Sunday, March 25, 2012


International Sheep Dog Trials, UK 2010
The New York Sheep and Wool Festival is loosely referred to as "Rhinebeck" by East coast knitters, and many others around the US and Canada.  (That's because Rhinebeck is where it's held.)  It's a massive show in October, and unlike most of the other big shows, still focuses on sheep and wool, not just selling, shopping and making money.  Not that any of those is a bad thing, per se.  But after you go to a few festivals that are little more than really large, outdoor yarn shops, you may yearn for something different.  You'll find it at Rhinebeck. 
Clara Parks in a Relaxed Moment
The reason I bring this to your attention is I've just received my contract to teach at Rhinebeck this year, and I'm really looking forward to it. I don't mention every contract I receive, or every professional relationship I enter, but this one is different.  Rhinebeck is when knitting throws itself a party, and the Knitterati show up.  These folks are at the top of the field, and for good reason.  Clara Parks, Vicki Square, Ysolda Teague, Stephanie McPhee, Gwen Steege, Amy Herzog... I'd love to pick the brains of each of them.  And I think most of you would, too.

Sometimes the biggest shows can feel a bit like a zoo, and that's off-putting.  This one doesn't.  (If there's a sudden downpour, it gets temporarily nuts, though.) You can visit literally hundreds of vendors, if that's your thing, or if you're one who has to see and touch a fiber before you're willing to take it seriously.  But unlike many festivals, you can visit the livestock and see a variety of demonstrations. Watch the sheepdog trials, and root for your favorite pooch.  (If you've never seen one, try it.  You'll be amazed!)  You can attend book signings and lectures, and not with just one author - with over a dozen nationally known authors and speakers!  And cooking classes, about how to make sheep's milk cheese, or what wine to pair with lamb.

While all this is seriously cool, my intrepid assistant Colleen and I will not be able to attend most of the events I've just listed.  We will be teaching all day every day.  Thursday and Friday, the vendors themselves get to have their own private Rhinebeck, because it's so big and busy no one can get away from their booths and meetings long enough to see the rest of the festival.  Colleen and I will be running "professionals" classes on those days, too.  (No rest for the wicked...)  On Thursday and Friday night, though, we will get to hang with everybody and attend the various parties.  It's 5 months away, and I'm already wondering what to wear, and what questions to ask of whom.

If it were today, what questions would you ask, and of whom?  Who would you want to invite to have a beer?  Whose knitting do you want to see up close and personal?  I can't wait to hear if your list is the same as mine!

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