Oct 30, 2014

Rhinebeck - Part 2 (AKA the goods)

This is the part where I admit to the world what a piggy I was at Rhinebeck. The important thing, for me, is that I regret absolutely nothing. I saved my ass off for Rhinebeck (even taking shifts bottling booze at a local distillery - I know, how sad for me), ended up with a pretty ridiculous budget, and spent every penny of it (ok, a wee bit over, but that's to be expected, right?). I will not apologize for my large budget, nor will I apologize for my purchases. I am fully aware that I am a piggy, but rather than feel bad about it, I'm just going to own it.

The goods (mostly):

The wool blankets were not only a great deal, but a bit of a necessity, as it got chilly at night and there weren't enough blankets at our rental. The pelt is a gift for my mom, and that along with about 27lb of bone-in lamb legs (not pictured) and a wool pillow (currently residing on my bed, improving my sleep) came from the absolutely charming folks at Point of View Farm, who raise Finn sheep. The hand-woven tea towel on top of the blankets is also a gift for my mom. From the same vendor, I found a lovely hand-woven white baby blanket, which will go to a friend soon enough (not pictured). There are a couple of skeins of yarn kind of tucked away in the photos, also gifts. Other tidbits: porcelain buttons with thistles on them from Melissa Jean, a skein of mill ends Socks that Rock (destined to become socks for the brother-in-law), some natural white alpaca (which will become, appropriately enough, a Squish Me Cap), bone DPNS, a lo-lo bar in pink grapefruit, and some used hand cards. The shoes are from Black Oak Wool Co., and revolutionized my Rhinebeck experience on day 2. Bought them in the morning (two of my friends also bought some), wore them for the rest of the day.... like walking on clouds. Absolute bliss. They will become a yearly purchase.

Let's talk about all that yarn. My other favorite vendor, beside Point of View, was The Ross Farm. They specialize in raising heritage and rare breeds - including Leicester Longwools, Romney, Jacob, Shetland, Cheviot, Cotswold and possibly others I can't recall at this time. This alone endears me to them. Every breed of sheep has a unique type of wool, and exploring the wide world of wool is just plain fun. Each is suited to different preparation, spinning, and purposes, and that's what makes wool such an adventure, and such a versatile fiber. Anyone who works to preserve and advance the more rare breeds is a winner in my book. That Amy and her husband are so fucking friendly and fun is just icing on the cake. I bought two of their yarns: worsted-weight 100% Jacob (SO DELISH) and bulky 100% Leicester Longwool (the two piles of grey in the photo: Jacob on the left, LL in the middle). The Jacob will be a cabled sweater (Fisherman's Daughter), the LL will make up the majority of a Cowichan-inspired jacket (Rockaway). I am so stinking eager to work with both. The Ross Farm is good people, and I am really pleased to throw my money at them.

Between the two piles of grey is some more Jacob I picked up from the Jacob Conservancy booth. I absolutely love Jacobs. They are by far the most interesting-looking sheep. They are naturally piebald, usually white with black, but sometimes white with brown, and they tend to have a shitload of horns (up to 6!). If I ever have a farm, you can bet your ass it'll be populated by Jacobs.

photo from the Jacob Sheep Breeders Association

The pile of red is Legacy Bulky yarn from O-Wool, destined for a Tonks's Togs, or maybe a different cabled sweater. I have trouble believing that a massive (you know, size Fluffy), heavy, cabled sweater that is not seamed will hold up. I can just see it sag like crazy, and that would be heartbreaking. We'll see. The yarn is 100% organic merino, and what's not to love about that?

A few things didn't make it into the picture, namely the bowl I got from Jennie the Potter:

same bowl as in the first photo
I visited her booth on Sunday, when it had been pretty well picked-over. I'm not one for standing in long lines, especially when my time is limited, so I did not even go near her booth on Saturday! This bowl just made my heart sing. A cow, in a scarf. I fucking adore it.

