Friday, May 6, 2011

The Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival!

For any of you who don't know (i.e., you just started reading this blog), The Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival is the largest yarn/wool/sheep show/market/school of it's kind in the United States. And it's happening this weekend, the 7th and 8th of May!

There are classes on everything having to do with raising and shearing sheep and other fiber animals, spinning, weaving, knitting, and information on lucet, and other kinds of braiding. Also, if you're in the market area, all you usually have to do is say "Boy, I would really like to learn to spin" and probably within 10 minutes, you'll be sitting in front of a wheel, spinning your first yarn.

There is every kind of yarn you can imagine for sale, fibers of all kinds in all preparations (or none), carders, combs, hackles and other fiber processing tools, drop and support spindles, spinning wheels, looms, knitting needles, and too much else to even begin to list!

For 21 years, I have attended the Sheep and Wool Festival every time. This year, however, I won't be going. Holly can't really afford even the gas to take us, and I don't think I could manage to walk around the whole thing.

It's so big that you can't ever see it all in one day, and probably not in two, but I could usually walk around most of it. This year, I really don't think I can make it and I certainly can't afford to be exposed to all the tree pollen I would breathe in if I went.

In the meantime, I've been compiling a list of all the wonderful things pertaining to knitting and spinning that I'd like that I won't be able to get at the MSWF. I intend to pick one (or maybe two, if it doesn't cost too much) and get it/them as a consolation for not being able to go, and I thought I'd include them here, because they'd be good Mothers Day presents if your mom spins or knits.

The other day, I was watching Knitting Daily and they had someone on from Signature who showed how to make swatches knitting on their beautiful needles that look like you're knitting with jewelry. I haven't tried them yet. I haven't been able to afford them. But I've read a lot of rave reviews that say they're worth every penny and more. The most popular point is the stiletto.

They have single points, double points, circular needles, kits, and lots more. Check it out!

I love the Barbara Walker knitting pattern books, and I've been sorely missing one (A Third Treasury of Knitting Patterns) that I have (somewhere) but can't find. I've come to the conclusion that it went to New Jersey, and it will cost more than the book to go get it, and I've been thinking about replacing it. Although they, too, are worth every penny, they're fairly expensive (for me) books. I discovered yesterday that there is an older, used (out of print) version of it that's available through Amazon, and I'm seriously thinking about getting it. It's called Charted Knitting Designs, which I can't find a link for, but you can find it on Amazon. This is a fabulous book if you prefer charts.

If she's a spinner and wants to spin art yarns, there is no better wheel you could get her than the Aura wheel from Majacraft that came out last year just in time for the MSWF.

This wheel was designed specifically to spin art yarns, but will also spin heavy weight singles, and (they tell me) even fine yarns.

If you knit socks, the thing you won't know how you survived without is the snag lite. If you're knitting a sock all in rib and you discover a purl stitch down a few rows that should have been a knit stitch, this is the perfect tool to ladder down to the mistake and latch it up again, perfectly! If the mistake is a knit stitch that should have been a purl, flip it over to the other side to fix. It's much easier to fix the knit side.

If you feel you don't need the light, there's the Ergonomic Knit Picker by Dritz, which you can also usually find in JoAnn Fabric stores, or another Ergonomic Knit Picker. These are the perfect size for sock or lace yarn, even though they look so tiny.

If you knit a lot of patterns and occasionally make mistakes, the Seed Stitcher is for you! These are generally available in a size that work well with knitting worsted, chunky and bulky yarn weights. I haven't found any that are a good size for lighter weight yarns, although you can usually manage to use one that's really too large.

As for me, I'm going to go out with Holly on Mother's Day, and we're going to have a great time as consolation for missing the MSWF!

I hope your weekend will be the best it can be!

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