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That’s right ladies and gents, last weekend my Mom and I made the trip up to the Hudson River Valley for Rhinebeck for the first time ever.  As long time attendees of Maryland Sheep and Wool we had been talking about making the trip to Rhinebeck for years (8 years to be exact, we first discussed it when I was doing college tours and went to visit nearby Bard).  In the past the pieces never really came together, we were too busy, or we didn’t think to book far enough in advance, but last year when Rhinebeck rolled around, Mom & I made a promise that 2009 would be the year that the ladies of the clan made it to Rhinebeck!

We made a weekend of it, heading up on Friday to hang out in the area and staying until Sunday afternoon.  Friday we kept it low key, Mom had a long week at work and I had only finished midterms the day before.  We were both wiped, so we focused on relaxing on the beautiful property of our hotel near New Paltz.  Here’s just a taste of what we found there…

Truthfully the property was amazing.  On one side a mountain rose up behind the lake, while on the other it slowly descended into a valley towards New Paltz only to rise again to the next ridge in the distance.  No matter which way you looked the view was stunning.  I’m such a city girl that sometimes I forgot how wonderfully restorative it can be to surround oneself with natural beauty.  It was just what I needed.

We woke up early on Saturday to head to the festival.  As we were getting ready we could see the affects of the sunlight on the sky over the mountain above the lake.  We didn’t ever see the sun crest over the horizon because the mountain was too high, but the affects on the sky were beautiful.  I went outside on the balcony to watch for awhile.  I had to bundle because it was chilly.  I had on my coat over my PJs, as well as all the usual hand knit winter accoutrement plus I wrapped myself in the quilt.  Despite somewhat frozen fingers I managed to get a few shots to share just how lovely it was.  Like this one of the sky reflected in the lake…

After the sky turned lighter and the colors faded, I hopped back inside to shower and get dressed so we could head out.  We grabbed tea on the way out the door and we were off towards Rhinebeck.  We raced a few buses full of knitters and showed up at the gates at 8:50 and we were ushered in.  First stop was Apple Cider to ward off the chill, and then we headed towards the numbered barns.

We didn’t have a real plan of attack, neither one of us was trying to score anything highly coveted.  Since the forecast was looking ominous we decided to do things that were more outdoors first and then save more indoor areas for later in case the rain came and we had a repeat of MDSW on Sunday this year.  The shopping started fast.  We had to make a trip to the car to unload (mostly Mom’s fiber) after being there for less than 2 hours.  I have to admit I was a little slower to procure, but trust me I caught up.

Saturday was a great day.  There was much to see and buy.  The sun lasted for only a few hours, but the weather held out all day, not a raindrop in sight.  We ran into a old friends and a few new.  I met up with Lina for the first time, which was lovely.  We shopped around in the main buildings and then attempted to have some food.  We were some what thwarted by long lines, but we ate eventually.  We also ran into Andrea, which was awesome.  Always nice to know more knitters in my new town.  It’s so much fun to put real live faces to people you know through Ravelry and blogland.

We got tired relatively early in the afternoon, so with the knowledge that there was more time Sunday, we headed into town.  Downtown Rhinebeck is very cute and we found that Bread Alone had been invaded by knitters.  We decided to contribute and ordered more cider and plopped down to lay with yarn for an hour or so.  We spent the rest of the evening being very low key with dinner in our room and lots of knitting and reading.

Sunday way drizzly, but the weather still held out relatively well.  There was almost now real rain, and what there was kept the crowds down.  Plenty of room to move around on Sunday.  So we did the sheep barns we had missed the day before.  As lovers of wool it’s always nice to be reminded what beautiful and sweet creatures most sheep are.

And I always love a chance to witness the parts of the fiber process I get less exposure too in the day to day.  Somebody needs a trim…

Later we did more wandering.  I finally got to try the potpies that were virtually unattainable on Saturday.  It was delish.  I also picked out a wheel that has been ordered and will be coming my way around Christmas!  And I snagged some fiber, so I can get spinning once it is really mine.

