Category Archives: New York

Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival 2017

A little more than a week has passed since the 2017 Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival. Instead of taking the train up for the day, I decided to make a weekend out of it. So hubby and I booked and AirBnB (will never do that again!) and headed upstate.

Rosendale, NY
Rosendale, NY

The weather was just glorious! It really gave us the opportunity to check out the area. We spent Saturday visiting some of the lovely open spaces and antique shops. We picked up a paper while enjoying dinner in Rosendale and even the locals were looking forward to  the event! Every individual we met was incredibly nice. We were offered suggestions on where to have lunch, different areas we should ride to, and even the history of the large bridge that was recently built!

Saturday’s exploring was very nice, but let’s face it; we were there for the Festival on Sunday. We were about 20 minutes outside of Rhinebeck. After a nice breakfast we headed over to the Fairgrounds. We knew we were getting close when the traffic started to back up and we saw this billboard!

Rhinebeck Billboard
Getting close!

Now I have been telling the hubby how huge the event is but he was still surprised when we walked into the Fairgrounds. As usual it was packed, but not as busy as Saturday from what I was told by those who attended both days. Everyone was very pleasant – and why not? After all, we are all there to enjoy everything fiber-related!

As always, there were plenty of wonderful little furry creatures to visit. And they certainly know everyone was there to seem them! There were a few young alpacas that were quite friendly and wanted to check out everyone. There was also a beautiful sheep hanging out that was just really interested in sitting comfortably letting everyone take his picture.

Sheep

This year they held a live auction for used equipment like they do at the Maryland Sheep and Wool. Unfortunately, it was only held on Saturday so I missed it. The one time I went to Maryland I checked out the auction and it was great fun. I even won a few items! I hope they do it again next year and maybe offer it on both days.

Obviously there were wonderful items in every building and barn. Of course there were a few items that really caught my eye.  Over the last few years, more and more people are using yarn bowls to try and tame project yarn. Well this year I saw beautiful shaker boxes from Suffolk Shaker Shop

Suffolk Shaker Shop
Knitting box from Suffolk Shaker Shop

that do the same thing. I love Shaker style, so I had to stop and check them out.

Golding Spinning Wheels
Golding Spinning Wheels

A “must stop” booth for me is always Golding Fiber Tools. They create the most ornate spinning wheels and spindles I have ever seen. But they are not just a pretty face. They spin like a dream! I am the proud owner of one of their spindles and I always need to try out the latest wheels they have on display at the Festival. A Golding Spinning Wheel is at the top of my “if I hit the lottery” list – and of course a matching chair must go with it!

One of my last stops of the day was to the Author’s Section to have a quick visit with the great Margaret Hubert. She is not just a talented fiber artist – she’s a good soul. Someone I don’t get to see nearly enough.

Margaret Hubert
Me with the great Margaret Hubert!

She is always more than happy to share her knowledge and offer encouragement to fellow fiber fanatics when they are struggling with a project or specific stitch. She recently published her 31st book – Customize Your Crochet – so I had to pick up a copy and have her autograph it!

Finally we headed out for the day. We didn’t get to see everything, but it was just great. I am already on the wait list at one hotel for next year and will continue to check out other hotels in the area to see if we can book a legitimate room next time.

So what did I buy you might ask? Hubby bought me a few presents! First, a lovely antique box full of thread spools. Second, two antique cameras! Yes, I know. Not exactly fiber gifts, but I have several analog-based hobbies. I’ve always wanted some older cameras so I am now the proud owner of a Kodak Duaflex II and an original Polaroid still in the carry case! So cool!


So, I wait with fiber-filled dreams until next fall.

Spring Trip to NYC

While I don’t normally head into New York City on a chilly day in early spring, I found myself having to do so for a job interview. After my interview was done I took advantage of already being in “the city” and got some shopping in that of course included yarn!

First, I went to Tinsel Trading Company. I discovered Tinsel Trading Company years ago at a fly tying show. I actually wrote about the company in a earlier blog post. The antique French tinsel they sell is perfect for not just fiber arts, but fly tying as well. It is a charming little store full of vintage ribbon, tinsel and other unique items. They are in the process of looking for a new store location from their small space on Lexington Avenue. I hope they find a new location. It would be a shame to lose such a unique shop that has been around for close to a decade.

