09 May, 2011

Nothing Quite Like Being There


I enjoyed my time at the 2011 Maryland Sheep and Wool festival.  Got there on the first day, before the official start time.  There were lots of cars already in the field and a steady stream of cars arriving.  I approached from the west as the official website recommended and found that to be a good tack to take.

The weather was good and so was attendance I thought.  Though, from a crowd-avoidance standpoint, attendance was something.  One barn of vendor booths had so many people in its centre aisle around mid-morning that I went in five feet and walked out again, giving the idea up as hopeless.  Fortunately the aisle cleared out in that barn later in the afternoon.

Ran across half a dozen friends I ordinarily see at guild meetings.  Was great to see them under such, well, festive circumstances where there's so much to talk about.  Was amazing too, considering there were thousands and thousands of people milling around.

I enjoyed chats with random strangers while standing in lines, testing products, taking a brief rest in the skein and garment building, and sitting on the grass with the informal learn-to-spindle gathering.  I like watching people learn to use spindles.

I talked with vendors, sometimes just for a moment and in some cases for extended periods, which was very generous of them.  In particular, the owners of Indigo Hound passed along interesting practical and technical information about flax hackles, scutching knives, warp-weighted looms, sword-style weft beaters for warp-weighted looms, the use of oil dressing on fresh raw fleece as well as on washed locks, and wool combs' tine and handle shapes.  (By the way, as of this writing, Indigo Hound does not have a website, so if you found this blog post because you are looking for a link to them, sorry.)

Some of the barns had sheep and goats in them.  I didn't take many photos, but most of what I took were pictures of sheep.

I had a good time shopping.  I made some impulse buys.  I made some buys I expected to make.  I didn't buy some things I half expected to.  There were some products I went to the festival particularly to see because I thought I might possibly buy them.  I can now say I'm glad I've seen them.  I didn't bring them home, though.

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