Sunday, October 17, 2010

Rhinebeck Beckoned

Best Quote I Heard All Day
I love to go shopping. I love to freak out salespeople. They ask me if they can help me, and I say, "Have you got anything I'd like?" Then they ask me what size I need, and I say, "Extra medium."--Stephen Wright

I'm back. It's over. I'm fulfilled.

It was over so fast, much like Christmas when I was 8, where the anticipation of the day outranked the actual few hours of presents and family.

Rhinebeck means fiber family, as well as a once-a-year visual reiteration of the true meaning of fiberarts.

So here's Rhinebeck through my twisted eyes.

First, I leave NJ at 6 a.m. because the wise Rhinebeck attendee gets there by 8 a.m. to reserve a decent parking spot.

Then, having read the list of vendors online if you're a newbie, or plan in advance to hit familar vendors, you grab some coffee and hit the pavement at 9 a.m.

Here is Rhinebeck at 9:10 a.m.  It was windy, chilly, but peaceful.

Here is Rhinebeck at noon. YIKES! Too many fucking people but most of them kind, friendly, and happy souls.
Yes, it becomes even more populous.

It's fall in the Catskills. Magnificent maple trees.

And Rhinebeck, the finest fairground I've ever visited, is beautifully landscaped.

This year, I finally ate some fried artichokes, a Rhinebeck delicacy for which you stand in line for almost a half hour or more.

Feh. I don't get it. Talk about bland and boring food. Of course, there's always the fried pickles. Don't ask.  Rhinebeck, like most fairs, provides maximum eating opportunities, including the ubiquitous funnel cake, cotton candy, et al. Eating goes hand-in-hand with shopping.

Despite my horrible arthritic back and hips, I bumbled and stumbled through the exhibition halls, stopping at favorites--Golding Fiber Tools (more on that anon), Carolina Homespun, Susan's Fiber Shop, Red Maple (run by Mel and David, dear friends), Skaska, and others too numerous to mention.

With a tight budget, I managed to get some shopping accomplished. After all, do I truly need more shit? Yeah, I know the answer. Sing it in harmony, skankettes.

Meeting up with friends is another major event. Who did I see? QueerJoe, natch. My friend Gina from the Stix-n-Stitches knitting group. I caught up with some of the guys who went to the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat meeting in the afternoon.
Clowns. From left to right, Scott, Jack, Joe, Jack's friend whose name I can't spell, and Dave.

I missed Ted da Knitterguy so much. And never found Lars, if he did show up. Lars is ghostly, as all of his friends know.

The highlight of Rhinebeck is meeting my readers. And I met a bunch, wonderful people who made my day. They want me to write more often. OK, when I have shit to say, I will.

Meeting Duffy Stephens, aka Fiberqat, was like meeting a long-lost sister. Duffy's been a reader for ages and we are certainly kindred soul sistahs.

I miss her already. And I missed seeing Kat, Ann McDonough, Loraine, and all my other readers who I hold dear to my heart.

See, I'm crunchy on the outside and marshmallow on the inside, as Carol once said.

Dinner was wonderful! Here's this year's group.

From left: Duffy Stephens, Jack Burwell and friend, Scott and Dave from Easton Mountain

From left: Carol Sulcoski, Mindy Soucek, Laura Grutzeck

The O'Henry Spindle Story
One of my major purchases was another Golding spindle.
This is not a great photo but it is a beautiful glass millefleur button, one of which Sean Golding told me they buy at Rhinebeck. I should have asked him who the vendor was.

Duffy and I were looking around David and Mel's booth, when I saw a pair of socks that had fallen from their hanger onto the floor. I put my stuff down and put the socks back. Then Duffy and I headed outside so that we could compare our Golding purchases.

The shock. The bag that contained the spindle was gone. I freaked out, rushed back to the booth and asked Mel's dad to keep an eye out for it.

I knew it was gone forever. Due to my own stupid carelessness. So Duffy says, "Maybe someone will find it and you'll get it back." Yeah, right. Like anyone would return a Golding spindle, my cynical brain voice said.

Sitting in the endless outbound traffic around 4:15 p.m., talking to Jerry on my cellphone, a call comes in with a number I knew not. I ignored it.

Then it was on to dinner at the diner, a Ted tradition. No Ravelry party for us. Just a bunch of friends having dinner and talking shop.

As I was sitting, my phone went off again, the same strange number.  This time, I answered it.

Me: Hello
Stranger: Is this Marilyn Roberts?
Me: Yes, who is this, please?
Stranger: My name is Jackie. Did you purchase a Golding spindle? I have it. Are you coming to Rhinebeck tomorrow?
Me: No, but I'd make the drive again to pick up the spindle.
Jackie: I'm staying in Poughkeepsie at a hotel on Rte. 9, so if you want, you can come and pick it up tonight.
Me: Thank you so much!  I'll be there around 9!

Off I go, driving back over the Rhinecliff Bridge, past the fairgrounds, and down to Poughkeepsie, which about 20 miles south of Rhinebeck. It was rather on the way home.

I met Jackie in the hotel lobby and brought her a skein of Black Bunny Fiber sock yarn as a thank-you.

She was a lovely woman from Ohio. She truly restored my faith in people. I will never forget her.

