Yarns in Waiting, late 2017

NOTE: Before I start yammering about yarn — make sure you make it to the end of this post for a special offer in honor of today being Fringe Supply Co.’s fifth anniversary!

Yarns in Waiting, late 2017

Had I not gone to Rhinebeck, I might have made it through the latter half of the year without acquiring any new yarn at all. But I’m not sorry these guys slipped into the house as a result—

TOP: On our last morning in the Hudson Valley, we had brunch in Kingston with a bunch of knitters, one of whom was Rachel Atkinson, a revered tech editor who started her small-batch yarn company, Daughter of a Shepherd, a couple years ago. I’d met her once before, and just briefly, but it was clear she’s one of those effortlessly warm and lovely people. That morning, she was dressed all in black, sitting at this weathered wood table, with a cup of milky latté in a white porcelain cup and saucer, knitting cables from the most perfect ball of undyed wool. Which was her woolen-spun Portland, aran-weight. Basically my ideal yarn. Rachel has beautiful hands and the whole scene was like a Vermeer painting. Had it not been unseemly, I’d have sat and stared unapologetically for the duration of breakfast, but I managed to restrain myself to only about half of it. When I got home, she very sweetly sent me two balls. They’d make for a cable beautiful hat, as she was demonstrating, but of course I’m fantasizing about a nice vintage fisherman cardigan. We’ll see.

BOTTOM LEFT: Among my housemates for the weekend were my good friends Kate and Courtney of Kelbourne Woolens. K&C are yarn savants, and I’m beyond thrilled that they’re launching their own! Starting (in a few weeks) with a luscious wool-mohair blend called Andorra. I’m totally fascinated by it as I’ve nothing like it in my stash, and the palette is also not quite like anything else out there. They sent me home with one skein of this beautiful spearmint green, and I can’t wait for its fate to reveal itself to me.

BOTTOM RIGHT: The third one is a sweater quantity (which I mentioned in my recap but need to document here in what has effectively become my yarn queue). While I was stationed in the Harrisville booth that Saturday morning, I was right next to their big basket of the special colorway they’d made up just for the show, and I couldn’t resist buying a sweater’s worth. It’s a dyed-in-the-wool, worsted-weight tweed, in classic Harrisville fashion. From a distance, it looks like a simple denim-y blue. But when you look close, it’s a fairly equal mix of blue, green and purple, with flecks of red. It’s fascinating. And its fate is also still a bit of a mystery.

NOT PICTURED: There was also one more gift skein in my suitcase, which was from Junegrass Batch Two. As you know, I bought a sweater quantity of the first batch last year, which I hadn’t done anything with yet at that time (but since have!), meaning I was not allowed to buy any of batch two. So my eyes lit up when Amber handed me a skein. More on what’s going on with my SQ of J1 later this week.

http://www.fringesupplyco.com/

UNRELATED: 5 YEARS — 3 THINGS!

1. Today marks 5 years since I launched the tiny online pop-up that has grown into the bustling little business called Fringe Supply Co. Five years of reading each order and saying “Thank you, Kim.” “Thank you, Sarah.” “Thank you …” as if you were standing right across the counter. I’ll never stop being grateful for every single order.

2.  To celebrate, a gift from us to you: Starting from 12:01 PT this morning, the first 50 domestic orders of $50 or more* will include a free Fringe canvas tool pouch ($24 value). No code needed! If your order qualifies, the pouch will be added to your package. WHOA, that was fast! As of 7:20 PT, all 50 of the giveaways have already been claimed, so for the rest of the day, it’s 25% off the canvas tool pouch for everyone (worldwide)! Add the pouch to your cart and use code HAPPY5TH at checkout to receive the discount. Thank you SO MUCH, everyone — you guys blow me away!

3.  At long last, the Fringe notebook I’ve always wanted is finally available today! In two sizes and three colors; grid-ruled, brass coil bound, bookcloth covered, thick recycled paper. In a word, fabulous.

*Based on merchandise subtotal, before shipping. Not applicable to past orders or redeemable for cash. Due to customs considerations, offer available to US shipping addresses only.

