Visit to Rhinebeck

the great New York wool and sheep event

Kathy and her new friend

Hello everyone

I am just back from Rhinebeck, near New York where I attended the annual sheep and wool festival.

As you will see I picked up a new alpaca friend for the shop. And the broken window in the flat above the shop has still not been mended. If anything it has got worse!

Usually I go to the Shetland Wool Week or Woolfest, but this year I felt I should go further afield and see what all my friends have been raving about. Les, my husband came too.

After flying out to New York, and navigating round the beautiful old building that is Grand Central station to get the Hudson Valley train, we headed upstate.

We stayed at Poughkeepsie, a nearby town on the river as the village of Rhinebeck is very small and places there are booked up a year in advance! It turned out to be a very attractive rural area with lovely autumn colours.

Who needs to go to New England in the fall. And there was plenty to do in upstate New York in addition to visiting the festival.

As we went in it felt a bit like the Highland Show in Edinburgh. There were shearers and a sheep auction and sheepdog trials. Plus a great array of stalls.

The array of sheep breeds was quite stunning.

There were over 300 yarn vendors, almost exclusively from the US. There was almost no overlap with what can be bought in most British yarn stores and the quality of the hand dyed yarns was outstanding.

You can see the range of vendors and activities from the website:

Friends from New York, who we met in Shetland 2 years ago joined us and made sure I visited all the best stalls.

The biggest queues were at Miss Babs, from Tennessee whose hand dyed yarns are world famous. She sells exclusively at shows or online so this was a great opportunity. I also liked the yarns from Harrisville Designs of New Hampshire. By then we had got into the system of Les joining the queue with small amounts of wool, which I then added to consistently before he reached the checkout.

It was not all wool! We got to sample the local lamb at the stalls at lunchtime and visited the great food hall which exhibited plenty of the local produce and drinks. Coming up to Halloween there were plenty of pumpkins from local farms. NY state has a surprising amount of wine and spirits producers which of course we sampled during and after the fair!

After two days of wool and sheep we headed up to Saratoga Springs, with a famous horse racing course though the season had finished; and where a pivotal battle in the American Civil War was fought. I then started a yarn crawl round the state!

Our first visit was to The Warm Ewe in Chatham, a delightful village, whose owner had been to my shop on a Scottish trip earlier this year.

In Saratoga we visited Common Thread, where we spent a lot of time on a very cold day!!

Then it was on to New York, where our friends joined us on some of the crawl.

First we made our way over to Brooklyn, which has great views of Manhattan.

It was a cloudless, perfect autumn day.

There we visited Woolyn, a specialist, very much in the style of my shop.

The owner has done a great job in two years.

After this, we went to a traditional NY deli and Les ate the largest turkey and swiss sandwich I have ever seen!!

Then the next day, in Manhattan, I visited Lion Brand which is leading on the HAT not Hate program against bullying.

and finally, the biggest store in town with a great reputation, Knitty City, where I had a good chat with the owner and of course made further purchases. Hope you like my friend Heidi’s hat!

So it was a great trip. I love to visit festivals and yarn stores to see what is on offer. Though on this occasion, as I specialise in Scottish/British yarns, I was not really on the hunt for new suppliers.

I would thoroughly recommend a visit to Rhinebeck and the whole region.

All the best