Is Starshower the new Honey Cowl? Only time will tell (but it looks good).

Rhinebeck Dos and Don’ts


Dear Ann,
Not to rub your nose in it, but I’ll be heading up to Rhinebeck, on Sunday this year. It makes me laugh to remember that when I first heard about the New York Sheep and Wool Festival, maybe 15 years ago, I thought to myself, “Phew–at least I’m not so deep into this knitting thing that I’ll ever even THINK of going to a sheep festival. Those people must be NUTS.”
And now, Rhinebeck is right up there with Passover and Thanksgiving on my list of favorite ritual observances of a seasonal, spiritual nature. The timing is perfect: by Rhinebeck time, it’s well and truly fall. You are in a beautiful place, surrounded by wool and the love of it, and the constant passing in and out of view of the radiant faces of people who feel the same way about the fiber crafts as you do. It’s hugs, kisses and kettle corn, all day long. Heaven. (Click on Clara Parkes’ video at the top of this post, for Rhinebeck in Under 3 Minutes.)
At Rhinebeck, we are not nuts. Well, some of us are. But if you stick out *at Rhinebeck* as “a little nutty about the knitting”–you actually are nutty and you must get right with that. We embrace you. Please wash that fleece as soon as you get home, ok? The name of the sheep is Johnny? OK, then. You have Johnny’s 2011 and 2010 fleeces at home? Awesome. That is a story we are all going to tell our families the next time we get the hairy eyeball about a few skeins of MadTosh in the trunk of the car.
Rhinebeck really needs no guide. If you love fiber, the minute you enter the Dutchess County Fair Grounds, primal instincts will take over. Just as when, speaking to an infant, you raise the pitch of your voice two octaves, your body will know what to do. What follows are really just my personal Rules of Rhinebeck, evolved and evolving over time.
1. Focus. Before the fog of fiber overwhelms your judgment, make a mental note of the one or two things you absolutely want to achieve while you are at Rhinebeck, and do those things first. For me, this year, Priority Numero Uno is to hit Gale Zucker’s photobooth setup. Gale is an extraordinary documentarian. Our world will live on through her images. Much as I hate having my photo taken, I want to be a part of that record. I’m bringing *several* changes of outfit. And by change of outfit, I mean cowls and blankets.
2. Keep your strength up. The Artichoke French line is very long. It is not going to get any shorter. By the end of the day, everybody is going to be redolent of garlicky artichoke goodness, so it’s just good common sense to get yours early. They are delicious, in a “this is a vegetable but it can’t be that good for me” sort of way. You will meet lots of people and see lots of handknits on the line. Just get in there. Ditto for other favorite foods: the apple crisp, the chicken pot pie (if they have them this year, please God).
3. Given the dirt-to-mud fairgrounds terrain, and the fact that you will be on your feet for hours without even noticing it, footwear is key. Other people have Rhinebeck sweaters; I have Rhinebeck boots. Ideally you want some well-patinated Fryes, Docs or Blunnies that you’ve had since college. But really, any stylish clodhopper that keeps out the wet will do. And if you’ve ever fallen for those see-through plastic galoshes that show off handknit socks–well, here is your opportunity. There are not a lot of places you can wear those, so knock yourself out. If it’s actually been raining: Wellies are a must.
4. A word of caution. Rhinebeck can alter your state of mind to the point that it seems reasonable to take up a brand new, equipment and materials-laden, lifelong pursuit for which you have no prior skills or training. Friends, I speak of lucetting, needlepunch, Shirret, rug hooking, spinning, and–the scariest category of all–animal husbandry. Temptation is everywhere. The hooked rugs are so beautiful they cause me physical pain. Give in if you must, but please think twice before purchasing a sheep. Even a miniature sheep. Especially if you live in an apartment. Please, phone a friend.
5. Proud in the Crowd. Wear your handknits. All of them. Celebrate the handknits of your sisters and brothers. Cheer for famous patterns you’ve always wanted to see In Real Life. Try not to stalk a handknit for too long without introducing yourself to the wearer. Again: just good sense.
6. Buy stuff. Like I need to tell you this. But don’t let yourself get so overwhelmed by the amazing choice that you forget to buy a couple of skeins of this or that, WITHIN REASON OF COURSE [yes I put that in just in case anybody is reading over your shoulder]. (Remember, I am the person who talked Ann Shayne into buying a 1950s car coat’s worth of kid mohair in 2009. By the way that was very reasonable.) This is our opportunity to support the people who are working to produce beautiful, honest materials and tools for our community. It’s the right thing to do.
UPDATE: Forgot to add this little nugget from the vault:
Ann & Kay Get the Giddy Giggles at Rhinebeck 2009

Have fun, everybody who is going. If you see me, say hi. You could be the one who saves me from another failed run at Shirret.
Love,
Kay

Tags: ,

36 Comments

36 Comments

  1. It’s really the goats, Kay, the cute as a button pygmy goats who really would be no more trouble than a cat, probably, especially if it’s a biggish cat like a Maine Coon. They can jump onto low tree branches and decorate the tree much like partidges and pear trees. And they kneel to be bottle-fed.
    Really, it’s the goats.

