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Woodstock and Saugerties

Catskills Calling

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Magic Meadow in Woodstock. - DAVID MORRIS CUNNINGHAM

Knit and Be Happy

At The Perfect Blend, a yarn and tea shop, it's no surprise to find a few regular customers showing off their latest knitted or crocheted accomplishments while sipping a sample of tea. The small space offers a spectrum of yarns in varying lengths and textures, plus a wall of packaged Tea Forté teas. Afterhours, classes are offered in knitting, spinning, and felting. The typical scene is serene; usually you'll find a few customers softly talking about one of the many town events being planned. Not surprisingly, this isn't the only place in Saugerties designed for craft enthusiasts. A short drive out of the village, down Rte. 212 toward Woodstock, you'll find FiberFlame, where discourse is much livelier and activities are more diverse. FiberFlame is an open studio where you can walk in, choose a project—from painting to pottery to jewelry—and let the creative juices flow. This mixed-media workshop—located in what looks like a jaunty warehouse—was started by a mother-daughter duo and has quickly gained popularity with artists in need of a space to hone their crafts, and as a safe place for beginners to try a hobby they've always been curious about. The studio also has a busy schedule of classes teaching the art of various media, including collage, jewelry making, clay work, needle felting, and others.

But if you're less interested in making crafts and prefer to admire the work of others, the world-famous arts colony is just under 10 minutes away. While Saugerties maintains its historic charm with decorative architecture and nods to its heritage —thriving steamboat stop and industrial factory center—Woodstock's village is more of a roving landscape, with shops tucked around bends and into hideaway corners. The town has evolved over the decades into a slightly tamer version of its youth (residents can be divided into two categories: those who remember The Joyous Lake and those who missed all the fun), but through its various incarnations there manages to remain an undercurrent of appreciation for local artisans. Timbuktu, an eclectic homewares shop that offers gifts from around the world, still carries various works by Woodstock-based artists and companies. "We sell worldly goods, fair trade items, and recycled art from all over, but I like to also support artists here," says owner Jaime Surgil, who opened the shop 16 years ago. "Actually, it goes beyond art. We carry paintings and handmade items—I make almost all the jewelry here—but we even carry a line of natural makeup that was originally made by Woodstock residents. It's now sold in major markets, but the creators are still connected to Woodstock. That's important to me."

While the connection to people is pertinent to the village's culture, it's equally as important to connect with the land. The colorful shops and top-notch culinary options do dress her up, but Woodstock is a natural beauty—strip away the tie-dye and expensive lattes and she's still gorgeous, with thick pines, stony creeks, and myriad wildlife. It's what brought Surgil here ("I wanted to raise my son in the country," she says) and it's recognized by many others. Nabile Taslimant, owner of the Woodstock General Store, fell in love with the Catskills and moved upstate from Little Italy. His store, which opened about a year and a half ago, offers stylish and durable outdoor gear, clothing, and accessories for men and women. "I know a lot of artists and other people who come up here and just want to be closer to nature," he says. "So we tried to create a store that allows them to do that. I have a background in the development side of fashion and thought I could use that experience to offer simple but good-quality clothes for outdoorsy people." Taslimant admits that he didn't know much about the outdoors when he began the shop, but his welcoming personality allows customers to open up to him, and they end up helping each other. "I've learned so much since opening the shop," he says. "And we're having fun educating people as we educate ourselves. We're building a great community here."


Resources
Dr. Rhoney Stanley
Esotec
H. Houst & Son
Mirabai of Woodstock
Moose Crossing
Sawyer Savings Bank
Woodstock Artists Association and Museum

The faces and places of Woodstock and Saugerties.

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