Monday, May 3, 2010

About Those Sheep

I have wanted to go to the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival for the longest time.  It's about 2 hours from where I live, so for me, it was a little too far away for a day trip.  So when my son's girlfriend, Loren, invited me to go with her and her mother as a girl's weekend, I jumped at the chance.  My wonderful travel agent, aka my husband, was able to find a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom suite in a nearby town probably due to a last minute cancellation.  This was perfect for me and my sleeping issues! 
Loren and I went down Saturday evening. Her mother went on Saturday with 60,000 other people.  Sunday was not nearly as crowded.  One of the big downsides was that it was hot!  90 degrees hot!  

So what do you see at a sheep and wool festival?  Everything sheep - from the sheep to what you can make from sheep.  The festival was at a fairgrounds.  There were pavilions with every kind of sheep you can imagine.  
There were competitions with the sheep for both children and adults.  People came from as far away as Michigan with their sheep. Lots of sheep and lots of prize ribbons and lots of panting - remember it was 90 degrees.
And there were alpacas.  I learned about how soft their fleece was.  They were so adorable.  They were for sale.  Hmmmmm,  I have a friend with a farm.  That would have been pretty funny if I had brought home an animal in the back of my SUV  Loren's mother told us of a woman she knew who went on a bus trip to the show a couple of years ago.  She bought a small sheep and went to take it home on the bus.  The bus driver told her he could not transport livestock.  After quite a conversation, the woman finally convinced him to let her take the sheep on the bus. I can just imagine what her husband must have said.

The highlight of Sunday was the Sheep to Shawl contest.  There were 6 teams.  Each team starts with a sheep.  Then they have 3 hours to turn that fleece into a shawl. What an amazing feat.

They pick through the fleece  and comb it and get it ready for the spinners.  Each team had 3 spinners.  One of the teams had a Harley Davidson theme.  They even had a motorcycle in their display area.  One team was dressed in colonial garb. 

They get to warp their looms before the contest. That may take up to 5 days. The Harley team used hand dyed wool and it was set up with a flame type design. 
After 3 hours, they have to remove the shawl from  the loom and  then they are judged. The shawls are then auctioned off.  here are a couple of them.  I didn't get to see the Harley.
And then there were the vendors.  The bulk of them were geared towards knitters and spinners and weavers.  There was yarn made of every fiber you can imagine and dyed in every color you could imagine.

And fleece and roving for the spinners and felters.  Big luscious balls and bags of hand dyed roving.  Sometimes you thought they were bags of cotton candy.
One of the stranger things for me was that along with the sheep and the products made from their fleece, you could also buy cooked lamb in all forms to eat.  It smelled really good, but I just couldn't bring myself to eat the cute animals that I was admiring.
So at the end of the day, I was so happy that we went.  I was ready to reserve a room for next year.  We were happily exhausted, but I was a little concerned watching Loren longingly looking at that adorable
alpaca.  I think she could be a farm girl!


  1. I would love to be a farm girl! Let's see I'll need a small herd of alpacas and sheep, angora rabbits, cashmere goats, dairy goats, chickens, bees, horses of courses, and perhaps a pig just to round out the gang. I guess Roger will just have to get over his fear of goats!

  2. What a great time we had....and the "travel agent" was spot on with our accomodations!! I do not know what shawl won in Sheep to Shawl, but I do know that Beth and her Harley Team came in second!! I am ready for next year too....I just need to get my 16 pounds of alpaca/merino spun by then, so I can justify another big fleece purchase! See you soon...Nan


Thanks for stopping by. I'd love to hear from you.