I finally made the pilgrimage to Rhinebeckwith a few of my best knitting friends. I’m still kind of on a Rhinebeck high, and it’s been over two weeks. What could be better than being surrounded by everything to do with yarn and fiber, and thousands of other like-minded crafty people? I’m pretty sure I’ve found my new happy place, and here’s why:
1No one judges you for fondling yarn.
In fact, it’s kind of expected. I couldn’t contain myself, surrounded by all this fuzzy loveliness. Neither could Ilana, pictured here admiring some lovely skeins of handpainted yarn.
It all had to be squished, and I had to take quite a bit of it home with me. That’s just the way it is. Here’s some more yarn porn:
This place is unbelievably huge. Imagine Fan Expo in Toronto—it’s about that big, but with only fiber-related stuff. It’s also split up into separate buildings, so it’s not only less overwhelming and noisy, but it also allows you to enjoy the beautiful scenery as you go from place to place.
2So many fuzzy animals, I almost died of cute.
There were several barns like this, just full of different breeds of goats, sheep, alpacas, and angora rabbits. I wanted to bring them all home with me, but my hubby is already wonderfully tolerant of my yarn habit, and I think that would have been the last straw. Not to mention the logistics of smuggling a smelly goat across the border back to Canada. Also I’m 90% sure that my condo board wouldn’t tolerate a goat in the little “backyard” behind my townhouse, nor is there any place to hide one, so it just wasn’t going to work. Does it sound like I’ve put way too much thought into this?
I almost tried spinning directly from the fleece of the delightful creature on the right, but just barely stopped myself. Mostly because it wouldn’t have worked, but also because I do have some self control (if I’m honest, it’s mostly because his owner was watching).
We got to feed him at a petting zoo on the way in to the fair, and he has an absolutely spectacular under bite. I think it must come in handy for catching falling bits of feed that would otherwise be wasted on the ground (or eaten by his poor little goat room mates, who were far too polite for their own good and therefore hardly got fed). He was very eager to eat, and would jump up on the fence anytime someone would so much as come close to the goat feed vending machine, and start licking and biting at the air in anticipation.
I have no idea what his name is, but I’d call him Duncan.
4 Food at Rhinebeck has no calories.
Ha…I wish. I definitely gained a couple pounds, but it was totally worth it. So many delicious things and I wanted to eat all of them! Like this maple cotton candy, which looks just like a bag of fluffy spinning fiber, but is actually a bag of fluffy maple sugar, which is just as good.
Or this delightful treat, simply called “Fried Dough”. I appreciated the transperency and honesty of the name, so I split a portion with my friends Kate and Ilana. Being in the States, I’m pretty sure one of these artery-clogging slabs is intended for one person, but we decided to Canadianize the portions and cut it into four pieces.
And last but not least, the apple cider donuts. There is always a huge line at the place that sells these, but they are well worth the wait. They are absolutely amazing, especially with a dollop of ice cream.
5 I got to meet Gertie!
This is me with Gretchen Hirsch, the face behind Gertie’s Blog for Better Sewing. I got a copy of her latest book signed, and she is just one of the loveliest people I’ve ever met. I’m now tempted to dye my hair a vibrant colour, maybe hot pink? Maybe just as highlights, or the bottom layer of my hair? What do you think?
6 It’s about a 10-hour drive each way.
At least, if you’re taking a tour bus (which we did) and have to make a few hour-long stops on the way. Which sounds like a bad thing, but it was the most uninterrupted knitting time I’ve had since my baby (I’ll call him Boy) was born, and it was glorious. The best part was getting to goof off with some great friends:
7 I rediscovered my love of drop-spindle spinning.
Ilana alternated between a knitting project, and spinning on her drop spindle. It was just mesmerizing, and I ended up getting a lovely weighted drop spindle at the fair and spinning most of the way back home. Since I got my wheel, I hadn’t touched my spindles (which were what I originally learned to spin on) since wheel spinning is so fast and satisfying, while being rhythmic and relaxing in its own right. But spindle spinning also has its charm, and is so much more portable than even the smallest foldable spinning wheels could ever be. Not to mention, it’s a great conversation starter…you don’t often see people drop-spindling in public. Which I plan to do a whole lot more of from now on.
8 There is always someone to lend you a piece of lovely hand-knit clothing.
It’s odd, I’m a knitter and have a conspicuous lack of my own hand-knit clothing. It’s partly a combination of knitting things for other people, as well as several laundry accidents that ruined most of the things I have made for myself. Actually, the scarf I’m wearing in this photo very nearly became another laundry accident statistic, but luckily she escaped mostly unscathed and just looks a little more “rustic” now.
I tried to knit a sweater in time for Rhinebeck, but due to both lack of time as well as lack of proper measuring and swatching (I hereby vow, by the way, to always meticulously swatch and measure from now on before embarking on any knitting project that requires to fit well. What a waste.) it just didn’t happen. Luckily, Ilana came to the rescue and let me borrow her Spice Trail cardigan, knit for her by her mother. I loved it so much, I’m working on my own now (more on that in a future post).
9 There’s a whole room of fleece for sale.
And it smells more like sheep than you could possibly imagine, but in a good way. I couldn’t possibly list all the kinds of fleece that were available. Just about every breed of sheep or goat you could imagine, from alpaca to mohair to corriedale and merino. I almost bought a bag, but thought better of it. I wasn’t sure if I’d have trouble crossing the border with a raw fleece (do any of you have experience buying a fleece and taking it across the US/Canada border? If so, let me know in the comments!), not to mention I’d have to wash it as soon as I came home (and I definitely didn’t have time for that) or my whole house would smell like farm, and I didn’t think either Hubby or Boy would appreciate that. Sigh, maybe next year.
10 The leaves at Rhinebeck are better than the leaves at home.
See for yourself: