October 27, 2012

The (Late) Rhinebeck Debrief

I know it's already been a week since the NYS Sheep and Wool Festival.  I also know that I got home Tuesday morning instead of Monday afternoon, had to do all my chores for that weekend on Tuesday (including laundry), and felt crappy with allergies all week because that's just my luck.  I also had my usually weekly stuff and then I went and saw Epica play yesterday (which was awesome, but meant I didn't get home till 3 in the morning).

Anyway, I had a blast at Rhinebeck. I'll start from the beginning.

The Class
After crashing at one of my sister's apartments and going to a brewpub with a really good pumpkin beer on Friday, I drove up to Rhinebeck early Saturday morning so I could be at the fairgrounds in time for my class.  I, of course, misjudged traffic so my first plan of grabbing breakfast and dropping my stuff off at my other sister's apartment failed. I was lucky one of the food vendors was serving food before the fair technically opened and that the workshop area had free coffee. Of course I found this out during the class, so I spent the first part of the class in a pre-coffee daze.  It could have been worse.

I signed up for the Introduction to Sweater Design workshop by Donna Kay.  Before I took the class, I didn't know the instructor or what exactly we would cover.  The class ended up being more of a lecture, but it was funny and enjoyable.  We covered tips and things to keep in mind when designing...how to swatch to figure out if the yarn you have works with your idea, how to use different types of graph paper to make sure your calculations work and everything's proportional (this would have helped tremendously for the baby sweater.  Also, I never knew knitter's graph paper existed), touched upon originality and copyright in patterns, and other many random tips to keep in mind (like don't shove every idea you have into one sweater.   I kind of knew this, but I'm also guilty of doing it). Many of the things mentioned were also conveniently given on a handout, so I didn't have to remember everything (yay reference materials).   What we didn't get to was actually doing anything with the yarn and other materials we brought.  It was obviously meant to be a longer course, yet we only had four hours and the written material covered the whole time frame.

Overall, I think I was expecting more, but I'm not disappointed that I took this class. It was enjoyable, and it did give you a method of getting from idea to complete design, which was something I needed to hear, as I'm lacking a good method right now.

The Fair
Last year, I went on Sunday only.  Because of this, it was shocking to see how crowded this event got on Saturday.  When scoping out vendors the rest of the first day (first with some friends and later with my mother), it was hard to even stop and look at stuff.  I wasn't as shocked at the crowds as my mother, though, who had 1) never been and 2) was under the impression that the Sheep and Wool Festival was simply a local fair.  I informed her that it was a big event in the yarn crafting world and people come from all over...hell, that's how I learned about it.  My local sister simply said (after the fact):  'Duchess County doesn't do small events'.

*Side Note*
The New York State Sheep and Wool Festival and Breed Ewe Sale is the official name of this event:

Sorry for the slightly blurry picture; I took this through my windshield when stuck in traffic

I think most yarn crafter attendees know this, but for some reason in our world it's called Rhinebeck.  This works fine if the context it's used in is 'major yarn crafter events'.  Calling the event Rhinebeck to the locals, however,  gets you inquisitive or odd looks, as Rhinebeck is the town where the fairgrounds are located, and the town is a tourist trap in its own right (a nice one, but it is).  Also, the fairgrounds are known locally better as the site of the Duchess County Fair, which is (I think) the biggest county fair in New York.  Therefore, calling it Rhinebeck really doesn't make sense at all (though since it's in use and it's shorter by far than the proper name, I'll still use it.  In the right context of course).  Do I get my local cred back now?
*End Side Note*

I spent most of Saturday scoping out some vendors and got some yarn.  I also helped my mom pick out nice alpaca yarn to crochet a shawl.  We also checked out the sheep, for which I got lots of pictures of because I remembered to bring my camera:

After having dinner with the family and crashing at the local sister's apartment (who lives ten minutes away; I'm so lucky), I went back to the fair on Sunday with both my sisters.  We found the alpacas and llamas (which my mom and I missed), though my camera decided to die on me as soon as I tried taking pictures of them (and I had just replaced the batteries!  Stupid me must have used bad batteries).  I bought more yarn than I've ever bought at one time because it was my birthday, I had extra money, I have tons of projects I want to do, and 'oo, pretty sock yarn...I like knitting socks!'.  I'll put that in it's own section though.

