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Dear Ann,

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.

Confession Time

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!



photo by Elysa Weitala of Old Friend Sweater In Barn Red MDK Atlas; photo by figment art of Main Squeeze Pullover in pear mdk atlas


  • I have only been to Rhinebeck a couple of times, unfortunately. But it was so warm that the sweaters made quick apparitions only. Maybe because Italy has been in a heat wave for 2 months straight, with no let up. But the old friend sweater makes me sweaty already.
    May the weather gods be with you and give you beautiful crisp NE fall this year

  • Yes! Rhinebeck sweater! Mine is on the needles now. Husband’s Rhinebeck sweater will hopefully be on the needles soon.

    • What pattern are you making?

  • Finally! I am actually knitting something a la mode of MDK’s post! Yup, am up to the armholes of the front panel of an Old Friend in teal, and loving working with Atlas. It’s for my younger, red-headed daughter and I’m trying to decide what colorway mine will be in.

  • I used a fortuitous Rhinebeck (what do you mean it’s the same weekend I’m driving through NY?!?!?) to finish a sweater that had been languishing. Got the sleeves done and ends woven in just in time to take it swanning at Sheep and Wool!

    • Fortuitous indeed! That is a true Cosmic Convergence!

  • I absolutely cannot decide what color to make a main squeeze pullover. Please post lots of photos of your progress!!!!

    • I love light colors to brighten up winter, so I made mine in tutu!

    • At the moment I’m in love with Peat, if that’s any help…

  • I love your style!

  • Great minds! This week I started my Old Friend pullover in Shale, a soothing respite after several lace cable colorwork projects. Must say, Atlas is a dream!!!! Love it, want to do many more projects with it. Divine knitting, and Erika Knight’s pattern is so straightforward. She is a favorite of mine, as is her dedicated Atlas field guide. Jen G’s Main Squeeze pullover is also in my queue, have to commit to a color, always a personal challenge. I’m trying to add more color as I tend towards neutrals mostly. Also I’m a bit wary of bottom up, sleeve up construction, concerned about sleeve length, yoke depth, etc. Maybe this would be a good topic for the Lounge…

  • But, really, it is not required to knit a Rhinebeck sweater—or even wear one if you choose not to!

    • That’s been my practice for 20 years for sure!

  • Kudos on seeing this through! I’ve all the pieces for my Taos Wool Festival sweater…2012… which will always bring wonderful memories to heart. Now it’s rebranded to Mountain and Valley Wool Fest in Santa Fe… maybe 2023??

  • We’ve been planning our Rhinebeck journey for 6 months now and am excited to go for my 2nd time. I won’t be knitting a specific sweater as I have several newish ones that I’m taking. Also, taking a newly finished shawl in case it’s too warm for a sweater or to wear with said sweater if it’s chilly. Thanks, Kay, for fessing up about what I call Knitting While Daydreaming Mistakes! I have certainly done it! Hope to see you at Rhinebeck!

  • I certainly want to join the swanning in a Rhinebeck sweater – but given the warm weather we have had in October in recent years, I may need to complete 2 Rhinebeck sweaters: one in wool and one in cotton and/or linen.

    • I knit the DRK (Andrea Mowry) sweater last year but didn’t attend. This year, I am hoping to get there. I am knitting her design Vellichor which will be great whether it s warm or cold since it is short sleeved but easily layered.

    • Wise move. Be prepared!

  • Lapis blue – Kay, that brings back the ’80s for sure. I preferred Electric blue myself, however, and neon pinks and chartreuse for summer wear . . . 😉

    • I had a favorite bat-wing sweater in that same lapis blue, circa 84/85, wore it for my HS grad pics and felt so chic.

  • I can’t read about The Rhinebeck Sweater without thinking of Kristy Glass and her fabulous Tell Me About Your Rhinebeck Sweater videos.

  • I don’t know when I’ll get to Rheinbeck, but I know how much fun it is to wear Shakerag tops at with everyone at Shakerag.

  • Already got my sweater knitted and a matching hat too!

  • I’m so glad you screw up. Makes me feel much better!

  • Wow!

  • You are so funny….love your posts (and Ann’s too!). Such down to earth, practical people. I feel like we could sit down for a nice, long chat and feel at home, instantly. You light up my day.

  • Electric blue raw silk dress, with bodacious shoulder pads— I loved that dress. I wore it to a peace rally concert in Reykjavik in 1986 during the Reagan-Gorbachev summit. Possibly more out of place than yours, Kay, in your 1980s law firm offices. 😉
    This year’s Rhinebeck dates are the pin in my grand road trip east from California, and I am excited to be there for the first time. I’ll wave my new dishcloth, and maybe a sweater, in greetings!

  • Do tiny ones count??? Hahah

  • This post is so inspiring! Kay, I love seeing your WIP Old Friend Sweater aka OFS coming to a beautiful finish. I hope the weather will be perfect for you to wear it and hopefully with other OFS’s for a group shot. I’m kinda jealous that I’m not going to Rhinebeck, it would be a dream come true. And one of these days I will attempt to knit my own sweater 😀

  • I can’t make it to R-beck, but will knit a sweater for NOT attending—a non-Rhinebeck sweater. Perhaps a winebeck sweater that I’ll wear pouring myself a glass to celebrate fall OR a whinebeck sweater if I’m feeling sorry for myself stuck in the Midwest. I better finish the sleeves on my Andrea Mowry Throwover —or cast on the Bract and get busy.

  • I will be at Rhinebeck in Fall 2023 after i retire. It always falls during midterms!

  • Rhinebeck is a nice day for a light sweater. Nice day to cardigan.

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