Monday, October 29, 2007

Whinging Rhinebeck

"Naturally, as you will read all over, Rhinebeck was wonderful."
--Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, the Yarn Harlot

You won't read it here.

I know I'm late. I know you've read all kinds of stuff and seen a hundred pictures of David, the Cute Kilt Guy.

There was yarn, there were sheep, the leaves were lovely. Yes, I have pictures of all of them, and I will probably subject you to them tomorrow.

First, I'd like to take a little tangent to speak on being smote by the gods for running one's trap.

See, about five years ago, I said to someone, "One of the things I love about my job is that, despite the deadlines and the workload and the occasional panic or screw-up, it's really kinda low-anxiety. Nobody's going to die if the land work is a little off or a little late.§ Nobody ever calls in the middle of the night and says, 'You have to come in! It's a land emergency!'"

It took them five years, but the werk gods found a way to make me eat my words.

We can but laugh.

[SUMMARY: If you mutter it, they will come.]


Rhinebeck was like a wedding or a dinner party: it was great for couples, for people who have someone, but uncomfortable, exclusionary and lonely for those of us$ who went stag.

Cheryl at Jung at Heart (whose gentle, thoughtful writing makes me wish I was less of a spaz) said she doesn't like the post-festival glut of posts. The posts are (in my own paraphrase) primarily for people who went to see themselves on other people's blogs.

Those who didn't go feel left out... and that's part of the impetus behind going, behind blogging about it, behind posting all those pictures and anecdotes.*

But you know it's part of the reason I was so excited to go.

Don't you want to be part of the in-crowd?

Don't you want to say, "I was fondling some hand-dyed Cormo/silk and suddenly someone called my name and I was shocked to realise people read my blog and recognise me. Within moments, I was flocked by admirers. I got invited to the Interweave Knits secret hideout and was inducted into the FibreMasons (no, I won't reveal the secret handshake) and had dinner with everybody who's ever written a knitting book. It was such fun!"

Don't you want to find that exact level of nonchanlance that says, "Oh, yes, but those of us who were there know it's just part of the festival atmosphere," when you can impart the utterly squee-inducing news that Stephanie Pearl-McPhee tapped you on the shoulder and asked where you got the gorgeous yarn in your Delores-I'm-a-Square bag?%

Don't you want everybody to know that you bonded with the Harlot or Juno or Grumperina or Eunny Jang^ or Nancy Budd and have a standing invitation to come yarn crawl their hometowns and sleep on their couches?

All those tales from blogyears past were certainly an element in my desire to go. And I felt left out and on my own almost the whole day.

Part of the disappointment surely comes from missing Glinda. Glinda tangoed with a bad shrimp and couldn't go. I was very sad to miss my Glinda time, but I figured with the number of blogs I read and the Blogger Bingo thing, I'd cosy up to some imaginary friends in no time.

Within the first fifteen minutes of detraining, I had four Blogger Bingo contacts. They were pleasant, but not bonding experiences. And that was it. The end.+ No more Blogger Bingo sightings.

I also learned of the Ravelry party too late to change my train tickets, and didn't know about the Ravelry meet-up until I got home. Not having computer access for several days aced me out of some potentially chummy activities.

I did have a lovely chat with some Boston Red Sox fans,& whom I had to stop so I could find out what was going on with the ALCS, as I was staying in a sport-free home.

But there was nobody to pal around with, nobody to have lunch with and I never even saw anybody remotely famous or on my list of imaginary friends or bloggoddesses.

[SUMMARY: I was so hoping to meet Juno.]

Rhinebeck was also like that Christmas when you're a kid, about 11 or 12, where you still long for toys and enough candy canes and chocolate Santas to make you queasy, but when you open the hundreds of presents with your name on the tags, you find that overnight you apparently became an adult and you got a whole bunch of underwear and socks and maybe a sweater and a clock radio.=

I had such anticipation for new, unusual, fresh yarns (to me, at least) and there just wasn't much. Some, yes. Not a total bust. But not nearly what I'd figured the mothership would bring.@

I also thought, this being the Grandmammy of Them All,# there would be thousands of vendors, many with brand new yarns unveiled at Rhinebeck for the very first time. There would be independent dyers, maybe new breeds of fleece spun into fabulous new yarns. There would be deals.

I guess the unveilings take place at big indoor conventions rather than festivals. TNNA and perhaps Stitches get cool previews and new stock. Rhinebeck? Rhinebeck suffers from what a lot of things I travel to suffer: I can get it down the street. I can get it on the Innernets. There's not a lot of real discovery.

Like this: they opened a Sephora in Denverish this summer (stick with me, this is an analogy). All the glow of going to Sephora in Vegas or Sephora in SoHo is gone. I can get it down the street.

I used to make a special trip to Fresh in NYC when I went because I love their stuff and it wasn't available in Denverish. Now Neiman-Marcus and Sephora carry it and I can just run down to Cherry Creek and pick some up when I run low.

[SUMMARY: Not the same thrill.]

The amount of Berroco and Cascade and Rowan I saw at Rhinebeck was disheartening. And it wasn't sale-priced. Now, if I could've gotten Rowan Tapestry for half of what I'd pay for it at Sylvia's House of Fuzzy Crack, that might have made a difference. But it was the same old Rowan at the same old price. Maybe even more expensive.

