Sheep and wool everywhere

and no Mona in sight.

According to a few blogs I read, I’m missing the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. Given that it’s about an hour drive away, I feel like I’m missing an opportunity to be really irresponsible with my money.

I thought maybe today I would make it up there, but I couldn’t really get my act together.  I decided to tell myself that I couldn’t handle it. I think I probably share this attribute with a lot of people–I love to buy things, but I hate to shop. That is, I hate shopping after about an hour tops. In the past this feeling actually hasn’t extended to fabric shopping, which I could do for a VERY long time and be happy buying just a small bit of fabric.  Fabric shops are like museums to me, in fact my most favorite space in New York City is the Costume Institute at the Met and I also just found out that there’s a textile museum in DC.  But I’m not sure I have the same eye for yarn that I (think I) do with fabric. I’m still not sure how things will look knitted up, while I can have a pretty good sense of how a fabric will drape or look sewn up in a certain style. Experience has also taught me that the gravitational pull of a knitting design is way stronger than that of a particular yarn. So yarns I buy for the hell of it live forever untouched in my box o yarn unless by some stroke of luck they actually seem like they can work with a pattern I want to try out. That never happens with fabric–it’s always the opposite.

I also found that there was something that kind of irked me about the festival.  There are a few events or tents or something dedicated to lamb and sheep meat.  Duh, right? It’s a SHEEP and Wool festival.  The thing is I always forget about that element of things.  Like when I was researching wildlife management areas in Maryland and the main page I found (run by the state) was mostly focused on encouraging people to get them a hunting permit and hunt them some Maryland bear.  I was kind of incredibly shocked and appalled.  It’s possible I let the urban, liberal bubble close up around me every once in while, but hunting and the like also aren’t really a part of Indian culture…so it surprises me every once in while.

I think everyone has a line somewhere when it comes to animal cruelty/rights/welfare/whatever. For some the meat industry and hunting falls within their moral limits and for others using wool doesn’t even do that. I’m in between. I don’t really have a problem with using wool, though I completely understand the argument that animals should have agency — especially when the animal itself is presented solely as a product. I can imagine a sheep on the auction block where its value is in the flavor of its flesh and the softness of its fleece. And that makes me sad, because I think it becomes a spotlight for how we view everything, including ourselves.  I often fall into that trap of assessing my worth based on how valuable I think I am to others or how “marketable” I am (ewwww!).   But unfortunately I think every living thing on this earth is viewed to some degree by what they can offer the world — a product, an expertise, an attractive appearance, whatever. There’s just something unsettling when what you’re offering to the world has to be your life.  So that’s where I draw the line. For myself.

In any case,  I have a strong feeling that veggie/vegan knitters still enjoy the festival despite the meat offerings.  And the thing is there were a bunch of events not involving meat and not involving buying yarn that I really would have found fascinating — like the sheep shearing demonstration, or “Hands-on Basic Shepherding”, or the parade of sheep breeds!!  All in all I wish I had been able to pull it together and go see what festivals like this are really all about.  Next year maybe.  I’ll be excited to see the blog posts and pictures from those that went.

You know when I really think about it, it’s my use of wool yarn that makes me interested in sheep at all….I’m not sure I ever thought about sheep much before.


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