I often joke about going on "yarn pilgrimages" - AKA semi (or fully) planning a trip because of the yarn stores, fiber festivals, and/or sheep I want to see. It happened a lot when I studied abroad - my Spring Break conveniently fell over the weekend of the Edinburgh Yarn Festival in Scotland, so of course I had to go. And of course I had to take a trip to Loop London while I was in the UK. And of course it was all amazing!
In the spirit of fully embracing yarn pilgrimages & traveling with yarn/knitting/craft at the forefront of one's mind, I've decided to dedicate an entire blog segment to it. Hence, welcome to the first installment of the Yarn Pilgrimage blog posts: Rhinebeck.
I feel like Rhinebeck is the Mecca of fiber festivals (also, yes - I am using a lot of religious imagery, as a practicing Catholic & someone who studied quite a bit about religion in school, it makes a lot of sense to me given the almost religious nature of knitting & the knitting community. I'm sure I'll unpack all that in a later post). It's technically called the New York State Sheep & Wool Festival, but it's often referred to as "Rhinebeck" thanks to the town that houses it. Also, "Rhinebeck" is a pretty epic name.
Grayson & I were spending the weekend in New York City, & we took the train up just for Saturday to check it all out. First off, if you have any kind of reason to take a train through upstate New York - DO IT. We rode right along the Hudson River & it was freaking beautiful. We basically went up north at sunrise & came back at sundown, & it was an incredibly beautiful addition to our amazing time at the festival.
Rhinebeck has a lot going for it - an amazing selection of fiber vendors, craft authors, bizarrely delicious fair food, the best apple cider donuts in the world, & my personal favorite bit - sheep & all sorts of other wonderfully fibery animals all over the place. Grayson & I became bffs with the little black Shetland sheep in the first picture of this post, & met his owner (shepherd? I should really know the proper terminology) who was just the nicest man. It was so fun to be able to hang out with some sheep, pet them, & appreciate their awesomeness.
I already mentioned the apple cider donuts but let me say it again for the people in the back - THESE APPLE CIDER DONUTS ARE THE BEST APPLE CIDER DONUTS OF ALL TIME. And I come from Iowa, where we have the very close second best apple cider donuts from Wilson's Orchard. Hearing that Rhinebeck had special apple cider donuts was honestly 80% of the reason that convinced me to go (as if I needed much convincing), & it was worth it. And worth the stupidly long line. Who needs the line to move fast when you have knitting, anyway?
And also, who needs the line to move fast when you've got this guy to keep you company? I've mentioned Grayson offhand a few times in the blog/on Instagram/a lot of you might just know who he is because you know me personally, but he's the freakin best. He has jumped full force into the fiber world since meeting me just over 3 years ago, & is always willing to accompany me to the yarn store - or halfway across the country to a fiber festival. He's definitely taken, but I hope that everyone finds a partner who supports them (& their wool obsession) as fully & lovingly has he does me. He also bought me most of my Rhinebeck yarn as a birthday present, so he is currently excelling at life.
On that note of having great company, it did make me a bit shy this past weekend - I know that Rhinebeck can be a great place to meet up with people from Instagram or Ravelry or long lost fiber friends, but unfortunately I'm still a little shy at times! I did hear from a few of you retroactively that said you wish we could've connected, & me too! Me too! But I was honestly a bit overwhelmed by all the greatness going on, & I think this first Rhinebeck needed to be a bit of a solo (+ Grayson) experience. But next time (year? maybe? hopefully?), I'm hoping my circle will be expanded.
Whenever I travel, I make it a point to not buy anything I can get at home - & I try to find things I've never seen before, or seek out things I've only seen online & desperately want to see (& touch) in person. Rhinebeck (& all of NYC, but more on that later) did an excellent job of fulfilling these hopes & expectations.
I discovered the freaking wonderful White Barn Farm Sheep & Wool, which I'm now obsessed with. Not only is their yarn incredible, it sounds like their little shop/dye studio/community space is a wonderful conglomeration of fiber, sustainability, & community. I wish I lived closer!
I got 2 skeins of their Heaven DK (80% cormo, 20% alpaca) in the colorway Straw Hat & 2 skeins of the Heaven Fingering (80% cormo, 20% alpaca) in the colorway Barn Door. And guys, it literally is Heaven in a yarn. It's incredible. I don't know if I've ever had softer or more luscious yarn, & I cannot wait to start working with it. The yellow is going to be knit up into a nice scarf since I don't really have a scarf right now (I know, what?), & the beigey rosy wonderfulness is going to become basically extended leg warmers, for lack of a better term - but the idea behind it is to make handknit tights. I'm always getting runs in my cheap tights, & I'm so sick of it. So I decided it's high time to knit myself a pair (pattern coming early in the new year...).
And then there's the two skeins of Green Mountain Spinnery's Sock Art Lana - a wonderfully rustic 2 ply 100% wool. I've admired Green Mountain Spinnery from afar for years, & it was so great to finally see their yarn in person & grab some for myself. I'm in need of a few pairs of handknit socks, & I can't wait to knit them up in these lovely skeins of cream & maroon.
But of course, Rhinebeck has more than just yarn. I was able to get a few other tidbits for my crafting pursuits, including a gorgeous bee/honeycomb printed project bag from Madder Root. I think they may have sold out on Saturday, their stuff was that good. I got a few gifts from them as well, which of course I can't post, but let me just say that if you haven't heard of them, check them out because they have some gorgeous stuff.
I made friends with a woodworker at Favour Valley Woodworking and got some amazing hand carved buttons from peach wood to use on my refurbished army jacket, & lastly grabbed a little vial of embroidery needles & some lovely hand dyed cotton thread from Brooklyn Haberdashery.
There were so many other things I could have picked up, but these vendors were my favorites. They all fit into the categories of "never heard of" or "always wanted to see", & I am so happy with what I've brought home. Everything was bought with a special project in mind, & I'm just itching to get started on them during my personal knitting time. Which, tragically, is getting shorter as we head into holiday market season & I need to build up some serious inventory.
You can check out my little Instagram story featuring Rhinebeck below, & if I haven't already made this clear, I highly recommend making a little yarn pilgrimage to Rhinebeck if you can. It's such a lovely environment, & even though it was bizarrely warm, the trees were still turning, & we got that crispness in the morning that only Fall can give you. It was such a joy, & I will definitely be going back.