Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016

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One of the Six Barns At MDSW

For years I’d heard from knitters all over the world about Maryland Sheep and Wool (MDSW). But, as a sewist had minimal interest. I’m not much into livestock and I wasn’t a knitter. Yet, once the machine knitting bug hit, I was chomping at the bit to get there. I was feeling nervous about going as I still don’t know that much about yarn properties itself. But, my co-city dwelling friend Jeanne offered to take me.

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Jeanne is my Spirt Guide

MDSW (for me) would be totally overwhelming as a new knitter. Having someone who knows the lay of the land and can help you pick out the right yarns is a lifesaver! Plus, Jeanne and I both machine knit and genuinely had a great time together.

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First of all, what is MDSW? Well, it’s a gathering of all things lamb and fiber related. There are vendors, livestock, and food.

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There’s fleece and roving for spinners and weavers.

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He wasn’t trying to leave anything behind

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There are buttons, pins, shampoos and rinses for knitters. And, there is yarn. Holy hell there is a lot of yarn.

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I showed minimal restraint overall and brought home enough yarn to keep me busy all year and then some. When I walked into the main convention hall, I just stopped and tried to figure out how in the world I was going to pick out items I wanted.

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Luckily, I came with a list and ideas about colors. That helped immensely.

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I also had two great encounters! I met Dana (all the way to the right) from Yards of Happiness. You might remember her from her old blog The Art of the Accessory. I’ve been following her knitting for years and it was a real pleasure to meet her in real life. She’s coming up to Baltimore soon and I’m going to show her my machines!

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She also hipped me to Miss Bab’s yarn. Which, I think, was the busiest booth at the convention. The stall was so full of people, it’s possible she was giving away crack with each purchase. I picked up several beautiful seven-skein sets to start my Christmas/ Hanukkah gift scarf knitting early.  Let’s just say I’ve paid for someone’s college textbooks with the damage I did at Miss Babs.

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Not Claire. Just the first person I saw working spinning wheel. If that’s what it’s even called.

I also got to meet the lovely Claire  who blogs about her sewing and knitting at Hoopes Park Studios who was helping a friend staff the Verdant Gryphon booth. Of course, I have no photo of us because I was on hour six at the Festival when she spotted me roaming aimlessly in a goat-fueled daze.

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I was trying to find a purple yarn to knit Liz a cowl. I kept texting her photos before we settled on one.

MDSW is terrific and I hope to go back year after year. And, um, I hope to knit everything I brought home before I go back.

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Yarn for three sweaters, five scarves and one hat

I’m on my way! Well. Sort of. I at did start to cake my yarns using my awesome new swift (also purchased at MDSW).

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Miss Babs’ Good Little Witch in a worsted super wash Merino

I might need a time out.



  1. Yay for getting a swift! I’ve been to Rhinebeck sheep and wool once, but Maryland looks even bigger! Were there dog events going on? Those are always fun.

    I think you got auto-corrected up near the top of your post. I’m pretty sure you aren’t a “sexist”. 🙂

    • Ha! Good catch! Thanks 🙂 I also found another typo too. I’m blaming a yarn-induced euphoria.

  2. Wasn’t it amazing! I returned to weaving and spinning this year (after a 20+ year break), but have gone to Md Sheep and Wool for many years. So many really cool things! I think it’s really inspiring. Did you happen to see the felted coat with knit sleeves in the competition hall? (where people submitted items they spun, wove, knitted) It was stunning and made by a 14 year old!!

    • I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t make it to any of the demos or exhibitions. I was in the main hall browsing though. It really is inspiring! Between the items the vendors are exhibiting and the cool things people are walking around with…. I just wanted to come home and start knitting!

  3. Now go back and buy some of those buttons for me! LOL. There is a lady in Kingston, Ontario, Carolyn M. Barnett, who does some amazing work on her knitting machine. Check out her website, I’m sure you’d love it and even get more inspiration. She also makes her own buttons, using FIMO, to individually suit her creations. Happy knitting!

