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.
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 really want to actually be there.
(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 tons 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!
We’ve been looking through the results from our survey and have seen some interesting comments.Since we’re always interested in feedback about how we can do better, we’re also thinking of ways we can follow the advice we’ve gotten through the survey.At the same time, we’re realizing that asking questions about how we can communicate better are giving us results about how much we’re not effectively communicating now.We had a lot of requests to start doing things that we’re already doing.That lets us know that we need to do a better job of letting everyone know what’s going on.
We had several respondents say that they would like more beginner classes, more, technique classes, more design classes, more free classes, more classes.I want to take this opportunity to let everyone know what we’re already doing and what we’re going to be doing starting right now.
Our weekly newsletter is the best way to keep track of what’s going on at OTR.
For the downright beginner, we have a “Learn to Knit 5 Minute Guarantee” lesson that can be scheduled any time Mim is in the shop.It takes a little bit longer than 5 minutes to learn to knit, purl, cast on and bind off.That’s why we have Drop In Class every Monday and Thursday evening from 5-7 pm.You can come in with any question, project, goal, or agenda and we’ll tailor instruction just for you.We have so few people taking advantage of this time that you may be the only one there.That means you get 2 hours of instruction all to yourself or maybe with one or two other people, then you can segue right in to Stitch and Spin night until 8:30.
If the Monday and Thursday evening time slots absolutely don’t work for you, we offer 15 Minute Mini-Classes any time you care to schedule one.These Mini-Classes are also tailored to you personally and cover anything you want to cover.The only requirement is that we be open and there be two people here in the shop (that way, one person can devote all their attention to you and the other can help other customers.)From beginner basics all the way through to the most complex, advanced technique, you name it and we’ll teach it in one or more sessions.
Our comfy chairs up front get a lot of use during classes, social groups and spontaneous knitting time.
Once you’ve gotten comfortable with the absolute basics, we offer Technique Classes almost every Saturday from 2-4.There are single topic classes and series, there are project-based classes and classes that cover techniques only.The more popular the topic, or the more important we think it is for you to learn it, the more frequently we offer a class.For example, “Be The Boss of Your Socks” is offered at least three times a year because there are always more people who want to learn to make socks, and “Finishing School” comes around on the calendar at least three times a year because we think everyone can benefit from some attention to washing, blocking, and seaming.We let you know what’s coming up for classes on our Events page here on the website, the Events page on our Facebook page, through the newsletter, with in-store signage and through community bulletin boards.
If we offer classes and no one comes, we assume the topic is of no interest and shuffle it to the bottom of our idea pile.We’re always willing to expand our offerings or bring things back from the discard pile if there is interest.In fact, most of our class ideas come from customer comments in the store.You can tell us what you want through comments here on the website, or comments on our Facebook page, or in the shop. In addition we’ll be offering a paper evaluation form at each of our classes from now on, and one of the questions on that form will be, “What other classes would you like to take at OTR?”
Want to learn to make polymer clay buttons?
We’ll also schedule a formal two-hour private class on any topic you like at any time you like if you and four friends want to come together.Teens, retirees, families, veterans or circus performers who want to knit their own leotards, we’ll create a class just for you on any topic you like as long as there are five of you.Call the shop or drop by and we’ll discuss the details and schedule your own private yarn party.
Because several people have asked, we’ll be offering Tuesday evening classes as well starting next week.Beginner Lace will be February 9, 5:30-7:30 and Traveling Stitches will be February 23, 5:30-7:30.In March, we’ll be offering “Finishing School” on March 1, 5:30-7:30, and “Be The Boss of Your Socks” on March 15, 5:30-7:30.If those classes are well attended, we’ll expand the offerings.
We offer 12 original free patterns with free instruction for 12 weeks of every year.
In addition to formal classes, we offer The 12 Weeks of Christmas small project knit-alongs from the first week in October through the middle of December.The patterns are free and so is the instruction.We only ask that you buy your yarn from us as we’ve designed the projects around specific yarns.Many weeks during the season we have no one there.This leads us to think that there is no interest.But I promise, if folks really want to show up, we’d be willing to expand 12 Weeks of Christmas to 12 Month ofChristmas with small project knit-alongs, free patterns and free instruction if you get your yarn at OTR.Get back to me on when would be a good time to start and how many of you are willing to be here.
If you just want to be around other knitters to ask and answer questions in a social setting, we have Stitch and Spin circles on Monday and Thursday evenings from 6-8:30 pm, Wendesday morning from 10 am-Noon, and a new group that has spontaneously started coming on Thursday starting at Noon-ish.You can come in at any of those times and be assured of lots of companionship and support.Or the comfy chairs are always here, and the staff is always willing, so you can come in and just sit and knit a spell and ask quick questions on the fly whenever you have the time and feel inspired.
For those of you who live far away and can’t make it in, we are looking into webinar formats to be able to offer online classes.We’ll be getting our first on-line class up and running by the end of March.Watch the Events pages for times and details.
A customer winds his yarn into a ball at Over the Rainbow Yarn.
As a side note, we had several men comment that they felt awkward or unwelcome being the only guy around.Notice I said “several men?”Well, there are more of you than you think, and if only one or two of you would come hang out, the others would no longer feel like they are the only ones.Paul?Daniel?Cliff?Steven?Chris and Cooper?Bill?Any of you want to sponsor a manly contingent and give the other guys permission to come out of the shadows?
We consider ourselves fiber evangelists.We want to do whatever it takes for you to start, commit to, or sustain a fiber lifestyle.If you have a idea that we are not already doing, please let me know and we’ll bend over backwards to fulfill your fiber dreams.