Monday, May 07, 2012

MDSW: The Haul

Last year was my first year going to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. I had one thing in particular I was looking for (a lazy kate that would fit my WooLee Winder bobbins), but other than that, I was mainly there to see the sights and pick up some things that I liked. This year, now that I was a festival veteran, I went with a very specific list of things to buy, and I'm happy to say that I found all of the things on the list -- plus a few extras. You want to see?

We got to the fairgrounds just before 8 on Saturday morning, though technically the festival didn't open until 9. This gave me plenty of time to get my bearings and get in line for the fleece sale, which was the first thing on my list. I had made plans to meet up with a friend from Ravelry to pick out fleeces together (I wasn't completely confident that I could pick a good one, so she offered to help). We were in the first five or so people to get in, so we had our pick of fleeces and were very happy with what we found. I will get to that later.

After a fleece, the next highest priority on my list was to find a pair of wool combs. I had decided that I would wash and process this year's fleece myself; I was very happy with my experience last year sending my fleece to a mill, but what I got back was roving when I find I really prefer to spin from top. I had researched the vendors carrying the combs I wanted and ended up at Carolina Homespun, the same vendor that sold me my Lendrum four years ago, where I bought these:

These are Valkyrie double pitch extra fine mini combs (and a pad to hold one while in use). I'd done a lot of reading in the Fiber Prep Ravelry group, and these had gotten good reviews, so I'm very excited about them.

There were two fiber vendors whose booths I wanted to visit -- Loop, whose "bullseye bumps" I'd looked at last year and regretted not purchasing, and Into the Whirled, a new vendor this year. Both booths were conveniently located in the main building (where I already was to make the first two purchases of the day), so I stopped by and picked up the following beauties:

Wisteria bullseye bump -- 4.6 oz. blend of merino, bamboo, tussah silk, and angelina
Nebula drum carded batt -- 4-4.5 oz. blend of 85% Polwarth/15% silk
After I'd made these purchases, it was about 10 a.m. and I'd crossed everything I had on my list for me off! Pretty incredible, if I do say so. I did make a couple more acquisitions as we wandered around and looked for the rest of the day Saturday and for a bit on Sunday morning:

Gale's Art Blueface Swirl, 4 oz., colorway Velvet Elvis
Verdant Gryphon Eidos, 4 oz./420 yds., colorway Hathor
Miss Babs Color Affection kit -- Yummy Sock in Peony, Impatiens, and Lilacs (4 oz./400 yds. each)
I bought a little more than I was planning, but I'm really happy with all my purchases, especially the ones I spent several hours playing with today:

I wanted to buy one fleece, but I ended up coming home with two half fleeces -- a Rambouillet on the left and a gorgeous deep chocolate brown Merino X on the right. My fleece shopping friend and I each found a good one, so we decided to split them both. Each was about 8 pounds, I think, so I have an awful lot of fiber to wash and process. I started in on the merino today. It's quite sticky -- lots of lanolin! -- but I think you can see why I picked it when I show you this detail shot:

Isn't that crimp spectacular? We saw the sheep from the farm this fleece came from when we were touring the sheep barns on Sunday morning and found that the sheep were coated -- which explains why this fleece was so clean. The Rambo is pretty spectacular, too:

I'm really interested to see how this will wash up, as the locks seem to be multicolored, but I can't tell if some of that might be dirt. My plan is to try to wash a batch up every evening, if I can, and maybe a couple over the weekend. I know it will take me a while to actually comb or card it all, but I want the fiber to be clean at least.

All in all, it was a great, if expensive, weekend. I'm going to have lots of fun with the stuff that came home with me, and I'm fairly certain my wallet is glad that this won't happen again for another year!


  1. I am in the process right now of washing some wool. I had a huge pot with a strainer that sits inside, and I am using that now for my wooly washes instead of pouring out my water every time and risk agitation.

    I just lift it out and it's working great! The only bad thing about a white fleece is that I can see when all the dirt is out, yet it is hard to get clean. Last year I bought a dark fleece. I actually wish i did the same because I prefer a black sweater, but I guess this year it is white for me unless I dye it myself, which I might actually do that to one of them!

    I saw the black merino x fleeces there in the main barn. I was impressed! Good luck getting the lanolin out. The Romney I have is cleaning quite easy. let me know how you make out with the Merino so I know if I should go for it next year :)

  2. Oh, how jealous am I! I think the idea of splitting a fleece is an excellent one because 4 pounds of fibre is plenty. And I bought an uncoated Jacob fleece last year and it was a pain removing all the VM, so I think a coated fleece is well worth the extra expense. Can't wait to see what you do with it. I cooked up some corriedale fleece yesterday and it's drying right now. Can't wait to play with my combs too… Ridiculous how much fun one can have with some wool and wood!

  3. great haul! those fleeces look gorgeous. i have a pair of those same combs as well as some indigo hound 4 pitch but i rarely use either. :D i do like the valkryie's better because my hands don't get tired as quickly.