Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Mud madness

Overlooking and overcoming rain, mud and soggy wool

An improvised yarn drying rack
The rain was unrelenting and, much as I like rain, it made for a rather miserable beginning to the annual Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. It made driving slow and the Mid-Atlantic region's week of rain created streaming rivulets and oozing, slimy, slippery, sludgy mud at the Howard County fair grounds.

The mucky, muddy mess at the fairgrounds was bad. The outside tent booth was swamped. Only the basics--tables, chairs and display grids could be unloaded to the tent booth on Friday with plans for a very early preparation on Sat. 

A much bigger concern was how to make the booth accessible to Sat. shoppers. The resourceful shepherds of the American Coopworth Registry's co-op bought--and spread--two bales of straw in and in front of the booth along with three rubber mats in walkways. (You can see the newly-strewn straw at early Saturday morning set-up in the photo below.)

Nearly ready for customers Saturday morning at the
American Coopworth Registry booth
Another problem awaited us. The truck cab's rear window leaked. A lot. Because the extended cab area was so tightly packed, we didn't realize the problem until almost too late. Products got wet. Mostly it was yarn and fortunately, all of it was completely salvageable. But it was just one more thing to do at the end of a tiring day.

We stayed that night at an Airbnb site that was less than wonderful, but that's another story best addressed by a proper site review.  

The next night, a most thoughtful son-in-law surprised us by booking us into a Hampton Inn. )There is nothing like a lower-end experience to add serious appreciation for a quiet room with a comfortable bed, nice bedding and a bathroom just for two.)

Focus on fiber

A highlight of the weekend was Sunday's talk by Judith MacKenzie. "The History of Wool" sounded generic but her talk certainly wasn't. Full of little-known facts (to me, anyway) that included distribution of sheep, the genetic pool of Navajo Churros, the coats of sheep, and many, many more fascinating tidbits, I find myself wishing for a book that consolidates it. I hope she has one in the works.

Q: How do you spend a weekend at a fiber festival without buying something?
A: You don't. Or at least, I can't seem to so I try to make a plan. This time--and for the first time ever--fiber for spinning was my focus. I've found spinning different wool breeds an excellent learning experience so I left home with a list of breed-specific wools I wanted to learn to spin. I came home with Polwarth, Cormo and ultra fine (18.5ยต) Merino--all on my list--plus some Finnsheep that wasn't. 

Now what? I am rather often asked, 'What are you going to make?' The short answer is, 'I don't know.' The longer answer is that I have ideas--some very definite ideas, actually. My Pinelands Spring cowl was one that has been completed but there are more in the pipeline. 

But right now? I just want to sit at my wheel and spin some nice yarn.

N.B. This was Mother's Day weekend and I got the best present ever. I spent a lovely, lovely weekend with my lovely, lovely daughter. It doesn't get any better than that. Ever.

1 comment:

  1. What fun to catch up on Sunday! And I am loving your blog!