Sunday, May 3, 2009

Maryland Sheep & Wool

The Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival is taking place this weekend at the Howard County Fairgrounds in West Friendship, MD. One of my fiber-related goals has been to go to a fiber festival. Rhinebeck is my big fiber festival dream, but Maryland is much closer (three and a half hour drive versus seven hours...day trip versus weekend committment). Having traveled so much lately, I was on the fence about whether or not to go. I set my alarm Friday night and figured I'd just see how the spirit moved me on Saturday morning when it woke me up at too-early-o'clock. As it happened, I was totally in the mood to go, and I'm so glad I did. It was a wonderfully fun day!

Almost exactly three and a half hours after I left the house, I pulled off I-70 and into the big parking field for the fairgrounds...welcome to my first ever fiber festival! Yeay! The forecast had been calling for rain off and on all day, but thankfully it never came (though it had clearly rained before I got there, things were a little muddy in spots), and the temperature was perfect for walking around at this kind of event, not too hot, not too cold.

Some of the many sheep at the festival...check out the dude in the middle. He's got four horns! At first I thought he must be some freaky anomaly of a sheep, then I found out that he is a Jacob sheep, and they can actually have as many as six horns! That's pretty neat! My sheep pictures are a little dim because I turned the flash off...figured it wasn't necessary to blind the poor critters!

I've been going to county fairs and tractor shows for much of my life and I found that, for the most part, a fiber festival is quite similar, just sheep and fiber specific. There were buildings full of sheep in pens, there were sheep judging events and demos for sheep herding and shearing. Just sheep, sheep, sheep! Then on the wool end, there were buildings full of yarn and roving and spinning wheels and looms and myriad other sheep/knitting/weaving/spinning/etc. related items. That included food -- lamb kababs, lamb burgers, lamb cream cones (ok, I made that one up!). I personally enjoyed the best lamb gyro I've ever had. And a funnel cake, which had no lamb in it as far as I could tell.

In addition to sheep, there were a couple of small pens of other fiber-bearing animals, such as...


...goats! Don't they just look like little toys? The kind that you'd see on a wheeled platform that a child could pull by a string? They were adorable! And there were...

...bunnies! Seriously, these three were up for sale, and I was so dang tempted to bring them home. They are Lionhead rabbits and they were just too cute. But I resisted and left them there and brought home some tomato plants instead. LOL (The farm that had the rabbits there, though, is only an hour from my house, so I figure if I really want to pursue the rabbit business, it wouldn't be that hard.)

And then there were these little guys...

...alpacas! Alpaci? Hm...anyway...they just looked soft enough to squeeze, though I did not. I'm not sure if they were for sale, but I'm certain one would not have fit well in my car, so...moot point, eh? LOL

Between looking at the animals and going through the vendor booths, I also got to watch some demonstrations including a sheep dog demo...

...I love watching sheep dogs work. It amazes me how they can be trained to do such a variety of things to get the sheep to do what the shepherd wants. And the dogs don't bark at the sheep, nor did I see them nip at them. It's all in their movement. Pretty amazing. (Have you seen the LED sheep video? That's a pretty cool example of just what a sheep dog can do...and what shepherds with crazy amounts of creativity can accomplish.)

And I also caught part of a sheep shearing demo...

I ran into a friend, Pat, and her husband who live near me, and they have a small flock of sheep. Pat was telling me that this shearer, Kevin Ford, is like THE major sheep shearing guy in the business. (Maybe like Tiger Woods to golf, or Dale Earnhardt to racing, this guy is to sheep-shearing.) He hand shears, using hand blades instead of electric equipment (which makes me wonder if that is how we got the word "shears" when referring to certain scissors?). He sure moved smoothly and had control of that sheep. It was pretty interesting to watch.

Another fun aspect of the day was the people. Honestly, for going to something alone, I was surprised by how many people I ran into that I knew. In addition to my friend Pat, I ran into Deb (who I've known for years through an online writer's group we were both part of, and we recently reconnected on Facebook), and I ran into a few people who'd been at the Spring Fling last weekend -- Lou, Carrie and Lyn. Also from Spring Fling, I ran into Anne Hanson, who not only remembered me but gave me a hug and introduced me to her husband David. I believe David is kind of a celebrity in his own right due to being featured in a lot of Anne's knitting photos on her blog, so it was fun to get meet him.

I also got to say hi to Sharon from Three Irish Girls...Cloverhill Yarn Shop had some of her yarn at their booth and she was there when I first got there. Her yarn was going fast, but I managed to scoop up a skein of superwash merino in her Maureen colorway, which will be perfect for my last afghan swap square I need to make.

Ravelry had a meet-up at noon at the Rabbit Building, and while I hoped to run into a couple other people who I knew were going to be there, I instead ran into Lolly. She looks exactly like her pictures on her blog, and I had one of those weird moments when you see someone whose face you've seen a lot but then you realize you don't actually know them nor they you. It's good to remember that before you have the impulse to run up to them and give them a hug. LOL As it was, I just introduced myself and told her how much I enjoy her blog and then I let her return to her group of friends that I'd kind of butted into. :}

I also was excited to get to see Laura Chau (cosmicpluto) and Ysolda, and was the total groupie with them and asked to take their picture...

