It takes a long time to unpack everything from a long trip, especially when the trip encompasses experiences like SOAR and Rhinebeck and seeing hundreds of members of my “tribe,” the fiber folk.

Hillary (Jellyfish Knits) & Dan (Gnomespun) setting up at the Holiday Yarns booth, Rhinebeck

It took a few days before I had all my clothes unpacked, laundered, and put away; it took a few more before I sorted through all my new goodies and put those away. And yet, here it is, ten days after my return, and there’s still one bag of class materials and a bin of tools that I have not gone through.

It’s the same with my internal bags and bins: All are full of new experiences, new lessons learned, new techniques mastered, new friends made; all are wonderful and exciting; and all are still hanging out in my brain, waiting for me to find places to put them in amidst what was already there.

Class materials, Sara Lamb class, SOAR 2011

It’s like the new fiber I bought on my trip: I often just put all the fiber from a single trip into a single bin and label the bin with the place and date (“SOAR 2011” and “Rhinebeck 2011” for this year’s goodies). There the goodies sit, associated only by the event at which I purchased them, until I finally feel that they ought to be incorporated into the rest of the bins, organized by fiber (“merino and mixes;” “silks;” or “camelids”) or by some other it-seemed-logical-at-the-time method (“Spunky Club Fiber;” “Drumcarder food from Jen”).

I think that’s why I have trouble writing about Big Events directly afterwards: I need time to integrate all the New Shiny Fun Wonderful, to sift through it and to see what is really worth writing about and what was more of the you-had-to-have-been-there-and-perhaps-have-had-a-beer sort of thing.

Allison's fluffy beer...no, really, it's FLUFF (at SOAR 2011)

I feel a special pull towards consciously evaluating my SOAR/Rhinebeck trip this year, as next year, along with everyone else, I’m going to have to choose only one of the two events to attend–the Powers That Be have scheduled SOAR 2012 for the same weekend as Rhinebeck 2012, and the two events will literally be at opposite ends of the continent, SOAR in California and Rhinebeck in, well…Rhinebeck.

The question “Which one will you be going to next year, SOAR or Rhinebeck?” was overheard frequently during my trip, and it was always fascinating (to me) to listen to people’s choices and reasons for those choices. Proximity was a big factor for many folks because of the travel costs, of course. But for folks like me whose job usually means attendance at both events, or for folks who have the resources to travel cross country, the choice is less clear.

I think knowing I will have to make that choice has made writing about this year’s trip a bit tough, sort of like writing evaluations, in a sense, of each event and what it has meant for my fiber work, my income, my friendships, and my sense of connectedness to the fiber world.

I’m really lucky to be living geographically close to both locations this year, and of course, I am fabulously blessed to be able to attend even one of these events. One of the reasons I go is to be able to come home and share stories with those of you who can’t go, so that you don’t feel too left out, so that you can get to see what it’s like, even if only through my eyes.

Rhinebeck means TASTY FOOD...and the fake cow at the ice cream booth

This year, I even had the pleasure of shopping for you! I brought back several goodies to give away to you fine readers over the next few weeks, and every time I stopped in a vendor booth I asked myself if there was something there “my readers” might like. (I think I drove friends crazy, holding up this or that goodie: “Do you think they’d like this? How about the colour?”)

Yarn on display, Rhinebeck

Since you are definitely part of the reason I go to fiber events–whether to meet you in person, laugh with you at dinner, or share stories with you when I return–I’d like to know what your thoughts are. As I blog about SOAR and Rhinebeck, let me know what you think. Do you want to hear about what I learned, who I met, or what I bought? All the above? None?

The Cute Critter is…

Rosario the champion alpaca, Rhinebeck 2011

…an alpaca! Rosario the alpaca, in fact. Some folks wanted to know who the cutie in the photo was, so there you are. Paca face!

OK, enough with the heavy thinking.

According to Naomi’s camera, I REALLY liked the fried dough at Rhinebeck this year.


Zombie font. Just like it sounds, just in time for Halloween.

In the I-can’t-make-this-stuff-up Department: The Do Knit Disturb hotel room in Britain. Warning: The article makes use of every tacky turn-of-phrase possible.

Ridiculously cute kitten photos. No explanation necessary, right? Right.

Frank Lloyd Wright house in Legos. As a kit. For sale, even. (I love the internet.)