Also, I'm pretty sure I passed the Yarn Harlot in one of the vendor buildings, though she was going the opposite way and it was a little too crowded to do a good double take (or do that sneaky picture thing with my cell phone...I forget what it's called...Kinnering, maybe?).  That, and my sisters, not being in the yarn crafting world as I am, hadn't noticed and kept going, and I was trying to not lose them.  I tried slowing them down by telling them 'hey, I think we just passed someone famous in the knitting world', but they didn't care.  They were already putting up with my lingering at vendors to buy all the yarn, so I dropped it.

I also showed off my socks (which I wore on Sunday) to the vendor who's yarn I knit them from.  She liked them.

The Yarn
I'm surprised I fit all of this into my suitcase and a shopping bag:

The unfortunate consequence of this is I now have more stash than the Tupperware container can hold, even after taking out all the yarn associated with projects I'm working on.  I had to go buy another small container to shove under my futon to hold the rest of it, and a storage ottoman to hold my tools.

For one, I found a vendor selling that same damn wool I had the equal number of similar colors issue with...and it was half off.  Me, not wanting to deal with the whole two equal colors thing, bought four more skeins of black

I would have bought the charcoal color, but they didn't have it (because no one does, it seems).  Now, I'm not sure if I'm going to go with my original plan of knitting the basic sweater I have a pattern for, or still make up my own pattern.  I'll see.

I also bought enough yarn for two sweaters:

The gray skeins (its a cool smoky gray...picture doesn't do the color justice) are the first thing I acquired after the black wool. They will be a work cardigan (and unless I completely misjudged the yarn, they will be this cardigan).  The blue...well, I was looking for DK weight yarn but found this worsted weight in the perfect shade of blue, while their DK weight was slightly lighter.  So I said 'screw it, I have worsted weight sweater patterns', and bought it.  That blue wool is one of the softest I've ever felt (the woman standing behind me in line thought so too, and asked me if I was just going to curl up with it because she was tempted to do that).  It will be a nice sweater, though I have yet to decide exactly what pattern.

I also bought tons of sock yarn, because all I needed was more sock yarn:

I tried to not buy it all in blue and blue-black shades.  There's one thing I do (and it's at its worst at Rhinebeck) is that the yarn I'll be drawn to at first will inevitably be royal blue or blue dark variegated yarn  (It's worse if its cashmere.  I don't know how I know it's cashmere until I read the label, but I will inevitably find the cashmere yarn first.  Then I find the price and run away).  So I bought gray and dark purple as well.

The light blue one is alpaca and silk sock yarn, and you can guess by the last paragraph that it's not for me.  I'm not giving up on the hat pattern, but I decided that it'd be better if I set my sights a little lower and make my mom socks for Hanukkah instead.  The funny thing about this is that when I showed her all the sock yarn, she first went to the gray ones (which are rather soft wool; they're my favorite by feel) and cooed over that one.  The surprising thing to me is that she did it because she liked the color.  But it was all good when I pointed out that the light blue was alpaca.  She conceded that she would love alpaca socks, though she would only wear them in the house (we'll see how long that lasts.  She wears the $130 sweater I made her to shovel snow.  I bet you she'll wear them to shovel snow in as well). I'll have to remember to buy that gray sock yarn for her next year for real socks, though.

On the other hand, one of my sisters convince my other sister and me to try drop spindling:

That started when we found cheap small balls of angora roving.  The 'other sister' is a bunny lover, so we were scoping out angora vendors to see angora rabbits.  One of these vendors didn't have rabbits, but they had royal blue angora roving for $6.00.  What did I say about me and the jewel tone blues?  Once I pointed it out as 'pretty, but I can't spin so screw it' the conversation went from bunnies to 'you should try to drop spindle, I can teach you!  It's easy!'

Yeah, two things about that.  One, it's not that easy.  Two, my sister was talking herself up, and when she said she could drop spindle, it meant she owned one and had spun some 'yarn'. I tried after we left the fair with a little bit of the roving and I got nothing but messed up roving. Oye. I'm still going to try to learn, but I need to set some time aside and research it.  I know it can be done; someone in my knitting group had caved to the drop spindles everywhere at Rhinebeck herself, and had already learned enough in the three days between these two events to make nicer thread than my sister had.

All in all, it was fun, and I would do it all again. Hopefully I'll have most of this yarn compiled into projects by then!

It's a good excuse to see the beauty of a Hudson Valley fall anyway.  It's amazing how much you miss in the city.

This is in Ulster County, not Duchess, but the same lovely tree colors

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