Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival: Saturday

Last weekend I finally got to experience all the glory of Rhinebeck! Lauren and I decided that for our birthdays this year, we would gift each other a trip to the Sheep and Wool Festival. I didn't do much research about the event prior to our trip, but I had been to Stitches West in the past, so I thought I had a pretty good idea how this yarn festival would be. All throughout the summer I had been looking forward to embarking on this trip, and the actual event definitely held up to my expectations and then some!

Basically, there were really only two big things we needed to figure out before our trip: transportation and lodging. Since neither of us brought our cars when we moved back East, we typically rely on public transportation or simply walking to get around everywhere. Obviously we couldn't walk to New York, and we didn't want to have to deal with multiple forms of public transportation and not having a way to get around once we actually made it to Rhinebeck. So, we decided to celebrate turning 25 and rent a car for the first time. As for the lodging issue, by the time we finalized this trip, all of the hotels in the area had been filled for months. Kind of as a last resort, we tried Airbnb and rented a room from a very nice lady in Hyde Park. Since we would only be there to sleep and shower (we arrived at 9 PM on Saturday and left Saturday at 8 AM), I was able to put most of the fear of staying in a stranger's house with the stranger there mostly behind me. As far as our stay there went, everything went well and I had very little contact with the hostess which was just fine by me.

Anyway, we showed up at the car rental place at 4:30 in the morning on Saturday. We wanted to get an early start with the hope of making it up to Rhinebeck before the gates opened. I was shocked at how many tolls there are in New Jersey, and stressed out about not having exact change. Luckily between Lauren and me, we managed to successfully pay all the tolls. We made a bathroom stop as soon as we crossed into New York, and loaded up on quarters for future tolls as well. Even though we had plenty of snacks in the car already(!), we just had to try Dunkin Donuts' hash browns at 6 AM. They were really delicious, by the way!
We made it up to Rhinebeck with plenty of time to spare. Our parking spot was even super close to the entrance, and we were easily two of the first 50 people in line. Although we still had to wait in line in the cold for an hour, it was worth it. Even tough we were some of the first people who entered, the festival grounds quickly became swarmed with people everywhere. Since we didn't have anything specific we needed to buy, we chose to start in the middle, and work our way back to the front. This worked well for the first half hour, but then there were people everywhere. It was so busy the entire day that it was difficult to get a good look at the booths. However, being the stubborn people we are, we made it through all the barns to complete our first look. I was in search of pretty, yet neutral colored sock yarn and a sweater quantity of yarn. Since nothing really jumped out at me, I wanted to look at everything first before deciding exactly what to buy. I set a budget for myself and I really wanted to stick to it.
Before going to Rhinebeck one thing I did research were the food options. Both Lauren and I were really excited to try Aba's Falafel, so it made choosing falafel platters for lunch a no-brainer. Although the line looked really long and many people weren't happy about that, the line actually moved relatively fast. Plus, I really don't mind waiting in line if I'm about to be rewarded with an amazing meal. The falafel was amazing as expected! Unfortunately, there wasn't any inside seating so we had to sit in the cold, shivering while polishing off our lunch. Honestly, the worst part of the entire trip was the weather. I wanted to show off my hand knit sweaters while I was there so I didn't bring a jacket. Although hand knits are warm, they aren't warm enough in 40 degree temperatures! Right after lunch we warmed ourselves up with hot apple cider which helped for awhile.
Afterward, we headed to the remainder of the buildings, which were basically warehouses. The first one housed random food/wine/non-fiber handmade items for sale. Reading reviews on Ravelry, I wanted to try maple candy. So as soon as I saw that booth, I made Lauren stop. They sold little packets with three tiny maple candy pieces. We each bought a little bag and immediately sampled one. We were hooked. If you ever get the chance to try them, you must! They melt in your mouth and are incredibly sweet, in a good way. Obviously I had to buy more for Christmas presents.

It was in the last warehouse that I purchased my first skein of yarn for the weekend! We walked by "Into the Whirled" and Lauren started talking about how cool their yarn is. I was easily persuaded, and had to find the perfect colorway. I picked the "Quoth the Raven" colorway in the Pakokku Sock base because I loved neutral black with little pops of blues and purples.

Lauren found the Amity Batik Farm booth that makes various sheep themed batik fabric and prints. Since she loves all things sheep, I picked up a note card to give to her for a future present with the cutest sheep on the front.
We stayed till closing as we wanted to soak in as much as we could on our short weekend trip. It was a mad house getting out of the parking lot though. Thankfully we had plenty of snacks to entertain ourselves while we waited. We also decided to grab dinner in Rhinebeck in the hope that most of the traffic would be gone, before heading over to Hyde Park for the remainder of the night. I never even thought to make reservations anywhere, and after being turned away from Aroi (Thai food), I was worried that this would be common at all the other restaurants in the area too. Lauren suggested that we go to the Japanese restaurant close by, so we quickly scanned their menu and headed in. I had high hopes for Momiji, but I wasn't that pleased with the service. The food was good; I ordered a cucumber roll and a sweet potato roll, and both were great. However, it took way too long for our order to be taken, and even longer for them to bring out our food. They weren't that busy, so it was frustrating having to wait so long.

After dinner we made the half hour drive to Hyde Park. I had a hard time finding the house in the dark, but once we were sure we made it to the correct address, we became acquainted with the landlady and went to sleep soon after. We wanted to wake up early enough to be back at the fairgrounds before the gates opened again. We had a lot more shopping we wanted to do, and we wanted to make sure we would plenty of time to see the animals.