Monday, May 4, 2009

In the Penalty Box

This weekend was the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. And that can't be bad.


Well, right. Maryland Sheep and Wool is a wondrous thing. I don't think anything can change that. But this year I took only a small, tantalizing sip from that deep, deep well. Leading up to the weekend, I was trying to decide on which day best to go. Each day has its charms: Saturday with its well-stocked excitement, and Sunday with its more relaxed pace and room to breathe.

I was leaning toward Sunday. But as Saturday wore on, I found I couldn't wait. Even the weather was right. The record-setting heat wave of the previous week had abated. Cooler sweater-friendly weather had set in. I wheedled world's-most-patient-husband into going with me. I donned my handknits and packed the essentials -- a big tote bag, my camera, and a small knitting project for the car. And off we went.

We arrived and found a spot in the lush grass of the parking meadow, then world's-most-patient-husband set a time to meet and headed off to watch the sheepdogs, while I made a beeline for the shopping. I dove right into the main barn to have a look around. The time went faster than I imagined. I ended up just managing to browse my way through the indoor vendor areas, not even visiting the sheep or shopping the outdoor vendors before it was time to go. I had only made a couple of small purchases (including this Blue-Faced Leicester/ mohair blend for sock-spinning, from Little Barn.)

No matter; Sunday was still ahead, and I could come back on my own and spend as long as I wanted to. I knew Joanne Seiff would be there on Sunday signing her book, Fiber Gathering, and I thought it would be fun to meet her. I was also still hoping to spot some blog friends I knew would be there (though my lackadaisical planning had forestalled any prearrangement of meeting times and places).

But a funny thing happened Sunday morning. I thought of all the piles of yarn and spinning fiber already in the house, some of it even from Maryland Sheep and Wool days of years gone by, still waiting its turn. I thought of how little I really need, however much I might like the pretty things for sale there. I thought of the other festivals I hope to go to in the fall. I thought of the sweater project that was sitting waiting for me to gather the gumption to do the hard work of finishing and put it together. It was looking rather like the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz lying forlornly without his stuffing until Dorothy put him back together. I thought of how it would have to wait longer still if I spent the entire weekend up at the festival. I thought of how being a grown-up sometimes means doing what you ought to do before what you want to do. I stayed home.

But I'd only bought a couple of small things! I hadn't even gotten out my camera! I'd been so confident that I'd be back!

Well, that's OK. I still have wonderful memories. Watching the antique sock-making machine crank out a short-row heel. Receiving a compliment from a stranger on my handspun vest. Seeing yarn and fiber everywhere in glorious colors. Chuckling at festival-goers knitting even in line for the restroom. Finding something wonderfully unexpected (like the fiber in the picture: rare Hog Island sheep's wool blended with alpaca, from a gentleman at the Fingerlakes Woolen Mill booth who had a Hog Island ram). Seeing every kind of spinning wheel I've ever heard of, all there for the looking and touching and trying out. Hearing Maggie Sansone of Maggie's Music absently tapping lovely rhythms on a traditional Celtic bodhran drum in a quiet moment. Seeing craftsmen who already have long, long waiting lists, sharing their wisdom with new enthusiasts. Seeing a pen of little goat kids tumbling and romping. Hearing a couple of young voices singing soft harmonies in a bluegrass band.

Aaahhhh. Come to think of it, it was a wonderful visit. As always.

And, since I stayed home on Sunday, my Dad's sweater finally started growing a collar.

And that can't be bad.


Anonymous said...

Collar is looking good- and if you had ventured out on Sunday, you would have gotten wet. During the day it rained buckets. So, there is always Mt. Pelier and next year.

Robin said...

You were there on Saturday and we missed meeting up! Oh well. Sunday was WET WET WET! Probably a good thing you stayed home.