Today is the best holiday of the year, and I’m not celebrating it.
Every year on the day before the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival starts, I tell anyone who will listen (and many who wish they didn’t have to), “It’s Sheep and Wool Eve!” I don’t sleep well. I get up super-early the next day and start bouncing around: “Sheep and Wool! Wool and Sheep! Sheep and Wool!” The line of cars trying to get in KILLS ME, as all I want to do is abandon the car where it stands and run down the hill to the entrance.
First stop is always the Bingo Hall, since I’ve entered the knitting competition since 2006. I usually walk away with some shiny ribbons, though there have been some disappointments – like the year I was disqualified from the novice spinning competition because I only tied my skein in two places instead of three, or the year a lovely long Milkwood sweater didn’t do as well as I think it should because the judges thought the yarn choice was wrong – even though it was one of the few times in my life I had knit with the yarn the pattern called for. 🙂
2006 was a good year. It was the first time I had entered anything, and I won 1st and 2nd in the same category, and I had my grandmother with me – which meant my yarn budget went a lot further, because Nana kept pulling out her wallet when I tried to pull out mine.
2007 is the year my best friend got married over Sheep and Wool weekend in another state, meaning I left the wedding at the crack of dawn on Sunday, flew back to MD, drove like a maniac, and caught the last hour of that festival.
2008 was the year I convinced that same best friend, whom I had taught to knit, to enter a gorgeous cabled blanket into the competition. Her blanket got 1st place, mine got 2nd, and we were both over the moon.
2008 is also the year I went to the spinning fun on Saturday night and came home with a door prize of silk worms. This means 2008 was also the year silk worms totally stressed me out and turned me into a crazy person who surreptitiously picked mulberry leaves out of random neighborhood yards under the cover of darkness to feed the little buggers. The silkworms also went on vacation with us. Yes, vacation. A road trip to Rhode Island. 2008 is the year I had to promise my husband I would never, ever get silk worms again. But to this day, I can still spot a mulberry tree at 100 paces.
I can’t remember which year my non-knitting mother came with me, but it was the year that I realized just how many booths don’t have yarn or fiber in them, because she stopped in every single one, and I only saw a fraction of the festival.
Most years are the years my husband consents to go with me. He carries my purchases, earning him the lofty title of “Yarn Sherpa.” I feed him lamb kabobs out of my festival budget, and everyone is happy.
2013 was the year I finally won Best in Show for my son’s Christening gown, and the year I went to the festival on Saturday morning before getting on plane Saturday night to fly to Nairobi.
2014 was the first year I had to miss the festival because of living in Nairobi.
2015 is the year I’m sad to miss it because of all the great connections I’ve made through this blog and Instagram. It’s changed my whole list of vendors I’d like to visit and people I’d like to meet. I don’t think I’ll make it in 2016, either.
However, 2017 is the year. Everybody better watch out, because I will have four years worth of festivaling to cram into one year. I will buy ALL THE YARN and ALL THE FIBER and eat ALL THE GYROS and see ALL THE THINGS and meet ALL THE PEOPLE.. So stock up now, people. There will be nothing left for you in 2017.
I’m headed off to work – and I’m going to wear that sweater that was knit in the “wrong” yarn.