Monday, October 22, 2007

Wool to the left of me, Alpaca to the right...

here I am smack in the middle of Rhinebeck...

Ok that was bad, I apologize.

Let's get down to business shall we? Because there is so much to discuss. For the non-fiber fiends in the audience I apologize again for what will surely be of no interest to you (it should be, but I can't help it if you have no discerning taste when it comes to hobbies). This is a picture-laden post so as always, click for bigger shots. Let's begin at the very beginning...

It was Saturday.

A lovely Saturday in the Hudson River Valley.

Jenn and I awoke promptly at 6. The alarm was set for 7 but it's like Christmas where even though you know very well you can't open your presents until mom and dad are awake, you wake up anyway in the hopes that maybe just maybe it'll already be time.

Unfortunately, continental breakfast wasn't being served until 7:30. So while we waited, we took a little tour of the grounds of the scenic Skytop Motel in Kingston. Not so much "skytop" as "near the skytop" but beggars can't be choosers.

Here's Jenn trying to hide her Red Bull addiction while we wait for some caffeine in the form of coffee.

But once the coffee was served we got on our way. Jenn put together a simply amazing soundtrack for our drive with knitting themed songs including my two favorites "Stick to Your Knittin Kitten" a barbershop quartet-y song and "The Knitting Bee" (which included lyrics such as "Knit one way and purl back the other/And you've got a stockinette stitch./Pick up some stitches to put on a collar,/or whenever you want your direction to switch.")

I was so glad we left when we did because we got a prime parking spot near the gate and were among the first people to set foot on the Dutchess County Fairgrounds.

We followed some Ravelers to Building A and did a walkthrough to get the lay of the land while most of the vendors were still setting up. I think for the first 20 minutes or so we just walked around with our mouths hanging open and then we got to business. First stop was Brooks Farm, a vendor from Texas with some really beautiful stuff. I made a bee-line for the sale rack and got a 375 yard skein of Riata a wool/mohair/silk blend in pale green.

We took another spin through Building A, observed the quickly growing line at The Fold, and then went off in search of coffee. We walked back towards the entrance and saw Jess and Casey of Ravelry fame in line for coffee. They were both so nice and I hope they're enjoying their celebrity status after all their hard work. Jess gave me and Jenn buttons so we could display our Ravelry names and was the first person to admire Big Red. The rest of the morning everyone wanted to know all about where we got those buttons!

Next stop was Briar Rose Fibers. And um, wow. Such beautiful stuff. I ran into another Tilted Duster there. I gave the wearer (Cooknknit from Ravelry) a "Nice Sweater." and she returned the favor. It's so funny running into people with the same handknit items, but it seemed like we were the only two sporting the Duster that day. While oogling yarn at Briar Rose the woman next to me says "Excuse me, but do either of you play Fantasy Football." I said, "Why yes I do!" Turns out she's the commish of one of my leagues and we were facing off this weekend! The things that happen at Rhinebeck!

From that point on it was pretty much just me throwing money at every vendor in sight.
And here's me blowing my bonus check.

I bought beautiful roving from Hope Spinnery and encountered this awesome sign at a booth nearby:

Jenn and I checked out the animals. Sheep, Llamas, Alpacas, Goats, Bunnies... they were everywhere and it was awesome. There were also a few sheep dogs for sale.

As we made our way through the various barns and tents I kept getting accosted or chased down by people admiring the Tilted Duster. It was unreal! Jenn said afterwards she wished we had counted how many times someone stopped to compliment me. It must've been at least 20 or 30 times. Big Red, you're a celebrity! Truly a show-stopper!

Whenever our bags got too heavy, we took a trip back to the car which made me so glad we parked so close.

We checked out the Sheep Dog Trials behind the barns. It was something straight out of Babe. Hah.

There were the livestock auctions and shows. We saw this guy in black who won a blue ribbon. So cute.

Jenn liked petting the sheep.

And fiber.

The weather could not have been more perfect. Such a beautiful autumn day.

Maybe it could've been cooler so that I could have worn my Duster longer. I made sure to put it on for the Blogger meet-up at noon. What can I say? I'm a glutton for attention!

The meet-up was just so interesting. My new friend Cooknknit in the other Duster and I took pics together to immortalize our good taste in patterns :) As I said in a previous post, I opted to not participate in Blogger Bingo this year. I figured it would let me focus on the festival without having one more thing to distract me. But wow it looked like such fun! I will definitely do it next year. People everywhere laughing, chatting, hugging. Such a great community of people. Sniff. Knitters are great.

I ran into Kylie from my Yarntopia Sit 'n' Knit because her friends saw Big Red and started oohing and aahing. We got some tasty lamb kabob sandwiches and cider for lunch and I must say my only regret is that I did not eat more.

The line for lamb deliciousness. Mmmm.

But there simply was too much to see! Including this strange version of a Christmas tree near where we ate our lunch.

Or these pumpkins carved by students from the C.I.A.

At this point we realized we were moving at a pretty good pace.
We had seen a lot of things and it was only about 2pm so we decided we could retrace our steps a bit or browse for longer. Jenn also decided she should convince me that buying a wheel would be the smartest decision I could make. Best offer accepted:

I confess, these Hitchhiker Wheels make it very difficult for me. They're tiny and (relatively) cheap. So I took an order form and the guy from Merlin Tree's card. We'll see how I take to spindle spinning.

We went back to Briar Rose Fibers where I noticed something familiar in front of me. It looked like a Kauni Cardigan. A very famous Kauni Cardigan. So I nudged Jenn. She shrieked a little. And then while I pretended to be browsing the rack (that was already alarmingly picked over), she Kinneared the Yarn Harlot as she made a purchase. That was awesome.

That's me and my backpack on the left.

In the end, it was an exhausting day. But as Jenn said as we walked out close to 5pm, "That was the best day ever." Hands down. No exaggerations. We loaded up the car and took in the sheer scope of what we had accomplished:

A whole lotta junk in the trunk

My final observation came as we sat in the car leaving the parking lot. I could simply not believe how orderly the lines were to get out. And then it hit me. Knitters are an incredibly logical breed. As the lines from different areas met up, alternate feed worked perfectly. "Aha!" I cried. "K2tog!" The only point at which this pattern was messed up was when folks from a kids' soccer practice tried to get in the mix and totally messed with the Knitters' orderly system.

Rhinebeck was simply amazing. I'll be back next year, for sure.

Edited to add: Check out this pic with notes in Flickr for details on all the Rhinebeck booty.