My knitting group friend Babs got sick so she couldn't go to Rhinebeck. However, my very good friend and non-knitter, professional comedian Kelli Dunham, agreed to go on a half-day jaunt to the NY Sheep and Wool Festival.
Kelli asked if she was going to be the only butch dyke there, and honestly I think we only spotted a couple of others. People watching was the best part of the event and I loved how many men in utilikilts we saw. If I ever get her to come to the festival again (doubtful) she'll have to wear her utilikilt. Something butch dykes and male sheep and wool festigoers have in common.
It is always interesting bringing a Muggle into the fold of the Knitting world. You tend to look at the whole spectacle from a new set of eyes. We had a lovely drive up that ended with a bunch of traffic to get into a Sheep and Wool festival. One would not anticipate traffic for this sort of thing, but traffic there was. And tour buses, many tour buses.
Kelli was definitely not prepared for how many people would be at this event. And I don't think it was just the quantity of souls pouring into the gates of the Dutchess County Fair Grounds that astounded her, it was also the palpable enthusiasm of the fairgoers. People were all smiles and bravely wearing knitwear despite the 75 degree weather.
I have wanted Angora bunny yarn for quite some time. This angora rabbit cost less than the Angora yarn I ended up getting:
$40 on sale from a vendor in one of the stalls. I saw several other rabbits with sold signs on their cages.
I saw a lot of animals that look like my cats. Sheep, goats and Alpacas who are very similar to a Himalayan or a Persian kitty. Only their poop was a lot bigger.
In a rare moment of shyness I was feeling a bit too out of my element to ask the sheepherders/farmers questions about the flocks. I remain very curious about the sheep to shawl process and intend to take some workshops next time I go.
The sheep pelts next to the live sheep freaked me out. Message to the sheep--"Behave or this is what shall come of you!"
The Lamb Chili also freaked me out (as a former vegetarian I still get skeeved out about eating baby animals) but I ate it and it was tasty. Kelli said it was tender and not gamey as lamb usually is. I think this is the first time I have eaten lamb in about 10 years, so I don't know.
We watched the Leaping Llamas competition. It is not really much fun for the Llamas since leaping isn't really something they tend to be interested in. There are a lot of photos at my flickr, but here's one. Basically the whole competition looks like this:
It was peak foliage weekend in the NY tri-state area.
I left Kelli by the food for awhile and went shopping. In all I hit maybe 4 of the buildings, and saw a lot of yarn but felt like it was picked over. Definitely no one had enough bulky to make the sweater I was looking for. I even thought I might go home with no purchases (shock, since Rhinebeck is the equivalent of a mall of nothing but yarn stores) but I found some last minute Angora yarn I loved, enough to make a scarf, definitely pricey but soft. I really didn't want to buy just to buy and wanted to be excited about it.
Overall, it was fun but overwhelming and even though we had only been through about 1/3 of the place, we were ready to go after 2 hours. Kelli was a trooper and supportive. Next time I want to go with someone well versed in animal husbandry and/or a huge knitter posse so that I can shop vicariously through others.
Coming tomorrow--video of the Leaping Llamas competition (Alpacas included).
More at The Flickr Album
I promised Kelli she could blog about it afterward, which she has done here.