MJ Adventure Team Goes to MD – Day 4

On Sunday, the second day of MDSW, we got up early because we wanted to be at the show in time to watch the start of the Sheep to Shawl contest.


There was another long line but that was for cash payment. We had tickets and could walk right through on the left.


We were interested in the start of the contest because, unlike all the other contests I’ve seen, this one began with a team member shearing the sheep. This sheep shearer was on a team called Hair Spray…


…and there are the team members anxiously watching.



Five teams competed.


The Blues Sisters was one of them.


The Hairspray team, fully costumed.


I don’t know the name of this one but there seemed to be an indigo theme. Note the helper on the bobbin winder.


While we watched we looked for and found another one of our Ravelry contingency and her famous (at least in our circles) and award-winning Jacob shawl.

I still hadn’t seen the main building or the vendors at the east end of the fairgrounds. Time to shop!


The main vendor hall. It seemed to go on forever.


Dress made from felted fabric pieces.


Sweater with Border Collies.



I ran into Kathleen, Dona, and Chris as they were comparing purchases and considering a trip to the car.


At some point in the day Mary became a volunteer and put her inner sales-lady persona to work…


…and got another t-shirt for her trouble.


At noon there was to be a Parade of Breeds in the sheep ring. First though was the presentation of the Youth Conservationist Program in which “Breeders who are willing to mentor youth donate a yearling ewe and help the recipient establish their own flock”. The recipients are expected to breed the ewe to a ram of the same breed, produce something with the fiber, and exhibit the sheep at least two shows. Some of the recipients have now become donors. The recipient of a Hog Island ewe is above.


Royal Unzicker donated a Jacob ewe.

Barbados Blackbelly

The Parade of Breeds followed with representative sheep of 28 different breeds from Barbados Blackbelly, above to…Wensleydale…Wensleydale.

Following the breed presentation I went back over to the Sheep to Shawl area where there was an auction of the shawls that had been woven that morning.

Then back to the vendor hall one last time.


Getting ideas for my upcoming Artery show.


My one yarn purchase, 3 choices from Jill Draper Makes Stuff.


My friends did a lot of shopping but no one else brought home a sheep. Shenandoah would get on a truck the next morning to be delivered to California.


I moved her to a pen near her traveling companions. (Note random spotting–the guy with the panda ears.)


After a long but very fun weekend it was time to leave the fairgrounds.


Back “home” we laid out all of our purchases and took a group shot.  Two friends were leaving the next morning to various directions, but three of us weren’t done yet. We had such a wonderful 4 days–traveling from CA, sightseeing, being at the festival, spending time together in the evenings–it was almost hard to imagine that we were only half way through our adventure. More to follow!


MJ Adventure Team Goes to MD – Day 3 continued

Did I mention in this post how much there is to see at MDSW? I heard someone describe it as the Disney World for sheep and fiber people.

After seeing the fiber entries and the Jacob sheep I started with the tents at the top of the fairgrounds. It had been raining the day before so it’s a good thing that commercial tents are provided for outside vendors. There is mud to contend with but many vendors put straw down which helps with that.


The first tent I entered was the Equipment Auction tent. Have you ever seen so many spinning wheels in one place?


There were wheels (including several great wheels), carders, looms, and all kinds of miscellaneous equipment. Incredible.


Customers were lined up outside their favorite vendor booths. One thing that was so fun about this show was that since all the other fiber shows I have seen are on the west coast almost all the vendors were new to me.


In one of the fiber booths I found this cute bunny.


Ears, anyone?


Silverware creatures.



Dog or lamb coats made of felted wool.




At 1:00 I went back to the barn to help with the Jacob sheep show. These are Royal’s two yearling rams. Royal’s other helpers were his two granddaughters who were sheep handling novices so I was glad to help out.


The girls did well showing the ewes and were fun to work with. After the show I spent more time looking at the barns full of sheep. The Livestock Conservancy (I think–or maybe it was MDSW) organized a display of sheep breeds that weren’t necessarily being shown, along with educational information about them.


Dorset, a breed from England that was first imported in 1885.

