If I had a ‘bucket list’, attending New York Sheep and Wool, aka Rhinebeck, would have been on it. The opportunity to attend finally presented itself this year. In addition to New York Sheep and Wool, other fiber events have sprung up in the area on the same weekend. One of which is Wool and Folk, where I had a booth along with Why Knot Fibers. I’ll get to that later. First, I’m going to give you a bit of background on the shows.
New York Sheep and Wool
Let’s start with the headliner. There seems to be a bit of confusion over just when this festival was started. The New York Sheep and Wool website claims it was started “around 1980”, while Wikipedia stated it was started in 1972. Either way, that’s a long time. When it started, it was just a small event for sheep breeders.
Today, the show holds roughly 275 vendors, livestock barns, live auctions of both equipment and livestock, knitter meet-ups, food trucks, and well over 12,000 attendees. It is something to be experienced.
I’ve been to lots of regional and national fiber events, but New York Sheep and Wool is something all its own. My first thought was ‘there are just SO MANY people’. It’s a bit of an understatement to say crowds are not my thing. One of the things that makes NYSW special is that so much is outside. When I became overwhelmed with the crowds, I could just step outside and instantly feel calm again.
If you have issues with crowds, like I do, I’d advise you make a plan of the things you want to see, try going Saturday after 2PM or Sunday, and take along your project of the moment so you can sit outside and people-watch. If you don’t have issues with the crowds, dive right in. The atmosphere is one of inspired chaos, and you can go wherever the crowd takes you.
This event began in 2014. Lisa, the creator of IndieUntanged, wanted to create a space, both virtually and physically, for smaller indie dyers and makers to be seen and heard in an ever growing market.
IndieUntanged is a one-day show held the Friday before NYSW. In order to get the maximum number of attendees in the door but still have room for people to move around, your tickets are for a certain time slot. You have about 1.5 - 2 hours to shop the 25 or so vendor booths before the next group is let in.
I will not speak too much about this one as I have not attended it myself. The one thing I will say is that I have heard nothing but good things about it. I will definitely attend when the opportunity arises.
Wool and Folk
As I said at the beginning of this post, Wool and Folk is the event where we participated as vendors. Only in its second year, Wool and Folk is the result of a collaboration between Felicia of String Thing Studio and Catherine of Brooklyn General Store.
It’s an outdoor event (vendors are under a huge pavilion) in a breathtaking location. In addition to around 50 vendors, there was an impressive list of podcasters and influencers interacting with the attendees. Plus an equally impressive lineup of folk musicians.
This show is also a single day and held on the Friday before NYSW. One of the many things that I loved about this show is that, instead of competing with the already established IndieUntangled, the organizers chose to open at noon. That way people could attend both shows; judging by the swag I saw, lots of people did exactly that.
To sum up - while NYSW was already a festival at the top of its class, the addition of IndieUntangled and Wool and Folk have made Rhinebeck weekend the fiber event of the year. If you get a chance, round up a few friends and head there next year.