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PREVIOUSLY in Yarns in Waiting: Mid-2017

Scene and bought at Rhinebeck

Scene and bought at Rhinebeck

Got back from Rhinebeck late Monday night — more properly known as New York State Sheep and Wool Festival — exhausted from the fun of seeing so many beloved people and meeting so many new ones. I know I say this a lot, but it’s always a pleasure to get to put faces to some of the many names I see on comments, orders and Instagram accounts, and to hear from you what it is you enjoy about this blog, so thank you to everyone who stopped to introduce themselves! And also to everyone who shopped the Fringe Supply Co. shelves in the Harrisville booth — it was such a mob scene I never even got to take a picture of it!

Scene and bought at Rhinebeck

My housemates* and I arrived a day early this year, which gave us a chance to hike up Overlook Mountain (amazing) and wander the streets of Hudson (adorable). The festival, for me, was pretty much just like last time: totally overwhelming on Saturday, relaxing and lovely on Sunday. It was quite warm — I was sleeveless both days — but no complaints, after I nearly froze last time. I bought a spectacular sheepskin from Sawkill Farm after having been close to getting one from her newsletter awhile back, and a sweater quantity of Harrisville’s denim-y blue wool heather they made special for the show. And in Germantown Sunday eve, I bought a gigantic vintage colorwork cardigan that was hanging on a rack on the sidewalk at Luddite Antiques, which I plan to bundle up in for porch knitting now that the weather in Nashville seems to have finally turned a corner. (Knock wood.) All in all, a most excellent trip.

Scene and bought at Rhinebeck

The same heartfelt thank-you goes to everyone who stopped by our booth at Fiber in the ’Boro on Saturday, which I’m so sad I had to miss! I love that sweet festival so much. As lovely as Rhinebeck is, I can’t say this often enough: There are wonderfully charming sheep and wool festivals all over this country and around the globe. Clara Parkes keeps a sizable list but I’m sure not even that is comprehensive! So please seek them out, have a blast, pet some sheep, and support your local/regional farmers and fiber folk.

p.s. Bravo to this gentlemen who was spotted carefully guarding his partner’s Field Bag at the festival while he napped and she shopped—

Scene and bought at Rhinebeck

*Pictured left to right in the group photo: @fancyamber, me, @knitknotes, @jen_beeman, @kategagnonosborn, @fancyjaime, @courtneykelley

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PREVIOUSLY in Craftlands: What I Know About Rhinebeck

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What I Know About: Rhinebeck (with Kay Gardiner)

What I Know About: Rhinebeck (with Kay Gardiner)

I’m cross-posting this lively interview to both Craftlands and What I Know About. You see, I’ll soon be making my second pilgrimage to the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck NY for the knitterati-packed New York State Sheep and Wool Festival, and rather than telling you what I know about it, I asked Kay Gardiner — mover and shaker, knower of things — to give us her much more informed perspective on how it has come to be the most famous fiber festival in the US, as well as her tips for how to get the most out of the event. I’m already wishing I’d had this advice before going my first time!*

You can find Kay’s wit and wisdom on the regular at Mason-Dixon Knitting and on Instagram @kaygardiner.

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How long have you been attending the NY Sheep and Wool Festival, aka “Rhinebeck”? What was it like in your earlier years?

I tried to figure out the correct factual answer to this question, but the archives of Mason-Dixon Knitting did not yield it up. The oldest Rhinebeck post I could find was in 2007, which was certainly not my first or even second Rhinebeck. I think my first Rhinebeck must have been 2004 or 2005. I remember my husband dropping me off with my daughter, who was a little girl then (wearing a Rowan Denim pullover that was very long on her), and that I was surprised and a little worried that a few people recognized her from the blog. The power of the Internet! Husband (who had a shockingly low interest in sheep) gave us something like a two-hour time limit before picking us up again, but I was hooked. I have missed very few Rhinebecks since that first one, and I’ve generally stayed two days instead of two hours.

