The day camp of my dreams

Kids' Fiber Camp

Sorry for the unexcused absence on Friday. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that my sister and niece (age 8) and nephew (10) were visiting all last week. Well, Thursday night I chose family time — a somewhat comical group attempt at sewing four double-sided napkins for them — over blogging. They were in town so Miss Nina could attend Fiber Camp at Craft South, taught by my friend Rebekka Seale, while my nephew attended robotics camp at Vanderbilt. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is terribly jealous that Nina got to spend a week of her summer doing this, so I asked her if she would like to write a guest blog post about it. She declined, saying writing isn’t her best thing. So we decided on a brief interview instead—

When your mom first told you about Fiber Camp, did you think you’d died and gone to heaven? Did you know what to expect?

Um, no. I had no idea what to expect, but it sounded fun.

Kids' Fiber Camp

Walk me through your week — what all did you do at camp?

The first day, we watched Rebekka spin and we dyed yarn with Kool-Aid. And then we went to the park to collect branches. At the end of the day, I got to spin on the spinning wheel.

Was it hard?

It was pretty easy. The next day I used the yarn that I spun for my branch weaving — you find sticks and you take your yarn and you weave on the stick.

But you did more than just weave on yours, correct?

I embroidered a tree and clouds onto it. And birds. The tree trunk is bark from a tree — I kind of weaved it in there with some of the yarn. And then we knitted with our yarn that we dyed. On the fourth day, we felted. We took a scrub brush and some felt pieces and used this little needle tool and we poked the felt into the sheet of felt and made pictures. And we made pompoms to hang off it — that yarn is so soft!

How much of that was new to you? Do you have an amazing aunt somewhere who had already introduced you to some of these pursuits?

[Giggling.] I have an aunt. [More giggling.] Felting and spinning were new — I had never heard of felting before. I’d seen spinning before but I never got to do it.

You also did a little bit of sewing with me, made a miniature black jacket with a colorful tulle brooch after seeing the Italian Style exhibit at the Frist Center, and visited the studios of several Nashville makers, including my friend Allison the amazing weaver. And then saw Caleb Groh’s incredible felted animals at the festival. It was a pretty crafty week — what did you like best of it all?

Felting. And Allison’s giant looms — that was pretty cool. I want to do it again.

Kids' Fiber Camp

Top photo courtesy of Rebekka Seale

New Favorites: Grille

New Favorites: Grille by Bonnie Sennott

As you likely heard, the ninth edition of Brooklyn Tweed’s Wool People hit the airwaves yesterday — a collection containing seven lace shawl patterns and seven sweater patterns. Were I a lace shawl person, I’d be casting on Loden ASAP. But I’m a sweater person, and the one here that makes my heart go pitty-pat is Grille by Bonnie Sennott. My love of the sweater vest is well-documented, as is my affinity for textural knit-purl patterns. So this oversized, sleeveless, crewneck number has my name written all over it.

.

PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Fair-weather friends

Idea Log: The pinstripe dress

Idea Log: The pinstripe dress

People often ask me where I get my ideas, and my answer is generally “I dunno.” They’re not often directly traceable, but they are usually the result of serendipity, I think — or paying attention to the signs. I thought it might be worthwhile to record them now and then, when they can be traced, so perhaps I don’t lose track of them and one or two might be brought to fruition! So here’s a little case study—

1) A few weeks ago I bought Butterick sewing pattern B6147 on a whim while ordering a different pattern for my sewing workshop. Didn’t have anything particular in mind at the time — I just know short-sleeved tops are a gaping hole in my wardrobe and this shape appeals to me. So it was an impulse buy.

2) While wandering around Imogene + Willie a couple of weeks later, it was brought to my attention that there were baskets of fabric bundles on the floor along one wall — remnants, presumably, in a variety of prints and stripes. When it became clear they were 5-yard cuts for $25, I snatched up one of each of all but one print. (There goes my no-fabric-stash vow.) Included was the ivory shirting with navy pinstripes above. Again, no particular plan in mind.

