Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival

| 5/12/2015 8:05:28 AM

I have been attending the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival with my husband for sixteen years, since the first year we were married and farming. Back then we would dream about keeping sheep on our newly purchased pasture as we walked through the stalls of sheep—Jacob, Barbados, Merino, Southdown and all the rest. We would laugh about putting a couple haybales in the back of the outback and bringing home a sheep or two. Then we had a baby and we’d toddle him past the sheep and say what fun sheep would be to keep. Our kids grew up loving our visits to Sheep and Wool. I could sit on the hill and watch the professional sheep shearers all day, as they clip beautiful fleeces off beautiful sheep. Maryland's own talented shearer, Emily Chamelin, gives wonderful demonstrations of sheep shearing. 

After my friends taught me to knit, I had to attend two days, one as an aspiring shepherd with my family and one on my own as knitter and collector of yarn. Booth after booth of lovely yarn. I learned wet-felting and needle-felting, and I gleaned the booths for the beautiful wool roving, in stunning natural colors and vibrant dyed ones. Every fiber art of your dreams, it is all represented in the booths of this festival, one of the largest of its kind.

Some years I attend with a new crafty inspiration, ready for fuel. Sometimes I go without inspiration at all, and I see what catches me. A couple years ago, my husband spied a felt wizard hat, so I came home and made him one. Last year I came home with a spinning wheel. This year a needle-felted lion caught my eye.

Wool Lion

Sara from Sarafina Fiber Arts, a new vendor at the Sheep and Wool Festival, made this incredible creature. As my friend said, “It doesn’t even look fake!” On my third visit to her booth, I figured out what I wanted to do. I purchased supplies from Sara to step up my needle-felting skills. I have spent some time needle-felting animals, mainly focusing on facial features. Now I can add wire structures to achieve more detail, structural support, and moveable parts. I teach homeschool kids how to needle-felt and I am excited to step up the instruction I can offer them.

She has clever tips and structural materials to make the small details feasible, like flexible wire for the fingers of a raccoon. Her tutorials are free online, and she sells the perfect wool blends and wires and tools to make it all come alive. I’m pretty excited about it.

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