Yesterday Martha and I went to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. Unfortunately I forgot my camera and so did Martha so the I don't have any fun pictures. It's always interesting to visit another subculture and realize that they are just as immersed in theirs as we are in ours. And it's also interesting to note where we intersect. Dyeing wool and dyeing cotton aren't very far apart, just variations on a process. Anyhow, everywhere we walked there was wool in all its stages: walking around on the sheep, being shorn, piled up all matted with stuff, cleaned, wool roving, spun wool, dyed wool, and sweaters, shawls, and scarves. I might have missed a few stages because I'm not familiar with all that goes into processing wool.
I liked watching the people spinning yarn. The spinning wheels varied from beautifully designed and crafted floor models to what looked like spinning tops. There were groups of women arranged in a circle with their spinning wheels whirring away while they chatted. Just like other groups of women sitting in a circle keeping their hands busy with some other craft.
One woman was spinning yarn from her angora rabbit. She had this pile of fur in her lap from which she would pluck a handful and add it to her spinning. Except that the pile of fur was actually the rabbit. He was perfectly happy to just sit in her lap and have her pull out his fur. She told us that angora rabbits molt four times a year and this plucking process must be done or else they will lick and swallow the fur and it will sit in their stomachs and they will die. Anyhow, she said that when she was finished with this rabbit, all its fur would be gone and ready for the next coat to grow in. Sounds a little bit like indentured servitude to me, being so attached to a non-postponeable process.
There were tons of fairgrounds-type food booths with all kinds of enticing smells, but since I'm just coming off of a very nasty GI virus, I had to avoid all that stuff and stick to my plain old PBJ sandwich. I bought a mouse pad with the Sheep and Wool logo, a set of directions for knitting a purse and then felting it, and a book on some simple shibori dyeing techniques. No yarn. It was beautiful, but I was able to resist.