Rhinebeck

Well, after years of planning, I finally got to go to the NY State Sheep & Wool Festival, more commonly referred to by knitters as ‘Rhinebeck’ for it’s location. It was thrilling & disappointing in doses, but overall it was lots of fun, and worth the trip. Allow me to expand on that…

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When you first arrive, it strikes you that the place is huge. The trek from one end to the other is daunting when you consider how many temptations lie therein. There are many buildings full of vendors waiting to thrill you with their wares. And so many of the people attending had rolling carts with them, or numerous cloth bags hanging from their shoulders, or market baskets, or even old-fashioned split-ash backpack baskets. I came with just one small backpack, and that was already a bit crowded with the extra sweater I brought to fend off the chill – singularly inadequate if I would have found a stash-worth of yarns to buy, but I was hoping not to break the bank – my stash is too large for my tastes right now, and while I’ve set upon working through it, I’m still too weak-willed to say no to a lovely bit of new yarn.

Unfortunately, this year I’d say it was a spinner’s paradise – it seemed most vendors had more roving for sale than finished yarns overall. I suppose it’s more cost effective for them, but not being a spinner, I was pretty disappointed in this. There were lots of crafted items, too, which were beautiful, but not what I was looking for. I did manage to buy some lovely wool from Bartlett Yarns (from Harmony, ME). I got two 1lb sport weight cones – one in charcoal & one in cream. They didn’t make mention of the kind of sheep the wool was shorn from, but it has a shetlandy feel to it, which pleased me to no end. The colors are lovely, the yarn is beautifully plied/processed, and I’m looking forward to casting on with it soon.

I was really surprised & disappointed at how hard it was to find simple DK or sport wt. shetland-style yarns, since that is my current obsession, but the array of handspuns, hand-dyeds, and gorgeous alpaca yarns was both beautiful and overwhelmingly tempting. If my stash wasn’t as large as it is, I’d have purchased some of the very fine alpaca yarns I had seen – dyed & undyed, and amazingly soft.
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The biggest surprise for me was the sheep. Eventually we came upon pens full of every kind of sheep & goat imaginable, and they stood up in their pens & bleated at the passers-by. I never knew sheep were such sweet, curious, gentle, social animals – especially the merinos. I enjoyed petting them & letting them sniff at me, and would someday love to keep a few as pets. (We’ll see about that one!) Amazing creatures.

There were also bunnies & alpacas!

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The drawbacks? Amazingly long lines at the food court, and the occasional bad manners in crowded corners (I had my mother-in-law & aunt with me, & I bristled when they got shoved out of the way of a silly, giggling 20-something who was trying to get by & thought it was an acceptable method – VERY sorry I didn’t catch her).

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Unfortunately, I also missed the Ravelry get-together. I saw the group picture being taken from a distance, and I REALLY wanted to meet some of the lovely people I’ve met on Ravelry, but I didn’t want to leave my party to take part – ah, well. Next year, I guess. And there WILL be a next year.

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For lunch, I wanted to give my mother-in-law & aunt a chance to rest & warm up, so we went to Arielle on Market Street for a nice French lunch. They brought me tea in one of those cast-iron Japanese teapots, and it was so nice to wrap my hands around it to warm them up! I’ve decided to get one of these little pots for myself. I had balked at at the small size of them in the past, but I now see the beauty & benefit of the iron makes them worthwhile.

The weather was perfect – we left the drizzle behind us in the city & enjoyed the colorful display of leaves from the highway as the sun emerged, and the sight got more impressive the farther north we went. I wish I could have returned on Sunday, but I had gotten sick from some coffee I had gotten on the road home, and I thought it better to rest. I know it was the right thing to do, but it was hard to stick to it! I’ll have to wait until next year to enjoy this again, and in preparation, I will try to de-stash enough to accommodate more yarn purchases from the vendors I enjoyed from this trip! Resisting temptation – no matter how practical – is no fun.

Well, that’s it. Sorry for the crappy photos, but I was trying to travel light, so I opted for the iphone camera instead of a real one. I wish I had gotten some pics of the amazing sweaters I saw people wearing – if the lovely yarns weren’t enough to rev your creative mojo, the display of FOs would certainly have done it. It was a really great time, and I’m already looking forward to next year.

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