Clun Forest-2

Clun Forest, a British breed first imported into North America (Canada) in 1970.


The Cotswold is another English breed with long, lustrous wool.  The mature sheep weigh up to 230 lbs (ewes) and 300 lbs (rams).


The Icelandic sheep is considered to be one of the world’s oldest and purest breeds, with 1100 years of producing meat, milk, and fiber.

Leicester Longwool-4

Leicester Longwool, a sheep, also originally from England, that produces 11-18 pounds of lustrous curly wool that may grow to 14″ in a year.

Leicester Longwool

Another Leicester Longwool.


Rambouillet ram. The Rambouillet is a fine-wooled sheep that was derived after prized Merinos were sent to France in 1786 and raised in a closed flock for many generations. They are now make up a large part of the commercial herds on the western range of the U.S., providing fine wool while producing crossbred lambs for market.

Romeldale cross

This is a Romeldale cross. Colored sheep, even if not a pure breed, can be registered with the Natural Colored Wool Association

Scottish Blackface-2

Scottish Blackface is the most common breed in the United Kingdom and was imported to the U.S. in 1861.

There will be more sheep photos in another post, because there are a lot more sheep to be mentioned.

Rug hooking

While I was in the barn my friends were shopping.


When we got back to the house that night everyone showed off their purchases. Mine were meager compared to some of the others. But none of them bought a sheep…


This is Shenandoah, one of the sheep that I showed, and that got a ride to California on the Mendenhall truck.

MJ Adventure Team Goes to MD – Day 3 – MDSW

Saturday was the first day of the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival. This was the reason for our trip to Maryland. We spent Thursday evening with our Ravelry / Spinzilla / Tour de Fleece friend, Adrienne, and Friday exploring Harpers Ferry. But we were all excited about the Main Event. Adrienne had given us tips for our first MDSW–bring chairs, bring food, bring toilet paper, where to park, and, most importantly, join her and the TPCMDSWAT (Timonium Presbyterian Church Maryland Sheep and Wool Adventure Team) for a tailgate breakfast. DSC_0221

Adrienne’s trunk was open and there was a big pot of steel-cut oats as well as fruit, yogurt, maple syrup, and more. We chatted with new friends.


Adrienne and Dona strategized.


The line stretched far from the gate and the cars kept coming. The skies were threatening and it was cold and windy.


But fiber enthusiasts are usually a happy crowd. There was no pushing and shoving, just a lot of anticipation.


The gates opened.



First vendor. I saw someone buy this hat from Centari Wool.


I wasn’t ready to shop. In fact I didn’t really plan to shop because what could I buy when I have a fiber shop already? (I found some stuff…that’s for later.)


Fist stop was the Fiber Arts show where Kathleen and I (and Alison from afar) had entered items featuring Meridian Jacobs’ wool. Kathleen won 5th and I won 4th in a crowded blanket class. Kathleen’s blanket is all handspun and dyed Romney yarn. Mine used Timm Ranch wool warp and Jacob weft.


My woven handspun (Marilyn and Raquel) scarf.


My comercial yarn Cormo scarf.


My sheep pillow entered in “Handweaving-other”. I didn’t get a photo of Kathleen’s fabulous 3rd place handspun Jacob (Cassandra and Mae) sweater (“knitted with handspun, dyed”) but you can see a glimpse of it in this photo and you will see it in a later post when she was wearing it.


Alison took first in the “knitted with natural colored handspun garment” category with this wonderful vest using 4-ply Jacob (Summer).


I took photos of some of the winners and meant to come back for more. I got so distracted by all the other things going on that I didn’t make it back to the building.DSC_0230




I moved on to the sheep barns to check in with Royal Unzicker, a Pennsylvania Jacob breeder who has asked me if I’d help show that afternoon.


Royal’s yearling rams.


Roy Deppa’s yearling ram.

After I spent some time catching up with Royal, whom I see occasionally at the annual JSBA meetings) I went out to see more of the show. That will be another post…or two…or three.

