fabulous rhinebeck

Posted on Posted in book reviews/events

with david’s help, beckie, kim and i piled all of our luggage into the car last thursday morning and set out on our 2009 rhinebeck adventure. the weather reports for the weekend weren’t all that promising, but it’s not about being discouraged by the weather.

we had great success (and many laughs) with my new iPhone GPS app. she sounds a bit impatient, but not mean, exactly—i totally recommend it. we tried out a few names for her, settling for a while on “nora”, but eventually changing that to “norma” when we realized she slurred her speech just enough to sound like a slightly-drunk floozy. then we wondered if that was disrespectful of the real norma, so we switched to “phyllis” for a while.
turns out, the real norma couldn’t be happier to have our GPS named for her; see below (what was i thinking??).

our trip east was blessed with snow most of the way, but not bad enough to delay us. we arrived at our cozy rental house excited and ready to have a ton o’ fun for the next five days. the creekside house was perfect and we’ll rent it again next year if we can. we had a quick dinner of soup and bread, then settled in to warm up and knit for the evening.

the next day began a five-day food fest to top all food fests—we didn’t really plan it that way ahead of time, but we ended up eating one incredible meal after another throughout the weekend.

friday was our annual outing to CIA for lunch. this year we were joined by woolen rabbit kim at the american bounty restaurant, a new experience for us (we’ve eaten in escoffier room for the last three trips). next year, who knows—maybe the st. andrew’s or the tuscan restaurant . . .

we arrived a bit early, which gave us plenty of time to snoop through the bookstore and roam the halls of the main building, where there are great views into the kitchens.

plenty was going on behind the scenes in the bakery and patisserie. we watched these plump caramel apples become something entirely different and extravagant

then made a pass through the cafe/bakery where a person can get takeout goodies or eat a casual meal any time there is a table free

of course, eating a meal is just an excuse to follow up with dessert and there’s quite an array to choose from (kim might have come home with a red velvet cupcake . . .)

our meal in the more formal dining room was exquisite and delicious—i had crab cakes to start, followed by cioppino (seafood soup), followed by this

is it carrot cake or sculpture? pretty, yes, but yummy too—a really good fall dessert.

after we rolled out of there, we headed down-river to the mariott where our friend kim was staying to knit with her during the afternoon and early evening. we drew up chairs around the fire and before we knew it we were surrounded with the familiar faces of the new england knitters we’ve come to know over these last few years—laurie, carol, manise, kathy, lucia, vanessa, ruth, norma, claudia—and so many more. it felt wonderful to be back in their company once again.

i finally got to meet my friend norma in person—she totally lives up to her hilarious blog personality and we had many, many belly laughs in just a couple of hours. she was absolutely chuffed to be the namesake to our drunken GPS party girl, after all. so now i have a phone named norma . . .

when the rest of the group was ready to head out to dinner, we bid them good-bye—honestly, we were still stuffed seven hours after lunch ended (two desserts will do that to a girl).

saturday, we were up bright and early to head for a pre-show breakfast at bread alone bakery (BEST bagels in rhinebeck.). we didn’t waste too much time stuffing our faces there, though—the call of the wool was too strong.

it was a very chilly day—the coldest rhinebeck show i’ve ever been to. kim wore her jackie jacket the whole weekend and got lots of well-deserved compliments on how beautifully knit it is. we enjoyed every minute, walked through every building, looked at wool, wheels (i visited again with norm hall and drooled over his wheels), sheep, alpacas, visiting with friends and procuring supplies for winter knitting everywhere.

we were busy trying to take a picture of ourselves when along came our friend hattie to help us out. after which, we wandered down to join some members of the ravelry knitspot group for a picnic lunch and drinks near the racetrack area

it was sooo nice to get together—it’s a really fun and sweet group; there are a bunch of members that post often and are active participants. there’s KCkathy who came all the way from kansas city to attend the show in her central park (not) hoodie with a stonewall scarf/stole

donna (left) in an alhambra scarf and nancy (right) in an autumn arbor wrap drooling over donna’s laceweight la novia scarf.

it was delightful to meet them in person and to see everyone’s FOs—it’s true that finished knits just don’t come across the same in photos.

cathy modeled her gorgeous ondulé sweater in rose quartz woolen rabbit opulence

doesn’t she look stunning? that’s an oh! canada wrap she’s flinging about her shoulders because, well, you can never have too much pink on a dreary day, right??