What was it like? The early 2000s were the heyday of knitting blogs, which were the first blossoming of the rich, deep and wide Internet knitting community that we know today. Rhinebeck, a country livestock show, was inundated with roving packs of very excited knitters from all over the region and country. People would run into each other and start jumping up and down and squealing when they recognized each other. Many virtual connections became real-life friendships on the Dutchess County Fairgrounds.

How would you describe the difference between Rhinebeck then and now? Better/worse? Anything you miss or feel has been lost along the way?

The crowds seem to grow every year, but otherwise the fair retains its character as a sheep-centered event, despite the knitters thronging the yarn stalls. The fleece sale thrives, farmers and their kids still show their sheep, and the sheepdog trials are as lively as ever. We continue to mourn the tragic loss of the chicken pot pie stand, but we still have the Artichokes French and the apple cider donuts. I miss the Culinary Institute of America (based in nearby Hyde Park, New York) doing a big food tent. I can’t remember if that was for just a year or for several, or if I just dreamed it.

One fun event that did not exist for my early Rhinebecks is the Indie Untangled Rhinebeck Trunk Show, of which Mason-Dixon Knitting is a proud sponsor. Now in its fourth year, the Trunk Show takes place on Friday evening from 4-8 at the Best Western in Kingston, New York. Independent yarnmakers and dyers, from all over, are gathered in one place to discover.

Of all the fiber festivals all over the country, how did this one come to be the Mecca for the entire knitting world? Do you have a theory?

Timing is everything, and the third weekend in October is Peak Autumn in the Hudson River Valley. The show hits the exact moment when one most wants to be outdoors, breathing country air, looking at animals and wool, buying yarn, and checking out spinning wheels and looms. Winter lies just ahead, and we have to eat a bunch of kettle corn and get ready to hunker down for the duration.

I cannot remember a single Rhinebeck that was not beautiful, with the trees glowing orange. (OK, it may have been blustery and overcast in 2009.) On a few occasions the weather has been too warm for sweaters, but the knitters still manage to pile on the handknits. One of my lifetime goals is to knit a special-purpose Rhinebeck Sweater, as many knitters do (they’re frantically trying to finish them right this minute), but that would require planning ahead.

Do you remember that time I had a sweater photo contest? My way of living vicariously that year. For those who might be contemplating their first Rhinebeck visit, what’s your advice?

I’ve given this some thought! Rhinebeck is a whirl of sensory and social stimulation, and it’s also seven-hour days on your feet, exposed to the elements. Here are my tips for having a good time.

1. Make a plan. Before you get there, spend a little time with the new-and-improved vendor list. Jot down the sellers you absolutely must see, and see them first. Or, do as I do, and just walk through the barns in order, ready to be surprised and amazed by what you find. Popular vendors get hit hard very early, so if there is a yarn that you will be disappointed not to take home, get to that booth right at the start of the day.

2. Keep your strength up. Carry a bottle of water and some energy bars so you don’t get woozy. I’m not kidding! When you’re in the Rhinebeck Zone, two or three hours can go by without your noticing it until you need to lie down on the bleachers at the dog trials and look up at the sky. The Artichoke French and cider donuts lines are very long, and they are not going to get any shorter over the course of the day, so just get in line and enjoy the experience. You are going to meet lots of people and see lots of handknits while you wait. I like to save the kettle corn for last, and pick up a big bag of it on my way out of the fairgrounds, “for the kids.”

3. Take care of your feet. This is no time to break in a pair of new shoes, or for sandals of any description. The fairgrounds are dusty and uneven when dry, and sloppy when wet. Ideally you want to be wearing old Frye boots, Blundstones or the like. If it’s been raining, you are going to want full-on rubber boots, like the farmer in Babe wore.

4. Handknits: more is more. Rhinebeck is a feast of knitwear. Wear as many handknits as you can fit, visibly, on your body. Compliment the beautiful handknits you see passing by — that’s why people are wearing them!

