next time it's on a nice, dry weekend, rather than a wet, cold one? I'd love to hear all about it!