The New York Sheep and Wool (NYS&W) festival is one of the largest fiber fest in the US. There are a lot of knitting, spinning, weaving, and livestock vendors and classes. The event also hosts sheep dog trials and other craft and livestock competitions. NYS&W is held at the Duchess County fairgrounds in Rhinebeck NY so attendees and fiber enthusiasts usually refer to it simply as Rhinebeck. The event takes place in October (prime knit wear season) and a phenomena called the “Rhinebeck sweater” has emerged. The Yarn Harlot talks about on her blog, but the basic idea is creating a new sweater to wear to the event.
There is a very slight competitiveness to it – many crafters will make a garment that showcases their abilities. Like crazy color work or cables. I think the phenomena is more about collective identity than it is a competition. Wearing a handmade sweater demonstrates membership in the fiber arts community. That said, membership to the group will not be revoked if one does not wear a hand made sweater to the event. I went a few years ago and I don’t think I wore any hand knits.
I will be attending Rhinebeck again this year and I am not immune from this phenomena. I don’t really wear a lot of sweaters so I chose to knit a vest instead. I finished it, but I think it’s going to be too cold to wear it. Yarn is a Noro Shirakaba (silk/cotton/wool blend) in one of my favorite colors (grey). Pattern is Forager from the book Doomsday Knits. I picked this pattern because it reminded me of Mad Max and I liked the asymmetry.
Too bad Mad Max was a post apocalyptic desert wasteland instead of the Northeast at the hight of foliage season. Whoops. Maybe I have enough time to go to Old Navy and buy a sweater. If I swap out the buttons it could maybe pass as a hand knit…