Say hello to the Sheepmoji tote!

Say hello to the Sheepmoji tote from Fringe Supply Co!

This has been the hardest thing to keep under my hat because I love this tote — it just makes me laugh. For this year’s Fringe Supply Co. tote bag design, I enlisted one of my dearest friends and favorite illustrators, Mignon Khargie, to make me a “sheepmoji” heart-eyed sheep and she hit it out of the park. The Sheepmoji tote is making its live appearance at Stitches South in booth 325/327 — where DG and I will be today through Sunday — but you can also order it right now at Fringe Supply Co. to be shipped on Monday (lots of restocks this week, so look around!) or pick one up today at any of these fine stores—

CALIFORNIA
Unwind, in Burbank; Yarns on First in Napa; Abuelita’s in Pasadena; Knitterly in Petaluma

COLORADO
Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver

CONNECTICUT
Knit New Haven in New Haven

GEORGIA
Fuzzy Goat Yarns in Thomasville

MINNESOTA
The Yarnery in St. Paul

MISSOURI
A Grand Yarn in Arrow Rock (as of May 1)

OREGON
Knitting Bee in Beaverton; Stash Local in Corvallis; Happy Knits in Portland

PENNYSYLVANIA
Hidden River Yarns in Philadelphia

TENNESSEE
Haus of Yarn in Nashville; Nutmeg in East Nashville

WASHINGTON
Apple Yarns in Bellingham; Tolt Yarn and Wool in Carnation

NEW JERSEY
Home Made in Swainton; Do Ewe Knit in Westfield

TEXAS
Me and Ewe in Austin (congrats on your grand opening!); Madtosh Crafts in Benbrook

VIRGINIA
Fibre Space in Alexandria

WISCONSIN
Firefly Fibers in Beaver Dam; Make.Do @ KC&T in Kaukauna

CANADA
88 Stitches in Langley, British Columbia; Knit Stitch in London, Ontario

FRANCE
L’Oisive Thé in Paris

And en route to Purl Soho, so check with them in a few days!

I’m especially jealous of anyone who gets to buy it in Paris. But wherever you are, run don’t walk! And I hope you have a magnificent weekend—

New Favorites: The hats of BT Men Vol 2

New Favorites: The hats of BT Men Vol 2

Yesterday Brooklyn Tweed released BT Men Volume 2, and my favorite patterns are the two beautifully cabled, perfectly unisex hats. Crag by Jared Flood, up top, features the most gorgeous staggered, interlocking horseshoe cables. Snare by Norah Gaughan, bottom, has more of a twisty-twining cable pattern that also looks like a lot of fun to knit. And thankfully both are written for worsted-weight Shelter so they’ll be just what I like a hat to be: quickly, deeply satisfying.

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: the Purl Bee three

Q for You: What tests your love of knitting?

Q for You: What tests your love of knitting?

Last time in Q for You, I asked what aspect of knitting thrills you most — and I loved the variety of answers to that question. This time I’m pondering the opposite. I’m using my grandmother’s shawl up there to illustrate this Q, but let me perfectly clear up front: I am very happy to be knitting this shawl for my grandma and I can’t wait to give it to her (belatedly, at this point). But honestly? I also can’t wait to be done with it. I always think I like shawl knitting, and I do like it well enough at the beginning when the rows are short and you make fast progress from three little stitches to an ever-expanding wedge. But as time marches on, I’m reminded that the sort of project that tests my love of knitting is that which involves long rows of back and forth. The longer the rows get, the harder it is for me to remember that I like to knit.

I like to make things — three-dimensional things. I love to see a hat or mitt or sweater form on my needles as if out of thin air. For whatever reason, I don’t enjoy just knitting a flat piece of fabric. A flat piece of fabric meant to hang around your neck doesn’t make it any more interesting for me. I’ve been thinking of this as I’ve been knitting all these cardigans and pieced sweaters the past couple of years — how I used to say I hated to knit back and forth, and then here I am doing it routinely. But over time I’ve realized it’s the combination of flatness and long rows that wears me down. Flat is ok as long as a) the rows are short enough that progress is felt, and b) the flatness is a temporary state on the way to three dimensions.

