In A New York (State Sheep & Wool Festival) State of Mind

It’s that time of year again — the air is crisp, the leaves are turning, and I’m wearing at least four layers of clothing to work every morning. It’s almost fleece-lined-leggings-o’clock. Every year around this time, I find myself in a New York state of mind… New York State Sheep & Wool Festival, that is! I’ve never been to Rhinebeck, but I dream of one day witnessing this sheep-tacular spectacle myself.

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This festival is a big deal for us fiber folks. Just look at the schedule: over a week to go, and most of the classes are sold out! And what wonderful classes they are: dyeing, spinning, weaving, felting, knitting, crocheting… the list goes on. The schedule is studded with big names, the rockstars of the fiber world, including Bristol Ivy, Norah Gaughan, and Mary Jane Mucklestone (from Maine!).

Have you heard of the phenomenon of the “Rhinebeck sweater”? Knitters heading to Rhinebeck will often knit a glorious sweater to show off at the festival. Can you imagine a better audience than thousands of knitters, who understand exactly how much work went into your pullover? Ysolda Teague even compiled a book of sweater patterns by famous designers called “The Rhinebeck Sweater”. We have a copy at the shop, and looking through it always makes me┬áreally want to actually be there.

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(Vegans, avert your eyes for this next part.) I’m not going to lie, a big part of why I go to fairs is the food. Rhinebeck apparently has lamb. LAMB. And not just one kiosk with lamb kabobs and a line a mile long, but a whole workshop on how to spit roast lamb. There’s also apple crisp, and falafel, and cheese!

(Ok, this part is vegan friendly again.) Rhinebeck also features┬átons of adorable fiber animals to admire. I didn’t pet enough critters at the Common Ground Fair this year — I really want to snuggle some baby goats, and feel the lanolin on my hands after petting a sheep. It’s a good thing Brooks’ car is just big enough for the two of us, or else I’d be stuck trying to talk my landlord into bending the no-pets policy for a small flock of sheep. They could mow the front yard!

Written by Jennifer Woodman

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