3) A couple of days after that, a Madewell email hit my inbox, and in it was a picture of this simple little pinstripe dress, which brought to mind that pattern and this fabric, and gave me the tangential idea of doing the short-sleeved version of B6147 (View C) at dress length, minus the elbow embellishments from either of the two reference points. And/or of making a similarly simple dress with this fabric and turning it cross-wise on the yoke.

Will it happen? I don’t know. But at least now it’s a butterfly with a pin in it.

 

Q for You: How do you store your yarn?

Q for You: How do you store your yarn?

I can’t believe I’m saying this out loud, but we’re talking about moving again. (Insert see-no-evil emoji.) Not cross-country — just across town. But still! It means I’m giving every single thing in the house the hairy eyeball and asking whether I really mean to own it and if it deserves to be packed up and moved. As well as imagining what our new space might look like and how this time, surely, I’ll finally get everything perfectly organized. And of course you know what I’m really talking about here is yarn.

We’ve talked around the notion of yarn storage before, and I know it’s everyone’s favorite subject. Cabinets or drawers, specialized furniture or industrial bins. All of which I love to hear about. But I also want to get to the real nitty gritty here in today’s Q, which is: How do you store your yarn? The underlying question being: What is the safest way to store yarn?

I know it should be stored in loose skeins and only wound when it’s time to use it. But like everyone I’ve got assorted yarn cakes that were wound for something that wound up not happening right away. I love seeing beautiful shelves full of full of skeins (I mean) but I can’t help wondering about dust and moths and other hazards. My stash started out in four little rubbermaid-like bins that were supposed to be my limit, but then came this giant basket (from my wedding) stuffed with various loose skeins, a few tucked into muslin bags, and multiple sweater quantities in ziploc bags. Keeping the yarn safe from pests? Or keeping the yarn from breathing? I’d love to do what’s prettiest, but I really want to do what’s best for the yarn.

.

PREVIOUSLY in Q for You: What tests your love of knitting?

First of the Best of Resort 2016: Tory Burch’s textiles

Best of the Best Knits of Resort 2016: Tory Burch

Tory Burch’s Resort 2016 collection is a bit of an odd mish-mash of girly florals and Southwest-ish motifs, but the high points are so high. Namely, the kachina doll necklace and shoes, and the two textile-riffic outfits above. It’s hard to imagine that vest with the tassels and fringe not winding up as my Best of the Best for this season, but I’m also crazy for the black-and-ivory pullover with that incredible woven skirt.

One of my personal goals for Slow Fashion October is to sew something from fabric woven by my friend Allison, and this gets my mind racing.

.

PREVIOUSLY: Best of Fall 2015

Elsewhere

Yarny links for your clicking pleasure

Hey, thanks for the all the love for yesterday’s new Hatalong pattern, Hermaness Worsted! It’s been really fun to watch all the downloads and see it climbing the Hot Right Now page at Ravelry. If you haven’t already faved or queued it over there, the pattern page is right here.

Meanwhile, Elsewhere:

Can fashion be fast and sustainable? (thx, Lori D)

Awesome clothesline basket tutorial

@chiliphilly

— New fantasy yarn shopping destination is Avril in Japan thanks to random successive visits by @vic_pemberton and @keristk

— Also fantasizing about the beautiful new linen fabrics from Purl Soho

— Does everyone know about Fibreshare? (thx, Nutmeg)

— Must-watch #1: Miss Wool of America, 1965

— And Must-watch #2: Yarn 101 (did you sign up for that CreativeBug membership the other day?)

ALSO: Summer Solstice is my favorite day of the year, and to me summer and magazines go hand in hand, so from now through Sunday night, all in-stock Books & Magazines are 15% off with the code MAGADDICT at Fringe Supply Co. Happy stocking up, and happy weekend!

.

