Tag Archives: NY Sheep and Wool

Rhinebeck 2019

Some of the woods in front of our house looking very autumnal

It’s been a week since I got back from our annual trip to the New York State Sheep and Wool show.  As always, I went with a group of friends and we stayed in our favorite AirBnB house north of Rhinebeck.  And, as always, we had a fantastic time! It’s always funny to be down in the NY area and then return to Maine, where autumn suddenly looks like it’s almost over.

It takes two vehicles to get our group down there, and we usually take along just about all the food we will need for dinners and breakfasts.  It’s so much fun cooking and hanging out with the ladies, and the festival is great too!  Sometimes it’s nice to get out of Dodge, and we had pretty good weather this year, not too cold, and not as hot as it has been some years (not great for vending wool products!).  One year it snowed, as well :*)

Swaledale combed top

This is the first year in a long time that I have not come home with one or more raw fleeces.  I did not even allow myself to walk amongst all those raw wool fumes, as I know that I would have been totally unable to resist.  I kept my purchases pretty light, and came home with 2 lbs of combed Swaledale wool and some dyed roving.   Swaledale are sheep that are from Great Britain, native to the Yorkshire area but found elsewhere as well.  It is a breed of sheep that I have never come across in the U.S., but have always wanted to have a crack at.  The sheep themselves are beautiful, and I expected the wool to be much coarser that it is.  I don’t know what I will use it for yet, maybe for something woven.  The wool is not pure white, but slightly off-white, and there are some very fine black hairs and fibers in the fleece, but you can’t really pick it out from the rest.

Swaledale ewe
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swaledale_sheep
Into the Whirled lovely goodness!

I also headed over to one of my favorite vendors, Into the Whirled, and bought some of their dyed roving in the “Rhinebeck” colorway.  Always a favorite of mine (dyed on Polwarth roving).  I also got two bags of their odds and ends rovings, small amounts of various colorways and fibers all in one bag.  Lots of fun to spin up together!

I only spent Saturday at the festival as my hip is not in good shape and I didn’t think I would be able to drive on Monday if I limped around all day on Sunday as well.  So I had a lovely day of knitting in front of the wood stove with one of the other ladies, and it was a very nice time.

Winnie sniffing the wool

I was a little worried about how Winnie would react to my being gone for 4 days, but she did quite well.  I think she took a few naps with John in the recliner when she was feeling a little lonely (really, this dog is never lonely and is with one or the other of us at all times!).  And now she knows that even if one of us leaves for more than a grocery run, we do actually come back!

Post-Rhinebeck week

Lovely yard behind our AirBnb house
Lovely yard behind our AirBnb house

I am finally able to write about my adventures at the NY Sheep and Wool Show!  Retirement has its benefits, for sure.

Traveling to Rhinebeck, NY, with a lovely group of fiber friends is the highlight of the year.  The Hudson Valley is usually at its peak of fall color; we rent a house, bring lots of lovely food and libations, and just have a great time.  The sheep and wool show is absolutely fantastic as well!  (Not an afterthought and certainly our reason for being there).  We also get to visit with many vendor friends who are there at the show.  Sometimes this is the only visit we get.

View from the porch
View from the porch

This year our AirBnb rental got a little mixed up, and we ended up staying in a different place than usual.  Lovely, large farmhouse, with all the seating and sprawl areas that we could have wanted, and a great kitchen as well.  You never know how those things are going to work out, but it was a great choice.  With the drought in the northeast continuing, we ended up having perfect weather, too.  Sunday was almost too hot!

Shetland fleece on the drying rack
Shetland fleece on the drying rack

Having had a lovely flock of Coopworth and Border Leicester sheep and crosses for many years, I really never need anything at a sheep and wool show (I have tons of roving and yarn left from our crew).  But in the last year or two I have been loving the adventure of trying out wools from different breeds of sheep.  This year I knew that I wanted to find a Shetland fleece, as that is something I have never spun or knit with.

Foster Family Farm yarn
Foster Family Farm yarn

There were a plethora of fleeces to choose from, and I had a difficult time deciding.  I knew I wanted a dark fleece if I could find one, but a reddish-brown one was second on my list as that is a color you don’t find in Coopworth or Border Leicester sheep.  And so I came away with a lovely small fleece, just enough for me to have some fun with, and maybe spin up for a small shawl.  This hogget (or yearling fleece) came from a farm on Cape Cod, Freddy’s Farm Shetlands.  Lovely, very clean fleece.  This one is not a dual-coated Shetland, as many are (Shetlands are considered a “primitive” breed, so they would typically have a hairy outer fleece layer with very soft undercoat.  And you really want to keep those two products separate when spinning!).  So I waited in the long line in the fleece area, got to look at what everyone else around me was buying, and had a great time!

Romney/silk roving
Romney/silk roving

I also found more little treasures at the show:  some beautiful Romney/silk roving, and two skeins of Wensleydale/Romney yarn.  I bought enough of the roving to possibly make myself a sweater or a vest.  The red yarn is for a cowl, Purl Soho’s pattern ‘Cowl with a Twist.’

And so it goes.  Yesterday was so beautiful and warm that I was able to wash the whole Shetland fleece, and it was almost totally dry by dark.  I also plied up some Coopworth grey singles yarn to use for the accent color on the red cowl.  It was a beautiful day all around, and our Rhinebeck weekend was pretty spectacular!

 

Not Rhinebeck

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This is definitely the weekend that I look forward to when I can.  The New York Sheep and Wool Show in the Hudson Valley in Rhinebeck.  Wow.  it’s quite the festival.  A lot of our friends are down there, and I am hoping the weather was as beautiful there today as it was here. Spectacular day, actually.

Since none of our spinning group could get down there, we decided to have a ‘Not at Rhinebeck’ party.  As usual, we outdid ourselves with the potluck food, and I am still in a quasi-food coma!  It was a blast, as always.  I guess we just can’t help ourselves.  Everyone converged on our house, and it was a blast.  Lots of laughter, great food and some spinning and knitting actually ensued as well.

Maybe next year we will get to NY!