We found the Fall Fiber Festival Saturday to be the perfect event for a first festival foray with the Wee One in tow. An easy day trip distant, it offered all the highlights in manageable quantities: fiber, food, animals, education and entertainment. As much as I hope to make my way to Maryland Sheep & Wool in May, I know already that show will overwhelm me. This one, as Wee C's new pal Goldilux would say, was just right.
The company certainly had plenty to do with it. MaryB collected us and let me knit and navigate ~ even though I left the directions in the house. She didn't mind at all when Caroline figured out how to open and close her window with her toes (in fact, I think she suggested it). And, although not a vegetarian, she agreed that to eat a lambwich while sitting beside the sheep would be downright rude. Oh, and most importantly for you, she remembered her camera! I guided us with only one misstep, and then we knew we were in the right place.
First we happened upon the sheepdog trials as we approached from our excellent parking spot (good parking karma, Mary!). We learned about training and whistled commands from an owner standing nearby with her dog ~ who sat cooling post-trial in a bucket of water. Then it was on to the livestock tent, where we could hardly get a look at all the sheep and goats before the call of the kettle corn sent us back to the first vendor we'd passed. (Marketing tip, no surprise: free samples work!)
And then it was on to the really good stuff ~ the fiber. Some small tents lined up freestanding; the Wee One found her first friend right away. At another of these we watched an informal spinning demo, by a woman with a tiny spindle supported by a little cup. We located the llamas and alpacas, and petted them, and regretted that they prefer collective living in a space larger than our little garden. Skeins and hanks, roving and fleece, patterns and kits, oh my! Plenty to feast the eyes and hands upon ~ and luckily an open cage of angora bunnies who welcomed small hands petting.
Did I buy? Just a bit. Here's about 30 slubby yards to accent something, from Dancing Leaf Farm. And then I found Jennifer and her Spirit Trail Fiberworks booth, and bought some of the sock yarn that's received recent raves in blogland. At the back of Tent II we found a fragrant booth offering goat's milk soap as well as beautiful yarns, felt and roving. We lingered there, considering the possibilities, and chatting with some folks from Richmond. All the while I couldn't help but keep my eye on the booth's artist, as something about her winning smile connected deeply. Finally the memory bubbled to the surface, and I mustered the nerve to ask, Did you go to Duke? For indeed before me was my friend Mary Ann of 20+ years ago! I was too pleased ~ and shell-shocked ~ to purchase any of her wares, but we returned later for a photo, a sale and a longer chat. I'm hoping to visit her farm and meet her goats and sheep ~ and children!
Other highlights? Young fiddlers, fresh lemonade, Wee C's fascination with the carding demo. Really, we could hardly tear her away. I think she was worried that the young woman might cut her fingers, since she'd mentioned having done so; Caroline showed equal empathy for the mis-sheared sheep whose bloody flank we assured her was off to be wrapped in a sheepy Band-aid. When we finally got her to leave the livestock tent once more, Mary kept her occupied shopping while I chose this luscious alpaca to make a shawl for my mom. My hot-blooded daughter didn't need a new hat, but we did take away a felted ball for the kitties.
Yea! What a good day! And it's S&B tonight ~