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)
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.