All in all it was a wonderful weekend.  I never complain about a chance to buy yarn, but it’s always a joy to do so in a beautiful setting surrounded by other people knitters.  October is certainly a lovely time of year to be in that part of New York.  That alone is reason enough to travel, but you throw in all the fibery fun and you’ve pretty much nailed my ideal weekend.   Those of you who have been know just what I mean, and for those of you who haven’t, I really recommend it if you can make it happen.  Oh and I suppose you’ll be wanting to see the haul…

Here I am back home in my PJs in love with all the pretty things I picked up.  I’m sure you’re noticing lots of natural sheepy colors.  It’s what I like to buy at festivals and once the weather turns colder it’s what I crave.  I love beautiful hand dyed yarns as much as the next person, but when the air is crisp I just want to sit down with something super wooly.  And believe me, that’s just what I’ve been doing all week.

If it is absolutely necessary to spend the entire weekend doing work for midterms, one might as well start off Saturday morning on the right foot.  So I woke up early (this is a new, but now relatively regular thing for me) and started making breakfast.  I decided to make Pumpkin Pancakes from this recipe, because it feels more like fall everyday.

The recipe is pretty straightforward, the only trickiness I had was consistency.  I have become aware that pancake batter consistency is a very personal thing, everybody having their own preferences for just how thick or thin they like the batter to be.  My family was always in the runnier batter, smaller, silver dollar style pancakes camp, so that is the camp I remain in today.  I ended up mixing in more buttermilk after combining all the ingredients three times in order to achieve a consistency I was pleased with, and it was still a bit thicker than I usually do.

As whole wheat pancakes it’s not surprising that they would be a bit heftier than regular pancakes, so they came out dense, but in a hearty, stick-t- your ribs kind of way.  Let me just say, I’m not much of a whole wheat person.  I’ve slowly snuck it into my diet where I can stomach it because I know how much healthier it is, and I’ve grown to like it in certain contexts.  But whole wheat pancakes have never made me want to jump for joy.  However, the pumpkin in these puppies simultaneously softens and compliments the whole wheat flavor in a way that I can definitely get excited about.

I accompanied the pancakes with a pot of Yorkshire Gold in my brand new Yorkshire Tea teapot (a major thanks to Amanda, who helped me get my hands on one!).  The whole breakfast was delicious and very hearty.  It only took five small pancakes to fill me up and I wasn’t the slightest bit hungry until late lunchtime.  Oh an the best part, the recipe made enough pancakes to least me at least three more breakfasts, so I won’t even have to dip into my toaster waffle stash until midterms are practically over!

Last weekend Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed was in town and hanging out at Loop.  Some of my knitty friends came up from DC to meet him and we did plenty of hanging out (and eating and knitting) in the mean time.

On Friday night he signed copies of his new book at Loop, so we all said hi & had our books signed.  If you haven’t seen Made In Brooklyn yet, it is absolutely necessary that you check it out.  It’s a truly beautiful book, with charming patterns and fantastic photography.  But what else would you expect from Mr. Flood?

Jared was teaching workshops throughout the rest of the weekend and Petra and I were lucky enough to get the last two spaces in Intro to Shetland Colorwork.

Jared taught us all the tricks or stranded knitting.  One of the most helpful things I learned was that the dominant color should always be pulled from the left.  This keeps that strand and its floats on the bottom and keeps the stitch pattern from getting interrupted by those little spaces of background color that you sometime see (like, ahem, in my practice fair isle hat).  This of course, helps the pattern to look pronounced and keeps everything neat.  A truly helpful thing to know.

Jared was a great teacher, explaining and demonstrating everything very clearly.  He patiently answered our questions and double checked on our progress.  Towards the end of the workshop he demonstrated steeking in a way that has completely taken away the fear.  I haven’t had time to steek my swatch because of schoolwork, but I really can’t wait to try.

Needless to say we had a great time.  It was a fantastic way to spend a Saturday morning.

And the rest of the weekend was lovely.  It was so good to see everyone.  We ate fantastic meals, a nice change since I haven’t been eating out much lately.  And I got loads of knitting done.  Managed to squeeze in a bit of homework at the end there too.

And of course now I’m looking forward to the next knitting adventure.  Rhinebeck is only a week away!