Wednesday, October 25, 2017

"Register your goat!" Adventures with sheep and wool...

All! I'm freshly back from a foray over to the infamous (well, if you're a knitter, that is) New York Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY. I am positively aglow from all of the community love and fiber stimuli, and couldn't wait to share my warm and fuzzy experience with all of you. Do you have your coffee? It's starting to get chilly out, so you really should! ;-)

On Friday, I headed out with my knitting group on the 5 hour journey to the Hudson Valley. I have always wanted to attend this fiber festival; it's within a reasonable driving distance from my home, and it's one of the largest in the country! This year, we had it all planned out, and I worked my teaching schedule around it. I was going. Sheepies, here I come!

I'm a knitter, you all know this. I'm also a crocheter. Animal fiber makes me HAPPY. There's just so many things about it that appeal to me: it's softness. It's coziness. It's potential. The creative possibilities that it holds. The fact that it can keep me and my family warm. The thought of all of the yarn that lie ahead of me was enough to make me squeal with joy on Friday.

We got in, had a lovely dinner, rested up for our big day on Saturday. And what a day it was:

I live in a beautiful area of the country, and I'm so grateful to God for putting me here. Autumn is my absolute FAVORITE time of the year, and down in the Hudson Valley, foliage was even more prominent than here in Western New York.

Crossing over the Hudson River on our way into Rhinebeck Saturday morning
We had a gorgeous ride in, powered up with breakfast, and headed to the Dutchess County Fairgrounds. We were immediately greeted by many, MANY furry creatures:

Angora bunny
Very cute goat
  Alpacas and llamas abounded.

That one on the left was very grumpy and spit at someone :0
And of course, the big attraction was the raw fleece for sale:

And the yarn:

SO MUCH YARN. And the thing is, this is not like yarn you get at the craft store. That yarn is perfectly lovely, don't get me wrong, and very practical for many purposes. But this yarn is LUXURIOUS. Hand spun, hand dyed, animal fibers like merino wool, alpaca, cashmere. In other words, one could spend A LOT of money if you are a yarn lover at an event like this. :0

Most of the vendors had handknit items featuring their yarn on display, and thus naturally one could covet said item and desire to procure the yarn to make one herself:

A shawl designed especially for Rhinebeck by Decadent Fiber Arts. I may or may not have bought the kit to make one as well. *halo*

Needle felted corn! I bought a kit to make the pumpkin counterparts :0
There were barns upon barns filled with fiber-bearing animals, yarn, and unspun fiber for sale. I walked around with my friends in wonder, stroking everything in sight. One of the barns held an ongoing animal auction. Every step we took was underscored by an omnipresent:


And then there were the handknits. EVERYONE was wearing handknit garments. Quite literally everyone. Handknit shawls, sweaters, cowls, hats, mittens, skirts and ponchos draped every human form. It was like the ultimate fashion show for Nerdy Knitting People.

Strangers would come up, *pet* the fiber that the other person was wearing, and exclaim over each other's scarves:

"Wow! I love the colors you chose for your Fox Paws! Excellent job!"

Walking around, lovingly stroking every bit of wool in sight, I was struck by the warm sense of community. These were my people. Knitters. People who love to make things, both beautiful and practical things, with wool and sticks.  It made my nerdy self tear up. When I was a kid, I never felt like I fit in. I was an owl-eyed wallflower who was too terrified of rejection to talk to anybody. As an adult, it's a good feeling to know that I don't NEED to fit in anymore. I just seek out the people like me. Reserved people who like to knit and belly dance. 😁

I was amongst kindred spirits. And it felt GOOD. I was in my happy place. And I came home with loot!

Fiber to make needle felted pumpkins, fingering weight yarn in tonal reds and golds to make the shawl pictured above, a gorgeous chocolate brown hank of alpaca in Aran weight, and enough ocean blue yarn and fiber to make 3 pairs of mittens with a tiny heart design.

I could have bought so much more. SO MUCH MORE. But I was on a budget, and I stuck to it. It all still feels very decadent and special, and I'm thrilled with what I chose!

I left completely satiated and refreshed. I was inspired, both creatively and emotionally. It was a good, good weekend. And now I'm knitting like crazy to finish up all the projects I have lying around, so that I can cast on my yarn with zero guilt! 😇

Where is your happy place, dear readers? Does it involve sheep the way that mine does? ;-) I'd love to hear all about it!


  1. This post made me ponder and helped me to get back on track - I realized that my happy places are 1) the feed store and 2) our hippy-dippy food co-op.

    I love going to the feed store and buying bird seed and gardening supplies and talking about birds and animals to the people who own the store...and I love shopping for food at our co-op. It makes me happy to buy local organic food - it makes me feel like I'm taking care of myself on a very fundamental level.

    Your post made me recalibrate: why am I shopping at the Walmart SuperCenter when I find it more nourishing to buy groceries at the co-op and pet food at the feed store? So that's what I'm doing today :)

    1. Amy! I love this! I get warm and fuzzies from supporting a local CSA for the same reasons you describe - I'm supporting local farmers so that they can make a living doing what they love, the food is healthy and good for me and my family, and I love chatting with the woman who drops off the box to me each week. It's the entire experience, it's all just so good!

  2. I thought I had left a comment but my computer must have eaten it.

    It sounds like you had a great time at the New York Sheep and Wool festival. Were you able to wear your sweater? I saw a post on Ravelry that the weather was warm.

    1. Hi Melanie!

      Yes, and yes. :) It was in the 70's both days! Too warm for sweaters. BUT, the mornings were cool, and I wore it both days until about 10 am or so. :)


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