MDS&W 2016

Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival is this weekend in West Friendship, MD, which is within easy driving distance. This is my 8th time going; I’ve gone every year since 2009. My friend Becky & I left my house at 7am, stopped for coffee at Starbucks, and arrived at the Howard County Fairgrounds just after 8.

We set up our camp chairs in the Pavillion area (between the Dining Hall & Barn 1) so we would have a spot staked out where we could rest and get away from the inevitable crowds and then high-tailed it to the Main Exhibition Hall. Becky wanted to check out the Miss Babs booth, but the line was already out the door at the back of the building, at least 20 people deep. We looked at the yarn and fiber from afar and moved on to the maple booth (Justamere Tree Farm? Checkmate Farm? I wish I had snagged a business card). I grew up in Vermont, so maple sugar candy is one of my favorites. This farm sells a limited amount of the candy and it’s the better, darker kind with more maple flavor. I got my 5 pieces and am wishing now I had bought some syrup or maple sugar as well.

MDSW 2016 Haul
My MDS&W 2016 Haul (arranged clockwise in the order I got it starting with the maple sugar candy)

Then we went to the Claymonster Pottery booth. Last year Becky got mugs and (maybe?) a yarn bowl there and both of us love the pottery; it’s very quirky. Claymonster was still setting up, so we formed a line behind a lovely woman named Ashley and her family. More people joined the line behind us. When it came time to open, Cat (I think that’s the name of the potter behind the monsters) teared up because there was a line of people waiting to swoop in & buy her stuff, a first for her. I absolutely love her stuff, but still haven’t found just the right piece for me. Becky got a Yarn Yeti mug. A yarn yeti, IMO, looks a whole lot like Cthulhu.

Marigoldjen sparkle sock
A Close-up of the Sparkle (Marigoldjen Yarns Merino/Nylon/Stellina Sock yarn)

Next we wandered down into the field where the Lower Corral Vendors were set up. All the rain we’ve had (9 or 10 days with rain every day) made for a very muddy field. We stopped into the Dragonfly Fibers booth and I fell in love with her MDS&W exclusive colorway, Salt Marsh. It really is the color of happiness (her motto/tagline). I got some fingering weight sock yarn and some fiber to spin. I had to. A few booths down in Hobbledehoy, I found the Marigoldjen fingering weight/sock yarn. The skeins look very similar in the picture; they’re both in the Kaleidoscope colorway, but one skein has some subtle sparkle in it that’s hard to capture in a picture.

Then we made our way through the rest of the barns, stopped by our chairs briefly, and went back to the car to drop off our purchases. Becky didn’t want to lug around her Claymonster purchase or risk breaking it (that would be my luck). I also really needed to get my dirty chai from the car (chai with a shot of espresso). When we re-entered the fairgrounds, we walked through the Outside East & Outside North Vendors. The mud was really bad through these fields. So bad that they were putting down loose hay to help with traction. And I realized that the suede sneakers I had chosen to wear were a bad choice; cleaning mud off of suede is going to be interesting. But I’ve had the sneakers for (probably) 10 years, so it’s also not a big deal if they’re ruined.

We walked through the (I think) Bingo Hall, which is where all of the contest entries are – my favorite part of MDS&W. I wish I had taken pictures of some of the yarns & finished objects. There was a commercial felt bag with a square panel of hand-knotted wool sewn onto it, with a galaxy shape in the wool. There were a few shawls that were cleverly done, one that used art/novelty yarn mixed with regular joe yarn, another that had a really neat lace pattern & a deep blue color. There were other neat things that I can’t remember now. Next year: pictures of my favorites.

We stopped by the Bee Folks booth and after 3 years of saying I’d get honey from them because they’re local and I’m on their email list and buying in person would be way better than buying online from someone local, I finally got honey. There was a lull in the crowd and the crowd around the booth was light instead of the 4-5 people deep ring that’s usually around it. I can’t wait to tell my husband “Honey, I got honey!”

Then Becky & I got lunch and sat in our chairs while watching a hand-sewn fashion show on the stage in the Pavilion. I had an entirely unsatisfactory lamb sausage – $9 for lots of gristle – and a cup of sugar water + half a lemon (“hand-shaken homemade lemonade”). Yes, I’m bitter. Also, I did not walk through one of the lamb barns while eating lamb like I have in the past. And yes, I have a weird sense of humor – I do indeed think that’s funny.

We started talking about leaving. The crowd was getting thicker, Becky was chilly, I was running out of patience and, as an introvert, was coming close to my people limit for the day. We decided to pop back down to the Main Exhibition Hall and take a better look around since not all of the booths had been open on our first trip through there. I ran into my knitting & spinning & roller derby friend Karen, who I haven’t seen for a few months. I explored the Spunky Eclectic booth and almost got fiber, but then decided not to. I said to Amy (Spunky Eclectic proprieter) on the way out “I love your stuff! I follow you on Instagram!” which was made even more retrospectively awkward by my realization that I follow her on Twitter – she’s not even *on* Instagram. I went back later, just before we left, and got those 2 braids and had I nice chat with Amy & her husband when I checked out and was 100% less weird and awkward.

Becky wanted to pop into the Jennie the Potter booth and so I followed. I picked up one of the tumblers and immediately knew I had to have it. There are raised lines in the blue bottom part of it, so I got immediate sensory feedback I wasn’t expecting. There are also raised white dots that arc over the blue dots. Jennie actually ran my checkout and I told her how much I loved the tumbler – she was very appreciative because it takes a lot of process to make them.

And then Becky and I went back to the Pavillion, packed up our chairs, navigated our way through the now substantial crowd, and left just as the sun was coming out. Aside from the mud, I think this was my best shopping year at MDS&W. I usually don’t fall in love with so many things, I get yarn blindness where everything looks the same. But the things that I got all jumped out at me and all needed to come home with me. I’m grateful that I can afford these things and grateful that they popped out at me. Now to plan some projects and drink some tea out of my new tumbler while eating maple sugar candy (yum!).