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! 


Kate Nellerup said...

Sock machines are fun. I had two old ones which I once found at a second hand market. Now my daughter have them.

Marilyn said...

Beth, they have a sock knitting machine at Loopy Yarns in Chicago.