October 20, 2005
I went with a couple of projects in mind, and actually came away with yarn for them. I'd like to make myself a fall/winter sweater that will get lots of wear (which means that it needs to go with much of my wardrobe). This made thinking about yarn choices tricky. I needed the yarn to be durable, and somewhat neutral. On the other hand, I wanted it to be soft enough and interesting enough that I'd actually want to knit an entire Rose-sized sweater out of it. Francis pointed out that a whole sweater in gray or black would probably not get finished. I found a pattern I really liked in the Green Mountain Spinnery book, for the Wildflower Sweater (I'll check the exact pattern name when I get home); it's a cropped cardigan with slightly inset sleeves. I looked everywhere for a tweedy, neutral yarn, which you'd think would be easy-as-pie to find at Rhinebeck, right? Everywhere there was plain yarn, everywhere there was fancy handpainted yarn. Eventually, though, I was at the Green Mountain Spinnery booth, and there is where I found just the right yarn, though it wasn't what they'd originally had in mind for the sweater at all. It's their tweed two-ply, which they don't sell through stores and don't normally take to shows, so I felt especially pleased to get it. (Picture to come -- the color is called chestnut, and it's a tweed that includes dark gray, dark red, brown, and flecks of blue, and is somehow much prettier than the sum of those colors.)
I also bought yarn for a hat/mitten set from them, in Mountain Mohair; Francis helped me pick the unusual color combo. And I finally indulged in a big skein of mohair/silk/wool blend yarn from Brooks Farm. It's already halfway to being a scarf.
The best thing about this trip to Rhinebeck is that I wasn't attending as a yarn store owner. I didn't have to only look at yarns that I might be able to carry at the store. I didn't have to pick up skeins of yarn and think, "Will other people want to buy this? I think this is a good price, but how much is the discount? How much can I charge?" I didn't have to think to myself, "Oh, rats, I'll never have time to knit this up if it's not a store sample." I felt FREE. The best example was that Brooks Farm skein. They don't sell to stores; they feel they wouldn't be able to keep up with demand, and they don't want to be in that position. I think that's reasonable of them. But that means I haven't bought their yarn in the two years that I've been seeing it, even though it's absolutely gorgeous, and very well priced for the product. It was a delight to be in their booth, looking at all the lovely skeins, thinking, "I get to pick one!"
Lamb kebobs and fresh apple cider were a pretty good reason to make the trip, too. Yum.