This weekend was the 40th Annual Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.
It was, of course, amazing. And of course, I bought THINGS and saw PEOPLE… and we petted 3740173408174 sheep. We didn’t get much of a chance to take pics of the vendors, stuff for sale – I always feel weird about doing that without getting permission, and it was soooo crowded that it would be difficult – so you’ll have to settle for pics of sheep.
One of my ongoing projects for learning as much as I can about my profession is to explore sheep breeds. I’m not the only one out there doing it, of course – since the intensely informative primer The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook: More Than 200 Fibers, from Animal to Spun Yarn came out, a lot of fiber artists are exploring the rare breeds and getting educated. When I go to fiber festivals now, one of the things I always try to do is bring back at least one example of a breed I’ve never spun to work with. This time around, I managed to snag two!
One of the scores was an 8oz bag of Finn x Dorset. I’ve worked with Dorset before, but not Finn, nor the two as a cross. It’s relatively soft, but the big draw is how bouncy it is. Not as bouncy as BFL, but it’s got some life to it. I’ll definitely talk about it more when I spin it up. It’s a lovely white color, too.
The other remarkable wool was a bag of Manx Loaghtan – an “at risk” breed from the Isle of Manx. They look a bit like Jacob sheep, with four to six horns happening all over their heads, but they’ve got a mouse-brown coat instead of the Jacob’s browns and whites. The fiber was MUCH softer than I expected from looking at it, and it seems like it will want to be spun finely. I plan to try blending some in batts as well as playing around with spinning it solo.
There were also some AMAZING things that will be getting their own post – spinning fiber kits from Rainbow Rapunzel, aka Linda Evans… the prettiest Hobbledehoy batt I could find, as well as some dyed add-ins from her… and more! But for now, let’s show the SHEEP.