I have wanted to go to Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool ever since I read about it on the Yarn Harlot’s blog when I first started knitting. I was amazed and curious about there being a festival entirely devoted to both sheep and their wool. I had never heard of such a thing before. Naturally, as the years went on and I fell further in love with knitting and spinning, I still wanted to go.
This year, my Mom surprised me with getting us tickets through a localish yarn shop called The Knitter’s Edge. While I didn’t get any type of sweater done for the trip, my Mom did wear the sweater I knit for her when she was having really bad arthritis in her hands and couldn’t knit herself. (Speaking of my Mom, she also took almost all of the pictures you are going to see in this blog post today because I completely forgot about taking pictures in the haze of festival adrenaline and wool fumes)
Rhinebeck is so big that I don’t know how to start describing it for those who have never been there before. It is like a local farm festival on steroids. Those of you who are familiar with OtaCon or other nerdy conventions will find the same sort of vibe at Rhinebeck, only we got to wander around outside instead of being trapped in a convention hall.
Not only did I get to see the famous Loop Bullseye Bumps in person, I got to meet Steph, the wonderful blender of the bumps, herself! It is always cool to put a face to a name and I was glad that I got to meet her in person! I did manage to narrow down my choice to a bump called Watermelon Pit which has black, pink, and a turquoise in it. I can’t wait to sit down and spin it (but that will happen after we get the apartment in order).
I also got to meet Johnathan Bosworth and spin on both of his charkas! He was a really funny man and could not get over the per-concieved notions that we spinners have (such as thinking we wouldn’t be able to draft fibers with our left hand after drafting with our right hands for so long). The charkas spun so fast that the cotton I was spinning felt like I was spinning wool because of how the twist was getting caught up in the drafting zone. I actually liked spinning on the smaller book charka better even though the larger charka could go faster. I have no idea why. It just felt more fun to spin on.
There was also the demonstration of spinning angora bunny fur straight from the rabbit. I’ve seen videos of it done, but it is something else to watch it in person. The bunny was just so calm about being plucked and spun!
Of course it wouldn’t be much of a sheep and wool festival without all parts of the sheep being appreciated for what they can do to us. We can’t forget that no matter how cute they are, they are also livestock that help provide us with meat as well as providing us with a source of renewable wool.
There was also a miniature petting zoo for the kids. They had lots of lemurs and a joey! I got to pet the adorable little joey. It felt like petting a fuzzy little chick. So adorable!
But one of my favorite parts of the trip had to be the long bus ride to and from the festival. I had brought the start of a Hitchhiker shawl to knit on and my mom had brought a tangled mess of a brioche cowl that she was having trouble with knitting. After ripping it out, she asked me to teach her how to make a Hitchhiker of her own since the pattern looked easier than a brioche cowl and she wanted something to knit on during the three hour trip there.
Now, my Mom is one of those knitters who always has to have the pattern out in front of her (and of course, I didn’t bring the pattern since I had already started the shawlette). In a matter of minutes, Mom was able to memorize and knit a good portion of her Hitchhiker on the bus ride there! I am so proud of her not using a written down pattern and slowly learning how to read her knitting whenever she had a question about what she was doing. Plus, Felici in Dark Side is looking wonderful as a Hitchhiker!
Of course, we didn’t come back empty handed! I managed to bring enough cash with me to get my goal shopping done as well as doing a bit extra.
The trip was really fun and way too short. Now that it is all over and done with, we looked at each other and asked the same thing: how about next year too?