Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Hooray for fluff!

This last weekend brought the most wonderful time of the year again. That's right; Maryland Sheep and Wool. I don't celebrate holidays, and I'm not much of a shopper. I think the amount of glee that I get out this event is why; I use up all of my shopping in one fell swoop and I'm done for another year. (Unless I could get to another fluff festival, where I'd totally do it all over again.)

Laura and Jennie came up from Atlanta to join us for my annual pilgrimage to Mecca...er...West Friendship, MD. We also met Dave and Brittany at the show, and I had a lovely time with my fluff posse.

Unlike previous years, I had a budget. A nice budget. A budget containing the money that I've been earning by working my fingers to the bone tying women into corsets. Even better, it was a cash budget. When there was no more cash, there were no more purchases. It was a lovely way to operate. The credit card never had to leave the wallet, and I loved it.

Of course, there were a few hiccups...we ran into some intensely retarded traffic going through Tyson's Corner, and ended up missing out on introducing the girls to Colleen (and seeing her myself, pout pout). And when leaving the show, the cops wouldn't let us go left, claiming there was a horrific backup that way. So, we went right; the way we didn't know. The way that a certain sugar-crashing amazonian type insisted would take us to places that we would never go to. Jennie was trying to be helpful with her GPS, but by that point, Daven and I had both reached the "No, we are large and dumb and we will FIGURE THIS SHIT OUT, DAMMIT." point of the day. We eventually got on the correct road and ended up at the same "hideously backed up" intersection. ... So, either these cops had never seen traffic in their lives, or 20 cars was a big backup that necessitated our going way the hell out of the way for. So much hate. So much. Grr. We eventually escaped the "terrible" traffic and got some food at our favoured Mexican joint in Vienna. Food and drinks. Mm. Drinks.

Anyway! The actual festival part!

We got there around 12:30, and Daven kindly offered to park the car whilst we scampered out to start the perusal 'o stuff. As there really was horrible traffic at that point, we went for it. Some 20-30 minutes later he finally rejoined us, after parking waaaaaay off in BFE. I must say, this is the fourth year I've been, and it was the most packed I've seen it. This, with the threat of rain looming over us all day! I can't imagine what madness would have occurred if it'd been sunny.

We saw many lovely things. Highlights include: jewelry made out of antique cutlery, a beautiful spinning wheel that was going up for auction that I valiantly resisted, a felted yurt with incredible wet-felting going on inside (this was Art, man), giant sheep that looked like small cows and bellowed like death metal singers, and, of course, an incredible amount of gorgeous fluff and string.

We hit a few standards; the giant eclairs (shared between Jennie, Laura and myself; Dave and Britt each got one on their own, and Daven stood watch to make sure no ninjas attacked us and took our fried sweets), the funnel cake, and the corn dogs. Because I love me some fried fair food, y0.

I've got a picture of most of what I've bought, which I'll try to upload at some point. For now, the list:
Sock yarn: 2 Skeins from Creatively Dyed Yarn, one that is bright orange/red and one that is bright red/black variegated. 2 skeins from Tess, one deep forest green tonal and one chestnut tonal. (Surprise! That's all of the yarn I bought all day!)
Fluff: 2 oz baby camel down. 2 oz yak (softer than anything I could possibly imagine). 2 oz cashmere/silk blend that is to die for. 3lb 9oz of unprocessed black/dark brown alpaca fleece. 4 undyed silk hankies. (Actually, all of the fiber that I bought was all natural coloured; I can dye my own now, thanks.)
Spinning: I got another drop spindle, made out of some beautiful wood with an incredible grain to it, as well as a little ebony. It spins like a dream, and I was trying out all of my delicate fibres that I'd picked up over the course of the day with it.
Jewelry: (This was a surprise category.) 1 pair of spinning wheel dangly earrings that I couldn't resist, and a ram's head necklace for Daven.
Food: In addition to the fried delights, we also picked up a metric buttload of jam (6 jars) from the Lion Potter, who does wonderful things with jam. Also, apple butter.
Household: Art! I bought 3 prints from the sheep artist that I'd been admiring for years. (Not that we can hang artwork in our current house, but when we move, stuff is going back up on our walls.) We picked up two sheepskins, as after spending an evening wrapped up in a sheepskin many moons ago, I decided I wanted one. There's one incredibly soft "cheapie sheepie" chestnut coloured skin that we're not sure what we'll do with, but it was too soft and too cheap to turn down. (We were a bad influence; almost everyone we were with bought a skin from that place.) Then there's the luxurious long, fluffy black sheepskin that I want to poke a hole in and attach a button to and have a really ridiculous (but warm) shawl.

All in all, this was a totally different shopping experience than what I've done in the past. The first two years were all about the yarn. Last year was mostly about the yarn, but also turned out to be about the spinning wheel, and buying a lot of lower-quality fluff that I felt like I could handle. This year was more about high quality items that I'd lusted after last year, but didn't feel like a good enough spinner to buy. To quote the Yarn Harlot in her Sheep and Wool Festival guide on Knitty: "Buy the best that you can afford." This year I did, and I don't regret a single bit of it. :)