Last Saturday I went to the Dutchess County Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY-- better known simply as Rhinebeck. I tried to see as much as possible in the few hours I was there-- wandered thru the sheep barns, the vendor areas, saw the Paw Stars frisbee dog show, ate fried pickles and artichokes (i carciofi fritti sono meglio in Italia!!), and bought some yarn (more on that later).
But the biggest reason I went was to meet up with some fellow knitters and designers-- working at home alone can feel quite isolated, Facebook and Twitter and Ravelry notwithstanding! So I went to the Ravelry meet-up shortly after it started, but there were crowds of knitters in various-sized groups, chatting away, and I didn't know anyone, and I am not good at just inserting myself into a random group of strangers. Instead I went and checked out the prize winning wool objects (including some amazing knits) and then returned to the Ravelry area later on, when there were only a couple dozen people left. And I lucked out, because Ysolda was there, and even though I had only met her once before, at least I knew her (and vice versa)! And then in quick succession I met Casey, Mary-Heather, Sarah and Jessica from Ravelry. I really admire all of them for what a great job they are doing with Ravelry-- at this point, it's hard to remember the online knitters' community as it was B.R. (before Ravelry)! And they were all just as nice in person as they seem on the website.
And then Connie arrived with her family, so I got to spend a couple of hours circulating with them before I had to leave. Look for Textured Stitches, her book of knitting patterns, coming out soon-- I knitted two of the samples for the book, and loved both designs. We ran into Melissa Wehrle (presently working on her first book of knitting patterns), but I had to leave before I had a chance to meet Cecily Glowik-MacDonald, who also has so many lovely designs. I also met many knitters from Connie's knitting group in the New York City area; Rhinebeck is just a couple of hours' drive north of the city.*
As for my yarn purchases, there were so many interesting yarn vendors there, but I got sucked into the Spirit Trail Fiberworks booth, first by the crowd of people, shown in the photo (must be something good in there!), and then by the lovely yarn. I ended up with two skeins of "Minerva," a heavy worsted weight merino/silk blend, in the Glencoe and Amethyst colorways (second photo). Not cheap at $65 a skein-- but each skein weighs 240 grams, meaning it contains almost as much yarn as five 50-gram skeins-- so, not prohibitively expensive, either. And with hand-dyed semisolid or variegated yarns, it's nice to to know that all of the yarn was definitely dyed at the same time! I also picked up a skein of "Birte," a DK-weight superwash merino/cashmere/silk blend, in Roman Bronze, a lovely rich brown (not pictured). It has a nice sheen and feel from the cashmere and silk content, AND it seems that it should wear well because of the high superwash wool content (85%) and fairly tight twist-- very nice for an oft-worn cardigan, I'm thinking. I had to stand in a long line to make my purchases, but Jennifer, the owner, apologized to everyone for the wait, and handed out homemade chocolate chip cookies, which definitely helped!
And finally, I was also taken by the leather bag handles at the Homestead Heirlooms booth; I didn't buy any because I don't have any knitted bags in the works, but they came in an assortment of great styles and colors.
*I read a recent post by Wendy Bernard about the perception that knit bloggers/designers can be a cliquey group. I know what she means, and I don't really feel a part of the group (maybe out on the fringes somewhere!). But what she also indirectly alluded to, and what has been my observation, is that what may seem cliquey is really mostly due to many of these blogger/designers knowing each other personally-- beyond the internet. Whether that is because they live near each other (those lucky ones in the NYC area come to mind), or found each others' work or blogs online and made an effort to meet in person (like me and Connie), I actually like the fact that face-to-face interaction is still on a different level than screen-to-screen, even if both kinds can lead to friendship. Maybe just because of the extra effort required to actually meet and talk??