5. Buy stuff. Don’t get so overwhelmed by the amazing range of goods on offer that you forget to buy a few skeins of something beautiful. Rhinebeck is an opportunity to support people who have dedicated their lives to making beautiful, authentic yarns, tools and supplies for us. We didn’t always have so many choices, and we have them now because these craftspeople are able to make a living doing what they love, and what we love.

6. Make friends. Stop by the book barn (in building B, not far from the picnic tables) to meet authors who will be more than happy to sign their books. Ann and I will be there on both Saturday and Sunday from 11-2, hoping to say hi to as many people as we can.

7. Parties! On Saturday night, there are two fun events that I know of. One is the first-ever Mason-Dixon Knitting Rhinebeck Pie Party, in Rhinebeck, New York. It’s free; for details and to RSVP, go here. Stop by for a few minutes, or stay a while, have a cup of hot cider and a slice of pie from a great local baker. We’ll be there from 5-8.

Also on Saturday night, from 6-9 across the river in Kingston, is Jill Draper’s legendary open studio night, a great event of food and people and an incredible selection of her beautiful yarns for sale. Here’s her Eventbrite to RSVP.

And who are you especially keen to spot in the crowd this year?

You, of course!

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I did not pay her to say that. Thank you, Kay! See you there—

As fun as Rhinebeck is, it’s important to note that there are amazing fiber festivals all over this country. If you’re not familiar with your own state’s (or region’s) offerings, definitely Google it. And please share your favorites in the comments below! Fringe Supply Co. will have a presence in the Harrisville Designs booth at Rhinebeck this year, and that same weekend we’ll have our own booth at our favorite Tennessee festival, Fiber in the ‘Boro. Mark your calendars!

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*Please forgive me for reusing the images from my 2015 Rhinebeck recap here — the rest of my photos from that trip were all lost! I’ll take new ones this year.

PREVIOUSLY in What I Know About: Natural indigo (with Kristine Vejar)
PREVIOUSLY in Craftlands: My week in the Craftlands

Swatch of the Month: Rhinebeck treasure hunt

EDITOR’S NOTE: I missed Rhinebeck this year so am happy Jess’s column this month takes us along vicariously. I also love how much her experience echoes mine! Cheers to both of us eventually getting great sweaters from the trip—
—Karen

Swatch of the Month: Rhinebeck treasure hunt

This post marks 6 months (?!) of Swatch of the Month. First off, thanks to Karen for welcoming me here on Fringe Association, and a big thanks to this supportive community of knitters for reading along.

Back when I pitched this idea to Karen, I felt like my knitting practice was on the cusp of transforming from a hobby to something much more – a greater expression of my own creativity and a deepened commitment to a slow wardrobe. By setting aside time on a monthly basis to explore new yarns, stitch patterns and knitting history through the mere act of knitting a swatch, I feel like I’ve been able to stay true to that path. It’s a simple but powerful check-in each month, an opportunity to step outside the relentless “queue check” and dig in on things that have been inspiring me lately. I hope this practice has and continues to encourage you to do some of the same.

For this month’s swatch, I wanted to take a step back and get back to basics. When I take a look at my wardrobe, there are a lot of neutrals – blacks, grays, creams, some indigo and rust. But in my handmade wardrobe? I’ve never knit one thing that is white or black, and subsequently have no completely neutral, throw-over-anything, cropped and boxy cardigan or other layering piece. It’s kind of crazy to think about, and it’s one of my 2017 goals to knit up two or three sweaters that fill that gap.

Swatch of the Month: Rhinebeck treasure hunt

RHINEBECK

With that vision in mind, my best friend Claire and I drove upstate to our first-ever New York State Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck last month. The Friday drive from Baltimore was easy and once we passed New York City, the trees began to really turn and the temperature dropped into respectable sweater weather territory. Rhinebeck is as cute as they come – Market Street is lined with trees, restaurants, a wine shop and bakery, and even an art supply store. Heaven on earth, basically. After picking up some hot apple cider, we checked into our Airbnb just out of the center of town, and settled in with more tea and cookies before heading back out for dinner. We tucked in early, knowing the next day would be a busy one.

