I was chitchatting on the Instagram DMs the other day (as you do), with a friend in the UK who will be attending the New York State Sheep and Wool festival next October, for the very first time. “So,” she said. “I’ve heard that people knit a new sweater, just for Rhinebeck. Is that a thing?”
I am here to tell you, dear one:
That is definitely a thing.
One of the best parts of attending any fall fiber festival, of which Rhinebeck is a glittering, breathless, joy-infused example, is seeing all the handknit sweaters. You would think that one wouldn’t be able to see any difference between a fab sweater that is having its world premiere outing at Rhinebeck from a fab sweater that was made without a particular outing in mind, but you totally can tell.
If you are a new to festival sweater-spotting, the clearest tell of all is when you see a clumplet of knitters who are all wearing the same sweater. That sweater is most definitely a Rhinebeck sweater. And some of those sweaters definitely still have needles in them, or just the one sleeve. Nothing makes me smile more than a Sweater Squad. (Pullover Pod?) I always take their picture, and it makes all of us happy.
I have been attending the New York Sheep and Wool Festival for about 20 years now, and I have never made myself a Rhinebeck Sweater. Of course I always wear a sweater—I’m not a killjoy or anything, I have a SOUL, Ann Shayne—but it’s always, at best, a recent sweater, not a brand-new, occasion-specific sweater.
This year, that is all changing. I’m setting the goal here, in public, to knit at least one Rhinebeck Sweater, if not two.
Rhinebeck Sweater the First
My Old Friend pullover has languished for most of the summer, what with the heat and the dishcloths and the fact that it is an oversized tunic in a near-black shade of Atlas that we call Truffle. Even I, devoted to Ambitious Travel Knitting, did not want to knit black wool in June, in Morocco.
But I jumped back on that horse in the last few weeks, motivated to get ’er done in time for fall swanning-around.
On the right, the back of Old Friend. On the left, the front of Old Friend. See the issue? In my excitement to be knitting on this sweater again, I’d blasted through the front, checking my row counts, working those shoulder-shaping short rows, putting stitches on holders . . . before I realized that something had gone very wrong. I was missing 40 rows. Oh well.
I ripped back to the beginning of the armhole, and got her back on the blacktop.
And now I’m almost ready to do those short rows for a second thrilling time. The finish line is in sight! Sort of!
Rhinebeck Sweater the Hopeful Second
As soon as my Old Friend hits the sink full of Soak, I will cast on Jen Geigley’s Main Squeeze Pullover.
This is the snappy, boxy, almost-cropped sweater I need in my life. I have had it in my sights since Jen first published it.
I’ve made ready my skeins of Atlas in Lapis—a vivid electric blue that recalls my favorite 1980s dresses—the ones with the self-belts and peplums and shoulder pads, that looked slightly out of place in a law firm, but oh well, I was not long for that world anyway. Lapis is going to be my new neutral this autumn.
This is going to be a good one, and if Jen’s Main Squeeze Cardigan in MDK Field Guide No. 12: Big Joy is any indicator, it’s going to fly off the needles and come in under the wire for October 14. Stay tuned!
But Wait—There’s Also Rhinebeck Sweater the Next!
There’s one more perfect Rhinebeck sweater calling my name—loud enough to be heard over a band of pan flutes. For more about that one, tune in tomorrow!