Tuesday, May 14, 2013

My MDSW Haul

It's weird for me when I go somewhere like Stitches or MDSW. I mean, I already have a ton of yarn. Seriously, a ton. As in 2000 pounds. And it's yarn I really like. Yarn that I can make any color I want. So I don't need to buy more. On the other hand, like any red blooded American, I love to shop. And there were more than 200 booths with wonderful goods for me to choose from. It's kind of dilemma.

Generally, I stay away from yarn vendors. Especially other hand dyed yarns. There are a couple of reasons for that. Mostly it's because I have a lot of yarn. (See above.) But there's also the piece of me that doesn't want to inadvertently copy someone else's work. I make a conscious effort not to look too closely at what others are doing. Sure, I'll read blogs and take a quick peek but not much more than that. It doesn't seem right somehow. 

That said, I don't worry so much about going into booths that are showing undyed wool from different breeds and that kind of thing. I find real inspiration from smelling and feeling up yarns that are from breeds that I'm not familiar with. Or checking out blends that I don't see every day. There are so many things I can learn from people who are on the front lines, raising sheep, milling yarn and doing the real work that gives me such joy every day. 

So, I end up being drawn to booths that have something other than yarn. I bought a few things.

The first thing I picked up were these darling note cards from an artist named Clare Margaret. She's got a great shop over on Etsy. 

I might have a little bit of non-buyers remorse. She had a couple of full sized laser cut posters that I really liked and I'm wondering if I should have picked one up. 

My next purchase was from this guy who makes brooms by hand. His name is Bob Haffly and his company is called Lone Oak Brooms. He was doing demos all day long and we wandered over a couple of different times to watch. I looked for a website and it doesn't look like he has one. The best I could do is this video

I bought a broom cake tester from him. I thought it was a genius idea. The biggest mistake I made was only buying one. I gave it to my sister and I wish I had one for myself too . (Maybe he'll be at Rhinebeck.) I forgot to take a picture of it, but this picture from Williams-Sonoma will give you an idea of what it's all about.  Bob's was way cooler than this. The handle was irregular and you could tell a person made it. 

The other booth I made a big effort to see was Jennie the Potter. She's pretty legendary in our little corner of the world. I was on a mission for a yarn bowl, but couldn't resist a set of stitch markers as well. 

I did get a yarn bowl, an orange one! In case you couldn't tell, orange is my favorite color. It was the last one. Another woman had it in her hands and I kinda watched her until she put it down and then trampled over her casually sauntered over and picked it up. 

Unfortunately, it ran into a little, ahem, mishap, in the airport on the way home. I carried that yarn bowl through MDSW, four states, three airports and this happened 100 yards from the car. I'm not embarrassed to tell you I wept. More than a little bit. 

Through the miracle of modern science and a handy husband, all was not lost. He was able to put all the king's horses together again. And we all did the dance of joy.

So, my inaugural MDSW was a huge success! I can't wait until next time. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Maryland Sheep and Wool Part 1

It's been just over a week since my maiden voyage to Maryland Sheep and Wool. I'm a little late getting this posted because I made a side trip to visit my mom for a few days. She's healing from her broken hip, but she's 95 and it's not easy.

The festival was everything I might have hoped for. And more. MDSW is one of those events that we've all read countless blogs about and seen everyone's photos, but it's just not the same as being there yourself.

The day dawned bright and cool. We had a nice leisurely breakfast and headed over to the fairgrounds about 10:30. The hotel we stayed in had a shuttle, thank goodness. Traffic was backed up for at least a mile and parking was absolutely nuts.

I was a little overwhelmed at first. Should I shop? Go look at animals? Check out the sock machine demo? Yikes! I took a deep breath and headed for what I know best. Knitters! There was a meet up on the hill by the main barn for Great White Balers. Instantly, I relaxed. I was with my peeps! 

We hung out, knit a while and talked about what everyone was going to do with their first installment of of yarn. Before I knew it, folks were heading off to grab lunch or take Deb Robson's sheep breed tour. (I'm still kicking myself for not signing up.) After a quick snap of myself with Clara Parkes, we were back out with the crowds. 

Next, we headed over to watch the herding dogs demo and then it was over to the barns to look at the sheep. There were more than a few that captured a piece of my heart. 

This cutie was hanging out on his very own chair. He was hamming it up for the camera too.

Something about his horns spoke to me. He seems stately somehow. You can see that he's wearing a coat. Once they get the sheep groomed and gussied up for the show ring, they put coats on them to keep them neat and tidy. At first I thought they might be trying to keep them warm after they'd been sheared, but no.

The piece of hay in this one's mouth made me think of somebody's grandpa sitting out on the porch on a hot summer's day. There has to be lemonade nearby.

Quite a few of the breeders had little baskets hanging from the side of the pens. Sometimes there was paperwork. Other times there would be a skein of yarn to show you what the wool looked like once it was all spun up. Seemed like a nice touch to me. 

Sheep weren't the only livestock. There were a bunch of alpaca too. This freshly sheared one caught my attention.

So did this warren of angora rabbits. I had a nice conversation with their breeders. Interestingly, most of them go out as pets. 

I wrapped up the day at the demo booth. I watched some spinners and a group of women making bobbin lace. The bobbin lace was mesmerizing. One woman I talked to for awhile had made a mistake and was undoing her work. I felt for her. We got a nice chuckle out of it though. No matter the craft, we all make mistakes and retrace our steps. It's just part of the process. 

The other demo that caught my attention and in a big way was the sock machine knitters. I could easily see having this become a new addiction for me.

Not only do you have the magic of creating a sock in almost no time flat, you get the added bonus of a machine! I'm always fascinated by any sort of  machine.Especially an antique machine. Don't get me wrong, I'd never give up my trusty double points and the rhythm of hand knitting, but there was something about this that really spoke to me. 

The machines don't come cheap so I need to do some research on them. Do any of you crank? I'd love to hear what you have to say!