November 3, 2011
It seems like New York Sheep and Wool 2010 was just minutes ago, but here we are coming up on the big weekend once again. This year we have extra fun planned with a visit to Shaye and Jaime’s new house in Saugerties, New York!
One of the best aspects of NYSW is the expectation that much will be the same, but there will also be new things to discover. It is this mix of expected and unexpected that makes it a comfortable tradition with a bit of discovery.
I cannot say that Jim woke up Saturday morning shouting, “Hooray!!” But he was a good sport and barely mumbled complaints as we piled into the car for the two hour drive north to Rhinebeck. I think the idea of visiting Shaye and Jaime helped him gird for a day of crazed knitters and sheep.
The roads were clogged with traffic and the parking lot already packed when we arrived at 10:15. Due to the rain, large portions of the parking area were unusuable and they were bussing people from further locations to the fairgrounds. It was a typical Sheep and Wool day weatherwise, a bit blustery and cold with a sky changing from blue to grey with swirling clouds. It always pays to dress warmly.
Of course, a big aspect of the festival is the parade of hand knit sweaters, shawls and scarves. It is always fun to see people sporting their meisterwerks and, as with all yarn events, it is permissable to walk up to a stranger and fondle their garment asking personal questions such as, “what yarn is this?”
First thing we do each year is head to the souvenir tent to buy the year’s t-shirt. Every year a specific breed is honored and I have a big collection of t-shirts with various breeds. Jim wanted to buy a pair of fingerless gloves for one of his colleagues at school and we found the perfect pair before we even hit the souvenir tent. That made Jim a little happier. He had also brought along his Flip video camera and he busied himself taking lots of videos of sheep shearing and other activities.
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November 13, 2010
October was a packed month and the proof is that I am running about a week behind processing events. First there was Ellie’s and my 3-Day Walk, a huge event for us and deeply satisfying. The next big event was my Friends of the Smith College Librairies Board Meeting. This is a favorite activity as I get to go visit Northampton and see Smith and the other board members are a tremendously intelligent and congenial group of women. The third weekend in every October is the New York Sheep and Wool Festival and I have already blogged about fiber and sheep ecstacy. Last up for big events in October was another annual ritual—Stitches East.
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October 31, 2010
October 16th looked like it would become a perfect fall day. The forecast was for sun with a few clouds and some wind. It was going to get up to the mid-50′s. The leaves were turning nicely and the scene was set for the New York Sheep and Wool Festival
! The third weekend in October is always the New York Sheep and Wool Festival. And even those Frosts who don’t knit turn out for this annual family pilgrimage.
We piled into the car at 8:30 and the cars were streaming into the Dutchess County Fair Grounds when we got to Rhinebeck after 10. It was brisk and a hot beverage was first on Ellie’s list while I purchased my annual t-shirt. Each year much is the same about Rhinebeck. The vendors have the same locations, we follow the same path through the barns and even eat the same foods. That is part of what makes it all so wonderful.
We walk around and see all our favorite vendors. The fellow who makes the fantastically warm and soft sheepskin slippers, Ellen’s 1/2 Pint Farm
, Nanney Kennedy’s Meadowcroft Farm Seacolors
, the woman with the gorgeous and colorful blended yarn from Vermont, Green Mountain Spinnery
and the folks with the huge supply of Socks That Rock Yarn
. Even when I don’t buy, I love seeing the fabulous yarn and crafts these artisans have on offer.
Each year Peter is bound and determined to return home with an angora rabbit. He sees the women spinning fiber right off their bunnies and he goes wild for a soft, furry bunny. This year there were puppies for sale and Ellie was possessed by a desire unfulfilled by even her great love for Dakota. They were really cute and if Jim hadn’t been along and if I didn’t know that Dakota has no desire to share, I might have fallen.
Jim is patient, but bored and heads off to sit quietly in the 4-H booth with a cup of hot cider and his book. The best place for him at this point. We walk up and down the rows looking at the booths and break for lunch early. The chicken pot pie line gets really long and one year they ran out for a while…I enjoyed a roast lamb sandwich.
After lunch we wandered over to watch the dogs in the Frisbee competition and then hit the barns to oggle some sheep, goats, llamas and alpacas. It is fun to watch the sales going on, but visiting the animals in their pens is even more fascinating. Here is a whole agricultural life about which we know little, but the sheep are clearly well cared for and loved. Their owners wait patiently for the judging and tend to the animals while probably wishing the dumb city folk would stay out of their way. It isn’t an easy way to make a living no matter how romantic it looks from the outside.
All too soon critical mass has been reached and the voting is to return to the car and make our way home. I wonder what it would be like to spend an entire day or weekend at the fair? Somehow even after just a few hours, the car feels warm and comfortable and it is tough not to doze off over yarn and needles as we head south in the afternoon’s darkening light.
It was a good day. A day anticipated for many months and enjoyed in the best of company. It will be another year until Sheep and Wool and yet, it will be very much the same as this year. A turning point as summer truly fades into autumn and the world prepares for winter. A good day’s outing in the country and a chance to enjoy the fresh air, animals, some good food, my family and lots of yarn and fibre. It doesn’t get much better than that!