MJ Adventure Team Goes to MD – Day 2 – Harpers Ferry

Here is Day 1–getting to Maryland. On Day 2 we woke up early with places to go, things to see. Our plan today was to take our fiber entries to the fairgrounds and then go to Harpers Ferry to explore some of the Civil War history of this area.QPAC4753

Chris drove and I got into my usual Road Trip mode–Map Book and phone.


Here is the destination. Harpers Ferry is situated at the confluence of the Potomac and  Shenandoah Rivers, where Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia meet. It is the easternmost town in West Virginia.


We were driving through the Blue Ridge Mountains and every time I said the name Shenandoah I felt like breaking into song (John Denver style).  Wikipedia says: “The Blue Ridge Mountains are noted for having a bluish color when seen from a distance. Trees put the “blue” in Blue Ridge, from the isoprene released into the atmosphere, thereby contributing to the characteristic haze on the mountains and their distinctive color.”

Also from Wikipedia: “Isoprene is produced and emitted by many species of trees (major producers are oaks, poplars, eucalyptus, and some legumes.”

Harpers Ferry

We were looking for Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.


The whole town is in a National Historic District, but it is the lower part that is the National Historic Park.


The Park is spread out in non-contiguous sections and we did cross state lines a number of times.

West Virginia



We finally found the headquarters and Visitors’ Center where I got my lifetime pass to all the parks, monuments, etc in the National Park System. (That’s the only good thing about the last birthday.) Kathleen and I bought the National Parks Passport book that shows all the parks and historical sites region by region and has places to include commemorative stickers and “postmark” stamps. We took a shuttle to Lower Harpers Ferry where there many restored old buildings, some preserved as museums and others with modern shops inside.


One of the buildings on Shenandoah Street houses a bookstore and the others are set up as they would have been in the 1800’s or as museums.


We climbed the path past the ruins of the Episcopal Church…


…and the Catholic Church that was built in 1833.


This route happens to be part of the Appalachian trail so we were able to stamp our  passport books with the Appalachian Trail stamp!


The shops on the left in this photo are all occupied with modern businesses, mostly souvenir shops or cafes.


I saw this in one of the windows. As creepy as it is, it’s not nearly as bad as a doll in another window that looked like a crime victim or a participant in a horror movie. I took a photo but am creeped out enough by it to not want it in my blog post. Some of the people in this part of town have an interesting sense of humor.DSC_0157


This is a detail of the stone wall in the photo above.



The town became an industrial center between 1801 and 1861 with the construction of  the U.S. Armory and Arsenal. Below is a detail of the sign in the foreground.


Just below (in relation to this photo) is where the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers meet, the Potomac cutting through a slot in the Blue Ridge Mountains.


This is the confluence. There is a railroad bridge here and now a foot bridge that across the Shenandoah River.  The foot bridge is part of a system of trails including the Appalachian Trail, the north-south route along the crest of the Appalachians, and the 184-mile C & O Canal trail.   From the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal NHP site: “Preserving America’s early transportation history, the C&O Canal began as a dream of passage to Western wealth. Operating for nearly 100 years the canal was a lifeline for communities along the Potomac River as coal, lumber and agricultural products floated down the waterway to market. Today it endures as a pathway for discovering historical, natural and recreational treasures!”IMG_9324

This is the view from the western end of the bridge showing the old towpath and here is a link from a bicycling guide which states “the canal’s towpath remains a favorite of hikers, joggers, and bicyclists”.


The overlook from the eastern side.


Mary and Chris are not checking their stock portfolios here. We have a group of friends back home who want to travel with us vicariously. We all have been sharing photos and updates.


We drove to another part of the park to see the Civil War battlefields and another view of the town.

Tulip poplar

I noticed this flowering tree.

Tulip poplar-2

Green flowers are so unusual. This is a tulip poplar which is actually more closely related to a magnolia than a poplar.

We spent only a few hours at this park where you could spend days exploring. But we made this trip for the FIBER. Next stop was a yarn shop in the town of Frederick where there was a sale promoting some well-known yarn dyers.



Mary  found one of her favorite indie-dyers there…


…who dyed these yarns. While she stood in line (a very long line) to make her purchases the rest of us walked around the area.


I enjoyed this window scene more than a couple of those in Harpers Ferry.


Preview of the next day.