I returned last night from three full days at the Jefferson (WI) Sheep and Wool Festival. Unpacking my suitcase, wet camping gear, bags of projects – completed and not, I felt a strong twinge of deja vu. It was a lot like returning from summer camp.
When I left for the festival early Friday morning, barely glancing behind me to blow kisses to my family left at home, the contents of my van hinted at a much longer stay – a week or longer, maybe. Four knitting/crochet projects, spinning wheel, two spinning projects, writing materials, a library copy of To Kill a Mockingbird, tent, coffee percolator. I would be camping each night, didn’t have any friends joining me, so I planned for lots of quiet solitude.
Solitude-schmolitude. I quickly found myself carried away in the excitement of it all. Fellow fiber enthusiasts are just too engaging and friendly to not spend the weekend reveling in the newly-forged bonds of friendship. I found that some friends met on Friday would be in class with me on Sunday. Friends met at an after-party were later spied at their spinning wheels or in their booths, selling their magnificent wares.
I awoke each morning to the sound of sheep baaing in the distance; it felt like home. I set out each day swathed in wool to cushion the biting chill, with coffee in hand, to visit with the sheep in the show barns, murmur tender-sweet-things the newborn lambs. Is there no better way to begin a day of ‘vacation?’ I thought not, until I found myself a fresh donut. I thought I might burst from the perfection of it all. Then off to class – Friday offered the chance to spend all day with an accomplished natural dyer. It was the only day I had the presence of mind to take photos. Saturday was steeped in all things cheese – butter, yogurt, mozzarella, feta. It was delicious. (better, even, than the donut) Sunday taught me how to fashion a smart hat out of a ball of roving, pummeled into submission. (most people call that felting)
The festival fostered such a magnificent spirit of camaraderie and mutual fiber bliss. One could spot a handknit sock, hat, shawl, or sweater in every degree of a 360° turn – I defy any other festival to be better dressed. Today, however, I find myself a bit blissed-out. I think I was able to absorb as much fiber excitement as is humanly possible in those three saturated days; today I look forward to sneaking a half hour of that solitude I so naively expected, a bit of quiet to reflect on the invigorated energy I brought home with me, some quiet punctuated by the gentle whir of my spinning wheel, newly charged and ready to make some magic.