Sunday, June 6, 2010

Heat Exhaustion?

Hey, I thought they said wool breathes when it's hot! That's what these little guys must have been thinking. Their mouths are hanging open a little, as they try to keep cool in the shade.

The Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival was a scorcher this year. Each year, I hope for cool weather, so everyone can wear something hand-knit. But, once again, in gentle early May, the festival happened to fall upon a very hot weekend.

Late as I am in checking in here after the festival, I'll just blame it on the heat. And, incidentally, I do still make things. There are even some finished objects to show you, but I'll get to that next time.

So, casting my mind now back again to early May.... I tried to take a restrained approach to the festival this year, as I really am trying not to continue accumulating supplies faster than I can use them. Beautiful they may be, but logic says to have faith that, when the time finally comes that I truly have space for more, there will still be plenty of beautiful things to find.

The fleece sale challenged my fortitude, I have to admit, especially since I'd just taken a class on how to choose a good fleece. I wandered around in there for a while examining fleeces, appreciating their color and crimp, looking at the differences among the breeds of wool. But still I managed to restrain myself.

And I consciously managed my MDSW visit a little differently than in years past. I limited my strolling time to a couple of hours, and I focused on some of the events that I normally just go right on past, in my haste to trot from one vendor to the next. Also, as I now have a very portable spinning wheel, I brought it along in hopes of joining the evening Spin-In .

I stopped to watch and enjoy the kids (human) visiting the kids (baby goats from Kid Hollow Farm).

Look at those tiny little horns sprouting. and the ringlets of soft baby mohair. They're just adorable, aren't they?

I spent a little time taking in the sheep-herding demonstration, watching the expert dogs and their human handlers, and the obedient sheep, spooked into compliance .

I wandered over to see what was going on at the auction. Everything from boxes of magazines to spinning equipment was being disposed of with swift efficiency.

Of course I visited the vendors. It just wouldn't make sense to be there for that awe-inspiring assemblage and utterly pass it by. But I kept my acquisitions to quite a modest level. A couple of quarter-pound bags of fiber and some beeswax candles. Just enough to feel I'd partaken of the feast.

The fiber, from Misty Mountain Farm, is awfully pretty, too. In the foreground is Polwarth top, in a colorway called Forest Moss. In the background is super-fine Merino in Raspberry, a color I just seem to keep coming back to.

So, I still shopped and bought a little, but I tried not to make it such a central focus of my trip. Heck, if I keep this up, maybe one day I'll make it over to see the sheep-to-shawl competition. I've always meant to, but have been too busy loading up on supplies and inspiration.

Once the sun went down and the festival closed for the day, I retrieved Miss Muffet from the car and found my way to the Dining Hall (blessedly air-conditioned) for the evening Spin-In. There were about 65 like-minded souls there, spinning and chatting happily away, with wheels and spindles. There were two wonderful women serving as ringleaders and camp-counselors. They organized door-prize drawings, puzzles, and silly competitions. We had timed spinning races for distance, blindfolded, and with plastic bags on our hands. The latter two were, remarkably, not nearly as hard as one might think. In fact, I turned out to be something of a plastic-bag-hands specialist. That was the competition I came closest to winning. And there was a very entertaining 11-year-old boy challenging everyone to see who could make a spindle spin the longest.

It was fun enjoying the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival this year in a different way. I might do it again next time.... unless I can use up all the wool and yarn I have around the house by then. :)

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