Tales from Rhinebeck
So! This year was my first trip to the New York Sheep and Wool Festival, affectionately referred to simply as Rhinebeck. As a n00b, I tried to gauge what I was up against, and I was glad that I did. I brought along the beau and his mother, both knitters (the beau is working on his second project, his mom is massively talented, but doesn't think she is. She's a sweater and sock-a-holic, mostly making socks for her daughter). I made sure to make a list of things I was specifically looking for, and that I would let myself buy, specifically noting what bloggers and fellow ravelers said would definitely be there (Quiviut and Socks That Rock stood out as desirables). But I had specific yarns and specific projects in mind to shop for, and a budget carefully outlined...and I didn't even abandon EITHER completely! Score one for me...I'm shocked!
So, going into the festival, I told the beau "Worst case scenario: I leave here with a loom or spinning stuff and a garbage bag full of fiber." I stood strong. I have way too much crafty stuff supplies dedicated to my lifelong interests of counted cross-stitch and beading, for example, on top of a stash that would make some knitters woozy. I promised myself I'd work through the stash that's already dedicated to projects before I would even consider a drop spindle. Looms...now that's a little more dangerous, because I'm already interested in weaving. I've done bead weaving since I was 11 (huh, I just realized that's the same year my Gram tried to get me to start knitting...lol), and it's the same concept, but you have a lot more possibilities with yarn. I can see myself in 20 years with a fiber room with a huge spinning wheel and loom and just shelves everywhere of fiber and yarn and books...and I'm grinning just thinking about that...but I will need to win the lottery (or at least finish school) before that could even be anything less than a pipe dream.
I'm getting ahead of myself. Anyway, the three of us decided to stay in a hotel about halfway there (where my last post was updated...woot!) and head up from there. It was a good choice, and we got a much better deal on the room than if we had stayed closer, where the hotels were jerks and overcharging to capitalize on the event. Grr. So...we got to the festival, and got our bearings, and pretty much decided not to get caught up in the buildings, but instead decided to wait for the Ravelry meetup, since it was only about 15 minutes from then. We forgot to realize that we ditched our coats so we wouldn't have to be carrying them while in the heated buildings...and 15 minutes outdoors in the cold feels like HOURS. We also didn't know anyone specifically that was going to be there out of online friends; I was the only one who's semi-active on Ravelry, and I don't chat much in the groups, and didn't know of any of my cyber-pals that were going to be there. Even though I recognized people, I am terribly shy, so I didn't really talk to anyone (at first...I talked to some people later). I just stood there, freezing my ass off, and trying to at least get a little knitting done on my Leyburn Socks. I got a couple rows done, but my fingers were so stiff and cold!!! We were so cold that by the time the Ravelry geniuses appeared, with Ysolda in a knit Bob mascot suit, we basically ran away once we got our Ravelry buttons.
We tried to make an orderly round of it, and started at the buildings right up the hill from the meetup. The boy's foot was bothering him, and he was more interested in the wine and cheese anyway, so he went to settle into that building and amuse himself while his mom and I tried not to buy everything we saw. There was a lot of cool stuff, and a lot of stuff I could get at local stores or very easily online. I found a lot of places were overpriced. We were looking around for at least an hour before I made my first purchase: Mini Mochi! I got rainbow and blue/green/purple (the colors my bff says are "my colors" and she will find this very predictable of me. Well, I can't be the only one that loves those colors, they're so easy to find all together already!). I've never seen it in a store before (and, of course, now that I bought some, I'll see it everywhere) and the price was right. Done and done! I actually held off for quite a while after that before buying anything else. I did spend a long time staring at the yarn in the quiviut booth. I was sadly disappointed that all of their blends had silk in them. I would have bought a $30 ball if it had been a quiviut/wool or cashmere, or alpaca...but everything had silk, too! My only other option was the pure quiviut at $76. I was tempted, and I also was tested ethically, and even considered for a moment that I don't buy silk because it kills bugs. BUGS! But then I put my foot down and said, no, it kills silkworms, and it's not necessary. No waffling just cuz I wanted yarn. So, still, no Musk Ox will be sliding across my needles in the near future. Sad.
From there, we met back up with the boy, who, along with his mom, wanted some keilbasa. I said have fun in that epic line, I'm gonna sit down a few. I ended up meeting a very nice couple that was also from New Jersey. We talked a bit, and the boy teased me that I pulled out my socks to demonstrated how it's really easy to knit 2 socks at a time on 2 circs. I was among my people! This was considered normal! People nearby could see and smiled, and were all bedecked in handknits! It was a very powerful moment for me. I was starting to see the social aspect of knitting, finally. The understanding. It's very powerful.
While the carnivores enjoyed their nosh, I ventured off on my own to the barns. I found some freakin killer deals on some stuff. I'm not gonna do a yarn haul, but when I do make projects from the yarn I bought, I'll post that I got the yarn at Rhinebeck. Anyway, one of my unique scores was a Hiya Hiya circ in size 6-0. That's right: 000000. For miniature knitting. I was SO happy! Since I've been back, I keep wanting to throw my socks to the side and bust out that circ and make something tiny and outrageous. But I'm being good. Socktoberfest comes but once a year!
Speaking of Socktoberfest, I was true to my list and acquired several skeins of SOLID sock yarns. No more pining away after sock patterns, only to lament my need to get crazy handpaints. I even got a rich royal purple that just BEGS to be made into Esther socks. My second squee moment (well, in regards to yarn; I was all giddy over the animals and people too) was when I found a basket of Crazy Zauberball yarn. I thought I was picking up the rainbowy one, but apparently that is the Frische Fische and I got kleiner Fuchs. I am amused by these color names, because they apparently mean "fresh fish" (rainbow) and "small fox" or "tortoiseshell butterfly" (big difference there. German is a strange language) for the one I got. So...I'm slightly disappointed, but it is still rainbowy, and this just means that if I ever find the "fresh fish" (LOLZ!)...oh, darn, I'll have to buy more!