Even though many people had told me that Rhinebeck would be packed, I still wasn’t prepared for it to be this insane. If you’re hoping to arrive early to beat the crowds, you’re in good company – it seems that’s what everyone else is thinking. Tents were filled shoulder-to-shoulder with eager knitters giving hugs, petting skeins and elbowing their way into booths. Lines are long, whether it be to pay for a knitting book or a bag of apple cider donuts, but the sun was out and everyone was in such a good mood that it doesn’t seem to matter all that much.

After picking up Norah Gaughan’s Knitted Cable Sourcebook, giving high-fives to the ladies at the Pom Pom Quarterly magazine stand, and happily running into Brandi (i.e., she ambushed me with a giant hug by the pierogi stand) I continued my hunt for the perfect cream or black yarn to add to my stash. In a festival this massive, I figured that yarn would be easy to find, but by late afternoon I was becoming increasingly discouraged and thought I may very well walk away from the whole thing empty-handed.

It’s not that there weren’t white, black, gray and brown yarns – there were plenty – but once you’re surrounded by seemingly infinite choice, you become a lot more discerning about the exact qualities you want in a yarn. For me, I wanted a 100% wool or wool blend, and preferably not Merino. (There was a lot of Merino and 100% alpaca yarn at the festival, go figure.) A 2-ply or 3-ply were preferable, but for these basic sweaters I had in mind, I envisioned a yarn that felt round, crisp and springy. I wanted the yarn to feel sufficiently sheepy and minimally processed, but many yarns on offer felt loosely spun and almost too sheepy, if that can even be a thing. Bonus points if the yarn was in some way local to New York state and the Hudson Valley.

Enter, Cornwall Yarn Shop’s booth and their selection of Hudson Valley Fibers yarn. In perfect dark charcoal, cream, gray and sandy brown colors, their Hudson yarn had the palette I was after and a dreamy fiber blend – 50% alpaca and 50% Corriedale. Corriedale is the oldest of all crossbred breeds, a cross between Merino and Lincoln sheep bred in Australia and New Zealand in the late 19th century and brought to the U.S. in 1914. The feel is incredibly soft but still a little toothy. The yarn is a 3-ply with a crisp, round shape and great spring, and I could tell that it would have excellent stitch definition. And finally, it’s sourced and milled in New York. Bingo. I picked up six skeins in their “Black Rock” colorway, which is more of a dark, cool gray with a subtle, light gray halo, and started swatching as soon as I got home.

Swatch of the Month: Rhinebeck treasure hunt

THE SWATCH

Remember how I said I wanted to get back to basics? Well, I haven’t been able to get this out of my head. It’s a seed stitch kimono-style cardigan knit up by Simone of Temple of Knit, a knitwear designer and blogger based in Sweden. I love everything about Simone’s blog, knitting patterns and aesthetic. [Editor’s note: Me too.] She has such a defined and considered approach to minimalism with a specific focus on Scandinavian design, which, if you’ve read my post on Icelandic yoked sweaters, know I have a particular soft spot for.

Inspired by Simone’s project, I decided to knit up a swatch exploring a few different basic knit-and-purl stitch patterns that could create a similar nubbly textured fabric. The swatch is broken into three sections of seed stitch, moss stitch, and sand stitch, all achieved through different combinations of knit and purl. For those who are still new to knitting, and even those who are seasoned in the craft, it’s exciting to be reminded how much can be achieved with variations on the simplest of stitches.
Jess Schreibstein

Yarn: Hudson yarn by Hudson Valley Fibers in Black Rock colorway (available here)
Needles: US 6 / 4mm metal needles
Gauge: 19 stitches / 36 rows = 4 inches in seed stitch, moss stitch and sand stitch (below)

Swatch of the Month: Rhinebeck treasure hunt

M E T H O D

CO 40 stitches or any even number of stitches using a long-tail cast on.

Seed Stitch

Row 1: *Knit 1, purl 1; repeat from * to finish
Row 2: *Purl 1, knit 1; repeat from * to finish

Repeat two rows to desired length.

