Rhinebeck Roundup

Crowd at Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival
A beautiful – and busy – day at Rhinebeck yesterday.

It is a weekend tens of thousands of fiber fanatics plan to attend each year; the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY. I started attending this wonderful fiber festival about 10 years ago when a, now closed, yarn shop in Milford, PA would run an annual bus trip. I remember how overwhelmed I was on my first trip! I couldn’t believe my eyes. Every possible fiber-related want and need – all in one magical place! Once the yarn shop closed and the bus trip was no longer an option, for a few years I would make my trek to Rhinebeck via NJ Transit and Amtrak. It was a ridiculously long and arduous trek. But it was completely worth it.

Once my husband and I attempted to get a hotel room and make a weekend of it. Well, it is almost easier to get season Giants tickets. So we decided to try an Air B&B (spoiler alert – NEVER doing that again). We are now on a waiting list for the last two years for a legit hotel. No luck yet.

Thankfully, The Local Yarn Store in South Orange has done a great job running a bus trip to Rhinebeck. Irina has a great group from her shop that attends and for the last two years, I’ve joined in on the fun! She provided everyone with a snack pack and we left right on time. The ride up was filled with great conversations and laughs.

Crowd at Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival
One of the very busy barns!

Of course the first thing I had to do was head to the coffee vendor for a triple chocolate bar and a latte. It is one of the two treats I NEED to get when I am at the Fairgrounds. It’s a great way to start the day as I wander from barn to barn.

I did two fairly new things for me this year. First, I went to the Specialty Foods building. I usually do a quick stroll through, but really don’t pay attention. This year I decided to check it out and made two purchases – both for my hubby. The first was a great bottle of Malt Whiskey from Hudson Valley Distillers. They offered a wide variety of spirits and I thought he would really enjoy their Malt Whiskey. Their Applejack was also quite awesome, but I needed to save some money my all-important fiber purchases. The second purchase was some maple cotton candy. I had some after I made it back home and it was awesome!

Auctioneer at Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival.
The auctioneer made the auction fun for everyone!

I moved on to the afternoon auction. I checked it out last year, but the choices were fairly light. This year there were a lot more bidding options. The auctioneer was just amazing and made it a lot of fun. I put in bids on two items, which I didn’t win. The prices went way higher than I was willing to spend. Neither item was on my “must have” list, so I was OK to just let them pass by me.

Of course, I needed to stop by the book sale and pick up some new books. It was a really tough decision! There are some fantastic new books out on the market. I narrowed it down to three – Upcycle Freeform Lace by Margaret Hubert, Woven Art by Elena Vilar, and The Art of Moy Mackay (stay tuned for book reviews!). It also gave me time to stop and say hello to the wonderful Margaret. She is such a talent and an incredibly special lady. If you have an interest in crochet, especially freeform, I highly suggest you pick up one of her many books and if you ever have the chance to take a class of hers, jump on it!

Margaret Hubert and Andrea Van Benschoten
Me with the fabulous Margaret Hubert.

At this point, it was certainly time for a little break. One of the best parts of attending any fiber festivals is that everyone is there for the same thing – the love of all things fiber! No matter where you decide to sit for a spell, you’ll always see someone crocheting, spinning, knitting, or just taking in the sights. It is a wonderful opportunity to meet fiber enthusiasts from all over and see different types of projects up close. I had the chance to chat with a woman who came all the way from Canada with a group of friends. They rented an entire house and made a mini-vacation out of it!

A day at Rhinebeck is incomplete if I don’t get over to see the absolutely beautiful spinning tools of Golding. Their spinning tools are not just incredibly functional – they are true works of art! I had an opportunity to spin on one of their wheels and look at the their amazing spindles. They are definitely on the “if I ever hit the lottery” list.

The Electric Eel Wheel.
The Electric Eel Wheel.

I picked up a neat new spinning tool that wasn’t on my list, but I just had to do it! A tiny electric spinning wheel called the Electric Eel Wheel. I had heard about this unique little spinning tool, but hadn’t seen one in person. I had an opportunity to meet wheel designer Maurice and his enthusiasm for his project just abounds. His wheel has developed a bit of a cult following and he is always tinkering with his design to work to make it better. It is a great way to try out spinning on an electric wheel for a very low price. Stay tuned for a blog interview with Maurice!

While I enjoy checking out the wonderful vendors I have come to expect, like the beautiful spindles from Bosworth, I also enjoy discovering vendors that are new to me. This year I was really impressed by the workmanship of the spinning wheels from Clemes and Clemes. They were simply something to behold.

My last stop was the animal barns. I love walking by and checking out the sheep, goats, bunnies, lamas, and alpacas. They are just so adorable. I had to stop and grab a picture of these two before I left. Like him, I was ready for a nap.

Before I headed back to the bus, I enjoyed an apple crisp and coffee. It was certainly a full day and I could think of no better way to finish it off. On the way home, we all chatted about our day and settled in to work on projects. I worked on a crochet piece I should really get done, until the all the walking and excitement of the day caught up to me and I settled in for a nap during the ride. By the time we made it back to South Orange I was ready for my last leg of the trip home to Ledgewood.

On Monday I’ll call the hotel again and get on the waiting list for another hotel room and hope someone cancels so hubby and I can sneak in and enjoy a full weekend in Rhinebeck. In the meantime, I will dream about the full day I enjoyed and look forward to next year.

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