And there were -- I would almost swear -- stealth representatives from Michael's or AC Whatever-you-have-on-the-east-coast. Oh, they didn't say they were from Michael's. No, they said they were from Aunt Neva's Homey Little Yarn Shoppe in Fuzzytown, Connecticut, but the yarn said different.

The largest stalls were put up by yarn shops selling (mostly) the kind of craptastic squeaky petroleum yarn and sniffed-at novelty yarn we tend to look down upon. In quantity, no less.

Yes, my friends, if you buy 10 balls of Lion Brand Fun Fur, you can get 10% off.

[SUMMARY: My Mecca is populated by bulk-bought eyelash yarns?]

I did the whole thing (even the gem and mineral show) twice, and the vendor stalls all three times... at least. By 3:00, I was ready to leave.

Now, it wasn't bad. I know it sounds like a lot of whining and complaining.

The weather was beyond gorgeous. Perfect temp, perfect sun, perfect humidity, perfect breeze... perfect. I can't imagine a more beautiful day.

I saw a man save a woman's life with the Heimlich Manouever. I saw David, the Cute Kilt Guy leave the beer line without hesitation to grab a bottle of water for her. I saw her daughter scream and shake and cry and I rubbed her back and hugged her.‡‡ Which made me feel useful, even if she didn't want to see my yarn purchases.

I ate an organic, whole wheat and oats brownie (of all things) and it was yummy.

And when I got stuck at the train station, waiting for the train that got stuck over-long at customs coming back from Canada, I met some lovely knitters and finally had some bonding time.

I found my way back to Jeff's in the dark on the subway and felt like I made some final step in my New York certification.

I only bought three skeins of yarn (two kinds), so I didn't go broke or have the misery of hauling an extra 50 lbs through the airport, taking the chance that the yarn suitcase§§ would go on vacation to Tahiti without me.

[SUMMARY: Oh, silver lining...]

And I'd like to go again. But next time, next time I will be sure to have a plan in place. I don't want to do it alone. I want to meet lots of cool people and shop with them and compare our purchases at lunch and stuff.

[SUMMARY: Where my stitches at?%%]

Pictures tomorrow.

You get to see the guy on the Percherons¶¶ for the hundredth time.

FOOTNOTE (crossed): I was behind him in the beer line. He got a bottle of water for the lady who choked. I insisted he get back in front of me. It had all to do with gallantry and NOTHING AT ALL to do with a man in a kilt and a particularly nice rear view.

FOOTNOTE (double-crossed): Except David, the Cute Kilt Guy.

§FOOTNOTE (swerved): Not that either of those ever happens. Uh-uh. All runs like Swiss watchworks here in landland.

FOOTNOTE (paragraphed): 'Cause, y'all know, the gods are watching.

$FOOTNOTE (moneyed): And by "us," I mean "me."

*FOOTNOTE (asterisked - hey, I'm running out of symbols here): That whole impetus thing is me, not Cheryl. Cheryl's not nearly so snarky.

%FOOTNOTE (percented): Yeah, I'm not going to let that go anytime soon. It was one of my favourite things I got this trip. And I still feel a little in-crowd for having it.

^FOOTNOTE (careted): All apologies to Red. I'll still help bury her in the drainage by Comfort Dental. I just needed a name. And, apparently, a footnote.

+FOOTNOTE (on the plus side): One fabulous side-effect of Blogger Bingo is that I won a prize! Stitchy McYarnpants just emailed me to tell me I won a lovely needle case from Caro Sheridan. See? I knew Delores wouldn't let me down.

&FOOTNOTE (ampersanded): The nice girl wearing the Green Monstah shirt didn't even flinch when I addressed her as "Random Red Sox fan."

=FOOTNOTE (all things being equal): Which was not purchased for you with the intent that you learn all you can about Casey Kasem's Top Forty Countdown, but so you can get your own lazy ass out of bed for school so your mom doesn't have to anymore because you're plenty old enough to pour your own Cheerios. Years down the line, you will split your lip open pulling the thing down on your face trying to hit the snooze button for the umpteenth time. And by "you," I mean "me."

@FOOTNOTE (atted): And why is it by the time I got there, halfway through day one, there wasn't enough of many of the yarns I loved for a sweater? Two hundred and fifty yards of worsted weight doesn't speak to my needs.

#FOOTNOTE (pounded): All apologies to the National Western Stockshow and Rodeo and the Tournament of Roses Parade.

††FOOTNOTE (ddouble-ccrossed): Yes, there was a gem and mineral show. The Mid-Hudson Valley Gem & Mineral Society had a whole barn. I got my dad a tshirt.

‡‡FOOTNOTE (doubble-crossssed): OK, I'm not good for much, but I can give a hell of a hug.

§§FOOTNOTE (dangerous curves): Which already took a detour to Chicago on the way to Newark and now has more frequent flyer miles than I do.

%%FOOTNOTE (two percent): All apologies to Ravelry and its shirts.

¶¶FOOTNOTE (the rare double-paragraph): Actually, I think he said they were Belgian Draft Horses, but I'm pretty sure "Percherons" is funner to say.

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