Rhinebeck 2011

Be warned, this is a cranky post.

Well, I wish I could say I was as enthusiastic about my Rhinebeck experience this year as I have in years past, but I can’t. The company was superb: I went with my good friend Susie, of Knitting Knoobie fame.  The view was as lovely…

The sheep were just as cute…

The donuts were as yummy…

But the weather was an issue this year; heavy rains the night before rendered much of the grassy parking areas unusable due to flooding. This means it took earlybirds like myself an hour and a half to drive the short distance from the Rhinecliff Bridge to the fairgrounds. After a long drive from the city, that’s torture. My first stop, needless to say, was the restroom. I consider myself lucky – those who arrived later than I did had an even longer wait.

I have written & re-written this post over the past 2 weeks, as I was unhappy with the tone of it. Suffice it to say, that there were numerous things the fairgrounds staff could have & should have done better. And I don’t blame them, the folks who should have been managing & training their staff to accommodate their customers didn’t prepare well. This is a large, popular festival & people come from all over the world to attend. It’s unfair to make people wait for so bloody long to get in. Unfair to those waiting to get in, and to the vendors inside wondering where their customers are.

After the positive experiences of last year, I had planned to go to Stitches East to do my major yarn shopping, and use my Rhinebeck time for socializing & shopping more for non-yarn items: buttons, tools, gifts, foods. Alas, most of the vendors I really wanted to see [Tess’ Yarns & Sanguine Gryphon] said they wouldn’t be going to Stitches this year, only to Rhinebeck, which is a pity. Stitches East is an indoor, well lit, spacious shopping experience. Last year I wound up buying a lot more than I had expected to because it was laid out so well, I got to see more yarns than I knew I would find there. So I spent my time at Rhinebeck hunting for yarn & nothing else.

After the frustration of getting there, I must admit my enthusiasm had waned a bit. I didn’t get to see all of the vendors I had planned to, and the popular ones booths were so crowded, it was hard to get in to shop, and harder still to find what you wanted. But I managed to get a tidy haul for myself.

Tess’ Designer Yarns was in attendance this year, and I was happy to have found them. I first discovered them at Stitches East last year, and I loved the Superwash Merino I had purchased from them. I turned it into a February Lady cardigan. I was pleased with the yarn & was determined to get some more this year. Their booth was a bit small for their needs, and navigating it was difficult due to the crowded layout & the throngs of people. It didn’t help that their location was misprinted in the map of vendors & no explanation was available in the location where they were supposed to be.

I bought this lovely Superwash Merino in a deep cranberry red for a Christmas sweater for my Mum.

Sanuine Gryphon was even more crowded than Tess’ booth, with a line of patiently waiting customers that extended out of the building, and wound its way around & around. This was too much for me after the traffic fiasco, so I decided to spare myself & leave them for the next day.

The next day, we arrived early & were first in line for Sanguine Gryphon. They booth was decorated as festively as we have come to expect, the yarns were put out and ready & the girls were in costume. By the time they opened, the line extended out of the building. We waited, ran in & grabbed whatever we could of whatever was left over from Saturday.

It. Was. Chaos. Pushing & short tempers are not what I associate with knitty folks, but that’s how it was.

Here’s what I bought: A sweater’s worth of beautiful Bugga in Ruddy Daggerwing…a beautiful coppery color that embodies autumn…

…+ a couple of skeins of  purply Vampire Moth for contrasting trim.

Considering the sad news of Sanguine Gryphon’s closing, I’m glad I got as much as I did.

There were other vendors that I never got to see: Blackberry Hill Farm has some beautiful yarns, Melissa Jean makes handmade ceramic buttons that are both beautiful & affordable, Bartlett Yarns  makes a nice sport weight in cones, but they didn’t have many colors with them this year, Miss Babs who I found at Stitches East last year & has such pretty colorways. And it didn’t help that I came down with a cold & left early on Sunday.

