All warnings about huge crowds and traffic jams were also unfounded. Taking the very good advice of the owner of Eleganza we found a route which avoided the worst of the tailbacks.
One of the most important things I learned is that MDSW is so much more than a shopping extravaganza - although there was more of that than I have ever seen in my life before, it is also a celebration of the people and their animals who produce the fibre, the artisans who produce the yarns and tools and the artists who take the raw materials and make beautiful things with it. It celebrates the past, present and future of fibre people and is a place to meet old friends and make new ones.
Here are some of the impressions and acquisitions I came home with.
I love the idea of a Society for Creative Anachronism. These enthusiasts dress up in Medieval and Renaissance costume and keep ancient crafts alive. People were braid making, luceting, knitting and spinning amongst other things.
With apologies for the dreadful photo where I have managed to take a picture of my own shadow, have a look at this piece of work, a copy of a pair of 16th century men's pantaloons. Think yourselves lucky you can't see the codpiece...
The photo also does no justice to the exquisite workmanship of the garment which was knit at a tension of 10 stitches per inch.
The festival also celebrates the skills of fibre artists in the show of works. I spent a lot of time in this gallery and was very impressed and humbled by the standard of work.
Look at this shawl. (I've still only done 12 rows of my lace project...)
And here is a beautiful basket of hand spun yarn. How I wished I was sitting by a roaring fire with that basket and a set of needles beside me!
I loved the vibrancy of the colour and naivete of the design of this rug.
What about the artistry of the creation of this amazing felted dinosaur?
And how on earth did the artist get such expression into the face of this bear?
With all the things to see and do it's hard to imagine how we possibly had time to shop. There was also the Ravelry meet up where I got to catch up with Nikki, a long time reader of this blog. I am still completely gobsmacked that we got to meet. Believe me, she is every bit as warm and friendly as she seems online.
I also caught up with Shelia, who came all the way from Oregon last year to join us at Skipnorth and also got to meet Clara, the person behind the Knitters Review Forum which has been such an important part of my fibre education for the last few years. Clara is also a warm and charming person. Shame on the person who stole her shawl from the Brooks Farm booth, however.
Which brings me on to...yarn.
I had already decided that given the size of my stash, that I would shop sparingly and concentrate on things that I can't get in the UK and things that I really need to see in person rather than online.
I had heard a lot of people speak very highly of Brooks Farm yarns with very good reason.They are absolutely beautiful and I was hard pressed to make a choice.
In the end I chose these sock yarns made from merino, silk and viscose. The colours really glow.
There is this subtle blend of blues, browns and greens.
And these warm reds and terracottas.
By way of contrast, I had to buy a skein of this organic Welsh Border Leicester lace weight out of family loyalty, as well as the fact that it knits into an amazing, springy fabric.
I will show you more yarn, books and notions over the next few days but I couldn't wait to show you what I had really saved all my money for. Golding and Bosworth spindles.
Aren't they beautiful? The craftsmanship in all of them is superb.
Look at the beautiful zebra wood in this Bosworth.
And my favourite, the Celtic Knot Golding.
I could have had a try of this $5000 wheel and chair...but I was too shy.
In going through my photos I was horrified to notice that I had failed to take a photograph of a single sheep. Sheep there were in abundance, we watched the sheepdog trials, the parade of breeds, the sheep shearing and I was so distracted that I quite forgot. I was particularly transfixed by the sheep shearing.It appeared to be a father and daughter team with the young woman who was in her late teens at most doing all the shearing of some quite annoyed sheep while we listened to a very well informed and humorous commentary by the dapper gentleman in cowboy hat and moustache.It is from him that the quote in the title comes from. He mentioned the importance of remembering to shear the fleece from over the sheep's eyes 'Else they get wool blind and crazy...' I know how they feel.
By way of making up for my omission may I present to you...
The most fashionable and elegant llama in the world!