Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Scenes from Rhinebeck V: The Big Day

In Which I Am Surrounded by Knitters and Yarn and Surrender Unconditonally

Joe and Thaddeus not only treated me to a lovely dinner on my first night, but also graciously included in the party two dear friends who live in Philadelphia. (And who drove an hour and a half through incredible muck and traffic just to see me for two hours...go figure.)

Then I went up to my room and laid down on the lacy sheets under the lacy canopy, feeling like myself at six years old, waiting for Christmas morning. I absolutely could not sleep.

It didn't help matters that in the room above me was a straight couple that had either just got married or just begun an extramarital affair. They went at it with the regularity of a cuckoo clock and the volume of Aerosmith in concert. (By the way, dude - she was totally faking it.)

As I stared at the vibrating ceiling a million thoughts raced through my head, chief among them: Would they like me? Or would Carol S. make good on her threat to lose me at the Weavettes booth?

The flying Wallendas continued their rehearsal above, but somewhere around midnight I drifted off. When I woke up, it was six and time to make myself pretty, or as close as I can get.

I put on the Seneca sweater. This would be its maiden voyage. I hoped it wouldn't unravel or rip or otherwise go to pieces. Of course, if it did, I'd be surrounded by several thousand people who could help to fix it.

Joe and I had planned to set off at 8 a.m. and true to his word, we left on the dot. Another reason to like Joe: he's punctual. A gay man who doesn't run on Gay Time (anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour behind the rest of humanity) is a rare and wondrous thing.

The drive to Rhinebeck was about two hours, which put us at the gates around 10 a.m. It was still raining, but our spirits were anything but damp. The first person we spotted was Marilyn, waiting somewhat forlornly in the drizzle. She perked up at the sight of us and we three went in together.

I realized with a start that here I was, walking into a fiber festival with the authors of two of the three blogs that encouraged me to start blogging.

Even sopping wet, the grounds at Rhinebeck were lovely. The main part of it sits on top of a gentle hill, and there is quite a bit of pretty landscaping–big old trees, flowerbeds, and such. A nice change from the county fairgrounds of my youth which never seemed to be much more than mud flats surrounded by chain-link fence.

We hadn't gone far at all when we were pounced on by Kathy and Selma. Think they're funny online? Hah. Try meeting them in person. They could make a guy reconsider his orientation. There was much hugging, and then a beeline for the first vendor barn.

I've just realized I don't have a picture of the first stuff I bought, but you can see it on Joe's blog in the very first picture. In fact, the first colorway on the left is the very one I picked for myself. It's a silk/wool blend from a place in Texas called Brooks Farms.

I love this stuff - the colors are gorgeous, and it's so soft that I can use it to make a hat for myself that won't have to be lined. Bless you, ladies of Brooks Farms, for making a bald knitter happy.

As we left the first barn, miracle of miracles, the sun came out. This part of the country hadn't seen sun for about nine days, so you could literally hear gasps of relief all over the place.

Time for the first picture of the day:

Left to right:With Joe, Selma, and Marilyn. I'm the one in the dead language.

And the second:

Selma and Joe

To walk around Rhinebeck with these folks was to be in very heady company. We couldn't go ten steps without a blog reader recognizing Marilyn or Joe; and Selma, who is an NPR host in upstate New York, was even recognized by her voice.

This barn was also where I ran into the first person who recognized me: Juno. Juno is jolly nice and also staggeringly tall. If I'm Captain Shortguy, she's Lady Longlegs.

Not long after our group was completed by the arrival of Carol S. and Lisa, both of whom I fell in love with at first sight.

And then it all begins to blur.

Evidently I did keep taking pictures, albeit sporadically:

Kathy and Selma with Marilyn's beautiful "Field of Flowers" shawl

Lisa and the shawl

Sheep of some sort in the shearing tent

Other golden moments have stuck in my mind:
  • Realizing that what we all thought was the "macarena" being played over the loudspeakers in an endless loop was actually the auctioneer in the livestock barn;

  • Carol S. spotting a copy of Heirloom Knitting (the holy grail of my Rhinebeck shopping list) through the crowds at the Susan's Fiber Shop booth.

  • Singing along to the hurdy-gurdy with Selma (the Brindisi from La Traviata)
I was already on cloud nine when I was suddenly joined by:

Rachel (aka the Village Knittiot), and her husband Corvus (aka Mr Knittiot). Now, I have been an unashamed fan of these two almost since I began blogging, and had been looking forward to meeting both of them. And how to do they turn out to be in person? Warm. Funny. Exciting. And did I mention generous?

Suddenly, Rachel pulls out the following and presents it to me:

My own drop spindle. And splendid blue merino to spin.