String YarnsAfter finishing up my shopping, I had to, of course, find a yarn shop nearby. So I hoofed it uptown about 10 blocks to String, a great little place. There is something always so inviting about independent yarn shops. I don’t know if it is the space, the lovely yarns you just don’t find in the “big box” stores, or the great staff, but I just love going to them.yarn

Their yarn options were just amazing! Of course it took me a bit to settle down and focus. The staff was incredibly nice. We chatted about the different yarns and about attending Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival. I picked out a few nice yarns and they made them into sparkle yarncenter-pull balls for me. I then headed downtown to meet some friends for dinner, which was a lot of fun. After that, I headed back to the ferry to make my way home.

Once the weather is a little warmer, I’ll head back into the city and go downtown to visit more shops, but for now, this was a great unexpected visit!

Using Tinsel in Fiber Arts

So I will first apologize for being woefully overdue with posts. It has been insane – I’ll spare you the details. Nevertheless, I have some great topics so I hope you’ll come back and give them a read.

French tinsel
Beautiful vintage tinsel

As some of you know, in addition to being a fiber fanatic, I am also a fly tyer and angler. My husband and I are blessed to have the opportunity to participate in different tying events in the northeast. For those of you who aren’t familiar, fly tying materials are just great to combine with your fiber craft. One of the great materials is tinsel.

At the recent Fly Tying Symposium, I had the opportunity to see a vendor I had not seen in several years Her name is Marcia and she is the owner of Tinsel Trading Co. on Lexington Avenue in New York City. The last time I saw her a fly tying show I picked up tinsel for not just tying, but to mix with my crochet. I was very happy to see her again and, of course, had to stock up!

Such beautiful metal tinsel!
What wonderful colors!

In 1933, Arch Bergoffen bought the Old French Tinsel Company,

located in the Garment Center of NYC. He was a serious collector by the time of death, 55 years later, he had amassed a fantastic collection of antique thread, trim, tassels, and ribbon, all made out of metal tinsel. Most of the stock was from France and Germany from the 1900s. When he passed away, his granddaughter, Marcia, took over the business and continues to provide these fine materials to designers, fiber artists, and anyone who appreciates the quality of these materials.

Vintage French tinsel
It was hard to pick my favorites!

Marcia and I were able to chat for awhile and I could just feel her passion for this business and how much she loved sharing such beautiful tinsel.

I left the show with several spools of different colors and textures. I plan to use them in my crochet and my spinning, as well as my fly tying. I know they will make my work even more unique! I hope you will check out Marcia’s amazing collection for sale. The next time I head into NYC I am going to stop into her shop and see her entire collection. I also liked her Facebook page so I can keep up to date on all she has available. I hope you will too!

Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool 2012

There are very few words someone can say to a group of individuals that immediately stir emotions. For fiber fanatics, one of those words is Rhinebeck.

The New York State Sheep and Wool Festival held at the Dutchess County fairgrounds, better known as “Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool,” was last weekend. For the last several years, I go to the show by way of a wonderful bus trip run by Jill Deal Yarn in Milford, PA, however, this year I had a very important event on Sunday that kept me from participating – my niece’s Confirmation. I thought I would have to miss this year’s event completely, but thanks to my wonderful husband, I was able to go on Saturday by hopping a ride on the Amtrack. It was quite the adventure!

I hopped the NJ Transit train in Dover, NJ into New York City. Then it was the Amtrak to Rhinecliff, NY, and finally a short taxi ride to the fairgrounds. A total of four hours door-to-door. I made arrangements to meet the taxi a few hours later and off I went!

At first, I was a bit frantic. I only had four hours to get to everything. My usual plan when going to Rhinebeck is to make one or two rounds and make mental notes of what I plan to purchase and then on the last round, pick everything up. Well, this year I had to purchase when I saw it. I still made mental notes for items that I would not be able to purchase at the event, but hope to plan to at some point in the future.

The purchase I made was was one of my favorite vendors – Golding Fiber Tools. I picked up a set of Knitters Pride Dreamz crochet hooks. They were quite reasonable, VERY light, comfortable, and just lovely! I own a Golding spindle and I can say with great confidence, their work is some of the best out there and they offer their tools at a wide variety of price points so you can find something to fit your budget. Purchasing a spindle is a great and inexpensive way to get started in spinning and there is nothing like spinning on a quality spindle.

