Maryland Sheep and Wool Recap, Part I

wpid-img_20150502_081023.jpgAt the end of last month, my husband and I attended Maryland Sheep and Wool in West Friendship, Maryland.  This is supposedly one of the largest, if not the largest, sheep and wool festivals on the East Coast.  I’ve known about MDSW for many years since becoming a knitter, but schedules never worked out for me to be able to attend, until this year.  And now that I’ve been, I think I may have to include this on my annual calendar as a regular event!  We had so much fun!

Scott and I drove up Wednesday night because in addition to the weekend festival, we were taking some classes.  We stayed at the lovely Country Inn and Suites in Frederick, Maryland.  If you haven’t stayed at one of these hotels before, I highly recommend them.  They are my first choice for any quick weekend travel like this or if you need a place to stay for one night on longer road trips.  Excellent service, comfortable, clean rooms, and a great price!

On Thursday morning, we rose bright and early to make our way to the Howard County Fairgrounds for our first class – Dyeing to Paint with Carol Bodin.  The class started with an overview of how to handpaint yarns and information on acid dyes.  We learned how to prepare the yarn/fiber for dyeing, mix up the dye stock, and then how to prepare small amounts of dye stock with citric acid crystals for each individual dye session.  Then Carol set us loose with the dye and our fiber.

I had experimented a little in the past with food coloring dyeing in my kitchen, but this was my first time dyeing with professional acid dyes.  Let’s just say that I fell in love with it!  It was lots of fun to play and experiment with color without a real plan.  I had some ideas about colors I wanted to combine, but mostly, I picked a color of dye that I loved and then kept adding other colors to the skein as I went.  By the end of the day, I had handpainted six skeins and Scott had handpainted four.  They were all lovely and unique.  Since returning home, I’ve steamed the skeins to set the dye and am slowly making my way through reskeining and knitting up small swatches of each.  I’ll share them on the blog later, but in the meantime, the picture below is one of my favorite skeins that I dyed.

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Friday morning we attended a class with Jaycee Boggs-Faulkner about how to turn your fiber hobby into a business.  It was a great roundtable discussion with lots of excellent tips and ideas for kickstarting a yarn related business.  Definitely got my wheels turning for the future.

Friday afternoon we took a small break from MDSW festivities to explore Downtown Frederick.  I have to say, I was not expecting the adorable little town that we found.  Rather than the one small main street I had pictured, it was actually a bustling little mini-city with gorgeous old houses and churches and fun shops to investigate.  We checked out The Knot House, a sweet little yarn shop in the heart of Frederick.  They were prepping for an indie dyer pop up shop they were hosting that evening and Saturday as a sort of fringe festival to the main MDSW.  Since I was saving my pennies for Saturday’s vendors, I didn’t pick up anything, but they had a wonderful selection of beautiful yarns and very friendly staff, so definitely check them out if you’re in the area.

Since most of the weekend was focused on fiber and my hobby, we also took some time Friday afternoon for Scott’s hobbies and found an adorable comic book/game store just down the street from The Knot House. Similar to the rest of our weekend, Beyond Comics exceeded our expectations.  My husband is much more of a gamer than a comic book reader, so we were planning to just quickly look in and see if they had anything interesting.  They actually had a nice selection of miniatures and games in addition to their comic book offerings.  There was a lovely woman working the store that Friday and we had a great time chatting with her about gaming, comics, Star Wars, and lots of other nerdy things.  Scott has been wanting to start reading the new Star Wars comics that have recently been published, so he was able to pick up some issues of that as well before we left.

We rounded out Friday with a late afternoon viewing of the new Avengers movie Age of Ultron and some yummy sushi for dinner before heading back to the hotel for an early night to prepare for the excitement that was to come on Saturday … (check back soon for Part 2 in which we encounter sheep, goats, border collies, and yarn!)

Welcome back!

Hi there!  Yeah, so I’m back.  Kind of disappeared there for a while. I could come up with excuses for why I stopped blogging last fall, but in all honesty, they’d be boring, and really, what’s the point?  Let’s just start from today and talk about knitting and yarn, shall we?

Oh, there have been lots of fun knitting and yarny pursuits in my life over the past few months.  At the beginning of the year, I made the decision to knit every day in 2015 – even if just a stitch or two.  I’ve become mildly obsessed with Instagram and how awesome it is for sharing knitting pictures and interacting with the knitting community. So it seemed like a perfect fit to use Instagram to catalog my Knit 365 plan.  I’m happy to say that I have held up this resolution so far.  Yesterday was day 133 and I have knit every single day this year and posted a picture of it.  Through this project, I have gained new friends on the interwebs, increased the amount of knitting I’m doing, and likely improved my sanity since we all know that “we knit so that we don’t kill people.” If you’d like to follow along on my Knit 365 journey, I’m bookchick29 on Instagram.  Feel free to join me as well and post your daily knitting.

The other project taking most of my knitting time this year has been The Officially Unofficial DVD Monthly Sock Club hosted by the brilliant Susan from Desert Vista Dyeworks yarn.  The rules are simple: start and finish a pair of socks out of DVD yarn each month and earn prizes every quarter.  Before hearing about this KAL, I was already planning to make 2015 the “year of the sock,” so this fit in nicely with that goal.

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I am proud to say that I’ve finished four pairs so far this year and am currently making good progress on my May socks.  When I first started knitting socks, I had the hardest time finding the right gauge and fit for my feet.  With a few hiccups along the way this year, I think I’m finally reaching the point where I have the best formula for needle, gauge, circumference and foot length.  I’m still experimenting with different heels and switching up from top down and toe up to see what feels best.  Ultimately, I want to come up with the combination for Tiffany’s Perfect Vanilla Sock pattern.  Then I can always have some mindless knitting in my purse.  I’m getting so close to this, I can almost taste it.

That’s it for now.  A short post to get me going again.  Check back this weekend for a recap of my adventures at Maryland Sheep and Wool and some yarn dyeing experiments.