Another year, another Rhinebeck missed.
While it is fun to have an extravagant shopping weekend at the fairgrounds, I miss the experience most of all. Gathering with friends, seeing all the fantastic knitwear, being inspired by the colors of upstate New York autumn, the fantastic food, getting to pet lanolin-rich sheep and chatting with the farmers. It's the ritual that I miss...summer is really over, now have some apples and lamb chili and cover yourself with wool.
I slyly made my way up to Alexander Palace for the London Knitting and Stitching show last week. Rhinebeck it was not, but I was hoping to recapture some of that spiritual feeling of autumn being here.
Well, the weather screamed fall- lately, if it hasn't been a steady pour, it's been a wild windy ride of sun and rain, and lots of rainbows.
Plus, I had wanted to get up to North London and check out the hilltop Ally Pally- a beautiful old convention center, crystal-palace style. This hill is where the first TV broadcast signal in the world originated from!
I don't know if I'd ever thought of knitting suet before, but someone surely has.
The show had all sorts of fibre artist- a lot of them had their booths set up as galleries and they had really amazing stuff. Sculpture, multimedia, fashion...
The only thing I was really interested in was buying British wool. It ended up being a tall order- there were many vendors there, and very few had nothing but commercially available yarn.
There were tons of fabric vendors. I set out to buy fat quarters and some plain-ish jersey knit and ended up being overwhelmed by choice. Any game plan in my head was quickly forgotten, and I walked away empty-handed.
It seemed that the less organized a vendor was, the cheaper the prices were. I watched in amusement as one discount yarn vendor had piled bags and bags of yarn into their booth....
In this hip-deep pile of yarn, people were scrambling for the centre, as if some magical yarn lived there. As the pile spread further and further onto the floor, some worker would come by and shovel the yarn back into a stack. Some people were literally swimming in the plasticky shifting pile, creating hazardous landslide conditions while searching for that elusive bargain.
Alas, Jameson's Shetland was there and the only cash I parted with that day was for a small kit of color-coordinated yarn for a fair isle hat. They were just so nice! Plus, Scotland.
So, aside from lacking the rustic aspect of being outdoors in the barns and pawing fleeces both on and off the sheep...
It was a fun way to spend an afternoon.
Oh, and the food vending situation was awful. Microwave pizza and pre-made sandwiches and rubbery pastries kind of awful that I stayed away from. A quick check on my phone revealed that the neighborhood around Finsbury Park tube station had plenty of good Turkish restaurants, and I became the hero of the day for bring a bag of meze and kebaps in take-away bags back to South London. It wasn't apple cidre donuts and lamb chili from the 4-h stand, but it was decidedly delicious.