God, it was fun. I'm so glad I have two days off to recover! It was not my first MDS&W; I went in, I think, 2005? So I was somewhat prepared - I wore old shoes and carried lots of cash. The shoes and the money are both pretty much wiped out.
I met up with Bess and her non-blogging friend Kelly on Friday afternoon, and we launched on a weekend of relaxation and inspiration. And food. Really, really good food - Bess brought along some incredible gourmet cheeses and chocolates, and of course we had to pick up a bottle or two of wine, and then of course there were delicious dinners and "fair food" lunches. The days were very, very long, but in the best possible ways. It's hard to write about it now, because it was such a hectic and fun-packed couple of days, how can I shape them into a few paragraphs? With lots of pictures!
I'm glad I decided to fly - I am so tired right now, I cannot imagine how I'd have endured the drive home. Air travel is exhausting enough these days. I flew in the center seat both ways, on glamorous AirTran, the Greyhound of the skies. My rental car was a Dodge Caliber - yeah, I know why Chrysler is filing bankruptcy. What an underpowered pile of noisy, cheap crap it was. But I didn't have to spend much time in the car, because the hotel was not far from the airport, which in turn was not far from the fairground.
Saturday was just about perfect - overcast, which kept the temperature down, but barely a drizzle of rain. It was very, very crowded. We shopped, we ate, we watched the sheepdog trials, we visited with friends and chatted with sheep.
We fell in love with Rico. Isn't he just SO handsome?
I didn't get this one's name, but what a flirt!
The sheepdog demonstration was a hoot - those dogs are amazing. This one is just a kid, still learning her trade, and she had a hard time with her assigned task - she had to round up those sheep and guide them into a very small four-sided pen. It took her a while, but she did it.
Unfortunately, Amie couldn't get away to join us, but she met us later and took us to the most amazing Thai restaurant - tucked away in a strip mall, Somewhere in Suburbia, the kind of place you could drive past for years and never notice - it was incredible. Great food and a very friendly and charming young waiter who steered us to some excellent choices, and it was so great to see her again.
I did shop some, and spent an insane amount of money for a very modest pile of loot, but it's high quality loot indeed. I found a "new to me" vendor - Maple Creek Farm. (Unfortunately, her website appears to be down, but the URL on her card is www.maplecreekyarn.com.) People do wonder what someone from FL would buy at a "sheep and wool" festival - my answer is "stuff like this."
Gorgeous blends of cool, comfortable fibers like bamboo and silk, dyed in fresh, summery colors. I saw - and touched - it's so soft and cool - this stuff and started having thoughts of simple little lace scarves - I bought two skeins I couldn't resist on Saturday, and found myself thinking about that yarn Saturday night - on Sunday I went back and bought enough for a lacy little cardigan.
And a big skein of Blue Heron Yarns Rayon Metallic, in a rich red with gold flecks:
Oh, and a skein of microfiber ribbon for a baby sweater project for someone at work. That was it for the yarn haul. I also bought Three Waters Farm soap, and a lovely non-knitting themed mug from Jennie the Potter, just because. We spent a long time admiring these rug kits - they are just gorgeous - but managed to resist the temptation to take up a new fiber pursuit. That is the thing about a festival of this size - it's not just a big yarn shopping frenzy. There are so many fiber-related crafts, many rising to the level of art - fantastic needle felting, rug making, various types of weaving, of course spinning and dyeing, and all of the tools and materials, reference books and videos to do them are there for the taking. It's easy to get carried away - and I had to keep reminding myself that I don't have time for the things I want to do now, and I do have other interests besides fiber-related crafts, so taking up a new fiber-related hobby is NOT an option. Just say NO to the rug kits! And I did.
But for me, the best part of Maryland Sheep and Wool is the chance to get to meet the animals. Some of them really seem to enjoy greeting their fans.
Sunday was rainy, which cut the weaklings from the herd - but there was still a good sized crowd out there in the downpour, squelching through the mud, having a blast. We stayed half a day on Sunday - after another greasy "fair food" lunch, we hugged our goodbyes and I headed for the airport. I managed to get turned around on the Parkway - I'm happily driving along in the heavy rain, all warm and mellow and admiring the dogwoods in bloom, and thinking how I have missed that sight, and how I wished we were getting rain like this at home, when I saw a sight I did remember - the exit for NSA employees. NSA?? OH FUCK, I'M GOING THE WRONG WAY! It wasn't a disaster - I got off at the next exit and got back on again going the right way, and got to the airport with plenty of time to spare, to get on the Flying Gray Dog in another middle seat. I was home by 7 p.m.
It was an expensive, exhilarating, exhausting, thoroughly enjoyable weekend. I'm so glad I did it.