Branden and I drove out to Rhinebeck yesterday with a couple of friends for the NY Sheep and Wool festival. The market seemed quieter this year, but that might be because we got there after the first morning rush. There was still plenty to do and see, and it was nice having (a little) less jostling and jockeying for position inside the barns.

As usual, I didn’t take very many pictures. It’s always fun to scope out the knitwear, but I don’t like to take photos of other people without their permission, and it seemed that there wasn’t quite as much on display as usual. (I have this sneaking suspicion that I might be becoming a Rhinebeck old timer, constantly going on about how it was different in the old days…)

I did notice that a lot of rust and green color combinations were calling to me, and yellow was surprisingly attractive, too. My one yarn purchase stayed pretty true to form, though….blues and grays, even if I did spring for a little bit of an acid green.

I went into the festival without any plans for what to buy. I usually have a theme of one kind or another, but this year there wasn’t really anything that I needed, and so I left it open to serendipity. A few barns into the festival, we stopped at the O-Wool booth, where I was sold by a swatch. It was just a simple stockinette square knit from the O-Wool fingering weight yarn on size 00 needles. The fabric was just beautiful. Good drape, very soft, and beautifully springy. (I think it was the springy that got me, in the end.)

I know better than to buy one-off skeins. I’ve done this often enough at festivals to know that a single skein or pair of skeins will sit in my stash forever, no matter how much I love the yarn. It’s sweaters that get knit. But did I want to knit a sweater with 8-9 sts to the inch? Well, kinda, actually…yeah.

I’ve been needing a lot of mindless knitting lately, and the more I knit with tiny needles the more I love them. (I may have spent a couple of hours investigating sources for sub-0000 needles recently…) Miles and miles of tiny stockinette might be just the thing. Throw in a little colorwork, and it was hard to say no.

And so, 2568 yards (21 ounces) of the base color came home with me, along with a few skeins of accent yarns for the colorwork. I have no idea how many yards it will actually take to knit a sweater at that gauge, but I’m hoping that that’s enough. It seems like it should be, right?

Just look at these colors:

The color names are Appalachian Stone (dark gray for the body), Night Heron (dark blue), Brook Trout (light blue), Black Bear (black/dark brown, depending on the light), and that beautiful green is called Arrowgrass.

I was also tempted by some Astral (just look at that shine, and those colors!), but decided to hold off on that one until I have a project for it. I’m pretty sure I saw some of this at Wisconsin Sheep and Wool back in 2011, and have often thought about using it since. At least now I know what it’s called!

The Fiber Optic booth is always hard to resist, and Just Our Yarn is one of my favorite stops. And I love everything in the Briar Rose booth. In each case, though, I decided to wait until I have a project in mind…the O-wool should be more than enough to keep me busy until the next Rhinebeck, don’t you think?

I did notice this shop sample of a Stephen West pattern in the Fiber Optic booth. I’m thinking that this might be a good alternative project for the neon slip stitch project if I decide that my own design just won’t work.

I also noted the gauge of his fabric (you can see how open it is in the photo…light shines right through it). My preference is always to knit at a pretty firm gauge, but a more open fabric might get me a bit more fabric for my yardage, which would be helpful with that particular set of yarns. Something to think about, anyway.

My favorite thing about fiber festivals is finding ideas that are new or unexpected. This year, it was a really interesting knit/woven shrug by Koochi Ku (looks like her site is undergoing some maintenance at the moment).

The weaver in me was very intrigued by this fabric. It’s made from a simple stockinette ground fabric, with a heavy weight accent yarn woven in during the knitting. The knit base fabric keeps all of the stretch and flexibility of knitting, but the primary design element looks like a weave. The artist said that she knits the ground fabric on a loom, and then lays in the accent yarn as she goes. The end result is a fabric with a beautiful, open feel and nice drape, but the very low-spin accent yarn thickens it up enough to be nice and warm. I just love the colorplay in the accent yarn, too; I very often prefer a weave pattern for showing off a handpainted yarn.

I think it would be possible to do something like this with a slipped stitch technique, though it would take a little engineering to figure it out. I thought it was a really beautiful piece, and an interesting way of mixing two different textile forms to make something new.