I had a great time at the 2015 Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival over the past weekend. I scored some really lovely fleeces, saw lots of sheep, bought lots of fiber and fiber-related things, took a class with the lovely Maggie Casey, got to be in the same room as said Maggie Casey and Judith MacKenzie at the same time, and watched part of the sheep-to-shawl competition.
This is a gorgeous mutlti-colored Icelandic fleece that I got at the Icelandic Sheep Breeder's booth. It is just so lovely and I can't wait to start processing it:
This is a very lovely Romeldale x Rambouillet fleece I got. A note tucked in with the fleece said that the owner's sheep hadn't been coated this year because they were hired by Apple to graze under their solar panels to keep the grass shorn instead of using lawn mowers (the coats snag on the panels). It's so nice when a little information is included with the fleece:
I also got a very lovely California Red fleece, and a very lovely Finn x BFL fleece. I'm excited about all of my fleeces this year and can't wait to see what types of yarns they will produce.
As I mentioned, I watched part of the sheep-to-shawl competition. It started at 8:00 AM with the shearing of the sheep and ended at about noon with the judging of the finished and washed shawls. The shawls were auctioned off after the completion. Here are some pictures of the teams, they all had themes, the most notable of which was the OZ team. In some of the pictures you can see the freshly-shorn fleeces that the teams are carding, spinning, and weaving into their shawls:
And last but not least, here is a picture of a little Barbados Blackbelly lamb. I love walking through the barns with the sheep pens, there are so many different breeds all in one place. The Barbados Blackbellies were very distinctive and are prized for their lean and mild-tasting meat. They are a hair breed, meaning that they don't produce wool. Their hair is very stiff, almost like a bristle-brush - at least the mother of this little lamb felt like that when I petted her:
My California Red fleece actually has some Barbados Blackbelly in it! California Reds resulted in a cross of Tunis sheep and Barbados Blackbelly. I got a really nice fleece, I think it was the softest of the handful of California Reds there were to choose from. I'm looking forward to working with this wool - I love trying out new breeds and crosses that I haven't had a chance to work with before.
I am busy washing fleeces now, along with all of my other woolly and fiber pursuits.