PREVIOUSLY in Elsewhere

Fringe Hatalong No. 3: Hermaness Worsted by Gudrun Johnston

Fringe Hatalong No. 3: Hermaness Worsted by Gudrun Johnston (free pattern)

The Shetland Trader Book TwoI’ve mentioned not once but twice how much I admire and want to knit Gudrun Johnston’s Hermaness hat, from her beautiful collection The Shetland Trader – Book Two. When I thought about how much I wanted us all to knit a quick and simple lace hat this summer, Hermaness was all I could think about, but it’s fingering weight. So I asked Gudrun what she thought, and she generously worked up a worsted-weight version and has made it available to us as a free pattern for Fringe Hatalong No. 3! Just click to download the Hermaness Worsted pattern PDF.

I ADORE it at this chunkier gauge and hope you’ll love it as much as I do. As I mentioned in the preview, this is very simple lace, so if you’re a seasoned lace knitter you can do it in your sleep. If you’re a lace first-timer, it’s an absolutely perfect place to start! And if you don’t believe me, try swatching it — it’s important to swatch anyway, and it’ll be good practice before you start in on the real hat. I’ve got lots of how-to advice below, and the whole Hatalong community will be happy to help if you have any questions or trouble along the way!

If you prefer the fingering-weight version, you can buy that one individually at Ravelry or buy the book. You’re welcome to knit either Hermaness or Hermaness Worsted for the knitalong. Remember to share everywhere with hashtag #fringehatalong.

Fringe Hatalong No. 3: Hermaness Worsted by Gudrun Johnston (free pattern)HOW TO SWATCH FOR
HERMANESS WORSTED

Gauge for the pattern is 22 sts per 4 inches in the lace pattern, and it’s an 8-stitch repeat. So if you cast on three repeats [3×8] that’s 24 sts, which should get you 4 inches of knitting to measure. You do need to swatch “in the round” and you’ll need a couple of stitches on either side of the lace to keep it intact and measurable. So I cast on 30 sts: 3 in stockinette, 24 in the lace stitch, and 3 more in stockinette. Target row gauge is 29 rounds per 4 inches, so I worked 30 chart rows: 1-20, then 1-10 again. Block before you measure since lace, of all things, changes once it’s resting.

As far as how to measure this one, Gudrun’s advice is to pick an identifiable spot in the lace to measure from — either a yarnover or a psso — and measure to a spot that is 8 or 16 or 24 sts away from that. For instance, if I measure from the left edge of the left-most yarnover in my swatch to the equivalent yarnover two repeats away (16 sts away) I get 3 inches. 16 sts divided by 3 inches is 5.33 sts per inch. Multiplied by 4 inches is 21.32 sts, so my gauge is slightly bigger than Gudrun’s 22 sts. The body of the hat is worked over 120 sts — at 5.33 sts per inch, that’s a 22.5-inch hat, so I’ll need to go down one needle size. Make sense? Ask questions below if not.

(For further thoughts on the why and how of swatching, see How to knit a hat, part 2: Gauge and size.)

How to knit from a chartHOW TO KNIT FROM A CHART

A chart is simply a picture of the right side of a piece of knitted fabric, with each stitch mapped out. They can be infinitely easier to mentally process than long strings of written-out instructions, and yet charts can seem intimidating when you’re new to them. I think the most important thing to keep in mind right off the bat is that we only knit one row at a time, so if you only look at one row, it will seem instantly less scary! It’s a good idea to use a post-it note or piece of washi tape (or the thousand other really great suggestions people will make in the comments) to track which row you’re working on. Some people stick it below the row they’re working; some stick it above. Do whatever makes the most sense to your own brain — there’s no right or wrong. I’m a post-it-below person, but for the sake of reducing the chart to just Row 1 for you, I stuck it above for this photo. See how much more digestible that is? Go ahead and print out the PDF or have it open on your screen so you can see the whole thing and the legend while we talk about how to work it.