I found a great spinning seat that I plan on buying in the future. They were all hand-turned and cost between $120 and $150, depending on the type of wood used. The best part is that he does ship! As I was on the train, it didn’t make much sense to try to bring this home so I plan on picking one up.

I also had a chance to try out a spinning wheel called “Hopper” from Spinolution. This is a portable-style wheel and it spins like a dream! The woman at the booth let me spin for a long as I wanted and answered all my questions. The wheel retails for a little more than $800. Definitely a well made wheel!

I had a chance to say a quick hello to Susan from Susan’s Fiber Shop. This is the only time of year I get to see her and I always make sure to say hello. Her booth was full of fibery goodness as always! For those of you who don’t know Susan, she is incredibly knowledgeable and helpful.

As always, there were many different finished pieces available for sale from a wide variety of different artisans. One vendor had these beautifully made hand-felted scarves. Felting is something I keep saying I want to learn more about, but that never seems to happen. It is definitely on my list.

I also checked out the Schacht Cricket Loom. There is now a 10 inch model available, which is just the right size for condo living. That will be on my list to Santa this year for sure!

The leaves were in all their glory and the weather was just perfect! There was only a slight chill in the air, making it perfect for some leaf peeping and hot cider. The colors on the trees were just lovely.

In what seemed like no time, I had to meet the taxi to head back to the train station to catch the Amtrack back to NYC and then the NJ Transit train back to Dover.

Overall it was a great day and it always goes by too quickly. The train was a nice ride – although a long one. I hope to take Jill’s bus trip next year. Once I was back on the the train in New Jersey, I was able to snap a shot of the Freedom Tower being built in lower Manhattan. It was certainly a beautiful sight!

Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool 2010

This past weekend was the 2010 Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY . I look forward to this event year and, as usual, it didn’t disappoint!

High Point, NJ
High Point, NJ on the way to Jill Deal in Milford, PA

I took the bus from Jill Deal Yarn, just like every year. Now you may remember I took a bus trip from another yarn store earlier this year to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival . Well, they could definitely take a page from Jill’s playbook. As usual, the trip was flawless! We left from her shop promptly at 8:00 a.m. in Milford, PA for the roughly 90 minute trip to Rhinebeck, NY. I sat next to a lovely woman on the bus and we chatted all the way up. This was her first trip to the Festival, so I was happy to fill her in on all the fibery goodness she would experience!

Sheep at Rhinebeck, NY
One of the great sheep hanging out.

The morning wasn’t very busy with plenty of walking room and very pleasant festival-goers. Of course, I had to pick up a few items. I picked up the Denise Interchangeable Crochet Hooks  which I purchased from Susan’s Fiber Shop. Susan always has the absolute best stuff! She is very knowledgeable and is always happy to provide information and answer questions. I also picked up a Turkish spindle from Bonnie McMillen, made by her husband Neal. Finally, I found an unexpected treasure. A beautiful hand-woven scarf made with recycled sari silk at Fessler Spinning and Weaving. They also had some very yummy yarn at their booth that I plan on ordering.

An overhead shot of one of the vendor barns.
An overhead shot of one of the vendor barns.

I had the opportunity to meet John McCoy and his wife who manufacture Pocket Wheels by Jon . Let me tell you, this is an awesome wheel! This may very well be on my “wish list” in the future.

I had plenty of fun, including my usual lunch of stuffed cabbage and perogies and topping it off with a late afternoon pumpkin spice coffee. Of course I had to go see all the great sheep on display. Although I was sad I missed Laurie, mommy to Laurie’s Lambs in Chesterfield, New Jersey. I came to find out, she was in a different barn that I thought was just for judging.

I did notice people carrying fewer bags than in the past. I am guessing this is due to the unstable economy and high level of unemployment. I asked a few vendors about their sales and while some were optimistic and said they “did well,” others told me they sold very few “big ticket” items (such as carders and spinning wheels) and more items like knitting needles and books. Even I found myself taking a few business cards of vendors I would like to order from in the future, working to stay on a budget.

Spindles at Rhinebeck, NY
Spindles, spindles and more spindles!