In between the barn booths, and shopping till dropping, I petted sheep, angora goats, llamas, alpaca, bunnies...and even got to meet George Washington and his Leicester sheep!
I was hunting the perfect cherry red yarn for Susan, and eventually found some that was awesome...AND on sale! So, in that same booth I picked up my first mohair...ever. Well, unless you count the ONE skein of Moonlight Mohair I bought (and hated). I even bought it with a project in mind. I was on FIYAH!
We were all separated for a while, and I happened upon a tent with a shop I'd never heard of before (Sliver Moon Farm), which had the craziest bright yellow sock yarn I'd ever seen (and coveted badly, but I put the small skein back in exchange for a skein with ten times the yardage for three times the price. Can't argue with that...I just wish I could have gotten the huge skein in that YELLOW!).
Once I got to the end, having sped-shopped through most of the barns, I decided to head back to the buildings where we started. One thing I want to note, there were a few booths that had some awesome stuff that I was very interested in. And the whole place was busy, which I sure hope the vendors realized would happen. But you know what? I didn't spend a dime in a bunch of them, since there were NO PRICES ON ANYTHING! I'm not going to waste my time jostling through a crowd to GET the item I like, then jostle through the crowd back to someone who looks like they work for that vendor, but who may or may not, then interrupt them from ringing up the huge line of people who will all glare at me for holding them up more, just to ask a price, which may or may not be any kind of a deal. VERY disappointing. I was especially sensitive to asking about prices after I was BARKED a price at by a vendor, clearly annoyed by my question, even though it was her own damn fault the skeins weren't marked. I wasted five minutes of precious browsing time pawing through skein after skein of her Malabrigo Sock for just ONE with a price, but nothin. And the price I was barked was no better than what they sell it for at Downtown Yarns, and I'm sure I can find a deal online. Anyway. I know there's a snowball's chance in hell that any of the vendors would even FIND much less READ my blog, but if anyone ever reads this that knows any vendors at any of these big fiber shows? There are people traveling really far with the sole purpose to buy lots of fiber. Make it easy for them, or they will go to another booth that DOES make it easy. I certainly did.
So, enough with that rant. When I doubled back to find my partners in crime, as well as ponder quiviut and some of my "maybe" booths once again...I realized I hadn't seen several of the yarns I had specifically set out to find. I thought that was strange. As I pondered this, I walked into one of the booths that I had skipped at the beginning of my rounds, since it was way too crowded. Lo, and behold, it was The Fold, one of the most sought after booths, with their (still) massive display...of SOCKS THAT ROCK. Yes!!! I have never knit with STR before, and, though I was curious, I had never been so antsy as after seeing the Yarn Harlot's STR projects. Gorgeous, I tell you! So...this was the only vendor where my credit card came out, and I went over my budget by 3 skeins of STR. Worth it? I think so.
So...I was still surprised that I did not come across a SINGLE skein of Louet Gems Pearl. I see projects on ravelry made out of it ALL the friggin time, though I've never once noticed a single skein in a yarn shop, nor did I see any at Rhinebeck. Weird! I am branching out in sock yarns these days, since I've realized, as much as I adore koigu, when you think about it in price per yard...it's really expensive. I may even venture so far as to say that I like Malabrigo sock as much...I'm not sure if I like it better, but it's on par. And for 4 dollars more for a skein that's three times as much??? Wrong. So wrong. I'm sorry koigu, I'm gonna stick to only saving you out of sale bins. Oh, random, come to think of it, I don't think I even saw any koigu at Rhinebeck!? OH - I have to remind myself that I should get to Seaport Yarns sometime soon. I didn't pick up any of the Rhinebeck colorways that J.Knits put out while up there. But I can get them in NYC...and I really like J.Knits, their yarn, and them as a company (though I did overhear the ladies at Downtown Yarns bitching about their J.Knits rep...very professional, I tell ya), and the Rhinebeck colorways were so awesomely autumnal and scrumptious.
So. That was a very broad stroke of my first Rhinebeck experience...on the drive home we were already talking about next year...
OH! And we stopped at a rest area, and while I was in line for some food, I was stopped by a fellow raveler (I didn't even think to ask her name, I'm an idiot!) who just turned to me and asked if I had fun at the festival. I think dripping in handknits is a good way to illicit these kinds of questions...especially when you're wearing Jaywalkers. We talked a bit; it was her first year, too, and her friends came over and we talked a little, and then went our separate ways. So, another positive social aspect situation to gently shove me more toward that sort of thing. I dunno. I think the wool fumes just made us all especially giddy and nice, and apparently made me a little less shy.
I'm just really sad that Stitches East is happening this year mere MILES from my childhood home in Connecticut, but it is very doubtful that I will go. It's about equally as far from here as Rhinebeck was, and we've been on the go every weekend for way too long. We need a break. And I probably could only afford to look at the yarn if I was even able to go. If I did go, I'd probably be on my own, taking a bus up, which would run me about $40 from here, then another like $10 to get in...? As much as I love the possibility of having a panic attack in a throng of knitters hundreds of miles from home, I probably will have to pass. I still think it's so funny that as soon as I heard it was going to be in Hartford, I informed the beaut that we were going; and that was a long time ago. Ah, well. I'm happy that out of the two, Rhinebeck was my first big festival like that.