Yesterday, I woke up around the crack of dawn (6 AM) on a Saturday to meet up with my fellow degenerate knitters to head down to the annual Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival in Howard County, MD. There were 7 of us, piled into 2 cars, with lists of what we wanted to see and buy. Last year, was my first year and it was definitely crowded. We were backed up a good 20 minutes to get into the fairground. This year, however, we were backed up on the off-ramp from the highway and waited a good 45 minutes to get into the fairgrounds.
These pictures were from the end of the day, but it gives you an idea of how crowded it was. We had a good 2-3 minute walk to the entry gate.
Apparently, the festival has gotten significantly larger every year, but even more so this year due to Ravelry. B/c vendors were advertising their "deals" and others keyed folks into the Socks That Rock mill ends or that Tilli Thomas gives an amazing discount on her yarns, folks were clamoring to get there first thing. By the time we got there and parked, it was about 10.
As I said, we all had our priorities. I went straight to The Fold's booth for the Socks that Rock mill ends. From what I heard later in the day, folks had lined up around 8AM for these, so by the time I got there the mill ends had been well picked over. Even still, I did find 4 skeins of mediumweight and 1 skein of silkie. I had not planned to buy "regular" skeins b/c I have a coupon for 10% off through the sock club. Of course, while there, you get caught up in the mayhem and I ended up buying 3 "regular" skeins of lightweight STR that I knew I wouldn't probably buy other than the fact that they were hanging in front of me. I also almost bought a skein of Lunasea in the luscious silk, but managed to resist as they were ringing me up.
You'd think I was done after that? Ha! Not even close!
After my STR purchase, I went straight for the main barn to buy some of Tilli Thomas' Beaded Plie yarn for my mom. Last year, as thank you to all of her customers, she discounted everything 50%. I made my gloves out of her Milan yarn last year. I had told my mom about this yarn and she wanted a nice stole that she can wear to the theater over a black suit or something. I think she's even going to try and make it -- her first big lace project! Well, by the time I got there (around 11, maybe?) Tilli's booth had definitely seen some action. Due to Ravelry, tons of folks new about her discounts and had gotten there before me. Still, I think the color I got, with the great sheen of the silk, will look fabulous over a black suit. I hope she likes it!
After those 2 purchases, I began to wander around the fairgrounds. I no longer had something I had to buy so I could just peruse everything. I found this great sock yarn, Creatively Dyed Yarn, and managed to control myself and only buy 1 skein of their Calypso sock yarn. At the end of the day, when we were all showing off our purchases, it turns out my friends also found that yarn. Marissa and I were on the same wavelength and even bought the same colorway. Cool, huh?
While wandering through the tents I also found Blue Ridge Yarns. They had a beautiful pattern for a beaded shawl out of their Kaleidoscope yarn. I found a colorway I really liked (waterfall), but they didn't have the 3 skeins needed for the project. They were really great and offered to send me the 3 skeins, from the same dye lot, and honor the festival prices. They were really great and helpful. So, I don't have pictures to show, but I will when I get the yarn in a week.
Another great vendor that everyone loves is Brooks Farm. I had bought a bunch from them last year, and hate to say that it is still in my stash. However, Lisa just knit up this shrug in a solid color of Mas Acero, and I was hooked. I wanted a solid color and I only had variegated. So, I ended up buying a sweater's worth of this beautiful blue to make a sweater. Their colorways were beautiful. I found another variegated colorway that I just had to get. I don't know what it is, but every colorway I was drawn to today was a green/gray/purple combo.
I was wandering around so much that I didn't have time to eat. I think I finally grabbed a hot dog that I could eat and walk at the same time around 2:30. One treat during the day is I got to see an old camp friend and her kids. It's so nice to be able to catch up.
Some other odds and ends included buttons for my sister's birthday present, another Martha in Manos Silk Blend, festival t-shirt, and this magazine that includes a vest pattern that I think I'm going to make my dad. Not sure if he'll like the stripes, but we'll see. Also, I finally got to "meet" Carol from Black Bunny Fibers today.
After all of that, I don't know how I managed to drive us all back to Philly. I was wiped out! However, before we left, I made sure to get a group photo (clockwise from top left: Rachel Regina, Marissa, Lisa, Sherry, me, Rhonda and Andrea).
Oh, and one last thing. Aside from the yarn and fiber vendors, there were tons of livestock for sale, for show, etc. You could buy fleece that you just saw the guy shave from the sheep. I'm not really into that, but figured I'd take a few pictures to get a feel for the day. Finally, here's a few pictures from the festival (clockwise: recently trimmed sheep, lots of food vendors, baby lambs, example of the crowds in one of the barns, Brooks Farm tent).