I was speechless and got very choked up. I'm choking up again now just looking at the picture (and not because of my lousy spinning).

Once I got my voice back and gasped out a bit of thanks, I asked Joe to help get me started. I'm far from there yet, but I'm going to figure it out. (The white is some practice romney that Joe sweetly put into my hands to prevent my mucking up the merino straightaway.)

During a quick outdoor lunch of apple pie, so many of you came by to say hello and let me tell you, it made my day. It was a pleasure to meet every one of you, and my joy in knowing that the stuff I write here amuses you is without bounds.

Last but certainly not least, on this day an announcement was made to the group: Marilyn is writing a book. And she asked me to illustrate it. And of course, I said yes. How could I not? I can hardly wait to begin.

Now, all this excitement pales (if you ask Joe, anyhow) to the moment Joe got his wheel. He wasn't expecting it for another six months, you see, and so when he walked over to Robin Spinning Wheels booth and was informed that the lovely display model was actually his...well, let's just say I was all the way on the other side of the friggin' barn and I could hear the commotion.

I was happy to record the glorious event for posterity:

Joe with Gilbert, the nice fellow from Robin who gave him the happy news

New best friends

We kept up the festivites with dinner in Rhinebeck afterwards (I ate my own weight in perfectly made french fries). I hated to say goodbye to everybody. Outside I was (I hope) poised and collected, but inside I was screaming "Wait! Wait! We just got here! It can't be over already!"

As she was leaving, Kathy told me it was an honor to know me. Such a compliment coming from such a woman. Back at ya, my dear. And that goes for all of you.

Then we drove back to New Hope. As you might imagine, Joe and I were both completely wired–he because of his new wheel and I because of, well, everything.

When I got back to my room at the Fox and Hound, the upstairs couple was in full gallop. I toasted them with a glass of seltzer, opened up my new copy of Heirloom Knitting and promptly passed out cold with my nose between the patterns for Alpine Edgings I and II.


Jon said...

What a fun day! You are rather lucky to have gone.

Nothing like shopping for yarn when it's cold and dreary out. Did you feel like you were on the Moors?

Jenni said...

Congratulations on the fiber, drop spindle and new book (and the one you're illustrating)! I was so sad that I had to leave Rhinbeck before meeting you, Joe, Marilyn, and all the others. Maybe next year, maybe at Maryland...

Joe said...

Franklin hasn't gotten to the point in the day when it went up into the 70's and all sweaters came off.

Amazing how goofy a simple spinning tool can make a grown man look (I'm still smiling like that).

Rachel said...

Franklin, you're such a gem. Congratulations on the book. I'm so glad you are enjoying the spinning. With your love and reverence for all things handwork you and a drop spindle seemed like a match made in heaven. Glad I wasn't wrong.

Nik said...

You look really handsome in that sweater you made. Congrats on everthing.

Now when you learn to spin, you're going to have to come here to NC to teach me. I have my spindle ready.

Kathy said...

Franklin, mon ange, I am missing you already.
My mean bitter cheeks are flaming from such compliments.
You haven't mentioned the part where we were agaog (i mean that ) at the Seneca sweater.
And how lovely it was to meet your grandmother.

Joanne said...

Now, you'll have to come to Colorado and experience The Estes Park Wool Festival, if you haven't visited already. It's wonderful, and well-worth the trip. The Rockies make for a spectacular backdrop to the Festival.

Juno said...

And I was so happy to meet you and see you loking so dazzled and happy. You were walking so far off the ground I wasn't sure you were still on the planet.....
I am so glad your first fiber festival lived up to its billing.

*g* I can live with Lady Longlegs....

Marilyn said...

If there's any such thing as luck, I have it with such great friends. Adding Franklin to the coterie is the best thing that's happened to me recently.

Wonderful pictures! The best of Kathy I have ever seen, bar none.

Hey, I just got a Canon Rebel. Finally a real digital SLR. I'm almost as excited as Joe is with his Robin.

Carol said...

Did anyone else notice how irritatingly handsome Joe is in all his photos?

Stitchy McYarnpants said...

Rhinebeck truly was a blast. I didn't meet you, but I'm sure we fondled the same yarn at some popint, so that's pretty good.

You know, the very instant I laid eyes on your cartoons, I thought "This dude is bound for a book deal." Lo and behold, only a week after I found your blog, you've gone and done it. I think I'm getting a hang of this mind control thing! I can't say enough how much I freaking love your drawings. Let's just say that they make me very happy about your existence.

Annie said...

I am absolutely riveted by your tales of Rhinebeck. More, more, more!