    • Oh, yes! I think Jeanne told me about her before as she uses Garment Designer (the software suite I purchased). I didn’t realize she made her own buttons too! I’ll need to take a second look at her site! The vintage buttons were incredible. There I had restraint because the main project I have calls for 12 buttons.

  4. What a great day out, and a fabulous haul of yarn you have there! I think that your swift looks fabulous – I tend to draft in my husband to hold yarn whilst I wind. Not always successfully 😉

  5. Great post! Your photos are wonderful despite the dreary weather. I loved going with you; I’m already planning next years trip. I swear the best idea might be to go on Saturday and shop, then go back on Sunday and see the exhibits and buy the things you got home and wished you’d bought. With some good planning you should be able to have that all knit before New York Sheep and Wool—aka Rhinebeck!

  6. Oh, you have truly crossed the line in the best way! How jealous I am of your fiber experience – it sounds awesome. I LOVE the lambs and alpacas and goats so I’d go just to pet them. But all of that roving and yarn and spinning wheels. When I have time I’m going to learn how to spin.

  7. AHHHHH you went to Miss Babs!! HAHAHAHA Wasn’t it amazing?! Her colors are just insane. And I’m super excited to come and see this knitting machine in action. Jessica was in the car on the way back talking about, “I don’t see why you don’t just go ahead and buy the knitting machine, this sounds like a solid plan.” LOL

  8. I’m glad our Flock & Fiber is much smaller in Oregon. However, our Sew Expo in Puyallup has got a goat-induced coma written all over it. I can’t do it in one day. Three days is much easier on my poor little brain.

  9. oh my god this looks so AMAZING! Even though Claire doesn’t knit, she is amped about all things Maryland and she LOVES helping me pick out yarn (and then putting in lots of requests, obviously) and she says she wants to go to this with me next year. So fingers crossed that this happens! I just recently finished my first project made with Ms Bab’s yarn and HOLY COW it was extraordinary. And when I wrote them asking if they could do a ombre dyed lot of DK weight yarn, she told me YES they could! So I plan to make an ombre sweater out of that sweet stuff at some point in my future. Thanks for sharing all these pictures, this was so fun to see!

  10. Aw, you made me so envious of going. I used to go all the time (all the way from Cali) and have a fibery weekend with my enabling sister. Haven’t been in years but still have lots of yarn. It is so overwhelming the first time you go, so I’m glad you had a friend to guide you and tell you it’s not wrong to eat lamb burgers in front of the sheep.

  11. OMG! That button booth!!!! That was her 1st time there. those buttons were AMAZING!!!!

  12. Looks like you had a great, albeit overwhelming, time. I look forward to your creations with this haul.

  13. I am so glad I didn’t go this year… there’s just too much amazing color and texture and beauty all around. Just looking at your photos made my visa card shake in fear.
    Though I’m sorry I didn’t go and couldn’t say hello.
    If you do manage to knit all that up and need a new infusion come September (hahaha), you might want to check out The Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival in Berryville. It’s much, MUCH smaller, but that means you can talk to vendors and really see everything without the crowds or stress. Also, though a little further away from you, is The Fall Fiber Festival at Montpelier. A medium size and super nice vendors. And the sheep herding dog trials are fascinating! (I think)

    • My dear sweet husband asked how much I spent, ‘What, like $60?’. I changed the subject. So many good festivals! I definitely prefer shopping like this than going in a shop. There are just so many options and choices and I feel like you can find whatever you want. That said, I also went to high school in the Shenandoah Valley so it would only be right for me to visit again 🙂

      On Mon, May 9, 2016 at 8:35 PM, Miss Celie's Pants wrote:


      • Oh my. $60. Bless his heart. 🙂
        Your new yarn stash looks like fun. Come to Oregon, and see Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival. Not as large as Maryland, but still fun. I was led astray at the Icelandic sheep booth and bought enough to knit a sweater. Well, once I spin the yarn, that’s the plan. PS. It wasn’t $60. LOL

  14. Well, at least you avoided buying a spinning wheel. Those are addictive. The show at Rhinebeck in October us overwhelming, but I have found some wonderful stuff there.