About sandi

Knitter. Spinner. Quilter. UFO Wrangler. Sometime bead artist and weaver. Two toddler-age kittens, 1 permakitten, 2 grownup cats, 1 beloved dog angel, 1 spouse, 1 crazy life. I suppose that the 5 cats make me 1 crazy cat lady; OTOH, apparently, yes, I do need that much feline supervision.
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19 Responses to unpacking

  1. Kimberly says:

    We want to hear about everything! We live vicariously through you, so don’t leave anything out 🙂

  2. molly says:

    kimberly hit the nail on the head! (or got gauge first time!) lots of us don’t have a chance to go to all these great functions, so we really love to see all the pictures and hear all the tales….now, if only they could make computers that would let you feel the yarn….

  3. Rachel says:

    to quote Veruca Salt: “I want it all”. All the stuff you learned, saw, people you met. You have a unique way of making things come alive with your writing and it is almost (but not quite) as good as being there. I get to Rhinebeck (and got hugs! from Sandi!) but have never been to SOAR. But Rhinebeck is so vast that another perspective is welcome.


  4. JJ says:

    In the SOAR vs. Rhinebeck, I vote SOAR since BF and I are going to do our best to go!

  5. Pat says:

    Hi sandi,
    I know what you mean about needing to process the adventure. Went to Black Sheep in Eugene,OR. once and still find things to relive and wonder over! Don’t have the opportunity to get to many fiber events these days so want to hear all about your adventures. Got my first pair of glass needles from Michael Ernst at Black Sheep. I think that they are the Rolls Royce of all knitting needles. Oh the goodies at fiber festivals. Glad you are back and had a good time.
    Pat aka westies

  6. ikkinlala says:

    Like other people have said, we want it all!

    … but if I had to choose just one of the things you mentioned, I’d like to know what you learned.

  7. Pat says:

    Thank you for sharing whatever you choose. The pictures, the lessons, the animals, the people. Whatever. But then we are a demanding folk, so share what you will. Of course we care!

  8. Everything – or, if I really have to choose, what you learned. (I imagine that what you learned will include who you met and what you bought…)

  9. Keena says:

    You must, must MUST come to SOAR next year! Because I need a roommate! It will be like old times (why do I hear evil cackling in my head?)

  10. Angela says:

    I want to hear about everything. I’ve never been to SOAR but I have been to Rhinebeck. Tell me what you learned, show me the lovelies that you bought!!

  11. jennybookworm says:

    I really like hearing about it all too. I like learning myself so anything you write about is me soaking it up like sunshine! I like yummy yarn photos too – so that I can enjoy vicariously the things I wish I could have been there to buy (and to learn about yarny companies I didn’t know about)

  12. Meg says:

    I agree, I want to know everything so I can live the experience vicariously through you. I’ve never been to a fiber fest so this is the closest I get. I wish you could manage to let us feel the yarn, too!

    The comments really haven’t helped you narrow this down at all, have they?;-)

  13. Bonnie says:

    I feel foolish saying this, but I really want to know what you bought or what you admired. I like learning about new dyers and adding their yarn to my wishlist!

  14. Seanna Lea says:

    I am in the Boston area, so it is often easier for me at least to get to Rhinebeck than it is to go to SOAR. SOAR also feels like a less accessible event, even though it isn’t always far away. That might be because I am complete novice at spinning, so I don’t feel completely comfortable attending an event like SOAR.

    So, the short answer is that if you can only attend one that I would prefer that you go to SOAR.
    Also, the kitten is just too adorable for words!

  15. I can’t see myself getting to either of these events any time soon – so I’ll “eat up” whatever you put on the table! (You make that fried dough look really appealing,)

  16. Sandy says:

    You look so cute in your picture. It makes me want a funnel cake.
    I agree with the above folks. I want to hear about everything. If you have to limit it, then I would choose what you learned. I just love learning new techniques.

  17. Megan Olhasque says:

    I’m so glad you had a wonderful time and agree with the others; new knitting techniques and clever new construction methods are what I most look forward to.

  18. InJuneau says:

    I vote for SOAR, because like JJ, I’m hoping to be able to swing it next year. Would be my first fiber festival/classes thingy.

    Also, hate to break it to you, but of course you like fried dough…duh!

  19. iriegemini says:

    All. The. Things. Pretty please! I love your fibre festival posts. Here’s another reason – if others in the blog are like me they are also getting schooled on What to Expect if the dream trip should materialize. Is there anyone else we can rely on to tell us about the ice cream and the fake cow? I think not!

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