I'm home, foot-weary and salty-skinned, but happy and parcel-laden. Home from the mighty, wondrous Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.
I've lived all my life within striking distance of the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. But I never knew it existed, for years and years. I believe it was through reading knitting blogs that I finally got wind of it. Two years ago, for the first time, I packed up world's most patient husband and went to have a look.
Oh my goodness, what I had been missing. It is a hard-to-believe assemblage of vendors and demonstrations and livestock and events and music and committed knitters, spinners, and weavers. Plus a fair number of families and visitors just enjoying the colorful scene. It is overwhelming and wonderful. I will not miss it again if I can help it. I mark the date on my calendar and wait all year for it now.
That first visit planted the seed that eventually made a spinner out of me. The second one, last year, infected me with an interest in hand-carding that led inexorably later that summer to raw fleece.
As the day for this year's festival approached, I wondered, what more could it do to me? Would I yearn to play the hammered dulcimer? Would I long to repair to the countryside for a life as a dilettante gentlewoman farmer making pets of three or four sheep carefully chosen for their fleece? Would I harbor a burning desire to learn woodworking and carve lovely spinning tools? Well, with this year's festival behind me, I don't seem to be that far gone yet. But one never knows, once the urges have had a little time to ripen.
In any case, yesterday, I grabbed a great big shoulder bag and my tall elegant Mom and headed for the festival. The weather could not have been more perfect, a dazzling sunny day in the mid 70s. It was, alas, a little warm for a hand-knit sweater, but many doughty festival-goers ignored the temperature and adorned themselves in knitting nonetheless.
I had never before gone on Saturday. It's reputed to be more crowded than Sunday, and it certainly was. There were long lines for restrooms, food, and some of the booths. Inside the barns, the aisles were at times impassable, filled with bubbling masses of generally good-tempered celebrants, hard to navigate through, but easy enough to float along with.
I had been a little worried about whether my Mom, not a knitter, would grow bored before I could get my fill. But she was a great sport, with impressive stamina. She dived right in, admiring the fiber, looking through books, enjoying the music, sweet-talking the sheep, visiting crafts booths, helping me choose colors, savoring the whole event.
And there was so much to see and enjoy.