End Game
What I bought and what was gifted:
Duffy gave me the wonderful purple fiber. I love her. Her friend Sharon and long-time reader, sent me the fabulous purple sock yarn along with a wonderful note thanking me for my blog. I almost cried reading it. (Sharon, I will e-mail you with a personal message.) To the right of the sock yarn is the incredible cashmere/silk that I bought at Carolina Homespun, some lovely hand-dyed silk, and a wooden wrist distaff.

All in all, quite a rare and handy day. How can you not love a day that validates your obsession? I hope to see more of you next year.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Now gimme money (that's what I want)

Best Quote I Heard All Day
If you want it in the worst way, that's probably how you'll get it--Patrick Conway, my former boss at The Chubb Institute and a very good friend

Do you wonder how much money knit/crochet designers make for their published patterns? Shit dollars. A mere tuppence, considering the amount of work that goes into even a simple design. And to add insult to injury, knitting editors often force them to change the design elements and then substitute another yarn (usually due to pressure from advertisers--I know, was in that boat onceuponatime long ago, which is why I left craft publishing). Designers have no control over the quality of the directions either.

Shameful. This is why I don't submit my stuff to magazines, although I do trust Trisha Malcolm, based on what friends have told me about her.

Recently, a good friend who is a well-known designer and a wonderful lady, wrote me and in answer to my question, "How come I haven't seen your stuff in the mags for a while?", she told me that the magazines and yarn companies are hiring newbie designers or using in-house people to keep costs down and walking away from the better-known names. She's now concentrating on other outlets for her talents, such as writing articles for a magazine that has nothing to do with knitting.

It's fine to give new names a chance but to fill your issue with unknowns is downright stupid. Yeah, I know. It's the economy, stupid. But you get what you pay for, no? Along with poor photography, IK being tops in this category, the designs you see, other than those in VK, are blah-blah-drab. Can we blame the designers? I think not..

I'm saddened that my friend may disappear from the knitting design world. How many more will we lose? Yo, magazine editors. Get smart and stop being fucking idiots. Let your designers do their thing and pay them decently. Keep giving the novices a chance but don't forget the tried and true people who have made your magazines popular. I know that your readers would pay more per issue if you gave them quality instead of crap.

OK, I'm done with the rant. For the time being. Now, a beacon of light in the knitting publishing world that I am happy to discuss.

Go Gwen!
The other week, when I was hanging out at Stix-n-Stitches, my favorite knitting haunt and home to my soul sisters, the divine Ms. Sheila Handelsman and the incomparable Patty Way, I saw and grabbed Gwen Bortner's new book, Entree to Entrelac, published by XRX. Holy shit, what a book! I first did entrelac back in my Mon Tricot era, around 1978, just fooling around with it. Later on, I started but never finished the Forest Path Stole, a fabulous entrelac design in IK. I loved working it but somehow got off the beaten path.

Gwen's book truly is the definitive guide to entrelac. The amount of work that went into this book is astounding. Everything in it is outstanding--excellent diagrams, concise text, good photos, fabulous designs.

You know me, I don't blather over a book unless it hits me between the eyes. This one did, the first in a long time. I would say that it is equal to Cat Bordhi's books in technical information imparted perfectly.

I might even learn to knit backwards, something that I've shunned in the past. God knows, if I can't learn from Gwen's book, I'm a fucking moron.

So check it out, skanks. And buy it. I'm looking forward to meeting Gwen when she teaches two workshops at Stix-n-Stitches Sunday October 24th. If you live in North Jersey and are interested in attending, contact Sheila at the shop, 973-744-3535. I'll be there, just to meet Gwen. Being on unemployment precludes my attending the workshops, unfortunately.

Rhinebeck Prep
The clock is ticking. Three more days to go. This is the premier event of my year, possibly anticipated more than Christmas.

I will miss Lee Ann and Ted, neither of whom can make it this year. But there will be lots of friends there, plus readers whom I have never met.

So what knitting will I bring? Probably two things: a pair of Yeti socks that I'm making for a Christmas present. And this:

About a year ago, I spun this silk laceweight and two weeks ago, decided it was time to use it. You can kinda see the pattern--it's one of Sharon Miller's, from her Heirloom Lace book. I've used it before and although it's fairly complex, a 20 st/ 20 row repeat, I've pretty much memorized the pattern, with a quick glace at the chart sometimes.

As for spinning crap, I've been spindling this Corriedale for ages. It's about time I got it done.
So I'll bring this to Rhinebeck too, just to keep my fingers busy. I was going to bring the Punk Princess but she got tickets to a show down at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, so she won't be with me this year. Can you believe my girl is now a freshman in the BFA program at Montclair State University? Yikes. She was 10 when I first started writing the blog. Now she's 18, and besides being my beloved granddaughter, a dear friend too.

So the next blog post will be about Rhinebeck, obviously. There'll be lots of pictures, no doubt. For those of you who can't make it, maybe next year? It's the one fiber festival that's worth attending, better, in my opinion, than MD Sheep & Wool.

Go early, shop heavy, hang with friends. I won't be spending a lot of money--do I really need more shit? But I look forward to meeting any readers who will be there. You'll usually find me at the concession stands, sitting at a picnic table with friends. If I'm not there, I certainly will be anon. Please don't hesitate to tap me on the shoulder and do a "Hey Mar!" in my ear.

My readers are rare and handy. Meeting you is even more so. See ya on Saturday (and Sunday, if I have the energy to make the 2-hour drive again).