Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival II

For the second year in a row, my super amazing wife and I went to the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival! Last year the major characteristic of the festival was that it was rainy, with us slipping and sliding in mud as we traversed one yarn tent to the other. This year the weather was much worse, if you are a duck. The morning dawned sunny and springtime warm, excellent for a day of shopping for yarn and looking at sheep.

We tackled the festival a bit differently this year than last. Last year I feel like we were all about the sheep. Don’t worry, sheep were a big chunk of this year too. My super amazing wife’s parents’ sheep are in the midst of having lambs, so after all the photos from home she definitely wanted to pet some sheep. But since this year she actually wanted to buy some yarn, the strategy was to look at all the yarn first and then see some sheep as a breather before making any big decisions. So we started with the yarn.

Except we immediately got distracted by a cool-looking carding machine, above. The festival probably has a preponderance of women but there were plenty of dudes there as well. However, of all the things we looked at during the festival it was the above carding machine that had the most guy-heavy audience. Society trains dudes to enjoy spinny mechanical things, and that came out in full force at this little stall. My super amazing wife was also entranced by the carding machine, so again when I get that shop maybe instead of building a tiny little one I can pull out all the stops and learn to weld and assemble the above industrial-scale one. A boy can dream.

As I discussed last year, the festival is split into a few parts. There is the sheep portion, there is the yarn portion (and a big fair food section), but besides the scourge of capitalism they have other things like competitions for all sorts of fiber-adjacent products. We admired them last year too but the entries this year were really extremely gorgeous. Below I have pictures of the first-place winners in the K10 (Garment knit from more than one commercial colored yarn (colorwork)) and W10 (Miscellaneous woven from commercial yarn), though unfortunately I couldn’t figure out a way to link to their creators. Hopefully the festival will post the winners’ names:

Pretty things made of yarn was of course not the only other yarn-adjacent things to look at. The festival did a good job of intermingling all these different sights and sounds in and amongst the potential yarn purchases. My super amazing wife was interested in buying a few different types of yarns, including yarn gradient sets and single-breed yarns. She also wanted natural-dyed yarns. On the way to purchasing all those we also saw Vikings which had camped out in order to make lunch, and of course we could not miss the 1pm sheep dog demonstration:

Anyways I am having trouble coming up with lead-ins for all the pictures I want to show you, so please see below for some fluffy animals:

Since it was time for our yarn breather, this year more than last year I think we thought about actual sheep breeds a bit more. The bottom picture above of course aren’t sheep at all, but alpacas, which are secretly my super amazing wife’s favorites, don’t tell the sheep (but she won’t let me keep either on the porch, boo). The reason we thought more about sheep is we saw a whole (small) herd of Valais Blacknose sheep getting ready for their show. The Valais Blacknose society, in a brilliant bit of marketing, has declared them to be the “world’s cutest sheep,” which, alright. First I gotta say they have a pretty good claim to it, especially when they are little fluffy lambs. This is undeniable. However they are Swiss so I don’t know how we are supposed to feel about either their politics or their banking regulations. So we could for example favor the sheep in the middle photo above, which are Scottish Blackface. Which, I hear you: given the blackface, their politics are also questionable, but they are Scottish, which feels like a place sheep ought to be from. I think the sheep in the top photo are Merino, which are the breed of my super amazing wife’s parents’ sheep, so there is a family connection there, and I think the answer is that we should keep some alpaca on the patio. This is a perfect plan and I don’t see why I can’t.

But after the sheep breather it was back to shopping. We spent a surprisingly long time at the festival. Given the rain last year there wasn’t a lot of enthusiasm to just keep walking around so I feel like after one tour of the place the group was ready to go home. But this year we were worried about bumping up against closing time, so the last portion of our time at the festival was the fun activity of spending a surprising amount of money on fiber products. My super amazing wife wound up getting one of those color gradients I linked to along with some 50th Anniversary Sheep & Wool Festival-exclusive yarn (pinkish), some very cute cat loaf stitch markers, and a sweaters’ worth of natural-dyed yarn. Her yarn shelf is now full and her needles as busy as ever. We are very excited for the next time we get to go!