A colorful selection of textiles at the Sheep and Wool Festival.


Handcrafting, knitting and crocheting — three pillars of the growing DIY movement — are top trends in the wool category, according to industry members at the Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, N.Y. The two-day event was held at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds earlier this week.

The festival attracts thousands of visitors each year and has vastly grown since it was first established in 1980. Attendees could peruse the fleece show and sale, partake in the used fiber and sheep equipment auction and view livestock displays. “Shepard talks,” kids activities and book signings were offered, as well as various demonstrations, which included sheep shearing, cooking, dog demos and fiber arts demos. African market baskets handmade from sustainable materials and all natural dyes were also for sale, as well as a selection of sheep horn jewelry and fiber art pieces.

Waejong Kim, the owner of knitwear and DIY brand Loopy Mango, noted a shift toward oversized sweaters and heavier knits. Kim told WWD, “The trend is definitely chunky knits. It’s instant gratification, oversized and it can be made very fast.” Kim added that “Handcrafting is coming back. Knitting skipped one generation, so the young people are very interested in getting into knitting and crocheting. I think the last three to four years, there is a lot of interest in this industry.”

Kim partly credits the recession for the DIY resurgence: “I noticed that after the recession, everyone just needed something to do. It’s an inexpensive way to get over the shock. So after the recession, knitting and crocheting and craft in general had a boom in trends. DIY, [too].”

And Wendy Pieh, a dedicated festival attendee and cofounder of Springtide Farm in Bremen, Me., observed changes in purchase behavior in the fiber market. Pieh told WWD, “The trend we see is more and more people wanting authentic, natural fibers, for one. I’m seeing more people that are buying roving for hand spinning. The other trend I’m seeing is an increased number of people will buy yarn and then look for a pattern where it used to be that people would buy a pattern and then look for the yarn. I think [people] are getting better at knitting and getting more creative.”

Pieh said of the event, “I don’t think you’ll find a better place anywhere to buy fiber in all kinds colors and [from] different animals. It’s just fabulous.”

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