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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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19 responses to “Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool October 20, 2009”

  1. Renee says:

    Whst a spectacular time!! Thanks for sharing – I wish I could’ve gone too. :)

  2. ~S says:

    What a wonderful time it looks like you had…So where’s the haul?

  3. Vicki says:

    Isn’t it wonderful? So sad I wasn’t able to go again this year.

  4. meg says:

    Le sigh. Dreams, beautiful dreams. Those llamas are so cute! I love their ears =)

  5. carlene says:

    What a great post! Oh, I’d love so much to go someday.

    Although…what were you doing in George’s pocket??

  6. Cindycindy says:

    What a wonderful travelogue, Bonne. Thanks!!!

  7. Cara says:

    So glad I got to see you even if it was only for a few minutes! I’m glad you had such a wonderful time!!! YAY!

  8. Susan says:

    One of these years, I’ll get there. Would LOVE more details on the Mancho. I would cast that bad boy on my Addi Clicks TODAY!

  9. thea says:

    How funny — we were laughing about both the Mancho and the Yurt ourselves.

    And I’m kicking myself for actually meeting you at the fair
    (just prior to your G.W. photo – I was the short blond with Carol in her big light blue Cowl. We came upon you guys and fondled the lace scarf looking for hidden mistakes….)

    and not knowing who I was talking to! Your stuff is amazing, and Chicknits was one of the first blogs and design websites I found in the early days of Knitty before I started blogging. Had I known who you were, I’d have thanked you for years of inspiration! And for my Chickami and my Felted Bucket Hat and my Eyelet Cardi and my Ribby Cardi…

  10. claudia says:

    It was a tragedy that I missed you.


    Its a good fair, and I hope you’ll come back!

  11. Ann says:

    The mancho, the Father Of Our Country, the wool, the snacks, the whole dang thing! Ohhhhhh, the memoreeeeees! FABULOUS. Perfect travelogue! I’ll go anywhere with you. x0x0x0x0x0x00xx0x00xx0

  12. Seanna Lea says:

    I really wish I hadn’t missed it. I still haven’t found the perfect way to get down there sans vehicle (I wonder if there is a bus line that normally makes a trip there). Your photos are terrific!

  13. turtlegirl76 says:

    You know, SAFF is this weekend and it’s a lot warmer down here than up there! You could show off any sweater you want without being hidden by a coat. Just sayin’.

  14. Karen B. says:

    Wow! Adore the “mancho.” Dude wearing it knows his fab is showing. Did the father of our country let you keep the wool? Just wondering.

  15. amberincolo says:

    So very jealous-must go some year!!

  16. Theo says:

    Okay, my husband will now hound me until I find the Mancho pattern. My comment was “Wow, it even looks good if you cut out his head.” Silly knitter. Anybody have any info on the pattern? Please…

  17. Glenna says:

    What a great post! It was so lovely to meet you in person too, after reading your blog and knitting your patterns for so long. Clearly, you’ll have to come back another year, right? ;)

  18. firefly says:

    I would love to get to this one sometime, but didn’t this year. Your coverage in this post is great!


  19. Julia says:

    It absolutely does not get better than Up state new york in the fall! Oh Rhinebeck! We skipped this year, but next year, it’s on!

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