Moss Stitch

Rows 1 and 2: *Knit 1, purl 1; repeat from * to finish
Rows 3 and 4: *Purl 1, knit 1; repeat from * to finish

Repeat four rows to desired length.

Sand Stitch

Rows 1 and 3: Knit
Row 2: *Knit 1, purl 1; repeat from * to finish
Row 4: *Purl 1, knit 1; repeat from * to finish

Repeat four rows to desired length.

*If you’re curious, I photographed the skeins piled on top of Minna’s Agnes Rug in Peach, a hand-woven, natural-dyed, 100% wool rug designed by my friend Sara Berks. Sara and I completed the same weaving residency in Oaxaca, and she went on to build her own inspiring home textile business just over a year ago working with weavers in Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua and beyond. Her studio is in Red Hook, NY so Claire and I paid her a visit (and I snagged this rug!) on the last day of our Rhinebeck trip.

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PREVIOUSLY in Swatch of the Month: Life at Hinterland

The Rhinebeck report

The Rhinebeck report

I don’t suppose I can go to Rhinebeck (aka the legendary New York State Sheep and Wool Festival) and not blog about it. I have a tragic dearth of photos, though, because my hands were frozen solid for most of the weekend and I didn’t reach for my phone much. Monday morning I did — I took a whole bunch of future-award-winning photos of my sweet friends and the beautiful farm we visited, but then discovered (too late) that my phone wasn’t saving any of them. At least I have my memories.

The highlights: SO MANY of my favorite people, seven of whom I got to share a house with (I even got to meet Nicole Dupuis quite unexpectedly); best falafel of my life; an incredible number of Fringe tote bag sightings; the visit to the aforementioned farm, owned by a guy who turns out to have grown up in the same Kansas suburb as me; amazing yarn from that farm. All in all, a great trip.

To be honest with you, I spent all day Saturday wondering why I had worked so hard and traveled so far so I could spend an entire day standing in painfully long lines. It was like sitting in traffic for six hours. Seeing so many beloved faces while standing in those lines was the only thing that made it bearable.

When I woke up Sunday morning, I seriously considered telling my housemates they should go without me. I could really use a day of rest, and having a creaky old Hudson Valley farmhouse to myself for a few hours sounded way more appealing than a repeat of Saturday. But I’m SO GLAD I went. Sunday the crowds were manageable, and while it was even colder (it snowed on us!) and I looked like a very sad sack indeed — with my army shirt-jacket over my beautiful bulky sweater, droopy hat over my unwashed bun of hair, shivering so violently I lost a few pounds — I had a lovely time. I got to see the animals, eat the falafel I couldn’t get anywhere near the day before, visit many more of the vendors’ booths. Still, it looked like I was going to leave empty-handed.

Late in the day, Anna mentioned that we should all go to the booth where she had bought some nice tallow soap on Saturday, in a building I hadn’t been in. The booth was well done and the soaps on the front table were prettily packaged. As I stood there sniffing the bergamot soap and wondering whether to buy one bar or three (you know bergamot is my favorite) I noticed the deep freezer in the corner, a hand-lettered sign over it listing out the kinds of meats inside. Kate and I were debating what variety of sausage to take home for the evening when I noticed the bushel basket of yarn to the left of the freezer. Hold up now. I had picked up and put down numerous skeins of yarn over the weekend. All small-batch and perfectly lovely, but nothing that sparked joy, as they say — I didn’t want to buy something for the sake of buying something. But this was the perfect natural grey, and as we talked to Kallie about her wares and their farm, I wanted to buy from her. Of course I’d take a skein along with my soap and sausage, and so would the rest of my housemates, and we instantly started planning to all knit the same hat from it, to commemorate the weekend. But as I stood there, petted the skein, read the unusual mix of fleeces involved — Romney, Icelandic, Finn and Texel — I thought, now why would I not buy a sweater’s worth of this? Have I not been saying the wear-everywhere grey sweatshirt sweater is the giant gap in my closet? And have I not been trying to decide on the perfect grey yarn for that sweater? And was this not a beautiful, unusual, memento yarn I had in my hand, direct from a farm I’d love to support? Yes. Yes to all of the above. So I bought a sweater’s worth and will cherish the sweater it becomes.