i was also pleasantly surprised by a visit from my cousin-in-law, peggy, who found me at lunchtime; it was so great to meet her in person and trade hugs and some news.

everyone looked lovely and happy; we laughed and hugged and chatted for about a half hour until the chill got to us, then headed off for more shopping and browsing.

i bet you’re wondering what-all i bought?? not too many fiber purchases on this trip, i’m afraid . . .

at carolina homespun, i bought more of this luxurious cashmere/tussah top by chasing rainbows dyeworks. you might remember that i spun some up recently in evergreen and totally feel in love with both the fiber and the yarn it turns into. this time i brought home the forest colorway.

honestly, there were so many booths i didn’t even get a chance to visit—the crowds were dense and i got sidetracked talking to people so often that i had to run ot keep up with kim and beckie, thus skipping quite a few vendors and products. i thought i’d just revisit them on sunday, but that plan turned pear-shaped when the weather got so rough the next day.

still, i managed to score a few great items—i had a list from david of things we needed for the house. many of these items have been on our shopping list for a long time (several years, even) but we hadn’t been finding what we wanted at other shows. this year, my luck turned—and big-time.

we have been searching for a good blanket for our bed seemingly forever. we wanted something unique and handmade as much as possible, from real farm wool. oh, there are lots of throw-type blankets around and we found them, but it’s pretty hard to find ones can actually be used as bedding—large enough for two people to sleep under with some left over for tucking in.

and then beckie found one—way to go beckie. it’s woven in a plaited twill pattern with a wide brown stripe along the selvedges. we just love it. this will go either on our bed or on the guest bed—still deciding. we might use it as a coverlet in the guest room this year (more about that later).

david also had a standing request for wool pillows, which i had been unable to find at a few other shows we visited over the last two years. then, while looking for fleece-lined slippers, i came upon the dashing star farm booth and found them.

they were even available in three different softnesses and several sizes. score!

a couple fo buildings later, i found marilyn magnus, whose rugs i have gravitated to year after year. i love every one she weaves, from the simple and straightforward to her most complex

this is the one i purchased in 2008 for the third-floor landing—i thought i’d try a small one to start and found that i fell even more in love with it over the past year. i look for any excuse to slip my shoes off and walk across it—the softness of it is that soothing.

this year i wanted on for the finished guest room and thought that one of marilyn’s blue patterns would look great with the white plaster, black wood floor, and gray trim in that room.

i love the simple geometric patterns she does, but she didn’t have any of those in the size i needed. i’d always lusted after the more complex patterns too, though, and she had one of those beauties in a good size for the room. i like the way it looks like a fair-isle sweater, sort-of.

david and i are hatching a plan to make an additional piece for that space in the same colors—a spinning/knitting project we’ll work on together after christmas (i know—i’m totally excited to get working on that).

so i was especially happy to see that marilyn also had a few bags of her border leicester fiber dyed in a gorgeous blue to go with the rug. we’ll be using this as an accent color and she had just enough

that was the only other fiber purchase i made. like i said, i did not spend enough time poking around in vendor booths—too many friends to talk to . . . we stayed at the show til the very end of saturday, happy and satisfied and ready to get up to do it all again the next day.

speaking of friends, we were thrilled to be reunited with chris and her briar rose family—their booth was absolutely mobbed the whole weekend and stripped pretty bare by the end of the festival. good thing we made a date beforehand to meet up with them at their hotel for dinner and talking, or we wouldn’t have seen much of them.

we actually had a lovely evening warming up and visiting with chris and roger, christy and nate, little dillan, jennie the potter, her beautiful mom, and her newborn daughter, lillian. debbie grale and her mate were also with us to round out the group.

we all retired early though—a full day of fresh, brisk air and lots of walking did us in.
sunday morning i had a class (more about that tomorrow), so we got going early. unfortunately, the day was not nearly as nice as the previous one and soon after we got to the fairgrounds, it started to rain. it was also much colder and windier (cue in shark music).

after my class we made few quick stops to look at wheels and browse a bit more

with a run to the car to drop stuff off. i wanted to go back through the show for the afternoon, but once we’d traipsed through the parking lot, i was so chilled that it was actually discouraging. just then it started to rain steadily. it didn’t take much persuading to get us in the warm car and headed to town for a hot cuppa coffee.

there’s always next year . . . i’m sorry i didn’t get to visit with some people and sorry that i didn’t see everything, but what i did see was really really inspiring and beautiful—this show has all the best there is on offer in the fiber world.