Last, but certainly not least, my purchases from Going Gnome. I could easily have spent my entire budget in her booth. I don't even have the words to express how awesome these guys are. Luckily, the photos speak for themselves.

The two spindles in the main photo of my haul will be discussed in a future post. I know I promised a rant, but this post is long enough, and full of joy, so I'll save that for next time :)

Oct 24, 2014


Rhinebeck. For the uninitiated: the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival, held in Rhinebeck, NY. For knitters, spinners, crocheters, fiber enthusiasts, sheep aficionados it is known merely as "Rhinebeck". Also, as heaven. Where we go to shop, pet, ogle, covet, occasionally throw elbows, and find just a moment of zen in our fibery lives - a zen we share with tens of thousands of fellow wackos.

This was my second year, and it turned out about the same as my first: demolished my budget, got high on lanolin, came back with a million ideas, and failed to take as many photos as I desired. I was fortunate to share the experience with five friends and a shockingly well-behaved baby. Rhinebeck truly is better with friends! Friends make the 12-14 hour drive not only bearable, but at times fun. Friends allow you to relive the experience over and over without fear of divorce-for-reasons-of-she-won't-shut-up-about-Rhinebeck. Friends mean enabling. Each evening, we would have a group show-and-tell, where we would inevitably end up with grabby hands and make plans for more buying the next day (or online, or the next year, or xmas lists...). Friends are key.

So. Rhinebeck.

First things first: the sweater. The Rhinebeck sweater seems to be one of two things: a hand-knit you pulled out all the stops on - your masterpiece, the best piece of knitting of the year, etc., or it is a hand-knit you started with just barely enough time to finish for Rhinebeck. Sometimes it is both! Needless to say, Rhinebeck is a parade of amazing hand-knits of which each maker is incredibly and justifiably proud. I wish people were always this proud and exuberant about their work, but unfortunately, there are still people in this world who don't get it, and who fail to show the appropriate amount of awe and wonder in the presence of hand-knits for those proud feelings to be sustainable forever and always. This year, I wore last year's sheep vest on Saturday, primarily because it is my official fiber festival hand-knit (it has sheep and balls of yarn on it. c'mon.), but also because it was in the upper 60s, and really not sweater weather. Sunday (lower 50s) saw my official Rhinebeck Sweater. It is Blaithin by Kate Davies, knit in Donegal Yarns Soft Donegal, and it is absolutely lovely. I've been wearing it basically every day since.

 I cannot say enough good things about both the pattern and the resultant sweater. I fucking love it. The ceramic buttons are from MerryButtons and I adore them. I did do a little bit of a mod on the colorwork, where it begins/ends to create a less abrupt start. Oh, and the badass t-shirt? A great woman in my knitting group designed it, and yes those are Doritos trailing out the window. Our Rhinebeck roadtrip was officially (not officially) sponsored by Doritos.

But Rhinebeck is more than just a non-stop parade of wonderful woolen wonders. There are sheep!

So many sheep. None of which came home with me, per a foolish agreement with the husband. I totally could've fit a couple in the prius. Two Shetlands or one Cotswold, for sure. Next year...

There were also about a million amazing vendors. I don't even understand the people who come home with a few skeins of yarn and that's it, but that's a rant for another time (next post!). As already stated, I didn't take nearly enough photographs, so this is a tiny peek at the awesomeness that are the vendors at Rhinebeck:

 I did, however, take a crap ton of photos of the amazing felted gnomes from Going Gnome. This should surprise exactly no one.

 JUST LOOK AT THAT RED BEARD. I could easily have spent my entire budget in that booth. I did come home with a gnome and a rock monster, but they are feeling quite lonely. I have a sneaking suspicion that one of her kits will end up on my xmas list this year. Because I need another hobby.

I left Rhinebeck minus a big wad of cash, plus memories, loads of yarn and goodies, and a yearning for next year's fest to not be quite so far away. I'll show off all the yarn, spindles, gnomes, and other assorted purchases in the next post, along with my promised rant about people who ARE DOING IT WRONG. (I know, I know... everyone is different, blah blah blah).