The next morning, we went to visit Kallie and Michael’s beautiful farm, Sawkill Farm in Red Hook, and that was my favorite part of the whole trip. That’s where I took all the beautiful photos that didn’t save (I’ll never get over the loss of the one with the piglet running through the sunbeam!), but you can see the pics my friends took on their Instagram feeds: @toltyarnandwool, @fancyamber, @fancyjaime and @kelbournewoolens.

Kallie mentioned that her email and Instagram lit up after we posted about buying her yarn, and that makes me really happy. And I’m also happy for everyone else who saw it and bought some, it having been her first, small batch. But here’s the thing I want to say if you’re feeling like you missed out on Rhinebeck or this yarn: Wherever you live, there is very likely a fiber festival of some kind. Not to mention farmers’ markets. Go to them! There will be farmers there from your part of the world, and some of them will have their own yarn for sale. It’s awesome to travel to other places and find special treats to take home, but the real beauty of farm yarns is meeting farmers and buying directly from them, wherever you may be. You just never know what you might find.

Oh hey, speaking of which — this weekend is our local festival, Fiber in the ’Boro, and we will be there again with our Fringe Supply Co. booth. So if you’re anywhere near Middle Tennessee, get there!

Pictured are my housemates eating the famous apple cider donuts; gorgeous skeins of Sea Colors yarns hanging against a wall; a cashmere goat; and my haul of Sawkill Farm yarn in my favorite tote bag

Fringe in the wild, Rhinebeck edition

Fringe in the wild, Rhinebeck edition

I gave myself a day away from my to-do list yesterday and spent a good chunk of it living vicariously. This is yet another year I didn’t get to go to Mecca — aka Rhinebeck, aka the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival — but I spent contented chunks of time looking at the streams of photos posted to Instagram, especially the hundreds of pics of that one tree. On Friday, I was putting together a quick Instagram post alerting attendees, via the #rhinebeck hashtag, that Fringe totes were available at the fair and it occurred to me to have another contest. Last year, I wanted to see all the sweaters I was missing, and I remember saying in the future I’d do a better job of promoting the contest in advance. And yet here I was at the very last second announcing another, tinier contest.

I go to a fair number of knitting events these days, and nothing makes me happier than seeing people carrying their clearly well-loved Fringe totes around. I started snapping pics of them at Squam and wished I could do the same at Rhinebeck, where there were sure to be many such sightings. So I asked for pics, and I promised a prize. Unfortunately, the announcement was hastily tossed into that rushing stream of images, and only three pics showed up on the designated hashtag, #fringeinthewild, plus one more that had the right intentions but lacked the tag. Starting at the top, they are from @studionorthknits, @abbygoodknits, @theknitterlyhooker and @knityorkcity. According to Sarah’s caption, she was “one of a billion” with the high-fiber tote at the event. Aww!

I love these pics and feel deprived of the chance to see more, and have only myself to blame. So let’s try this again! This weekend is Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago. Fringe totes will be available in The Yarnery’s booth, #221/223. For those of you attending, whether you’ve brought your trusty tote from home or purchase it from my lovely Yarnery friends at the event, show me your tote. You might have it with you in class, on the market floor, knitting in the lounge with other attendees, whatever the case may be. Get creative with it. But the essential part is this: Take a pic of you and your tote at the show, tag it #fringeinthewild #vklive and mention me, @fringesupplyco @karentempler. I’ll pick one or more favorites and those entrants will win a prize from Fringe Supply Co.

Meanwhile, I’m sending word of a little something to all four of these entries. Thanks, ladies! And thanks to everyone who documented the fair — next year will be my year, I’m sure!

