A week ago, I was lost in the altfiber paradise affectionately nicknamed Rhinebeck (the official name is the NYS Sheep and Wool Festival). It is a huge event, so big that I have to break down the experience into subtopics. I still have a bit of glow left from the experience.

Getting There

The treasurer of non-profit I work for went last year, and wanted me to go with her this year. I told her I was in. Then I learned a few months ago on the Ravelry forums that a local woman was organizing a group trip, complete with chartered bus and a block of reserved motel rooms. I told my colleague, and she agreed that this was the way to go. So I contacted the organizer, reserved 2 spots on the bus, and reserved a room for two nights.

Close to the last minute, my colleague was no longer able to go. She asked me to find someone to take her place, saying that she did not expect reimbursement for the bus. She suggested that I take my daughter. A. would have gone in a flash, but she had two midterms coming up on the heels of the weekend. During the family Canadian Thanksgiving celebration, I had a sudden flash of inspiration, and invited our son's GF to go with me. T. agreed immediately. I now knew I would be traveling with a congenial companion, and a person who I wanted to get to know even better.

A chartered bus is the way to go if you can manage it. I traveled with a lovely group of knitters, spinners, and sheep people. We knit, chatted, and watched chick flicks on the bus's video system (The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood and Mamma Mia!. Meryl Streep is my hero.)

Staying There

We stayed at a lowish cost chain motel. It was fine for our purposes. Microwave and fridge in the room, comfortable beds, a coin operated laundry, and a decent free breakfast in the morning. At a killer price, too - on Saturday I reserved two rooms for next year, and the cost will be about 25% higher.

The motel was in Kingston, NY, about 20 minutes from Rhinebeck. On Friday, T. and I took a long walk together through town, and loved it. I think that economic developers need to rename their cities "Kingston" because now I know of two cities named Kingston that are fun to visit. Safe, too - there are sidewalks everywhere, even from the motel to a shopping mall. The downtown shopping district has lots of interesting stores, including a toy store (those are getting to be hard to find).

Eating There

T. was on a tight budget, so Friday night, when we still had energy, we went to the store and bought food for dinner for both nights we would be there. We stocked up on Kashi frozen dinners (delicious!), bananas, milk, iced tea mix, and plastic sliverware. When you are on the road, it feels pretty darn luxurious NOT to go out, and to eat dinner while stretched out on your bed in your jammies, watching something on the tube.

From the Ravelry forums, I knew that Rhinebeck has certain status foods. People wait in line for an hour for chicken pot pie, and the ultimate prize is the artichoke booth, which often sells out. I work for Cooperative Extension, though, so there was only one place for me to eat: the 4-H booth. On Saturday I scored lamb chili in a bread bowl, and I waited way less than an hour. On Sunday I was running low on cash, and settled for a cheeseburger. Next year (geesh, already I'm talking about next year) I will stick with the 4-H for Saturday, and do one of the legendary foods on Sunday, when crowds and lines are smaller.


People spend gobs and gobs of money at Rhinebeck. I saw drop spindles costing more than $100, and then there are spinning wheels, drum carders, hand blown glass knitting needles, muskox down yarn (Qiviut goes for $70-90 for 25 grams, about 200 yards, enough for a small lace scarf. Sarah Palin wore a scarf made of this stuff during her campaign.)

Knowing what I would be stepping into, I decided how much I would allow myself to spend, outside of the bus and room, and took it out of the bank in cash. When I ran out of money, I would stop buying things.

I got plenty of goodies, including gifts for others. And I came home with $10 in my purse.

The only thing I felt bad about was finding Heifer International's Keep the Fleece project on Sunday after most of my money was spent. I gave a little, and felt like an over-privileged person with my bags of pretties.


I didn't take many. A few are coming up. Mostly I just experienced it all. Also, temps were in the 40's so my hands stayed in gloves, and camera and iPhone stayed in their respective places.

Silly Souvenirs

Buttons were the thing, and I collected these (with the exception of Pride of NY, which I brought with me). The sheep pin was my admittance badge, because I took a course.

I am scifiknitter everywhere!


Festival means lots of people, and there certainly were so many people, especially on Saturday. Here are three special ones:

Annie Modesitt. I took her combination knitting course. What I learned is material for a blog all on its own.

T. on the bus on the way home, working on a computer project. I was totally comfortable with her all weekend. In fact, I love her. So does just about everyone else who meets her.

Me, working on "The World's Biggest Sock", which has traveled cross country once already. There is a lot more to do before the heel is turned.


Unfortunately I cannot show all of the loot I bought, as some of it is gifts, and I would like them to be surprises.

Books - the two large ones are signed by the authors. Confessions of a Knitting Heretic is a complete treatise on combination knitting.

Yarn: First, my bargain - some yarn straight from the producer at an incredibly reasonable price. Caveat: it has a strong odor. One washing with a gentle yarn soap has not removed the odor, so I will have to procure some Dawn, the yarn soap of choice for those washing away lanolin (which I believe is the source of the odor).

And the rest of the goodies:

from left to right:

- an indie dyed yarn from Creatively Dyed Yarn, intended to knit a studly lace scarf for trade.

- some silk yarn T. picked out. She has asked me to knit her a neckwarmer for Christmas.

- a hank of naturally dyed sock yarn from Long Ridge Farm.

- sock yarn from Sox that Rock, currently a hot brand in the world of knitting.

- a hank of cotton/merino/silk, also destined to become a neckwarmer.

And that's all for now. I came back from my sojourn into the altfiber universe feeling excited, relaxed, refreshed. I am ready to do some serious knitting, and to have fun doing it!


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