Today’s the day

Last batch of the highly coveted army green Field Bag

Today is the day a lot of you have been waiting for — the last batch of the army green Field Bags are here! It’s a pretty big batch, but whether they’ll be gone in a heartbeat or last into next month, I cannot predict. So to be on the safe side, I’m scheduling their release, and in two parts:

• PART ONE will hit the webshop this morning (today is Feb 5!) at 10:00am CENTRAL TIME — that’s 8am PT / 11am ET (those of you overseas can do the math for your time zone)

• PART TWO will be available tomorrow, Feb 6, at 1:00pm CENTRAL TIME — 11 am PT / 2pm ET

Again, hopefully they won’t sell out right away, but if you’ve got your heart set on one, cross your fingers and set your alarm for the appointed hour. When these are gone, they’re gone! We’ve used the last bolt of this fabric I searched for forever, so that’s all she wrote.

Natural and grey live on and are also available right now, and black will be back soon! ALSO back in stock this week: brass scarf hangersbonsai scissors, “High-fiber” tote bags, Yarn Pyramid tea towels, and brass-handled shears.

Happy weekend, everyone!

DIY vs. RTW

DIY vs. RTW : Fen vs. Madewell

I’m often stunned by the ready-to-wear clothes that pop up in my inbox or around the web — clothes that look freakishly as if they could have been made from one or another of the indie patterns popular in the handmade community (which, of course, were generally inspired by the runway or ready-to-wear, and around and around we go). Sometimes it’s downright spooky, as in the case of the Madewell dress above right, which is not only eerily similar to the Fen pattern (above left) I was obsessing over last summer, but is made in the exact same flowered fabric I had picked up around the same time and have pictured as a Fen on several occasions. In most cases, the timelines overlap in such a way that it’s obviously a simple case of great minds thinking alike, or tapping into the same zeitgeist (or following the same Pinterest feeds) for inspiration. But it’s fun to ride the inspiration merry-go-round, regardless!

DIY vs. RTW : Cadence vs. LL Bean

The new Cadence pullover pattern (above left) is such an all-American classic/basic that its twin is currently on offer at none other than L.L. Bean (above right).

DIY vs. RTW : Turia vs. Madewell

Madewell’s forthcoming overalls, above right, bring to mind the popular Turia Dungarees pattern (above left), with a few easy to swap out details either direction.

DIY vs. RTW : Camden vs. See by Chloe

The Spring 2016 collections are chock full of capes, many of them admittedly more similar in shape to the Camden Cape pattern (above left) than this See by Chloé version (above right), but how great would Camden look sewn up in denim with classic blue-jeans buttons like that?

Q for You: What’s your favorite step of the process?

Q for You: What's your favorite step of the making process?

While watching the Iowa results on Monday night I declared my own small victory, binding off Bob’s sweater. (Which fits like a dream.) First thing Tuesday morning it went onto the blocking board, and by afternoon I was happily plotting out my black raglan. You know, taking measurements, doing calculations, drawing my funny little cast-on diagram I always draw for every top-down. Cast-on-itis is clearly a thing with knitters — we all love to start new projects (some of us too much) — but I think my favorite step is actually the one before cast-on, or before cutting into fabric. I love love love the planning, from sketches or pattern research to yarn/material selection, working out sizing, the whole enchilada. Of course, I also love casting on, but nothing gives me quite the same creative buzz as the planning phase. So that’s my Q for You today: What’s your favorite step of the process — from dreaming through wearing — and why?

(My used and abused Knitters Graph Paper Journal, Fashionary sketch paper and Bento Bag are all, of course, from Fringe Supply Co. The heathered black Lettlopi Icelandic yarn I bought from Tolt.)

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PREVIOUSLY in Q for You: Did you make 2016 resolutions?

New Favorites: Mad hatting

New Favorites: Mad about hats

I have this vision of a time in the future when my wardrobe is in good working order (no more rush to fill in all the gaps) and I can simply knit 1 or 2 carefully chosen sweaters per year, at my leisure. Then the rest of my time can be spent knitting hats! There is such an endless stream of good pattersn, and we all know how relatively quick and gratifying they are. These are my current obsessions:

TOP: Fidra by Gudrun Johnston (as knitted/shot by Kathy) is just good chunky fun

MIDDLE LEFT: Halus by Jared Flood is even more good chunky fun

MIDDLE RIGHT: Buck’s Hat by Thea Colman is cable-based basketweave used to great effect (See also: Manx from my fall hat roundup)

BOTTOM: Holt by Alicia Plummer features allover puff stitch for a simply gorgeous hat

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Welcome basics, part 2

Fidra photo by Kathy Cadigan used with permission

My First Sweater: Marlee Grace

My First Sweater: Marlee Grace

I’m kicking off a new interview series today that’s been on my mind for a bit. My favorite thing I hear from you all is “I got up the nerve to knit my first sweater because of your blog!” That’s a momentous occurrence in any knitter’s life that I want to encourage in any way I can! So I thought it would be fun to talk to a wide variety of knitters about their first sweater — from seasoned vets who might have knitted their first one decades ago to newer knitters who’ve just cast off. When my good friend Marlee Grace of Have Company finished her first sweater two weeks ago, I knew I wanted her to go first. So here she is! Hope you love this, and thanks Marlee!

