A little over a decade ago, Karen Nelson cut her index finger on a glass while washing dishes. After a series of surgeries did nothing to quell the pain emanating from the digit, she had it amputated.

Two days later, while recovering from the procedure, Nelson sat in on a crochet lesson her friend was giving her daughter. Though she’d never considered herself to be particularly crafty, the hobby clicked right away. Within nine days, she’d crocheted an entire queen-sized afghan.

Today, she still can’t get enough of it. She has cubes of yarn stacked “all the way up to the freaking ceiling” of her dining room — which she calls her “happy room.” A school bus driver in Charles Town, West Virginia, Nelson crochets in between routes and while she’s waiting for her kids to board after dismissal.

“My friends say, ‘If she could crochet while she’s driving, she would,’” she said, laughing as she wound a strand of lacy yarn around her crochet hook.

Nelson, owner of the Charles Town-based Karen’s Kreations, was among dozens of artisans, vendors and merchants who descended upon the Frederick County Fairgrounds this weekend and last to showcase their passions in the 37th annual Maryland Christmas Show.

Sunday marked the last day of this year’s market, which occupied seven buildings on the county’s fairgrounds. Though many undoubtedly still had Thanksgiving leftovers in their refrigerators, visitors got into the holiday spirit, browsing Christmas ornaments and other knick-knacks as a medley of festive tunes blasted from a pair of loudspeakers in the parking lot.

Stationed at a tiny wooden stand erected outside one of the fairgrounds’ barns, Nut-N-Better employee Connie Henry said this is the second year the Marshall, Virginia-based pop-up shop has made the trip to Frederick’s Christmas Show. The scent of cinnamon roasted almonds — the stand’s most popular product, Henry said — wafted from behind the counter, carried by a chilly breeze.

The booth where local alpaca farmer Catherine Beatty had set up shop — inside one of the fairgrounds’ heated buildings — was far warmer. Beatty sells knit sweaters, yarn and other products made from alpaca fleece, which she says is stronger, lighter and warmer than wool. Currently, she is raising 17 alpacas on her farm in Union Bridge.

“That’s nothing,” she said, smiling. “We’ve had as many as 50.”

Nearby, Mount Airy resident Keith Gehle and his son were seated in front of rows of intricately decorated wooden houses and ornaments.

Keith and his wife, Mary Ann Gehle, have been making the tiny homes for 42 years. Keith cuts and sands the wood, a job his son helped him with when he was younger, and Mary Ann uses paint to turn the structures into miniature ski resorts, gas stations, Lego houses and more.

Keith estimates they’ve been selling the collectibles at Frederick’s Christmas Show for 34 years.

Nelson, on the other hand, is relatively new to the Christmas Show. Though her mother sold teddy bears at the market for about three decades, she only started displaying her yarn creations five years ago.

She’s still shocked when her friends and customers tell her how beautiful her products are. When she looks at them, all she can think is, “Anybody could make this.” Sometimes, she’ll have nightmares of people returning scarves or shawls they purchased from her.

But business is booming. On Saturday, she sold the most products she has in a single day since she started Karen’s Kreations six years ago.

“It’s just, ‘Wow,’” Nelson said, smiling. “It’s all I can say.”

Follow Angela Roberts on Twitter: @24_angier

(3) comments


Why do they always post these things after it's over. It would be nice if they would post them before they start so people that don't know or who might have not seen it could go. It seems to me that it would help out the Maryland Christmas Show and the people who would like to attend. They do this all the time.


It’s the same weekends every year.


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