My Swell New Pal, The Dutchess

The New York Sheep and Wool Festival, casually known to knitters and other fiber fools as "Rhinebeck" is held in Dutchess County, New York.  The actual Dutchess it was named for, Mary of Modena, was consort to King James II of England.  It sure was nice of the colonists to name this region after her.  Maybe they did it because it's beautiful, like her. I hope she liked sheep.  Either way, I was delighted to learn that the real Dutchess of Dutchess County was a Mary, too.

Mary of Modena (Mary Beatrice Eleanor Anne Margaret Isabel; born Este; later Queen Mary of England, Scotland and Ireland; 5 October 1658 – 7 May 1718) was queen consort to James II of England. Her reign as consort lasted from 6 February 1685 until 11 December 1688. Mary was crowned Queen consort on 23 April 1685.

Mary of Modena (Mary Beatrice Eleanor Anne Margaret Isabel; born Este; later Queen Mary of England, Scotland and Ireland; 5 October 1658 – 7 May 1718) was queen consort to James II of England. Her reign as consort lasted from 6 February 1685 until 11 December 1688. Mary was crowned Queen consort on 23 April 1685.

In the shade of 100-year-old hardwood trees, the Dutchess County Fairgrounds are completely civilized.  In addition to all the fibery goodness there is to covet and buy, you can eat and drink everything here, from Artichokes to Zinfandel.

Here a historical interpreter introduces a smally to his first sheep.  Both were pleased to meet one another.

Sheep farmers are a rare breed.  One of them staggered up to have her book signed, exhausted after NINE lambs were born to her flock the night before.

I met small knitters.


And not-so-small knitters.

I had the best of all possible worlds:  Indoors, where it was not bitter cold, and meeting knitters, who are big fun in all shapes.

Some knitters think that stranded colorwork is difficult, because it looks complicated.  I talked quite a few down from the ledge.

Here are Lori and Karen of Homestead Heirlooms.  They make the most gorgeous straps and findings to complete your handmade totes and purses.  Everyone should go immediately to their website and buy everything they have, because they are also delightful and generous ladies who are gifted at what they do.

Before leaving, I ran into Casey and Jess.  I thanked them for making Ravelry.

Like a pioneer in reverse, I traveled from West to East.  My pilgrimage led me to sights and sounds I could only have imagined.  The sheep were great, and so was the wool.  But the knitters, as always, were the most delightful of all.  I think the Dutchess would be pleased.