We went to New York Sheep and Wool Festival at Rhinebeck, New York!
My friend and coworker and I drove down to Massachusetts on Friday, checked in to our hotel and then did a “dry run” to WEBS so that we knew where we were going (early) the next morning. We also made a visit to WEBS. What a lovely shop! We both agreed that it was clean and bright and well-organized and there was a lot of selection. WEBS is a Rowan Flagship store and it’s the most Rowan yarn that I’ve ever seen in one place. They also have their own line of yarns, Valley Yarns, and they bought Stacy Charles several years ago. In 2020 WEBS was purchased by LoveCrafts.
What I didn’t know is that WEBS started out as a weaving store and they expanded to a yarn store from there. They currently offer a catalog and they offer a 25% discount on purchases over a certain amount … I almost always surpassed that limit. It isn’t difficult.
I was having so much fun looking at yarn that I forgot to take any photographs. Oops!
Saturday morning we boarded the bus to Rhinebeck at 7am. That meant a really early wakeup and a short drive to WEBS with a quick stop for coffee at Dunkin. WEBS had apple cider donuts and cider at the store Saturday morning for all of us traveling with them. It was wonderful. With a few raffles (no, neither of us won) we arrived at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds, home of the iconic NY Sheep and Wool Festival.
Through the entrance (security checked all bags for firearms) and we were in! We had been told by friends who had attended Rhinebeck before that internet was spotty so go prepared – know which vendors and events that you want to visit, what projects that you’ll be collecting yarn for, what events you might want to attend, and head for the food and drinks in the off times. We never did buy any food, by the way. The lines started out long and stayed that way. Luckily, we brought our own peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, water and fruit because we didn’t want to be starving and have to then wait in long lines. It was all good advice.
The crowds were HUGE! Lines were long everywhere! We started out heading to one of the areas where the books were being signed. To be completely honest, after three years of not being around people, I got really uncomfortable being so close to so many strangers. We were in the book store area and I wish we’d gone there second or third (after I’d adjusted to the crowds.) I walked out of the booth having purchased nothing … we did have a chat with Ann and Kay from Modern Daily Knitting – and had a good feel of their new Atlas yarn. I feel comfortable buying it now, by the way. It’s lovely. Kay and Ann were very personable and I hope Ann will take me up on my offer to visit Maine! I don’t know why I didn’t put my mask on at this point. But I didn’t. I should have, in retrospect.
We saw so many wonderful members of the knitterati! These are some of the people I admire most in the business. They’re all regular folks, making a living and who are genuine and gracious.
The first people we saw were the podcast team from the Wooly Thistle podcast (they happened to be in the line for the ladies room in front of us.) We both love their podcast. We did a bit of shopping and wandering and then headed to the infamous hill – and oh, boy! It was thrilling to meet people whom I’ve only ever seen online and in virtual classes. We saw Laura Nelkin, Louis Boria from Brooklyn Boy Knits, Aimee from La Bienne Aimee in Paris, Patty Lyons, Kat from Brooklyn General Store, Adella Colvin and her husband Jimmy of Lola Bean Yarn Company, Casapinka, Yasmen of Designs by Yasmen, and so many more. I know I’m forgetting some. Some of my favorite knitting celebrities and yarn shop owners. It was amazing reconnecting with people.
Glenda and I both got to reunite with friends from different knitting experiences. Two of my friends from Medomak Fiber Arts Retreat were there – it had been too long since we had hugged each other. Covid was a real divider of friends (and family), wasn’t it? For both of us, the best part of the festival was seeing our friends and the people who we admire.
I bought very little. I got a souvenir tote bag and a queen bee project bag. I know, no yarn? No yarn. I wasn’t feeling drawn by any particular yarn and truth be told, I have a lot of yarn already. I do have a plan to contact Adella at Lola Bean Yarn Company to buy a sweater’s worth of yarn. I’d love to knit something with Bare Naked Wools and I loved several of their samples. We saw a great poncho at WEBS and I’ll be knitting that in the future, too. So I was very inspired.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention all of the beautiful sweaters and hats that we saw. Knitrino had a meetup with coordinating sweaters, we saw tons of Andrea Mowry’s Alpenglow. Wooly Wormhead hats galore. Lots of beautiful garments both knit and crochet. I want to also mention the diverse crowd; it was lovely to see many men, young people and people of every color. I felt hopeful about our community. We even saw animals!
One more note is that there were very few masks being worn and it was probably irresponsible that we didn’t all mask and not for ourselves as much as for others. those who can’t be vaccinated or who have low immunity or are immunocompromised. For that I am sorry. We got carried away by being together again after a very long time. What they say about Covid exhaustion is true. We are all feeling it. A return to normal, even for a day, was welcome. It felt almost “normal”!
We came home tired and inspired and it was a very good weekend. I’m grateful to Glenda for going with me and for having the idea in the first place. Where will we go next?