    • I’ve heard so many good things about Rhinebeck. I’m very tempted to go. But, there is a machine knitting seminar out near Cortland in September / October that I think I should save my money for. But, Rhinebeck 2017 is very likely!

      On Mon, May 9, 2016 at 9:11 PM, Miss Celie's Pants wrote:


  15. So did you get to pet a few goats while you were there? I mean, a few scratchies is the least you could do! 😛 You got some cool pictures, and I’m lusting over that green sweater that you have a pic of about halfway through the post. Also, I’m going to guess that you are “swifting” Liz’s yarn in the last pic? That was my fave of the collage for her too…

    • You both have great taste! That *is* the one we ended up picking. I’m thinking some kind of wide, bobbled cowl. I think there may be enough for a matching hat too.

      On Mon, May 9, 2016 at 10:27 PM, Miss Celie's Pants wrote:


    • I can’t believe how much I’m liking it! I liked knit ware. I just couldn’t do it with my hands alone. Please save me some cookies. I’ll be here a while.

      On Mon, May 9, 2016 at 11:04 PM, Miss Celie's Pants wrote:


  16. You’re going to need a pair of vice grips for your swift. Those all wooden one don’t stay up without something to hold them in place.

    It might work a couple of times, but after that, it won’t stay up. Take it from one who knows… (and stole my hub’s vice grips)

    Mel Meister

    • Ooooh. Thanks for the tip! I have some clampy things from when I was better at doing home improvement. I guess the wood would start to wear down.

      On Tue, May 10, 2016 at 12:38 AM, Miss Celie's Pants wrote:


    • Awww! Thanks! I always worry I might come across as manic or ridiculous. Heh.

      On Tue, May 10, 2016 at 3:02 AM, Miss Celie's Pants wrote:


  17. When I first read the title of this post I thought it said “Meryl Streep and Wool…” 😀 Thanks for sharing this. Your photos are so gorgeous, at first I thought the buttons were sweets! 🙂

  18. I SO wish that I could have gone this year. I definitely want to try to go. You’ve got an awesome haul.

  19. So not a knitter…but i can certainly identify with the experience! Every time I go to the Sewing Expo, I promise myself I will make use of all the stuff I buy before the next year…my goal is to wear the previous year’s purchases, sewn up, at the next one. Never made it yet…even with a multi-year gap in attending… 😉

  20. Oh, that looks like you had a lot of fun! I’ve never been but we’re supposed to move to the Washington DC area later this year so I’m hoping to go next year. Miss Babs rocks!

  21. You’re always doing wonderful things Ms. Renee! This looked like so much fun learning all about the different types of yarns. I be Ms. Jenny of “Southshore Handmade” would have loved to attend this too! I’m going to send her a link to your blog so she can read about it!

  22. You have a new addiction girl! I love merino wool; almost as good as cashmere but a bit more affordable! My husband is much better at knowing what everything costs. But, of course we’ve been married a lot longer! That place looks like nirvana for knitters.

  23. Oh wow… this looks AMAZING. I’m so sad I couldn’t come (didn’t wanna distract my sis from studying for finals) but it’s looking like a good thing I didn’t go as I would have spent EVERY. LAST. DOLLAR. Next year!!!!! Also if you get the itch to come up to Rhinebeck hit me up!

  24. It was so great meeting you Renee! Always great to meet the woman behind the words. Sheep and Wool was overwhelming and wonderful- I was lucky to have a booth to camp out at and people to show me around my first time there too. See you next year maybe?

  25. I always wondered about that festival. Now, I can see why everyone raves about it. Thanks for the post and great photos.

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