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A Rhinebeck Day

Your Humble Blogger finally went to the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival yesterday. It’s in Rhinebeck, and I believe it is generally known as Rhinebeck amongst the fiber-arts elect. The sheep-and-wool part is really a Schenectady, as I saw goats, llamas, alpacas, angora rabbits and vicuna. Also pigs, lemurs, macaques and kangaroos, but I don’t think they were fiber-arts related. The first skein of yarn that really tempted me was a goat/worm blend (okay, cashmere/silk, and my goodness the softness of the stuff and the expense of it) and while the Merino/Yak/Silk blend may have been mostly sheepstuff the secret was in the blending. I guess.

Rhinebeck is occasionally described as Comic-con for knitters. Despite the entire trip having occurred precisely because I wanted to experience this absurdly humongous event, I was not prepared for how absurdly humongous it was. I don’t know how many people were there; it must be at least in the 15,000 range and I wouldn’t be shocked to discover it’s much larger than that. There is a truly immense amount of stuff for sale. I don’t spin, so I skipped over the fleeces and rovings and spindles and wheels and such, and I still didn’t make it through all the barns of vendors, just looking at yarn. Well, and petting the occasional fuzzy craft that required petting. Um, and eating samples of foodstuffs—not, mostly, sheep related, although the goat cheese presumably counts, and the spitroasting demonstration that had already begun when we got there in the morning provided free samples when we left.

(Digression: YHB had originally typed denomstration, which seems entirely appropriate for some extremely nomnomnom lamb, but the word appears not to be in general use. End digression.)

The thing, though, more than anything else, is the feeling I used to get at Cons (and that my Perfect Non-Reader clearly does now) that these are my people. Or perhaps not so much that as that feeling that Joe Posnansky talks about in his wonderful essay on seeing Hamilton: Every single person would rather be here than anywhere else in the world. OK, so it wasn’t every single person, and a lot of it was in fact people trying to make a living doing what they do for a living, but so many people were obviously just so thrilled to be there. Delightedly asking strangers about their sweaters and scarves and hats and whatnot. A fair amount of whatnot, actually.

I am an occasional knitter. I knit during rehearsals, to keep me focused and quiet whilst I am not needed, and I knit whilst watching television for much the same reason. I don’t often knit and read, as I find it irritating to keep the book open to the right page; I have thought that reading on a screen would help with that, but so far it hasn’t worked out that way. I used to knit whilst watching my pre-schooler play with other children, but now that I have no pre-schooler and work fulltime, I don’t have those occasions. I do knit during long car rides, as my Best Reader drives and I navigate. I have made 1 (one) pair of socks in my life, and one sweater as well. I have made a few hats (and have a request for another that I’ll start on soonish). Mostly, I knit scarves. I make a few scarves a year, mostly to put in the charity box, because everyone I know that wants a scarf already has plenty of them at this point.

So I enjoy knitting, but I don’t particularly care about the stuff that I knit. When I look at yarn to purchase, then, I’m looking at yarn that I think I would enjoy working with. I care about what it will look like after, sure, but mostly because I enjoy seeing it take shape as I work it. I didn’t wear anything I made to Rhinebeck; I didn’t compel any of my children to. That was all right.

I ran into no-one I knew at Rhinebeck. While I have friends that knit (and spin and weave and even crochet) I don’t have knitting friends, if you know what I mean. Aside from Gentle Reader Gannet, the only fiber-arts blog I read is the Yarn Harlot, who only rarely writes about technique. I don’t have a Ravelry account. That’s all right, too. It was still my people.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,
-Vardibidian.

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