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Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool October 20, 2009

Now I’ve been to the Fair a few: Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, but baby, I just wasn’t ready for this…
the New York Sheep Python and Wool Festival…


SQUEEE! But from the moment I entered the rolling, hilly grounds, I knew something was really different. Welcoming the Festers? Exotic animals like miniature Red Kangaroos, meerkats and my friend, the python-boa-it-was-really-big-and-scary even behind glass!

To help you climb the little hills? Guys from South America, guys playing pan flutes and guitars! My heart was leaping with my feet.

I was instantly in love, as were the waves and waves of people we saw everywhere:


The first blush of autumn was sweeping the many trees, the chill touching all noses, teasing and tickling away.

We were surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of people wearing handmade, covered with the knit, all wrapped and snuggie with, pound-for-pound, more knitwear than I’ve ever seen in my life at any other festival. New York RULES!

Glorious folk: women, children and men


including this handsome chap sporting a glorious garment which my fest-mate #1 Kay christened a Mancho on the spot. Everyone around us wanted this wrap – speculating on gauge, dimension and yardage. The idea of Making Something Immediately was contagious and we hadn’t even seen a Sheep or Wool.

But that was soon to change


because along came someone named George Washington, a sheep farmer, a handsome sheep farmer, who was strolling through the time warp continuum to show his sheep and visit with the masses.

Mr. Washington’s card reads: “George Washington: Breeder of Leicester Longwool Sheep & other creatures useful to Mankind.”

Thanks George! I appreciate the sentiment (and don’t you think my boots kind of go with his outfit – as was concurred by sassy fest-mate #2 Ann, on the right, and our 3rd fest-mate Mary Neal, who left out a description of the fair when we were talking about going: Reenactments! Love them…)

But it was here that I saw my first wool of the day, as I pulled this


out of George’s pocket: lovely, glorious Leicester Longwool.

I was thrilled! And even more thrilled to miraculously cross paths with many of the people I was hoping to see.

rhinebeck-6-0843rhinebeck-7-0845Deelighted to run into the beautiful RosiG, on the left, from Brooklyn, who’s been my penpal lately, and her fab friend Jeanine.

A little farther down the Midway, there was Glenna, from Ontario, in the pic on the right, who I’ve “known” for years online but never had had the pleasure to meet in person — so lovely and kind — who was getting some AWESOME apple pie with Liz.

Glenna was wearing a fabulous Cassidy sweater (click pic for bigger pic) she made from the most richly colored Ultra Alpaca – and you’ll notice she was one of the few people not wearing a coat — beautiful AND cozy. Check out Glenna’s Rhinebeck adventure here

Away and up the hill and we finally found them: Animals!


There were beautiful horses pulling a trolley which I longed for later in the day ;) The New York Sheep and Wool Festival is HUGE. Lots of buildings and tents and fields and hills and my calves are now beautifully sculpted to prove it.

Looking for some sheep herding dogs out in the fields, we ran smack into Frisbee herding dogs instead. This pup had what they called a WOW factor of +10 and dudes, he was airborne and likin it!


llama-alpacaAnd gasp! I finally made it into the Barns. I was enticed by a Parade of Alpacas, trotting ever so delicately from building to building, their tufty heads and legs all championship special for the Competitions.

I adore Alpacas — they look right into your eyes with their ET orbs and just mesmerize. Way ahead of the lowly dolphin; rungs above even the magical Unicorn, although I suppose they frolic in the woods together at times…

Here is the winning Llama I found in the barn, on the right:


So Majestic! So regal! Such beautiful fleece!


And what do you do with all that fiber!?

SHEEP TO SHAWL, baby! Most excellent. Ever since my friend Claudia described it in her writings, I’ve been mesmerized. Found in Building E, with the glorious smells of food and wine and cooking, along one wall, were teams of Spinners.


In one afternoon the goal was to spin and weave a Wrap and it was incredible. The speed and dexterity of the contestants was outstanding — and their handiwork just beautiful.

I was so excited I had to go celebrate with a Gigantic Coconut Macaroon (3″ high, dipped in semi-sweet chocolate, ooh)…


There is so much wonderful food here: the Apple Crisp with Vanilla Ice Cream; lamb couscous; potato-leek-bacon soup with huge fried bread croutons; everyone’s favorite, buttery articokes in pastry; and lest we forget: apple cider & fried dough sprinkeld with lots of sugar…

And then, because all this incredible work sampling these treats in the raw, chilly air takes its toll, I found the perfect place for a nap. Pardon me while I retire to my new Yurt…


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