My only “suggestion” to the event planners is this – I wish they would consider not allowing strollers. I know they billed this as a “family-friendly event,” but the strollers often make navigating the show very tough as the number of attendees increases during the day. Many of these booths are very tight. More than once I saw a mother and father with a stroller go into a booth and that was it. No one else could get in and look until they were fished, often leaving without making a purchase. I wonder if this also contributed to low sales. I also saw lots of double-strollers, making it even more difficult to get around. I hope they would consider at least eliminating the double strollers.

Ultimately, it was time to head home. Everyone made it back to the bus on time and off we went. Everyone chatted about their purchases of the day and eventually everyone settled in and either worked on a project or napped…or a little bit of both!

By the end of the day I was tired, but inspired. I realized how much I miss finding time to spin. I am hoping it has inspired me to work to find, at least a little time, to get some spinning in.

My Thoughts Today on 9/11

Today is not about two so-called men of God as many may have you think. Today is about the scar on our great country that will never really heal. Today is about remembering those who lost their lives, those who worked to save so  many and those who have been left behind without parents, children, siblings, spouses and friends.

As I write this, I  am listening to the reading of the names. To everyone now, whether they know someone lost on the day or not, they are more than just names. They are the first lost in the war against terror and those who want to destroy the freedoms we enjoy here in the United States of America.

Years before, there was an attempt on the World Trade Center. On that day in 1993, I was preparing to attend a bridal shower. We had no idea that this event was the beginning of a war against us and our way of life.

I have an interesting story I want to share about the World Trade Center. In the late 1990′s, I went for a job interview at what I grew up calling The Twin Towers. I was told to get there early so I would have time to go through security. That was the only time I was ever there. I immediately fell in love with the grandeur of the buildings and knew it would be great to work there.  During the interview, the gentleman I was meeting with made a point of telling me the job would be located in the building. That there were some individuals who were uncomfortable with that after the 1993 bombing. My quote to him was “I would love to work here and I am not afraid. Lightning doesn’t strike twice.” How wrong I was.

As I watched those buildings burn that day, I thought about the man I met with. I never heard back and didn’t get the job. I don’t remember the name of the company or even which building the job was in. But I remember him and wonder if he still worked there. If he made it out. If he was OK.

Like many, I remember every minute of that day. I remember leaving work and going to the school where my high school friend’s mother worked. Her husband worked in the World Trade Center Complex. I remember her holding a paper plate with a number scribbled on it where he would be that day. That look on her face I can’t describe. The school principal and I tried to get her to leave and come home with me, but she wouldn’t. Thankfully, her husband, who I always called Papa, was OK.

I think Mayor Giuliani said it best this morning. He remembers many terrible moments that took place nine years ago today. But he also remembers many great acts of caring and kindness that took place, both on that day and on the days after.

As I do every year, I pray today for all those who lost their lives, those who were directly affected and all of us as a nation. God Bless the United States of America.

Keep Cool with Stitchin’ at Starbucks

Let’s face it, this week has been ridiculously hot here in New Jersey. What is the best way to stay cool you might ask? Heading to Starbucks for a Frap and some crochet!

The next get together will be this Thursday, July 8th, 7:00 p.m. at the Starbucks coffee shop next to Pier One in the Target strip mall at theRockaway Mall, Rockaway, NJ. We are having a great time getting together every few weeks and would love to have more join in on the fun!

If you are on Facebook, make sure to join Stitching at Starbucks,our happy little group! Hope to see you there!

Learning Free Form Crochet From the Master – Prudence Mapstone

Even Ghandi was cold today!

Today I had the pleasure of finally having the opportunity to take a free form class with one of the masters of the art — Prudence Mapstone! I have had the opportunity to get to know Prudence over the last few years and couldn’t wait to hear about her process directly from her. It was quite cold when I left the house (10 degrees Fahrenheit) this morning at 5:45 a.m. to meet up with a fellow free form buddy to catch the bus to New York City.