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And the Rhinebeck Sweater contest winners are …

Rhinebeck Sweater contest 2013 contenders

As previously noted, it may have been a misstep on my part to announce the Rhinebeck Sweater contest so close to the actual event. But in the end, the quality of the entries is so incredible that I’m relieved there wasn’t any higher quantity! I grossly underestimated how hard it would be to judge this little virtual county fair. I mean, how on earth am I supposed to choose?!

The good news is, there’s room enough to show you all of the entries, so at minimum everyone gets my highest public compliments and a little fashion show here in the town square, as it were. In no particular order:

ROW 1
• Abigail Chapin (@arcofla / ARC of LA) in Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Icelandic Overblouse “in homespun Nova Scotian yarn” — swoon
• Amy Christoffers (@savoryknitting / Savory Knitting), in the middle, wears a cardigan of her own design, pattern coming soon; yarn is Jill Draper’s Empirecablelicious
• Kristen Strom (@pacerknits) in Honeymaker, knitted in Quince and Co.’s TernI’ll take it

ROW 2
• Bristol Ivy (@bristolivy / Bristol Ivy) on the left, in a pullover of her own design, pattern coming soon; yarn is Dirty Water DyeWorks’ Lucia (photo courtesy of @indigodragonfly) — so Bristol
@theprojectory (The Projectory Handcrafts) in a vest of her own design, knitted in Rowan British Sheep Breeds and Fibre Company Tundratoo great with that hat
• Angela Byczkowski (@lucytoo0) in Neon knitted in Knit Picks Swish DKpicture-perfect in cobalt

ROW 3
• Melissa Jean (@melissajeandesign / Melissa Jean Design) in a cardigan of her own design; yarn is Jill Draper’s Mohonkshe also made the buttons
• Kristen Strom (@pacerknits) with her second entry, Ella , knitted in Stonehedge Fiber Mill’s Shepherd’s Woolwhat’s the opposite of color shy?
• Kate Gagnon Osborn (@fibrecompany / Kelbourne Woolens) in a lopapeysa of her own design, pattern coming soon; yarn is Fibre Company’s Canopy Worstedunbelievably amazing colorwork

ROW 4
• Cal Patch (@hodgepodgefarm / Hodge Podge Farm) in a Chevron Lace cardigan, crocheted in Jill Draper’s Mohonklove that pink
@willfulmina‘s little Lucy in the toddler version of Owls, knitted in Cascade Ecological Wooltoo cute for words
• Tammy (@runknitbreathe) on the right in her Catboat, knitted in Berroco Ultra Alpacalooks like it was designed for her

(Also want to mention @sonyaphilip whose cute cardigan may have slipped through a hashtag crack? And @fibreperson who tagged a hat-and-cowl shot, but is wearing a super funky crocheted sweater in that Cal Patch photo above.)

I honestly wish I could send a prize to every single one of you, because it’s clear that these sweaters are each so perfectly you — and I love that SO MUCH — but alas I must choose. I’m giving First Runner Up to @arcofla, not because that pattern has been on my to-knit list forever, but because the very idea of someone looking so incredibly hip in Elizabeth Zimmermann at a Sheep & Wool Festival is too good for words. So Abigail, you get your pick of any two Bento Bags — let me know what you’d like!

And after a lot of very arduous deliberation, I’m giving the Grand Prize to @fancyjaime (Fancy Tiger Crafts), not just because she made two great sweaters and wore them with great sass, but because in the end, the tie goes to the best photographs, and these are both completely wonderful:

Rhinebeck Sweater contest 2013 grand prize winner

The sweater on top is Strokkur knitted in Istex Alafoss Lopi (I believe); on the bottom is Pippin in Fancy Tiger Heirloom Romney. Congratulations, Jaime! And thanks so much to everyone who entered.

For those playing along (i.e., spreading the word) at home, the random number generator says the non-attendees’ prize goes to Meg W, aka @saladcrumb.

Jaime, Abigail and Meg W, please let me know where I should send your prizes! (email karen@fringeassocation.com)

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Disclosures: I am a pre-existing acquaintance and/or known admirer of most of the people on this list, and Fancy Tiger is a retailer of Fringe Supply Co. totes, which has no impact on how great her photos are!