  2. When you said “kettlecorn,” I said, “artichokes!!!” Very relieved you hit them later in the post. ;)
    This is the 2nd year in a row I will be sitting out Rhinebeck, but I’ve got 5 cashmere goats requiring my attention this weekend, as we prepare for Conjugal Cashmere Visit 2012. No time or budget for travel at the moment, and that’s okay; I’ll enjoy reading the blogs (ALL the blogs) with reports from the Rhinebeck Front. Go forth, adventurers, and discover new fibers, new passions, new ways to spend your retirement savings. And post lots and lots of pictures on your blogs!
    Oh, by the way, guess where I discovered cashmere goats.

  3. When you said “kettlecorn,” I said, “artichokes!!!” Very relieved you hit them later in the post. ;)
    This is the 2nd year in a row I will be sitting out Rhinebeck, but I’ve got 5 cashmere goats requiring my attention this weekend, as we prepare for Conjugal Cashmere Visit 2012. No time or budget for travel at the moment, and that’s okay; I’ll enjoy reading the blogs (ALL the blogs) with reports from the Rhinebeck Front. Go forth, adventurers, and discover new fibers, new passions, new ways to spend your retirement savings. And post lots and lots of pictures on your blogs!
    Oh, by the way, guess where I discovered cashmere goats.

  4. Bring your Wellies! I live five blocks from the Dutchess County Fairgrounds and it is pouring rain here and has been since at least 6 am. Even if it clears up for sunny skies Saturday & Sunday, there will be mud.
    I repeat, there will be mud.

  5. Would one of those blankets be the one paying homage to Bowling Avenue?

  6. I know I’ll be there–but on Saturday, not Sunday. Can’t wait!

  7. Hey, thanks for showing the video that mentions me, the lady in the Met’s restroom! My very first Rhinebeck. Sadly, I won’t be there this year, but already planning for 2013. Have a great time, ladies.

  8. Here in Iowa, I’m a long way from Rhinebeck, but your post has me wanting to spend some quality time with my wheel. Soon. I have a little Cricket loom, and I’m thinking some handspun scarves are in order. Have a good weekend, ladies.

  9. I love the blog – has your writing slowed down because of Twitter or just because of crazy life? I miss hearing from you – good to see this post!

  10. This is the perfect Rhinebeck post.
    I am on my way there right now. My wonderful husband is taking me, ON OUR 10TH ANNIVERSARY. He has never been before. I am reading excerpts from this post to him.

  11. Oh, Isb [or is that lsb], you lucky creature!
    Kay, you cracked me up with the lure of animal husbandry. A mere visit to a county fair has me leaning toward the critters – so a fair where all the beasties are fiber-producers would indeed be dangerous. “Just learn to spin your dog’s fur first”, I have to keep telling myself. As for other crafts – yes, I’ve already succumbed to needlepoint, and now I find myself borrowing all of Kaffe Fassett’s quilting books from the library. . .

  12. Once again, regretting that I’m not there!! Am ready to write it on my calendar *in pen* for 2013. I LOVE artichokes french and have waited in that very long line. Also, chicken pot pies (are they back this year?).

  13. A baby alpaca would make a fine pet!

  14. How many ways are there to spell “JEALOUS”????

  15. Wonderful read, hope you have a fantastic time. If only I lived on the same continent or even in the same hemisphere I’d love to be able to follow ALL your advice…

  16. Sorry to miss it yet again. You have a beautiful Sunday for it. Hopefully I’l make it next year! I”ll be knitting cashmere and thinking of you.

  17. You could be there as this is written. Sigh. At the Clackamas fair, one nearest Portland, much Rhinebeck envy by those Ron and I meet. Lovely event–as is Black Sheep in June in Eugene, Oregon. But no dog trials at these; not enough surrounding land. Odd enough for my urban self to get seduced by sheep but dogs!
    Watched both videos. Clara Parkes’ sheep shots perfect. We got the NetFlicks of “Sweetwater” film about Montana’s last sheep roundup in 2004, Intrigued by Ann’s notion that collecting the yarn can be a pursuit on its own.
    Thanks for the memories, Kay. Love, naomi

  18. I fell to the spell of fiber-producing mini animals at a COUNTY FAIR. If I went to Rhinebeck I might come home with a flock of sheep. Fear for my family’s sanity has kept me away for years.

  19. Every time I go to Rhinebeck, I’m overwhelmed by all the natural and knitter-made beauty and sheer *politeness* of such an unmanageable crowd. I think: “these are my people.” Thanks for articulating so well why it always just makes my year. Hope you had a blast!

