Last weekend, I was fortunate to visit the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival held annually in Rhinebeck, New York. The largest fiber festival in the country, it’s held at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in upstate New York, not too far from where I grew up. One of our older girls was good enough to take the baby, while another agreed to entertain her younger brothers via board games and such. So SP and I were on a mini road trip all by ourselves, which almost never happens.
I had heard that since it’s customary to wear handmade items there, one of the best parts about attending Rhinebeck is the people-watching, and I can now attest, the variety of beautiful knit, crochet, and handwoven pieces is truly amazing. I decided to participate in that aspect of the Rhinebeck experience by wearing my recently completed brown variegated “Barley” hat, from a fabulous pattern by Tin Can Knits that I’ve now knitted three times:
Since I was going there in search of yarn, spinning fiber, and perhaps a Turkish spindle, I knew I’d need a bigger bag than my everyday purse, so I decided to bring another handmade item, a crocheted bag I’d received last Christmas from one of our babysitting daughters. Made with several strands of yarn held together and a large hook, this is a REALLY BIG BAG, here it is up against our back door:
I got so many compliments on this bag at Rhinebeck that I’ve decided to put something like it together for my Etsy shop, with one difference: I am going to be spinning the big bulky yarn for this bag from yarn ends and project leftovers. I know it sounds impractical to do yarn for a project of this size this on a drop spindle, and it is- which brings me to my super happy Rhinebeck acquisition, my very own spinning wheel! SP bought it as an early Christmas gift.
We bought it from Eileen of Weston Hill Farm, based further upstate near Albany, I believe. She shared that this vintage Louet (an S series model I’m fairly sure, but I’m not sure which one) was her own first wheel, for which she bartered with its original owner by washing a barn’s worth of raw fleece. She then set me up for a test drive and mini-lesson on wheel spinning with Aaron, known as AaronKnits on Ravelry. Both of them, as well as the rest of Eileen’s family working at their booth, were wonderfully helpful and kind to a new wheel spinner, and I came home with some lovely fiber from Eileen’s own sheep with which to build my skills.
Their farm sells not only spinning fiber, but fleeces, beautiful hand – dyed yarns, as well as original photography and home products. Check out their website:
We shopped for yarn for our one daughter who fiber crafts ( the bag-maker), ate some fabulous food, and visited all the vendors and animal barns. Much walking and more gorgeous yarn than I’d ever seen in one place before. So much, in fact, that it all started to look the same, and I was unable to make a decision and ended up coming home with no yarn for myself at all! Of course, I now have the tools to learn how to make any kind of yarn I want, so I’d say our Rhinebeck adventure was a great success, if a little bit overwhelming. I’d never seen such a large gathering completely devoted to the fiber arts, and I’m sure I missed some things, but what I did see, made me want to come back every year from now on.