...aren't they just the cutest? And just when I thought I wasn't going to get to meet her, I finally found Amy Singer -- yes, THE Amy Singer of Knitty! -- at Jennie the Potter's booth...


...she was just so nice! She gave me one of her new little Knitty shwag buttons and we chatted a bit about the drop spindle I bought from one of her destashes one time, and how I might have more success with it since I still feel woefully inadequate as a drop spindler.

There was also music to enjoy throughout the day. This group, at the actual music tent, was wonderful...

...I assume they are a family, as the kids looked very much alike. They played wonderful bluegrass music, and of the three seated kids, the girl on the left with the guitar and the boy on the right with the fiddle sang, and they had the most wonderful harmony. I am also so in awe (and just a little jealous! LOL) of people with this kind of talent.

Then, not at the designated music tent but hanging out by a big propane tank between two buildings, there was this group of guys...

...I have no idea if they are an actual group of if they are just a bunch of guys who are friends and like to play music (I kind of think they were the latter), but oh my, they could play! More bluegrass, which was fun (I don't so much like much country music, but I do enjoy bluegrass, especially the instrumental variety). One of them would suggest a song and start playing it and then the rest would start joining in. What was especially fun was watching the little kids who would come by with their parents...I love watching children react to music. They usually do either one of two things: they stand and watch with very serious expressions on their faces, intent on watching what the fingers of the musicians are doing to the instruments to make them play, or else they dance...they just let themselves feel the music and move their legs and bodies and heads in time to the tune, totally oblivious to anyone else around. I saw both reactions yesterday, and it was just joyful to watch.

Lastly, of all the people I saw yesterday, this guy was one of the most interesting, for a variety of reasons...

...this is the Kilt Guy. (I have his business card somewhere with his real name...will have to add that later.) He was standing outside one of the vendor buildings, and I saw him at a distance and noticed the kilt (hard to miss, as this was not really a kilt-wearing crowd, unlike some Celtic music events I've been to where kilts are de rigeur). Then I noticed the fabric of the kilt, so I went up to him and asked, "Is that leather??" (and my brain was also saying, "Yowza!") and he said it was. And I said, "That is just so cool! I've never seen a leather kilt!" (and my brain was saying, "Dude, you are totally hot!") And he then went on to explain that he makes these kilts and unlike some other leather kilts that are on the market and are of a heavier, biker-type leather, his are made from a lighter, softer leather...and he was fingering the flap of the kilt to demonstrate the softness. I did not ask if I could feel his flap (my brain was alert enough to know that a) that might be an invasion of personal space and b) I might give in to the temptation to pull that flap back and see what men REALLY wear under their kilts! AHAHAHahaha...ahem...sorry...I'm 12, ok?), though I imagine he may well have been fine with that. He did turn around to show me the kilt's lace-up feature in the back, which made it adjustable for a comfortable fit (and my brain just kind of melted at that point...besides looking good in the kilt, the guy has amazingly beautiful butt-long hair...oh my...). Managing not to make an ass out of myself, I did ask if I could take his picture (though I did not ask if I could have my picture taken WITH him, which just seemed like it might be a tad inappropriate, LOL). He was quite kind and seemed happy for me to take his picture. I hope he has good luck with his leather kilt-making business, because he was so hot very nice.*

Ok...so, um...what was I talking about? Oh yeah...sheep, and fiber...um...and yes, yarny things. I did make several purchases, but I think I'll save that part of the recap for another day since this post is so long already. And I need to go fan myself for a bit. Leather is so...hot... ;)

*Ok...really apropos of nothing else in this post, my kilt guy thoughts are totally reminding me of The Pink Panter movie, where Steve Martin is Inspector Clouseau and he and his sidekick Ponton are supposed to be interviewing the singer, Xanya, about the murder of her boyfriend and seemingly simultaneous disappearance of the Pink Panther diamond. Ponton keeps asking Xania these normal, police-like questions when Martin's character finally says (in his crazy French accent), "Zstop brow-beating ere! Can't you zee zshe'z SEXY??" Just cracks me up. :}

4 comments:

Melissa @ Banana Migraine said...

I am so jealous - that looks like so much fun!!

Jody said...

I agree..that Kilt guy does look pretty hot! hehe..I wish you could have got a shot of his kilt from the back.

pdxknitterati said...

Interesting that your longest paragraph was about Kilt Guy! I wonder if I could get DH to wear a kilt? He's got great legs!

Lolly said...

Lisa, I am so glad that you did come up - in fact, I wish we had had more time to talk. Thank you so much for saying hello and introducting yourself. I had one of those moments when I was scanning my brain to index your face and your Ravelry name - and *click* Of course! If you had told me your blog name, it would have been a quicker click, because I read your blog often, and I thank you for all of the sweet comments you have left on my blog. Thank you for your patience as I needed that mental moment to do so!

I am so glad that you had a nice time at the festival. You saw so many things and it sounds like a great weekend.