  20. Can’t wait to hear the Rhinebeck (why do I always want to type Rhein instead of Rhine?) Report 2012. Wish I coulda been there but I spent the weekend in Aspen instead. Not as glam as it sounds (except for the hotel- can’t recommend the Limelight on the corner of Monarch and Hyman enough! Excellent!) since I was there for my 12yo daughter’s hockey tournament so I spent the weekend in hockey rinks with smelly rink rats. Highlights of the trip were: not as icy going over the Continental Divide via Independence Pass as last time so able to enjoy scenery without the white-knuckle grip on the steering wheel; 2 wins, 1 tie, 1 loss so kids were happy; fantastic breakfast spread at Limelight; great little restaurants for supper within walking distance of hotel; hockey games good for knitting. Excitement I could do without: 6am game Saturday morning; 4:15am wake-up for said game; hit skunk on way to said game in the dark; car smelled like skunk for several hours; skunk cursed us and we lost the game. Hope Rhinebeck was as exciting (but only the good kind- no skunks!) for you, and I still think I could pass off a Southdown Babydoll sheep to the neighborhood association as an exotic European dog that just happens to like grass.

  21. Sage advice. Niece Ariana came this close to going home to her Bushwick apartment with a very hairy bunny. I had to do an intervention.She might have been punchy from the OVER 200 portraits we did at the photo booth.
    PS Loved the vintage Ann/Kay footage.

  22. Just plain good advise for so many things.

  23. I think #4 is my favorite. I very happily convinced two of my friends to start spinning this weekend. Mwahahaha!

  24. I definitely need to take up spinning with a wheel. I am just not great or motivated to spin with a spindle even though I have three of them!

  25. Kay, saw you wearing your gorgeous Grace Anna Farrow shawl while waiting in line at Chez Artichoke French. Too shy to say HI, but wanted to say that the shawl looks even better in person than in the blog postings!

  26. Kay, saw you wearing your gorgeous Grace Anna Farrow shawl while waiting in line at Chez Artichoke French. Too shy to say HI, but wanted to say that the shawl looks even better in person than in the blog postings!

  27. C’mon, c’mon! You’re missing the most exciting Rhinebeck do of all for those of us watching at home (or, ahem, at the office…) – DO show off your haul and your pictures when you get back!!!!

  28. dear kay i hope you and your family are heading
    out to safety heed the warnings
    i was born elizabeth nj have real memories
    of the big ones riseing waters are not to be ignord i saw what the storms could do along
    the jersey shore with the water up and over the sea walls and sand buried houses scoot now

  29. Kay
    Batten doen the hatches and stay SAFE!
    thinking of all on the east coast and other places that will be affected by Sandy….

  30. Kay- I did it. I bought a sheep. Montadale champion ewe lamb named Phoebe. All I can say is thank God this happened after we moved from Manhattan. How would i have explained this to the doorman?

  31. Are you ladies ok after the storm?
    Hope you are all safe, warm and dry!

  32. OK. What can we knitters do to help New York. I can’t send anything for about 6 weeks. Is that enough time to get the knit distribution network up and running? I cast on a pair of children’s socks this morning thinking about all those who have lost everything. I just need to know where to send them once they are ready for sweet feet. Winter is coming quickly up in cold country!

  33. This was our first year for Rhinebeck and the one thing that is forever burned into our minds is….Steven West in Hand Knit Hot Pants. Here’s the link to the picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/travellingknitter/8142825656/
    We had a fabulous time and it was a beautiful place to visit.

  34. Hi! A friend told me about your blog and this interview. She shared with me your ‘vault nugget’ interview about Rhinebeck back in 2009. Just wanted to invite you to my Front Porch Textiles booth, Building 26 #9, if you were still short on handspun this year. As a first time vendor in 2012 I brought a wall of handspun yarn along with my handwoven textiles. I heard from others that this year there was not much handspun yarn. Please come see me next year! And thanks for such a great blog.

  35. Hi! A friend told me about your blog and this interview. She shared with me your ‘vault nugget’ interview about Rhinebeck back in 2009. Just wanted to invite you to my Front Porch Textiles booth, Building 26 #9, if you were still short on handspun this year. As a first time vendor in 2012 I brought a wall of handspun yarn along with my handwoven textiles. I heard from others that this year there was not much handspun yarn. Please come see me next year! And thanks for such a great blog.

  36. Hi! A friend told me about your blog and this interview. She shared with me your ‘vault nugget’ interview about Rhinebeck back in 2009. Just wanted to invite you to my Front Porch Textiles booth, Building 26 #9, if you were still short on handspun this year. As a first time vendor in 2012 I brought a wall of handspun yarn along with my handwoven textiles. I heard from others that this year there was not much handspun yarn. Please come see me next year! And thanks for such a great blog.