Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Rhinebeck!! Sheep and Wool Festival 2012

I can  hardly believe it was almost a week ago that Darling Daughter and I got up at 3:30 am to catch a bus from  Newburyport to go to the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival.

By the time we got to the first coffee/potty stop it was (finally) beginning to get light.  Darling Daughter was a mensch and got the bus driver a cup of coffee, too.
An extra advantage of being on a bus was getting to park close to the main gate. This is the view back toward the gate from just inside the fairgrounds.

I was very surprised to see a cage with Lemurs just past the entry gate. Lemurs and a Coatamundi.  Kind of like the Spanish Inquisition.  Nobody expects it.

The weather could not have been more perfect.  Didn't even need a sweater.  And New York's colors were still bright and autumnal.

Fiber Optic has a good blog and website. They sold out of their deep rose-cream roving (below). Most vendors had snazzy banners and even snazzier wares.  I saw lots of very fine (thin) sock yarn,and  roving to be spun into yarn.  Apparently plain old "worsted" or double knit isn't as "in" as it used to be.  There were also more exotic blends than at some of the smaller yarn fairs.  The kind of sheep (Merino, anyone) was almost always noted on the label.  And some were blended with synthetics (Tencel),  or cotton, or other animal fibers like alpaca, angora or musk ox.

This is a digital painting I made from the upper left hand corner of the roving photo.  :-)

Sometimes you just had to sigh and look at the foliage.  The vendor barns were VERY crowded and pretty stuffy.  I was grateful that not many people had discovered the benches away from the main thoroughfare before lunch!  Especially when there were eaves to protect you from the sun and blazing maples.

I would decline a request to come dressed up  in light weight quilt fabric --even if it did have sheep on it. 
I confess that not only had I never heard of Oasis Farm Fiber Mill, and I had to look up where Otisfield, Me is. But I will say that these enormous hanks of angora blend were the softest, most luscious yarns I felt all day.

Apparently some people are competitive when it comes to wearing knits at the RSWF.  There was an abundance of lace shawls (which looked odd with jeans to my eyes) and popular patterns from Ravelry. Personally, I liked this woman's sweater very much. There were also some great looking kimono style jackets, too.  Sad to say, people who might have knit very warm sweaters were probably too warm to wear them.
Lisa Souza seems to do it all:  dye, spin, design.  And her colors were rich, and subtle.  I loved this sample shawl.

Conni Togel of Charisma Art   presented "Sheep In Cognito"-- painted sheep prints and calenders with punny titles.  As she writes on her website, Sheep spread insanity and camouflaged comments on social and political happenings.
Whenever I think of a niche market, I find that someone else is already there.  (Although my painted fur friends wouldn't ever be mistaken for these!)

I took the picture of the Cinema Classics/Nuno Felt Scarves so I would remember to do some research on this technique.   According to m y search engine there are lots of people selling the finished product AND the supplies.  The poster is from  Who knew there would be a bricks and mortar store in Easthampton, MA? It is only 2.5 hours from my house, which also turns out to be remarkably close to WEBS (perhaps the biggest yarn store/warehouse in the Eastern US.

Just Our Yarn had some of the most amazing dyed yarns.  Their website indicates that they dye and merchandise their fibers especially for weavers.  3000+ yards for $2600 seems like a bargain compared to yarn for hand knits!  Most of their fibers are Tencel, a synthetic made from wood pulp (!) and a renewable resource.

Bijou Basin Ranch is a family owned YAK farm Southeast of Denver.  Their yarns were amazingly soft, too.  And if you go to their website you will see animals that look like a cross between Longhorn cattle, Holstein cows with a little Walt Disney thrown in.
Later in the afternoon, when our feet were numb up to our ankles, we sat in the viewing stands and watched some sheep judging.  I was glad to realize that these sheep were being judged on their fiber... and not being judged for Leg of Lamb.
Sheep can look dumb.  Or dignified.  Hard to tell the difference sometimes.
A gaggle of wild toddlers seemed to enjoy getting up close and personal with the ewes, lambs and rams.

   I hope the wood shavings hadn't yet been "used" by the sheep when the toddlers were playing in it.  Nothing like a shower of peed-on sawdust, right?

After a while I could tell which handlers knew their sheep, and which sheep were used to being handled.  Their "posture" can be improved by the positioning of their legs, which is why (according to the announcer), the judges like to look at the sheep while they walk.  It is harder to hide out-of aligned hips, knees or shoulders when they are moving.

If a sheep is 60% or more a color other than white, it is called a "natural color" sheep.  They can be chocolate, charcoal, brown or gray.

The judging assistant was one of the most glamorous people at the festival.
The judge (in the blue and red pinstriped shirt) was from Rhode Island.  They said he'd been judging sheep for well over 20 years, but he didn't look old enough.

I liked the look of the red ribbon, but it didn't earn any extra points for this Lincoln.  Some sheep really bleated a lot and LOUD.

All were treated as tenderly as their temperaments allowed. 

My new friend Sue shared her Entrelac pattern with me.  That will be a good use of some of that dyed yarn!

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