It's sort of amazing - we had a gloomy forecast for the whole of the weekend, but the weather was absolutely glorious for both days of Sheep & Wool. At 6pm on Sunday, just as the doors closed on the festival, the sky promptly started spitting cold drizzle. I'm taking this as a sign that the yarn gods were well pleased.
The weekend was wonderfully educational, as out-of-the-ordinary exciting as a field trip and as pleasantly overwhelming. There's so much to learn, know, watch, wonder about sheep and sheepbreeding and fiber and spinning and weaving and dyeing! I really think my chiefest pleasure in the weekend was catching snippets of conversation between vendors - knowledgeable people talking, debating, confiding about what they love to do.
We saw all kinds of great-looking animals -
For someone who comes purely from a knitting background, a consumer background, it's immensely exciting to see the animals themselves. I loved seeing the bulky Bluefaced Leicesters, the hairy-faced, wrinkly Merinos, the dreadlocked Cotswolds, the short, stubby Shetlands with their ruff of silky neck wool. And like true city girls, we stood stock-still, fascinated, and watched the sheep being given a final brushing and clipping before show - baaaing at the indignity of it all - and the tiny lambs stumbling about their shaded pens (though, now, it's kind of troubling me that I apparantly don't have any sort of mental conflict between "What beautiful, perfect examples of Nature's deft hand!" and "Mmmm, delicious.")
I picked up Stephanie on Friday night, and the rest of the weekend went by in kind of a blur. I didn't take nearly as many pictures as I should have, but we tried wheels with Amie, stopped by Cara's sprawling, enormous meetup, drank beers and ate burgers and shouted over the music at Clyde's with Erin and Coleen and Eileen, and ogled and fondled miles and miles of yarn betweentimes. Brooks Farm was the most wonderful new-to-me discovery of the weekend:
I somehow managed to restrain myself here, but Stephanie walked away with a hank of Merino/Mohair in some really extraordinary shades of lavender and sage and old gold. I made only a couple purchases all weekend - a couple hanks of sock yarn from Spirit Trail, and some spinning supplies.
My interest in spinning is end-use based - wheel or no wheel, I'd like to eventually be able to spin a good, strong 2-ply cobweb weight, and 2-ply jumperweight Shetland. How wonderful would it be to be able to spin my own Fair Isle wools, maybe even learn to dye? For experimenting with motifs and coming up with new garment patterns, it'd be invaluable to be able to make just a few grams of yarn in perfectly realized color schemes. And, of course, I'd love to make my own cozy, bloomy yarns for shawls and stoles - threadlike-singles to ply together for Shetland lace, and to ply with mill-spun silk for Orenburg shawls. Intoxicating possibilities! To that end, I bought some beautifully prepared Shetland top, and a very wee, very lovely Golding spindle, on which I've been spinning up a storm of damn consistent and tolerably skinny laceweight.
Though I was worried the light weight of the spindle (scarcely three-quarters of an ounce) would mean a very short spin, it's a wonderfully balanced, suprisingly fast-spinning little thing. I tend to roll the shaft off my thigh, which gets it turning quickly enough - and for long enough - that I can do something approximating a long-draw. While spinning very thin singles, the spindle will spin, without losing speed and without a wobble, for a couple minutes straight. We are very pleased.
I also bought some Merino/Tussah silk top in a bright pink shot through with white, peppermint-like:
along with some pink no-name roving, in almost the same color, for practicing with when The Theoretical Wheel becomes The Actual Wheel. All in all, almost a pound and a half of delicious wooly goodness.
The one great tragedy of the weekend is that I ate very little at the actual festival. I am a connoisseur of fair food - the worst kind of fair food, the deep-fried, the cheese-slathered, the pit-roasted, the sugar-frosted, the oil-drenched. There were ribbon chips with sour cream and chives and cheese calling my name; funnel cakes and fried Twinkies begging me to eat them; lonely kernels of kettle corn beseeching me as I walked past, but I ate only one lamb gyro. What a gyro it was, though - properly horrible and delicious, a good tablespoon of orange grease showing in the empty cone of tinfoil after wolfing the sandwich down. I got to live vicariously through Stephanie, though:
The picture is horribly back-lit (proof of the good weather!), but you may be able to see her grinning and holding up the world's quickest-melting peanut-butter-dipped chocolate soft-serve.
Good times, good times.
We're holding an impromptu knit-night tonight, at the Panera on Dobbin! If you can make it, we'll be there starting from 6:30. Hope to see you there!
Thanks for all the great suggestions- really clever, one and all. I really like "Unraveling" - I think Sumitra was the first person to suggest it (email me, and let me know the colorway of the Koigu PPPM you'd like). I have a really good, meaty question already for tomorrow - keep 'em coming, to email@example.com. I'll use your name and link to you when I quote the question - if you'd like me to do otherwise, just sign an advice column-style psuedonym, and I'll take it as a sign to leave you totally anonymous.