Does Rhinebeck live up to the hype?

Yes. Yes, it does.

I heard about the New York State Sheep & Wool Festival  (conversationally referred to as “Rhinebeck”) when I lived in Oregon. The BIGGEST, BADDEST, BESTEST fiber festival in the country…only I lived on the wrong side of the country.

I was delighted to discover that Rhinebeck is now just 3 hours away, so when my mom and aunt wanted to come to Boston for a “girl’s trip” we planned it for the weekend of the festival. We spent Friday walking around the North End, eating Italian pastries with unpronouncable names and reading amusing epitaphs in Copp’s Burial Ground (i.e. …Sacred to the Memory of Elizabeth Fernald, amiable wife to Capn. Abraham Fernald). Copp's Burial Ground

Paul Revere Mall in the North End, Boston

Saturday was a full day of driving, exploring Rhinebeck, and driving again. Here’s a list of our highlights and notes to remember for next time.

Bring snacks for the traffic jam
Traveling the last 3 miles of road took 45 minutes…which is completely understandable given the small size of the town and the huge size of the festival. We were also getting in around noon, which I imagine was a popular time. My mom couldn’t stand just sitting there, so while we waited she cleaned the backseat of my car with Armorall wipes, even going so far as to wipe each groove in the floormats (see, this is why she should take up knitting! A knitter is never bored waiting in a line).


Participatory art: wear your favorite handknit
My absolute favorite thing about Rhinebeck was the sheer volume of handknit items worn by the crowd. Nearly everyone had somethinghat, sweater, felted bag, shawl. A non-knitter might not see and notice it all, but if you are a knitter, there’s a sublime happiness to seeing handknit wardrobes all around you. It’s like a high society ball, but instead of asking Who are you wearing tonight? I was asking What’s the name of that pattern? When was the last time you saw so many knits in action?

Kami was there
I couldn’t believe it. I got up from eating a pulled pork sandwich and sweet potato fries, and there at the end of the table was someone wearing my Kami hat pattern. At least I thought so, but I had to ask to make sure. And it was! Seeing as how there are (according to ravelry) 16 of them in the world, I think I’m justified in being amazed at the odds of meeting one! It was dark green malabrigo and very cute.Vendor Barn at Rhinebeck

Make a shopping list and make early purchases
Rhinebeck is sensory overload. I spent a couple hours on ravelry Friday night making a list of yardages and yarn weights to look for, and then made those purchases in the first hour. By the end of the day, we’d seen so many vendors and so many yarns that it was difficult to be decisive…so my best advice would be to buy early and spent the rest of the time leisurely perusing.

Say hi to Babydoll
There were a lot of cool animals there, but Babydoll took the prize. I told Read that in our future-dream-house, I want some sheep in the backyard. He said that’s fine, as long as he can get a basketball half-court. I see how this bargaining is going to go…

Llama at Rhinebeck

Consider a 2-night trip
This requires a little saving, since accommodations in the Hudson River Valley can be spendy. But most of the places (even hotels) require a 2-night minimum stay. I found us a relatively inexpensive Friday night at the Chatham Travel Lodge, but if we went again it would be fun to splurge on 2 nights in a vrbo. Something like one of these:
Historic Red Schoolhouse in the Berkshires
Litchfield County Converted Barn
Hudson Valley Panorama
Classic 1880’s New England Farmhouse

What else should a newbie know about Rhinebeck? What’s your favorite part of the festival?



  1. Lori · October 21, 2011

    I’m kind of jealous although happy for you that you got to go! It sounds like a fun trip.

    Also, now I really want a Babydoll sheep. I had a dream once that I had an apartment sized sheep and I think that’s the one.

  2. Julie · October 19, 2011

    wow, it looks like it was truly an amazing time!! i really wanted to go this year, but had a conflicting work conference. Next year!

  3. Beth · October 19, 2011

    Sounds wonderful! Would you mind contacting me via email? I would like to request permission to feature one of your tutorials but I can’t find your email contact information anywhere… Thank you!

  4. sally · October 19, 2011

    Looks like a splendid trip, Katie! Would love to join you some year. And it is REALLY cool that you saw your Kami hat. Weren’t you so very exited and proud (in a humble sort of way?)

    How about Angora goats? Although I must admit that Babydoll is rather cute. Are you sure she’s not half Scottie dog?

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