I will go back to Rhinebeck next year, but if it’s as crazy & inconvenient as it was this year, I think it will be my last. Without the room to move, shopping becomes a chore to be endured, rather than an experience to savor. These days, you can shop online anytime. I used to wait for the festivals & buy there, but I think I’ll be happier just buying what I want online or at my LYS. I pray that next year is better than this year.

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Stitches East 2010

The buzz from Rhinebeck had *just* about worn off when I hopped into the car again & pointed it in a yarny direction: north to Stitches East in Hartford, CT.

I have been to Rhinebeck twice now, and have never attended any other wool festivals, so I really didn’t know what to expect. Stitches seems to be more of a shopping experience, whereas Rhinebeck is most thrilling for its social aspect. Ravelry does not have a presence at Stitches, at least not on the day I went, and that was a pity. I love meeting up with people I’ve been chatting with online & finally putting a face to the ravatar! However, Stitches had loads of great sales & deals on beautiful yarns to console me – too many to pass up. I bought a LOT of yarn – even more, I think, than I came away from Rhinebeck with.

I went on Friday, before the major crowds arrived for a weekend of fun, so I got to enjoy an easy, unrushed shopping experience. The upshot of this lack of frenzy was that I got to really peruse & consider the yarns – perhaps this is why I bought so many.

Shelter! at the Harrisville booth

Kauni!

Socks that Rock

I didn’t get pics of every booth, in fact the more enamored I was of the yarns, the less presence of mind I had to whip out the camera.

Sanguine Gryphon, String Theory, Tess’ Designer Yarns, Tree of Life patterns, Green Mountain Spinnery, Lisa Souza, Stitchuary, Black Water Abbey Yarns, Harrisville, Isager, Kauni, Shelter, Socks that Rock, WEBS, Patternworks, Flying Fingers, Debra’s Garden, the Mannings, Lion Brand, Yarn Barn of Kansas were in attendance, and many, many more. Many, but not all, offered nice discounts. There were a few indie producers, and dichroic glass artists that offered beautiful buttons, as well as jewelry & hair accessories.  Most shops had at least an armload of beautiful knitted samples of their patterns & wools to try on, and the colors & textures were amazing. I am definitely going back next year!

Next time, I will post pics of the great stuff that came home with me.

Stitches East 2009 & fair isle 101

After long & careful consideration, I’ve decided (80% sure) not to go to Stitches this year. I had a fantastic time at Rhinebeck, but I just don’t feel like driving a long way again. I may change my mind – I’m very indecisive, but for now, I’m thinking it won’t happen.

I also wasted about 2 hours this afternoon looking for a nice vacation rental in Maine to replace the one we used to stay at, that apparently is no longer being rented. We loved that place & we’ll miss it – especially since the places I’m finding are all either way overpriced, or too bare-bones. I enjoy staying in homes instead of hotels – we can take our cat with us, we can cook for ourselves, we can relax in a way that just doesn’t seem possible in hotels or b&b’s. I’m not giving up completely, but I just can’t look any more tonight.

So I found a simple-looking fair isle pattern I want to attempt for my first try. You can see it here. It’s very simple, and I can’t help but wonder how the top area would look if it were done in multi-color (think Bohus). I also think I might like it better as a pullover. I’d use shetland wool, despite the fact the pattern calls for alpaca, because I’m in a shetland-y place right now. I wish there was a place nearby that carried the full line of Jamieson’s shetland. I’d like to peruse the colors first-hand, as most e-tailers use ridiculously small thumbnail pics that are *not* accurate. I say this because the last batch I ordered, while pleasing, looked nothing like I expected it to.

The second Debbie Bliss pleated scarf I’m making as a pressie is almost done. After it’s finished, I can get back to the Hargreaves Darcy cardi I’m making. I was hoping when I cast on that one that it would be done in time for Rhinebeck – now I’m hoping I’l have it done by Christmas. Hey I’m learning – aim low. 😉