i feel very lucky that i’m able to travel there each year with my two beautiful best friends to attend. missing just a little of it this year will keep me longing for more next year.

and anyway, this was NOT the end of our weekend! we had lots more in store for the next couple of days—that’s the benefit of making a mini-vacation out of the trip; it’s not over til it’s over.

i think the three of us agree that the absolute highlight of our trip, in fact, awaited us at our next destination—dinner at the home of our friends, the fischers; john, his beautiful wife nathalie, and his lovely sister, mary.

we first met john at CIA, where he is a professor of table service. after kim chatted him up a bit, we discovered he is a spinner who attended the wool show every year. and, well, an instant friendship was born. we ran into them several times at last year’s events and emailed a bit over the winter.

when an invitation to visit their home for sunday evening was extended, we eagerly accepted.

john was hard at work in the kitchen when we arrived, the table was beautifully laid for a fall dinner,

and a nice spread of snacks waited in the cozy living room. we all got out our respective knitting and sat down for gossip, champagne, tapenade on toasts, and scrumptious cheeses (my favorite of foods and the fischers just finished working on a book all about them, yay)

after a bit, i visited john in the kitchen while he plated the salads (BTW, that’s a staghorn sweater knit for him by nathalie—how handsome is that?? you should check out her other projects—she’s amazing)

and we talked about food, writing, and the future (we discovered we are only a few months apart in age; “the future after 50” is always a topic worth exploring, heh)

soon we sat down to dinner and the serious eating began (well, began again, hahaha).

we started with a beautiful salad of fall pears, blue cheese, and local greens accompanied by a delicious chardonnay infused with the taste of coconut (for me, anyway).
then came the main course—a real work of art.

pot roast with chanterelles and portobella mushrooms in a mouth-watering gravy with herby polenta and sautéed garlicky greens.

john decanted a 13-year-old red and i took pictures, hahaha.

that’s the sediment he was working so carefully to keep out of the decanter.

and well done. it was a tart, musty, rich red (sorry, i don’t even know what variety) that i enjoyed immensely. it’s fun to eat with people who know what they’re doing, especially when you love food as much as we do.

i can’t say enough how much of a treat this was for us all. and we haven’t yet arrived at the best part—sorry john, but you know it’s true; everyone will agree—the dessert was over the top.

a concord grape pie baked by nathalie. if you weren’t in love with her yet, you are now, right??

omg, i never had this treat before, but i know i’ll have it again. and don’t even ask kim what she thought unless you have about an hour to listen to her review.

to be totally fair, john set an example by being the first to lick his plate clean and kim asked permission before following suit. she’s not totally debauched by pie alone . . .

dessert was followed by an excellent round of espresso coffees (john is more than a little proud of the crema produced by his espresso maker, heh)

and luscious chocolates handmade especially for us by one of john’s colleagues (sorry, by now i was dizzy with it all and the chef’s name has escaped me).

after dinner we rolled retired back to the living room to look at some of natalie’s current projects

and talk some more. my one regret is that i seem to have come home with no photos of mary or her knitting anywhere in my camera. darn.

though we would have loved to stay long into the wee hours (or simply move in with our new best friends), after a while we said our goodbyes and headed back to the house; we don’t at all want to wear out our welcome and risk not being invited back. or maybe next year we can somehow return the favor (right.).

our last day in the catskills dawned beautifully sunny and much milder than the weekend. we waffled a bit about whether to stay in and knit or get out in the sun and before long, we found ourselves taking a ride to woodstock (what can i say; we have a favorite shoe store there—need i elaborate?)

we spent a few hours poking around in the shops for gifts to bring home for our loved ones. chocolates, t-shirts, gadgets, and toys were procured over the course of a nice stroll through town.
we ended the day with a drive and one final delicious dinner at seravan in amenia, NY.

then it was back to the cottage to pack and get ready to head home—now it was over. well, except for the car trip which is always fun when you have a norma in your vehicle . . . .

tomorrow i’ll share the knitting and spinning i got done while i was away—it’s been hours now that i’ve been at this post and time for bed (while visions of lemon mousse dance in my head . . .)

52 thoughts on “fabulous rhinebeck

  1. FABULOUS post, Anne. I know how demanding it must have been to write it, thanks so much for sharing! I had to miss it this year, but you made me feel as though I was there.

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