Sunday, September 22, 2013

So, two years ago, as I was getting ready to leave the fairgrounds on Sunday afternoon, Ysolda walked up to me and asked if I would be interested in being part of a project she was working on - a collection of sweaters that would capture the spirit of the New York Sheep and Wool Festival and celebrate the tradition of the Rhinebeck Sweater, which is a project you begin early and finish in time to wear to the festival.  And, oh, yes I was!

Then, one year ago, I showed up with sweater in hand (or, really in protective bag, as it's white and needs to remain spotless for a while longer) and I spent a few pre-festival, post-rainstorm hours on the grounds with Ysolda (and Gudrun!) taking photos - while all the vendors loaded up their tents with yarn and goodies for the weekend.    And since then, I've had to sit quiet, knowing there was a full year until the project would be done and ready to share.

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Not easy, I tell you.  But another year has passed and I finally get to show it to you!

This is Beekman Tavern, named for the colonial era tavern in the quaint little downtown of Rhinebeck, which is a stone's throw from the fairgrounds.  Every October, this tavern sees an influx of knitters, in their hats and shawls -  and especially in their sweaters, painstakingly planned and knit to show off for the weekend.  They sit at the old, wooden bar and order drinks and catch up with friends who they only get to see once a year, or who they knit with all year long and travel up with for the festival.  Houses are rented and the hotels are full.  It's a really special festival.

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But it's the producers who make the fiber that this is really about.  And I wish you could feel the yarn I used through your screen.  When Ysolda first approached me, I had just fallen in love with this Cormo from Foxhill Farm and was dying for the excuse to work with it. Alice Field, who runs the farm, is exactly what a fiber festival is all about. She’s committed to her craft, raising a flock of cormo sheep out in Western Massachusetts, from which she makes exquisite yarn. She’s a small batch producer, who runs her own business and her main retail outlet is the variety of festivals up and down the East Coast.

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It's the stuff that yarn dreams are made of, I swear.  Absolutely worth the trip to the fair.  And it was perfect for what I wanted to design - an updated version of the classic Fisherman's sweater - a little softer and more feminine, but creamy and perfect and squishy and rustic.

I used some classic motifs, which you see in the openwork on the center panel and the twisted cables bordering it on front and back.  And then I accented those panels with a more unexpected assymetrical cable on either side. For another modern touch, I ran the tails of that cable down into the bottom ribbing on both front and back.  I then added cables to the sleeves, worked a detailed raglan seam, and designed the sweater as a bottom up seamless pullover to allow for shaping modifications. (I wear mine a little slouchy, but you know I like to give you options, so side panels make altering the fit very easy.)

I also had fun with an updated neckline, adding a notch and a few buttons to a more open collar - instead of the traditional crew neck you see on these sweaters, for a more feminine feel.  And since this is maybe my favorite photo of all, showing the cables and the notch, I'll put it up here again for you.  I may have already used it a few times before on Facebook and Ravelry :)

The entire collection of 12 sweaters is now available for pre-order, and Ysolda has posted a lookbook on her website so you can see a preview of ALL of the designs.  Really, I'm so honored to be included in such a lovely collection, and so happy to be a part of a project all about the Fair and the people who make it such an amazing experience every year.

The preview includes yardage and schematics for each project, so you can make your purchasing decisions in plenty of time for October! 


And as I finish writing this up, I realize:  ONLY 4 MORE WEEKS TILL RHINEBECK!!  And my sweater is all done.  ;)


Katja said...

This is a stunning sweater! I understand how it must have been incredibly hard to wait for so long! It's really beautiful. As is the rest of the collection!

Lisa said...

Thea! The only pictures I can see are the first and the last! :( But the sweater looks stunning from what I can see!

Lisa said...

Yay! I can see them all today! Gorgeous! Your never-ending stream of creativity is amazing.

Melissa said...

Congratulations on debuting this beautiful sweater! Its been so long in the making!

I made Irish Coffee out of the Foxhill Farm Cormo and it is just the softest!! I love to wear mine because it just so amazing. The Foxhill booth will be one of my first stops this year!

RWL said...

Wow! Looks so cozy and delish. Sooo jealous that you'll be heading to Rhinebeck. Sigh, someday I'll go!

Hilary said...

I LOVE your design, and I love the whole idea of this book! (Having never been to Rhinebeck...but I swear I will one day!) The cables are just so freaking pretty and I love how it combines such traditional elements for something very fresh. Yay, fun!

janna said...

So pretty! And the look book is gorgeous - makes me want to go to Rhinebeck even more!

sarah b. said...

So lovely!!! :)

Cindy said...

My Rhinebeck sweater just got its buttons last's your Shiraz in denim blue. I hope to see you at the festival this year so I can thank you for such an impeccably written and clean pattern. Your Beekman Tavern is stunning too, what a talent you have for design.

Anonymous said...

So excited and can't wait till Rhinebeck to get the book. I saw some of the sweaters last year when there was a picture being taken of everyone...Now the hard part is going to be which sweater to pick first to knit:)

margaux said...

Looks FABULOUS! I cannot wait for Rheinbeck!

Kathleen Dames said...

Lovely (of course)! The name and buttons only add to its charm. Hope to see you at Rhinebeck (trying to decide which sweater to wear)!