So that’s my Q for You today: What variety or aspect of knitting bores you most? And bonus question: Do you do it anyway, and toward what end? (I wouldn’t let my reluctance to knit long and flat keep me from knitting my granny this beautiful shawl.)

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PREVIOUSLY in Q for You: What thrills you?

The day I tried block printing

The day I tried block printing

Y’all remember Jen Hewett, who created those amazing limited-edition project bags for the webshop. Well, a few months ago — knowing how much I regret not being able to take any of her Bay Area classes — she told me she was launching an online course on block printing, Design, Carve, Print, and asked if I’d like a pass. Hello! Yes. So on a cold weekend in mid-February, I set aside time to watch the tutorials. It’s interesting the way she’s set it up — it’s a sequence of short videos and written tutorials posted to her website (password protected) that take you through the process step by step. So, for instance, she’ll talk about how to draw your pattern and transfer it to your block, then gives you an hour or something to go do that, then the next video goes up showing you how to start carving the block, and so on over the course of two days. OR, you can just watch it all on your own schedule after the fact.

I’m a painfully methodical person, which makes me sort of pants at classroom situations. I’m nearly incapable of diving right into a process without planning (or designing) what my outcome is going to be. So this was perfect for me — instead of doing each step along the way, I just watched and thought about what I would want to make. And I also followed along on Instagram as the other students posted their incredible works-in-progress throughout the weekend. (Check out the #designcarveprint hashtag — it’s awesome.) The thing is, I’m not really much of a pattern person, so it was a challenge to figure out something me to do with this process. I spent time asking myself what I like (other than stripes) and looking back through the blog archives and my Pinterest boards to see what kinds of patterned things have caught my attention in the past. Turns out my favorite thing, when it comes to pattern, is traditional quilt motifs. And one of my very favorites is the old interlocking crosses pattern.

So in the end, I didn’t do any carving! Rebekka and I got together one day at her house to print. She dove right in and printed yardage of a sort of abstract stripe she carved, while I simply cut my block into a cross. I’ve got a cache of these plain burlap-ish pillow covers from Ikea that I bought specifically because they looked like blank canvases to me — I could imagine embroidering, printing, dyeing them all sorts of ways. And so one of them became my canvas for the block printing foray. After cutting the block into my cross shape, I traced around it crudely on the pillow cover with one of those blue seamstress pencils that are supposed to fade or wash out. And then I thumbprinted which ones I wanted to be white or black, with the bulk left unprinted. I wanted it to be a little bit abstracted, unregimented and imperfect, and wound up loving the blue lines peeking out here and there, so I’ve never washed it — and maybe never will!

The whole thing makes me wish I were more of a pattern person because block printing is good times. There’s likely more of it in my future — I just need to figure out what. If you’re interested, the next session of Jen’s Design, Carve, Print class starts in mid-May. Or if you’re in the Bay Area, check her schedule for upcoming live workshops.

Thanks for teaching me some new tricks, Jen!

If you can’t get enough of that stitch

If you can't get enough of that stitch

I’m trying to finish my grandma’s shawl before I cast on my L’Arbre Hat for the knitalong (am at the point of the loooong-slooooowww rows), and it’s sort of killing me to see all the hats forming on the #fringehatalong hashtag in the meantime! That stitch pattern is so addictive, I can’t wait to get back to it. But I was thinking the other day it’s sort of sad to have learned that nifty trick only to use it again rarely, if ever. Then over the weekend I was cruising around Pinterest and saw an image I’d seen before, had included in last year’s Pretty spring scarves roundup, and then forgotten about: the Purl Bee’s Trellis Scarf, seen above. This time my eyes popped right out of my head as I immediately recognized the same trick but used to very different effect. As with the stitch pattern used in L’Arbre, the stitch pattern for the Trellis Scarf is by Barbara Walker, from her beloved book A Treasury of Knitting Patterns. But in this case, the tucked strands are staggered to form a grid of X’s, or a lattice look. So if you’ve finished your hat and want more of that stitch, here you go!