If you’re still contemplating your first sweater, check out Pullovers for first-timers for my overview and recommendations. And if you missed Marlee in Our Tools, Ourselves, take a look at that too!

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How long had you been knitting when you decided to cast on your first sweater? And what drove you to do it?

I’ve been knitting on and off since I was 10 or so, but always rectangles — ya know, just scarves really. About a year ago, I bought some Lopi from Tolt Yarn and Wool and made the Nordic Wind shawl by cabinfour. That was the first pattern I ever knitted, first ever non-rectangle. It was part of what drove me to want to carry yarn in my shop, which certainly helped drive me to want to make a sweater. In the past year I was able to make hats, socks, more shawls, but the idea of a sweater was still so scary.

What pattern did you choose for your first sweater (if any), and how did you choose it?

I chose the top-down version of Lila by Carrie Bostick Hoge, I was pretty in love with the sloped nature of the bottom and was encouraged by the hashtag on Instagram, #lilakal — it’s inspiring to see so many rad people making the same sweater but with their own yarn/color/style choices. BUT that was scary like HOW WILL I MAKE A SLOPE, what if I mess up, how will I learn the skills needed?!

I also chose top-down because it felt the most intuitive to me. I knew I could decrease and increase, add stitches, pick up stitches, a lot of the language made sense to me after having made socks and shawls.

What yarn did you use, and why?

I used Quince & Co. Lark (worsted weight) in the color Petal. Have Company (the shop/artist residency/gallery I own) started carrying Quince & Co. last July, and it’s been staring at me, whispering ‘turn me into clothes Marlee‘ and I’ve especially wanted to make a sweater out of it. I love their colors, patterns, USA-sourced wool magic, and feel grateful to have a lil shop filled with it.

What size did you knit? And did you feel like you knew how to choose the right size, with regard to intended ease and all that?

Definitely still navigating this side of knitting, and was part of why I was always so hesitant. I am a pretty loose knitter, often needing to go down one to two needle sizes from what is suggested on a pattern. The pattern called for size 7 needles and I made a swatch with size 6 and was right on! I even knit it in the round and blocked it like a pro, but once I got into it and started knitting I was off [gauge]! I had 20 sts per 4″ instead of 19. However I like things baggy and picked a size with a lot of room, so knowing it would be a tad smaller [due to my smaller stitches] was fine. And in the end the fit was literally perfect so I guess it worked out!

Lila is knitted in the round. Had you knitted your swatch flat, or did you know to knit it in the round? 

I did knit it in the round.

My First Sweater: Marlee Grace

Was there anything that surprised you about the pattern or sweater along the way? What was the most challenging or interesting part for you?

I think the most challenging part was that the sweater didn’t match my swatch, even though it was literally the exact same yarn, needles, etc., that I swatched with. It made me feel a little defeated, like come on universe I finally did this thing you told me to do and it wasn’t really right.

The other part that’s hard for me, partly I think because I knit so loose and because it’s new to me, is when you go to pick up stitches to make the sleeves. It felt like I was going to have huge holes in the underarm, so I picked up a few extras and then just knit them together. This definitely seemed to help, but in terms of construction/technique that was definitely the most awakward part for me.

PRO TIPS: 

1) It’s not uncommon for your sweater gauge to vary slightly from your swatch gauge — especially with top-down where you have so much fabric on the needles. It could be that, your stress level, lots of things. It’s always a good idea once you’ve knitted a few inches to stop and measure your sweater gauge so you can make any adjustments if needed. Also, hopefully you blocked your swatch before measuring it, whereas you haven’t blocked your sweater yet.

2) Gaps at the armholes are perfectly common in seamless sweaters and thumb gussets. What Marlee did intuitively is the standard fix: Pick up an extra stitch at each end and then decrease them out on the next round. When you weave in your ends, use them to do any further cinching up that might be needed.

Did you make any modifications, or did you knit the pattern exactly as written?

I did! I cropped that baby up! I prefer to wear high-waisted pants or dresses, so I like to wear my sweaters short. I cropped it maybe 2 or 3 inches. The cool part about making the top-down version of Lila is you can just try it on to see how long you want it.

Also holy empowerment to make a sweater and have it be the EXACT length you want it to be.

Were there any particular people or resources you leaned on in tackling this sweater?

To learn how to pick up the stitches for the sleeves I used YouTube — my go-to knitting teacher. And I was lucky to be finishing it when Jaime Jennings of Fancy Tiger Crafts was in residence here. Jaime has an incredible collection of handknit sweaters and is just a generally beautiful and encouraging friend. She was working on a sweater while she was here and kept helping me stay excited. Once you finish that first sleeve it’s easy to feel bored knowing you still have another one to make :)

And I had trouble reading the part of the pattern for the sleeve. Like you knit normal 7 times, then do an increase round, then you repeat that series 9 times, but I just increased 9 times in a row and had this funny little pleat and a sleeve made for a doll. Jaime set me straight.

