Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Portrait with socks

May 4, 2008

Grams came to town this weekend specifically to attend the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. It's an enormous event, part agricultural fair, part knitters' cult. Grams fell in love with these socks, and bought them for E. It's a WOOL festival, and it was at least 75 degrees outside, but E insisted on wearing her socks immediately.


Grams was giddy with all the lanolin in the air, and E was content to people-watch from her stroller, so we wandered through the densely packed exhibit halls, like an Israeli shuk, fondling the wares and occasionally buying.


So Grams was in some stall asking strangers about how much yarn makes a pair of knee socks or something, and I am pushing E's stroller around aimlessly, taking pictures of the pretty colors. And we're surrounded by people wearing their craft - never mind that summer is coming, we see people in sweaters, scarves, hats and anything else that can be knit - jewelry, water bottle holders, shoes.

A friendly obsessive struck up a conversation with me while I waited for my mother to be ready to move on to the next vendor. This woman gestured toward E, complimented her on her general cuteness, and asked me if I had made her socks. I answered without thinking. I snorted, and said "Hell, no!" I said it with a smile on my face, because while the socks are very cute, I am so not interested in spending my free time knitting, let alone for a creature who will lose them or outgrow them or both in the next ten minutes. But I had forgotten that I was standing in the antechamber of the Grand Temple of Handicraft. Knit One, Purl One. Knit Free or Die. I thought I made the woman cry. I had just mocked everything she believed in. She turned away from me, crumpled, and walked quickly into the crowd. Such is the fervor of a true Sheep and Wool devotee.


I was an interloper, a heathen, just there for the food. We had the ribbon chips and birch beer, but we never found the fried Oreos.

Towards the end of the afternoon, we wandered over to the exhibition hall where the champion sheep were on display in pens. There were rows between the stalls where we could wander, pet the animals, feed them, and generally admire them. One exhibitor had some baby lambs out of the pen and some children were petting them. E showed some interest so we walked in that direction. Suddenly, a very tall sheep, standing above E's stroller eye-level, bleated out a very loud BAAA just over E's head. E burst into tears on the spot.

MAMA!!! HE BAAA'D ME!! HE SCARED ME AND HE BAAA'D ME!

E is apparently also a non-believer. We left that exhibition hall quickly. And I don't think there are any 4H memberships or circular needles in E's future.

I baaa'd the little girl. Baaa.

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