Elsewhere

Yarny links for your clicking pleasure

Friday! And not a moment too soon. Things are pretty intense at Fringe HQ right now, with tons of exciting stuff going on behind the scenes — most pressingly prepping for Stitches South next week. (My weekend will be spent sewing miles of muslin drape for the booth walls. Wish me luck.) Who’s coming?

Meanwhile, Elsewhere—

– Did you hear? Brooklyn Tweed is moving to Portland

– The simplest circular need storage

Kids who start charities boggle my mind (thx, Doug)

– I’ve picked out my fantasy Craft Sessions class lineup. Now if I could just win that lottery …

– I might have to sew up an Orton, a simple oversized tote bag from Merchant & Millsfree pattern here (I just heard myself and laughed — because yes, I have so much spare time and so few tote bags! But still)

– Jaime and Amber went to meet the sheep behind their Heirloom Romney yarn and posted loads of adorable photos here and here

– I’m loving this trend of knitting patterns as Instagram posts: see Freebie Worsted Ankle Socks from madelinetosh and @wisktenmade’s Lamb hat baby pattern in the form of a step-by-step knitalong happening on her feed now over multiple posts

– See also: How to mend a small moth hole by Andrea Rangel and How to use a lifeline by Lori Graham

– Speaking of knitalongs, I know you’ve all just cast on for the Fringe Hatalong No. 2, but I want to also let you know about the Harrisville Designs knitalong-competition-with-prizes being hosted by my friends at Squam, of which I’m to be one of the judges — details on the Squam blog!

– And don’t miss Cirilia’s blog post about the evolution of L’Arbre.

Happy weekend, everyone — can’t wait to see your L’Arbre hats!

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PREVIOUSLY in Elsewhere

Fringe Hatalong No. 2: L’Arbre by Cirilia Rose

Fringe Hatalong No. 2: L'Arbre Hat by Cirilia Rose #fringehatalong

Magpies, Homebodies and Nomads by Cirilia RoseThank gawd today is here because the suspense has been killing me! Finally I can tell you that the hat pattern for Fringe Hatalong No. 2 is Cirilia Rose’s L’Arbre Hat — from her beautiful book Magpies, Homebodies, and Nomads — which I’ve been wanting to knit since I first laid eyes on it. (You can see the full range of patterns included in this book on Ravelry.) Major thanks to Cirilia and the fine folks at her publisher, STC Craft, for making the hat available to us for the knitalong.

Click here to download the free pattern. Be sure to post your progress here, there and everywhere with hashtag #fringehatalong. And for newer knitters, see my two-part How to Knit a Hat tutorial: Part 1. Anatomy Lessons and Part 2. Gauge and size.

“Arbre” is French for tree and the hat features a stitch pattern called Little Tree, which is just knits and purls and — now that I’ve swatched I can say this for certain — so much fun to knit! As I mentioned in the preview post last week (which contains yarn suggestions and a discount code for the recommended yarn, so if you missed that go look) you will definitely want to swatch for this hat — both to get the hang of the stitch pattern and to measure your gauge, because if you’re working this stitch tightly at all, that will affect the outcome. You’ll also want to block it because it does create a sort of corrugated fabric that relaxes when blocked, so measuring without blocking will give you a deceptive measurement. Below you can see the difference in my swatch before and after blocking. (For the record, this swatch is knitted with Purl Soho Worsted Twist from my stash — Purl sent me several colors awhile back and I’m debating! But I’m exactly on gauge.)

How to swatch for the L'Arbre Hat #fringehatalong

HOW TO SWATCH FOR L’ARBRE

The pattern is written for a heavy-worsted/aran weight yarn, and the stated gauge is 18 sts over four inches. (Recommended needle size is 5mm/US8, but you should use whatever needle size gets you the correct gauge.) And gauge is given in the Little Tree pattern stitch, so that’s what you need to knit your swatch in. You will need to “swatch in the round” — here’s a good tutorial if you haven’t done that before. And be sure to knit your swatch with the same needles you’ll be knitting the hat with. Your gauge will be different if you switch from bamboo to metal, etc.

