The Story of a Rhinebeck Virgin, pt. 1 – the People

I’ve rewritten this post so many times.  I’m not exactly sure why I’m finding it so difficult to come up with the right words but that might just be because there’s just so much to say and like the show itself, it’s an overwhelming experience.  I originally planned to divide it up into two posts, but I think after my first couple of stabs, three posts might be the way to go – too much??  Maybe, but it’s a big show 🙂

I’ve had the best intentions of attending Rhinebeck for a number of years. But, it is within driving distance of where I live so in my mind it does not require advance planning.  So what happens is that it rolls around and my weekend is already packed full and I have nowhere to stay.  When my Instagram feed was full of beautiful yarn and fall foilage pictures last year I put my foot down and on January 1st booked rooms at a local hotel and invited my knitting friends.

The drive to Rhinebeck is about 7 1/2 – 8 hours for me.  We decided to leave on Thursday and do a little sightseeing in the area on Friday, hit the show on Saturday and then head home on Sunday.

We arrived at the Best Western in Kingston, NY late Thursday evening.  As we entered the lobby to check in the first thing we noticed was there were knitters everywhere!!!  They were hanging in the lobby and in the bar knitting away.  This is a theme for the weekend – it did not matter much where we went, there were always knitters.  It is like we descend upon the town and take it over for the weekend.  I feel for the locals who must really wonder about all these crazy knitters who come the 3rd weekend in October every year. Or, the poor, random tourists who have no idea what they walked into!

Funny story here, after we checked in and were in our rooms I was checking Instagram, as you do.  A non-knitting friend of mine from home had seen my posts from the day and commented that she could not believe she knew two people going to Rhinebeck (she had no idea the numbers that attend 🙂 ) and online introduced me to her friend who was also there.  Said friend commented that she was currently knitting in the lobby of the Best Western, or was one of the people I had seen when I checked in.  That was definitely fun!

Before I launch into Saturday’s activities, I have to say it was the most perfect weather one could have for an outdoor wool festival.  It was sunny and cool enough to sport your knitwear but warm enough that you did not need a winter coat and not a drop of rain to be found.  I consider this a Rhinebeck miracle as I’m usually quite the weather curse.

I had read enough, listened to enough podcasts, and seen enough pictures to know that the actual festival would be totally overwhelming.  With that knowledge, I went with the intention of enjoying the people and the experience and, buying yarn when and where possible.  I was not interesting in stampeding for the Miss Babs booth or waiting in line for a mug from Jennie the Potter.  I was interested in spending the day with my knitting friends from home and meeting some of my internet friends IRL.  I absolutely wanted to see and touch the Miss Babs yarn and check out the pottery from Jennie but that was a secondary mission.

Words cannot express all that there is to see at the festival.  People of all ages, sizes, and backgrounds and all decked out in their finest knitwear.  I am not a sweater knitter and probably never will be so I chose to wear my 3 Color Cashmere Shawl.  I don’t remember wearing my knitwear in public and random people commenting on it but at Rhinebeck that happens all day.  The hot pink pop in my shawl was definitely an attention grabber!  While this might seem to breed a competition like atomsphere, it does not.  We all have a great appreciation of what went into each sweater, shawl, hat, etc.  And, I think as knitters, we know where our talents and interests are and so we focus on that.

During the course of the day I actually randomly ran into people I was hoping to see, another Rhinebeck miracle???  First I ran into Mary from Kino Knits and we were able to snap a quick picture.  Next I ran into my friend Laura who was from home but moved to Vermont earlier this year.  Late in the afternoon we also ran into another knitter from our LYS.  I coordinated meeting up with my friend Becky from the Knit Actually podcast.  We were both wearing pieces made from the same yarn so wanted to get a picture of our matching creations.  And then I hit the podcaster meetup where I was able to see Emily from the Knitting Butterflies podcast and meet up with Becky again.  I also got to meet Jen from the Commuter Knitter podcast, Claire from the NH Knits podcast, and I think a bunch more people but it was crazy at the meetup!!!  I hung out with Becky while she met some of her other listeners and we both met some podcasters and then we escaped.

I’ve been to other fiber festivals and they all have yarn, sheep, and knitters decked out in knitwear but there is definitely something different about Rhinebeck.  It’s almost like the knitting world stops for a weekend to honor the craft they love.  There is such a sense of joy and excitement as you wander through the tents and buildings.  There are long lines everywhere but no one is impatient or angry.  There are masses of people all looking at the same yarn but no one is trampled and I never saw anyone pushing or shoving or stealing yarn from anyone.  I think it’s easier to cart-jacked on Etsy then in person at Rhinebeck. Especially with all that is going on now in the US, it was extra nice to spend a day with people who were genuinely happy and spreading nothing but knitting goodness into the world.

 

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