The One That Almost Got Away


When you walk around the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool festival, there is so much to see and do, it is easy to get distracted. If you don’t come with a clear idea in mind of what you want, you go home with things you didn’t know you needed but nothing you really wanted.

I didn’t know I wanted this fleece until we were on our way home:

01 fleece

On the way home, my husband and I had a discussion about the “Rhinebeck Sweater” — that concept that, if you are going to Rhinebeck, you should have a sweater that you knitted to display your knitting ability. I had knitted the Enniscorthy Sweater by Maggie Jackson this year. Husband noted that HE had no Rhinebeck Sweater and that, perhaps, he should have one for next year. The discussion then went on to what type of sweater (cables) and what color. “Lighter instead of darker,” he said, “Like that fleece you kept looking at in the booth.”

I had looked at said fleece in the Fiber Connections booth several time. This is a booth where shepherds and spinners can consign their wares in one location. I had walked by several times and was quite taken with this fleece, which is a Romney cross, but, hey, I have fleeces home I haven’t spun yet. I bought fleeces in the Rhinebeck sale. I have projects lined up from now until I am at least a hundred and eleventy years. Did I need another fleece? As much as this one called to me (and I think I went back, oh, 5 or 6 times?), I had to regretfully pass.

And now, on the way home, I find out this was the perfect fleece.

I had one saving grace here — I had picked up a wheel from a fellow Ravelry spinner and she had noted that she bought a Romney fleece from Elihu Farms in New York State. She ALWAYS wound up buying from them, she said, because the always had the nicest wool. I had filed away the name of the farm in that vast storehouse of mental trivia, only to have it pop forward in the Fiber Connections booth, because this fleece was tagged as having come from Elihu Farms.

What did we do in the days before Google? A search quickly turned up the farm and a related e-mail. The e-mail was answered by the very lovely shepherdess, Mary Pratt, who said that, no, the fleece had not sold and that yes, it was still available if I would like it. I explained the circumstances and she laughed. She was happy to hear the fleece was going to someone who would appreciate it and she hopes to see the finished project come next Rhinebeck.

I have a Dec. 7 deadline for some other work and once that is fulfilled, I will be turning my attention to this fleece. I did already wash a handful of it and, once it dried, kept walking around with it and burying my face in it. This is a lovely, creamy, clean, soft fleece:

02 fleece

Yummy. Can’t wait to work with this.

Of course, the pattern will be the challenge. Cables, go figure. I can do cables. I haven’t done really complicated cables. I am much better at reading charts than I used to be. So, cables, okay, how bad can it be? The chosen pattern is the Severus Sweater:

01 severus sweater

Stay tuned. 2014 promises to be full of knitted adventures!


4 Responses to The One That Almost Got Away

  1. Anne says:

    I KNEW you had to be writing about one of Mary’s fleeces. They are awesome, as is she! So happy it found such a good home!

  2. Carol White says:

    My nephew brought me a beautiful spinning wheel and would like me to sell if for him. I don’t know where to start! If I sent you pictures could you help me out?


  3. My email is: woolmerchantsdaughter (at) yahoo [dot] com — The Wool Merchant’s Daughter loves to see wheels, so send your photos on! 🙂

  4. I just discovered your wonderful blog while searching for information on my recently acquired flax wheel. Thank you for the fabulous article on antique wheels. I got mine for $40 but it is in very rough shape and has no bobbin. My brother is a woodworker so he may be able to fabricate some bobbins for me. In the meantime, I plan to treat the wood with linseed oil and soak the rusty metal to try to bring it back a bit.
    Your Rhinebeck sweater is beautiful, magnificent spinning as well.
    Blogless Mary Lou

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