You need your swatch to be at least 4 inches wide in order to measure it correctly. This particular stitch pattern is a multiple of 8 stitches (k5, p3, repeat) and we know the pattern says 18 sts is meant to be 4 inches. So we need to cast on a multiple of 8 that is greater than 18 to be sure we’ve got four inches of knitting. In addition to edge stitches being messy and unmeasurable in an in-the-round swatch, you won’t be able to work this stitch pattern from the first stitch with this method. To be really safe, cast on 36 stitches: 32 for the stitch pattern (4 repeats) plus two extra stitches at each edge, which I’ve just worked as knit stitches. So knit the first two stitches, work Row 1 of the pattern stitch four times, then knit the last two stitches. Proceed to work through the four rows of the pattern stitch, and repeat those four rows until you have several inches of knitting. Ideally you would swatch at least four inches high as well to measure row gauge. I’m trying to conserve yarn so am taking my chances and will measure row gauge on the actual hat once I get to four inches.

Once you’ve got a big enough swatch, bind off and block it, then lay a ruler across the middle four inches and count the stitches. A stitch pattern like this makes it really easy to count, because each 5- and 3-stitch section is easy to see and add up. Even in my photo above where the ruler is not directly on the swatch, you can see there are 18 stitches between the 0″ and 4″ marks on the ruler — 5+3+5+3+2.

How to knit the L'Arbre Hat by Cirilia Rose #fringehatalong

HOW TO WORK THE LOOSE STRAND

Like I said, this pattern is just knits and purls but there is one nifty, simple little maneuver that creates the “tree” pattern. On Row 2 of the stitch pattern, you slip five knits with your yarn in front — so it’s sticking out the front of your work five stitches over — then lay the yarn across those five stitches, moving it between the needles and to the back of the work in order to knit the next stitch. If you pull that strand too tight, it will cause your stitches to cinch or bunch up in the final fabric. So the trick is keeping the width of that strand loose and even. My advice is to spread out the five stitches on your right-hand needle to their natural width, then lay the yarn across them so they accurately determine the width of your strand, as pictured above. If the stitches are bunched up on your right needle, chances are your strand will be too short, and vice versa.

Then on Row 4 of the stitch pattern, you’re told to “work the loose strand.” All you do, when you get to that stitch, is insert your right needle under the strand and then into the next stitch on your left needle, as pictured here. Wrap the yarn around the needle as usual, and pull it back through both the stitch and the strand, letting the stitch drop off your left needle. And voilà, the strand is now behind the stitch you just knitted. Magic!

ERRATA!

Whether you’re working from the book or the PDF here, note that there is one small error: Under SHAPE CROWN / RND 1, where it says “k4″ it should say “k1, p3″ — that will preserve the garter stitch section correctly on that row.

Also, the PDF includes the coordinating mitts pattern (bonus!), but it’s missing the instructions for completing the thumbs after the stitches have been set aside. If you’ve knitted mitts before, you won’t have any trouble figuring out how to finish them!

S2KP2

There is one abbreviation in the crown decrease section that’s in the back of the book and didn’t make it into the PDF. Here’s how to work it: “Slip the next 2 stitches to the right-hand needle as if to knit 2 together, k1, pass the 2 slipped stitches over.”

FEATURED CHARITY

As I’ve mentioned before, part of my goal for this Fringe Hatalong Series is to highlight worthy charities that take hat donations. You may be planning to knit this hat for yourself — totally cool! — or you may be one of those knitters who deliberately knit more hats than you can use, with the intent to donate them. For this installment, I’m featuring Halos of Hope, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide hats to cancer patients. With the density of the textured stitch in this pattern and the incredibly soft recommended yarn, I think L’Arbre seems like a great “chemo cap.” So if you are inclined to donate your hat, give Halos of Hope a look. You can find a donation location here, and I believe they’ll also be at Stitches South next weekend, as will we!

DOWNLOAD THE L’ARBRE HAT PATTERN and remember to share your progress with hashtag #fringehatalong wherever you post. I’ll be on the lookout for photos everywhere, and will be answering questions posted in the comments below. (Sorry, I’m not able to reliably answer questions across multiple platforms!)

Happy knitting!

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PREVIOUSLY in the Fringe Hatalong Series: No. 1 Audrey by Jessie Roselyn