Congrats on the book. I look forward to seeing your illustrations in print. :)

Selma said...

That *IS* the best picture of Kathy ever. As happy as we looked, that's how happy we were.

Sneaksleep said...

Well, if two or fewer degrees of separation counts, then I did meet you on Saturday (I agree with you about the Lady Longlegs thing). And, as Stitchy said, I'm sure we fondled the same yarn. Congrats on the book deal! I hope you'll find an excuse to come back east again soon.

Colleen said...

Franklin - if that yarn you got from Brooks Farm is the "Four Play" silk and wool blend, let me tell you you'll LOVE it. I'm knitting a shawl in it, now, and I keep going back to their website and drooling.

Post a picture, please!!

Word Ver - "beyrom." Hmmm.

Ellen in Conn said...

Man, have you got groupies! Get a towel and mop up that keyboard; they're drooling on it. ;) And enjoy your loot.

goblinbox said...

Cute, cute, cute. I remember you before you were a totally famous knitting blogger!

Lee Ann said...

Rachel claims the spindle and roving is a little piece of me taken to Rhinebeck. So in some small way I got to meet you.

Sigh. Sniffle. I wish it could have been in person, but at least you get to learn to spin. That makes me very, very happy.

And I completely understand the goofy smile on Joe's face. It's transforming to make one's own yarn, no matter how Lopi-like one's first efforts may be...and yours looks good from here!

Now you can make your own bunny, honey ;-)

Laura in Georgia said...

Hey there!
I've started reading your blog recently--I think on Grumperina's recommendation. The cartoons are darlink! Marilyn is very lucky, indeed.
And the Seneca--looks even better on you!!
Someday I'll get to Rhinebeck, too--I hope --crossed fingers-can't type--ack!

dragon knitter said...

sounds like more fun than a human being should be allowed. i've been saying this all over blogdom, and i'll say it here. i'm jealous. i would have LOVED to meet you (i may make a trip to chicago for snips & sniggles, lol), and seen that fantastic sweater. rheinbeck looked like so much fun!

doloreshaze said...

OK, what is up with my hair in that photo?
Lovely to finally meet you, Franklin--I think Kathy's idea of a retreat is a good one. We all needed more straight-up chat time.

Corvus said...

delores, I asked much the same thing about my eyes. I don't normally look so... stoned? psychotic? At least, I hope I don't!

I'm all for encouraging the VillageKnittiot to go on a retreat as long as I can come along too. I'll cook, tell stories, amuse myself out of the way, or gush over the knitting talent that surrounds me. Basically, what ever is called for!

Mama Lu said...

I do love your "in which" subtitles; they give me that delicious sense of anticipation that I remember from stories I read--or had read to me--as a child, starting, of course with Winnie the Pooh.

Have fun with the spindle. You'll have one of those aha moments when it all comes together (learning to park and draft helped me). Before you know it you'll have spun enough lace-weight qiviut to make a seaman's scarf.

Yvonne said...

Franklin, I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog. As a new knitter, I'd never heard of Rhinebeck until I started reading blogs a few months ago. Through your blog (and a few others, most of whom I've linked to from your blog, so it does come full circle) I got to experience it "second hand". Thank you...!

Jackie said...

Did you get a chance to meet Toni from The Fold? Now that you are a spinner, you must visit her shop in Marengo. It's a slice of heaven in the middle of the country. I bought my Lendrum from her last year, she's delightful and I really look forward to my trips there (I live in Rockford, not sure if I have mentioned that before).

Alyssa said...

Sounds like you had such a great time! And I know all about that lovely lovely yarn from Brooks Farm -- I bought tons at Stitches Midwest this past August, but let me tell you, it knits up beautifully and I wish I had bought more:)
Oh, and the sweater looks fantastic on you -- maybe I'll see you wearing it on campus some time!

Nicholas said...

Your sweater fits you beautifully! Great job!

Sahara said...

Wow! I sure missed going and meeting you and everyone else.

Your sweater looked so fab on you, are you ready for the next one?

And congrats on the book deal. Illustrations are a great change of pace.

As far as the drop spindle...ah, more to do...remember you have two hands and there are only 24 hours in the day.LOL

Celticdragonfly said...

So did the book ever come out? I went to her blog, found the title, and tried searching for it on Amazon, but no luck.

KristenT said...

Rhinebeck sounds a lot like the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival-- complete with flocks of sheep, goats, llamas and alpacas and vendor barns!

OFFF is held in September, so there's a chance of actually nice weather, which is always a plus for the groups gathered around the big tree on the lawn for spinning/knitting/tatting... as well as the vendor village spread out around them. Be still, my heart!

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