October 21, 2010


Festivals are fun and fall festivals might just be the most fun.  Crisp air, good light, hay rides, abundant vegetables and fruit, sheep & alpaca.  I got some of that last weekend, more than enough to make me happy, at the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival held annually in Rhinebeck, NY.


I have no need for yarn, but having been told by Ravelry friend Craftivore that it's really an amazing experience (and since this may be my last chance [more on that later]) I decided to ride the bus up with my friends Angela and Tomo to check it out for myself.  In a word, it was AWESOME.

I wasn't sure what to expect, except for a lot of yarn freaky-dekes, but the doings at Rhinebeck pulled me in, slapped me about and said "Girl, this is the REAL deal." 
Our 6 a.m. bus, which really left at 6:45, arrived at the fairgrounds at 9 am, just as the gates were opening.  Angela and Tomo were seasoned veterans of the sheep and wool festival, so we headed straight to A Building and the Brooks Farm booth, where I made my first three purchases of the day (1 skein each of Acero, Solano and Duet).  Then I decided to slow down as we were but 30 minutes into a very long day. 

Almost straight away Angela (who's just released her first shawl pattern) bumped into some people she knew and excited showing off of hand knits commenced. 

Visiting in Building A.
As we made our way around from building to building, I saw that the Sheep and Wool Festival really was about sheep and wool.  I knew there would be lots of small farms and indie vendors selling yarn, but I was surprised to see so many varieties of wool (and alpaca): raw, uncarded, carded, spun, dyed, undyed.  I don't know the proper terms, as my wool usually comes from a store, but the diversity was amazing. These award winning bags of fleece were among my favorite.  So soft and lofty to touch.

Duchess County award winning fleece
There really was something for everyone.

Although the festival grounds were sizable, there were crowds and lines wherever we went.  When I reviewed my photos I spotted a knitting celeb in this crowd shot.  Do you see her?  Hint: she's wearing one of her new designs.

Yes, it's Ann Weaver of Weaver Knits!  The funny thing is that I saw her face to face what must have been minutes after this. When I'm tired or tipsy (and that morning I was tired) my inhibitions lower and I blurt out whatever's on my mind, so when I saw her, I got all excited and stopped her to tell her I liked her work and congratulated her on the new book.  She was super smiley and gracious and seemed surprised to be recognized, but I really felt that I'd spotted a star, like when I was in L.A. back on 2001 and saw
Maude Adams at a ramen house.  Exciting!

My Weaverknits sighting was my first of the day.  I also spotted and stopped (accosted?)  Flint Knits, Lauren of Lolly Knitting Around and Craftivore.  Spotting Craftivore was easy, however as (1) I'd spotted her last year at the Brooklyn Flea and we'd since struck up a Ravelry friendship, (2) I knew what she'd be wearing and (3) we planned to meet up.  Still, it was exciting.  Here she is perfectly attired for a fall wool fest. 

The skirt that you see is just the bottom half of an amazing dress she designed and knit herself, just for fun.  It's gorge.

I spotted several other designers/bloggers, but really, one can only freak out on so many people before security steps in, so I kept my distance and instead just pulled on Tomo's sleeve saying "There's Neoknits", "There's Gudrun!" "There's Triple C!"  She was very patient with me.

In addition to seeing strangers whom I recognized, I also saw some real-life friends and neighbors, including knitting group member Sarah, and her family, who were playing and enjoying the Rhinebeck's famed Chicken Pot Pie.

How's that chicken pot pie?
It was a swell day, with minimal freakishness, loads of sun and pretty scenery.

More than anything else, though, I think I enjoyed the livestock the most.  The sheep and alpaca have faces that are hard to believe.  So sweet and cute, you want to put them in your pocket and take them home. Then you remember you live in a basement apartment in Brooklyn with a cemented over back yard and yeah, that would be gross. I think my Brooklyn pals were surprised by just how in to the animals I was, but look:

OK, these were freaky, S&M gimp looking, but try to see past the get-up.

Seeing all of the different wools and animals gave me a new appreciation for knitting and has inspired me to experiment more with textures and tones and traditional garments and stitches.  I'm excited.

Mexican-spiced hot cocoa + mini-doughnuts = deliciousness.
 It was, all told, a wonderful day.  Thank you to all who helped make it so (you know who you are!).


Yarny Days said... Best Blogger Tips

It WAS awesome! though last minute, I am glad I made it, and got to hang out with all you beautiful people and all that beautiful yarn!

WhiteStone said... Best Blogger Tips

Awww...reminds me of the excitement in my early days of quilting. Quilt shops were few and far between but when you Found one! With all those fabulous fabs!
I do a little knitting but not much...but I surely do enjoy seeing what knitters are doing. Thanks for the trip to the wool fest!

Erin Joy said... Best Blogger Tips

I would LOVE to attend someday - it's a total dream of mine now! Some day I'm dragging my mom and sister and we are GOING!

Oiyi said... Best Blogger Tips

Reading it from your persepctive makes me excited about it all over again. I had so much fun. And I am so glad that you got to go and partake in the festivities.

craftivore said... Best Blogger Tips

Oh my gosh, now I feel like a celebrity too. I have loved our connection, ravelry, blogging, six-degrees of separation, and it was great to see you in the flesh again. Your first Rhinebeck can't be your last, nooooooooo...

Meganne Fabrega said... Best Blogger Tips

Great to meet you there! I can't wait to make the Latte Mitts, I just printed out the pattern.