We knit from right to left and each new row is created on top of the one before it, so you’ll see a little number 1 at the bottom right corner of any chart — that’s where you start. Generally speaking, an empty square is a knit stitch, and a square with a black dot in it is a purl stitch, of which there are none in this particular chart. For any symbols you don’t recognize (you’ll memorize the basic ones the more charts you use), there’s always a legend telling you what each symbol means. I classify this as a simple chart for three reasons: 1) it’s only 8 stitches wide, 2) there are only three kinds of stitches (knits, yarnovers and that broom-looking thing we’ll get to in a minute), and 3) there are only three different stitch sequences. At least in the main chart.

Row 1 of this chart tells you to knit the first two stitches, then that broom-y thing (consulting the legend plus the abbreviations list if needed) means “sl1kw (slip 1 stitch knitwise, or “as if to knit”), k2tog (knit 2 together) and psso (pass the slipped stitch over),” then knit two more stitches, yarnover (wrap your yarn once around your needle), knit one, yarnover. You can totally handle those eight stitches — just take them one at a time — and then you simply repeat the sequence until you reach the end of the round. Row 2 is all knit stitches! And then you’ll notice Row 3 is exactly the same as Row 1 — nothing new to learn. In fact, all of the even numbered rows are just knit every stitch, and the odd rows 1 through 9 are all the same. Then the odd rows from 11 through 19 are the same three stitches just in a different order. So like I said, there are only three different stitch sequences in the whole body of the hat, one of which is just knit every stitch. Plus the whole chart repeats, as indicated by the red border. (In some cases there might be stitches on either side of the chart that don’t repeat, but there’s none of that here.)

The other reason this is a great first lace or chart project is that a hat is knitted in the round, which means every row/round is worked from the right side. Since we’re never turning the work and working a wrong-side row, we never have to imagine ourselves behind the chart, like you do when you’re knitting flat. We’ll tackle that some other time! For now, just take pleasure in working every chart row from right to left, exactly as pictured in the chart. By the time you get to the Crown Shaping Chart, you’ll have chart-reading licked.

TROUBLESHOOTING

Stitch markers are your friend. I’m a perfectly competent knitter but I have a very short attention span and I also watch TV while I knit (sometimes with subtitles!) so I find it very helpful to place a marker between each repeat. In other words, when you get to row one of the chart, work the 8 stitches of the chart, count that you have 8 sts on your right-hand needle, and place a marker. Then work the 8 sts again, pm, etc, all the way around. Make sure your Beginning of Round marker is different in size, color or something so you know where your round ends and a new one begins. And then be careful, in this case, that the yarnover next to a marker doesn’t try to pop over the marker.

As is counting. Now as you work your way through the chart, if you ever find yourself with more or less than 8 sts between your markers, you’ll know right away that you’ve done something wrong.

Those knit rounds are saviors. If you do make a mistake, just take a deep breath and look at what you’ve got between your markers as compared to what the chart says you should have. Tink back as needed and straighten it out. And if you can’t figure it out — or you spot a mistake in an earlier row — rip back to a knit round. If you rip out a lace round, the one before it will have been all knit stitches, which are much easier to put back on your needle so you can start again. No need to panic about trying to put lace stitches back on your needles!

A lifeline might help you sleep. I think the knit-stitch rows are really all the safety net you need in this case, but some of you might like a lifeline just for good measure. To create a lifeline, you simply thread a length of smooth waste yarn (cotton is best) onto a tapestry needle and run it through a full round of stitches on your needle, being careful not to split your yarn in the process. Why would you do this? If you need to do a big rip, you just rip back to the lifeline and it will hold that row of stitches safe for you to slip your needle back into. So perhaps you want to place one after every five or ten successfully completed rounds. Then just pull it out when you’re all done.

Fringe Hatalong No. 3: Hermaness Worsted by Gudrun Johnston (free pattern)

DOWNLOAD THE HERMANESS WORSTED 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!)

I can’t wait to see your hats!

And make sure to save/fave it on Ravelry: Hermaness Worsted

.

PREVIOUSLY in the Fringe Hatalong Series: No. 2 L’Arbre by Cirilia Rose