Within the hour we were a few blocks from the Lion Brand Yarn Studio enjoying a wonderful breakfast! Afterward we headed out into the wind and cold to walk the last few blocks to the Studio. We arrived at 9:25 a.m. for our class. To our disappointment, the woman working refused to let us in saying we were there too early. We tried to explain that we were told by arrive by 9:30 a.m., but she was adamant and wouldn’t let us in and said to come back at class time. Annoyed and cold, we walked another block to a coffee shop and sat another little bit to sit and warm up. We let 15 minutes pass and decided to walk back and tell her that if class is supposed to start at 10:00 a.m., they would have to let us in ahead of time to be ready. Well, to our surprise, the shop was already bustling! I was quite miffed! When I asked why it was now OK, she said (and I quote), “well, you got here at 9:25 and I wasn’t opening the doors until 9:30.” Um, really? She knew I was less than pleased and ignored her and headed over to see the person I wanted to see and visit with most of all…Prudence!

We all immediately started chatting at once like school girls! It was wonderful! After a quick catch-up, we settled down, ready to begin.

Prudence’s amazing wall hanging!

She already had some of her wonderful scrumbles out, her wraps, beautiful coats and an amazing new wall hanging!

I cannot describe how helpful her guidance for free form projects was today! She shared how she develops her scrumbles, assembles her garments and connect scrumbles to each other. At one point I became somewhat stuck with the piece I was working on when I asked her for assistance. She simply said “it has finished telling you what to do with that piece right now–put it aside and start another one.” She also advised to never pull apart a scrumble because you don’t like it at the moment. Set it aside and start a new piece. It has finished “speaking to you” at the moment. Give it some time…a few days to even when you are ready to do something with all your pieces. You never know how they will all work together!

 

One of Prudence’s amazing scrumbles!

The hours passed by quicker than you could imagine. After a few quick purchases, the ladies of the International Free Form Crochet Guild posed for a few photos. We said our goodbyes so Prudence could prepare for her afternoon class and headed into the cold again (now a balmy 30 degrees) to catch the bus back to New Jersey.

I cannot thank Prudence enough for her time, her encouragement and her creative thought process. I plan to send her photos as my scrumbles progress and turn into whatever they tell me they should be!

If you would like to see more photos of today’s class, please join my Facebook page.

Stitching at Starbucks in Rockaway

The next get together will be this Thursday,January 28th, 7:00 p.m. at the Starbucks coffee shop next to Pier Onein the Target strip mall at the Rockaway Mall, Rockaway, NJ. We arehaving a great time getting together every few weeks and would love tohave more join in on the fun! I can’t wait to see everyone again!

Many of us are also attending the Prudence Mapstone class at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio in New York City this weekend and we will be discussing the upcoming day!

If you are on Facebook, search under groups for Stitching at Starbucks and join our happy little group! Hope to see you there!

Rain and Cold at Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool

There is one word that stirs the hearts of fiber fanatics…Rhinebck.

This past weekend was the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival held each year at Dutchess County Fair Grounds in Rhinebeck. For for the past several years, the weather has been just wonderful. Well, this year we paid for it with cold and rain on Sunday. I bundled up however and set out from my house at 6:30 a.m. to get the bus at Jill Deal Yarns in Milford, PA to the festival.

The first thing I noticed as soon as I stepped off the  bus was the lack of crows of years past. It seems the threat of poor weather kept many of the crows away. While I was happy for the elbow room, I did feel bad for the vendors who travel such great distances to get to the festival. I also heard there were a few vendors who didn’t go to the festival at all over concerns of the weather. While speaking with some of the vendors, they said they had a “good” or “solid” weekend, but certainly not what it was in year’s past. Hopefully next year’s weather will be better.

Nevertheless, I had a great time! I picked up some wonderful yarns for a planned project, some lovely crochet hooks and of course some great snacks! I stopped by the Ravelry get together for a quick hello and zipped back and forth from barn to barn to see all the wonderful animals! I also spoke with a representative from a new yarn company St. Denis. The amount of inspiration you can find at this festival is truly never ending!

It is also always great to see my wonderful fiber friends. I was able to sit and visit with author and internet radio show host Mary Beth Temple as well as others. To me, one of the best parts of these festivals to see my fiber friends that I don’t get to see as often as I would like!

One thing I noticed (and wasn’t too please about), was the large amount of strollers. There seemed to be a lot more than last year. In a way it was a good thing it wasn’t as crowded as usual because it would’ve been impossible to maneuver around them.

Overall, I had a great time and am sorry it is over already! One of these years I will make it a full weekend trip. But I wait in anticipation of all its fibery goodness until next year.