Last summer Dan announced that he wanted to take me to the New York Sheep and Wool Festival for our anniversary, and reserved us a room before I could object on practical or budget reasons.
Dan took off both Friday and Monday so he could go back to work rested enough to actually accomplish something. I’m not sure I’ll remember it all unless I write about it, and look at the photos and business cards I collected. I wasn’t sure I should post where we stayed in case someone snags it for next year – I didn’t even say how I found it when I met Shannon Okey at the Cooperative Press booth, even though I did feel bad she had to stay across the river. But Nickie and Gabriel were lovely to us, and how could I not plug them? (We are going to reserve it again ASAP though.)
Because the Hudson Valley is so lovely, and Rhinebeck is cool even without the Sheep and Wool Festival. As we drove in, the downtown reminded me of Nyack (grow up on an artsy, touristy town, and you will be spoiled for life for any other, so this is high praise) and I saw so many signs for historic sites I wanted to bring my kids to for homeschool.
And the hills and trees and mists are so pretty. Watch out for deer though. We saw about 10 just this weekend, mostly about to cross the road in front of us oblivious to traffic.
So, we went away without kids, what did we talk about? The kids. K had asked us to say hello to a sheep, so finding ourselves first in the livestock area, we did. I’d had a plan to walk the whole fair and then shop, my only to do was to say hello to Shannon Okey at the Cooperative Press booth.
But the fair was Just. So. Big.
It didn’t take me long to buy a Christmas present for K, then pretty much forget about shopping for yarn, or passing out the business cards I’d had printed for the occasion. Dan gave them out for me whenever someone admired his sweater. I was officially overwhelmed. So, we chatted with people waiting in line for coffee about what they’d knit to wear to the fair.
People really do see color first. There were a lot of orange neck scarves, I wonder if you can wear more autumnal colors to the fair than you would to the office or lab? I’ve backed away from colorful projects because I’ve noticed that my family and I actually wear monochromatic things more often that don’t take center stage or demand calmer, matching but subdued other garments. A lot of people were wearing black leggings or plain jeans with their handmades. I didn’t see many who wore crochet, but when I did, they asked about my Attleboro Sweater. And Dan gave them my card.
I’ve been out to a restaurant 4 times since my Celiac diagnosis, it’s easier to cook at home. So it’s a really big deal that I ate at the fair, and Aba’s Felafel took care of me. They didn’t just make a plate of naturally gluten free foods – they abandoned a partially completed plate, changed gloves, changed serving utensils, moved away from the pita, and made me a plate that had not been cross contaminated. I’m one of those people with Celiac that can’t even handle naturally gluten free things manufactured in a plant that also handles wheat. They looked after me as well as my Mother does.
And the Felafel was so yummy.
About this time I glimpsed Stephen West walking purposely towards the education building. The crowd murmured, Is that? Yes. Wow.
So, somewhat fortified, we ventured into the book signing area. Nicki Epstein complimented Dan on his sweater, Dan pointed to me. (People were so good about not assuming that the wife was the knitter.)
“It’s 17 years old.”
Mr Epstein paused in hauling books to say, “She says I’m on her waiting list, I haven’t gotten a sweater in 17 years either.”
I said, “It’s all those photography samples she has to make,”
Mr Epstein said, “That’s what she says.”
Nickie Epstein said, “That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.”
Is that? Yes. Wow.
I looked at lucets, drop spindles, needle felting things, and learned about Teeswater sheep.
But we hadn’t found anything to buy the boys, so we headed for building E. Lamb ribs and cheese, perfect. Then we heard about the chop stick knitting contest.
I was ready for the fair part of the fair. And hadn’t brought anything to knit. So it felt so good to sit down and enter.
I came in 3rd place for knitting. I’d used most of my time rounding over and sharpening the tips so I’d be able to grasp the stitches. I also used a cable cast on which I find nice and loose. I think the women who placed first and second just kept their heads down and knit, I kept glancing around.
I ran out of yarn in the middle of the crochet contest, but the lady behind the spinning wheel advocated for me, and got me another ball of yarn. I came in second for that one. I learned later that whenever someone said, “She’s have won if she hadn’t run out of yarn,” Dan would hand over my card. I’m not so sure that actually is the case though, the lady who won was very fast indeed.
Is that? Yes. Wow.
Our photos from Sunday didn’t come out. We went to church before the fair, after getting lost and driving over the Rhinecliff bridge, which we didn’t mind, because it afforded a glorious view of the Catskills in pretty leaves. We took in the Leaping Llama’s show (the 4H kids and their alpaca “Spitters” were adorable.) and again I tried to buy yarn. I just couldn’t decide though.
“Yes.” the lady in Seashells said, “And that’s Xandy Peters.” It was her Mom, who is her photographer.
What a gracious young woman, with a head on her shoulders. We discussed unventing techniques (I’d have liked to hear more, but she was modest), her college in NYC, Dan’s sweater, finding your thing to design so that people know you and you can make a living off of it, how nice Stephen West is as a teacher and person, taxes, and commuting. I managed to exchange cards with her too, but only because she held my coffee for me.
Is that? Yes. Wow.