How did you feel when you finished — and how did it turn out, as compared to your goals and expectations for it? Do you wear it?

Finishing my sweater was a powerful moment in an otherwise really difficult week. My dad was in the hospital (he is home and healing now) but it was really scary, and I was hanging with him a lot and knitting in his hospital room. His mother, who passed away before I was born, was an incredible knitter and I’ve always felt a connection with her spirit through my own knitting and quilting practice. She knit dozens of sweaters, cables galore, some of the most immaculate garments I’ve ever seen.

So casting off sitting with him was exciting for both of us. I got to try it on and spin around and show it off, and we both relished in this legacy passed through her blood to him and into me.

AND it fits like a dream! Like I said, I knit for the 40.5 size but it ended up being 38, which was perfect! So see, no mistakes, just the universe looking out.

Would you recommend this pattern to other first-time sweater knitters?

YES! The pattern is well written and easy to follow. Plus it’s simple, knitting and purling, and learning Sunday Short Rows is WAY easier than expected and makes you feel like you are a brilliant and fancy knitter.

I love Sunday short rows. So do you have your next sweater picked out?

Yes! Since I finished this one while Jaime and Lizzy House were residents we decided to all cast on the same sweater and host a knitalong together! We’ll be casting on the Agnes Sweater today [February 1st] in Quince and Co. Puffin. Folks can join in and follow along with the hashtag #havefancyhouse — and there will be prizes ;)

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Thank you, Marlee! For anyone wanting to read more about how top-down sweaters work, see How to improvise a top-down sweater.

My First Sweater: Marlee Grace

Anna Vest KAL: pattern details

Anna Vest Knitalong: Pattern details

Hey, happy Saturday — just popping in with a quick addendum to Thursday’s official plan for the Anna Vest knitalong. There’s less pattern detail on the Ravelry page than I had realized, so for those who don’t already have the book to refer to, here are the vitals:

YARN

Approximately 520 (603, 688, 774, 873, 968) yd / 476 (552, 630, 708, 799, 886) m worsted-weight yarn

Shown in Thirteen Mile Worsted (100% Organic Wool, 210 yd / 192 m per 100 g skein). Color: Light Gray Heather; 3 (3, 4, 4, 5, 5) skeins. (See Thursday’s post about a yarn discount from Tolt.)

NEEDLES

Needle sizes are recommendations only. Always use needle size necessary to achieve given gauge.

Needle A: Main Fabric
US8 / 5.00mm straight or circular needles; optional DPNs for pocket linings

Needle B: Ribbing
US6 / 4.00mm straight or circular needles (two sizes smaller than Needle A) and 16-in circular for armhole edging

Needle C: Button Band
US5 / 3.70mm straight or double-pointed needles (three sizes smaller than Needle A)

Notions:
2 stitch markers, blunt tapestry needle, 5 18-20mm buttons and matching thread and needle to attach

GAUGE

20 sts / 27 rows = 4 in / 10 cm in Andalusian Stitch with US8 needle

MEASUREMENTS

Womens’ Sizes S (M, L, 1X, 2X, 3X); shown in size M
Chest Circumference: 34 (38, 42, 46, 50, 54) in / 86 (96.5, 106.5, 117, 127, 137) cm
Intended Ease: 1–2 in / 2.5–5 cm for a tailored fit; 4–6 in / 10–15 cm for a slouchier look

The model is wearing the size M/38″ with 3″ of positive ease.

ALSO: I thought the book was available as either a print or ebook, but it turns out the digital version is included with purchase of the print book and not sold separately. My apologies for being misleading/confusing on that point. For those of you concerned about the Canadian conversion rate,  there are a couple of Canadian stores that have stocked the book, so check to see if you can order it from them — Bad Anna’s in Vancouver and Beehive in Victoria.

Elsewhere

Elsewhere: yarny links for your clicking pleasure

From the thought-provoking to the entertaining, here are the latest links I think are worth following:

– Oh, but first: please tell The National Needlearts Association a little about yourself for a chance to win a $100 gift card

– I am So. Seeing. This movie. (Will watch once for the sweaters, once for the scenery, then again for the story)

– And wish I could see this exhibition

– In case you haven’t read it: The health benefits of knitting (h/t everyone)

– Major style crush

– Kate’s coat, swoon

– That time Jimmy Beans yarnbombed the Sundance Film Festival

– Angela Lansbury in a killer Cowichan-inspired sweater; and the pattern is still available! (h/t @cchandorf)

– Good interview with Tara St. James of Study-NY about building a sustainable fashion brand
— wouldn’t it be amazing if all clothing tags looked like this?

– The three types of books you should have in your knitting library

– And that’s gotta be a pretty awesome moment

IN SHOP NEWS: We’re about to be out of the black Field Bag for a minute (we have precious few at the moment!) while we get black and grey into our select Field Bag stores around the world, but we do have a fresh batch of grey in stock today! We also got in quite a few varieties of buttons this week, so if there’s a particular size/style you’ve been looking for, check to see if we have it!

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PREVIOUSLY: Elsewhere