Blog Crush: The Craft Sessions

Blog Crush: The Craft Sessions

It occurred to me when putting together the last installment of Elsewhere how often I link to Felicia Semple’s Craft Sessions blog and yet I’ve never done a proper Blog Crush about it. Well! Felicia is the founder of the Australian craft camp known as The Craft Sessions — which I dream of one day attending — and started the blog (I believe) at the same time as the run-up to the first Sessions, a couple of years ago. In addition to her being a fantastic knitter and sewist, whose every project is worth an ooh and an ahh, the blog has become an outstanding resource over time, as Felicia is not afraid to write long. She picks a topic — from keeping a visual diary to picking the right sweater pattern — and digs all the way in. That means I don’t always have time to read as much of it as I would like, but I love knowing it’s there when I do — you know? Keep it up, F!

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PREVIOUSLY in Blog Crush: Woolful — who, by the way, launched her podcast yesterday

New Favorites: Hearth Slippers

New Favorites: Hearth Slippers

I’m having a serious case of knitting FOMO right about now. My friend Anna at Tolt enlisted my friend Dianna Walla to design a pattern using my friends at Fancy Tiger’s Heirloom Romney, and the result is the totally adorable Hearth Slippers. And now they’re all having a joint knitalong! I saw the samples when I was at Tolt and they’re even cuter in person. But I’ve been checking out the hashtag on Instagram the past few days and I’m loving all the color combos people are coming up with. Especially these two — so different. I wish I loved knitting colorwork as much as I love having knitted colorwork, because my feet would really enjoy these.

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Knitalong FO No. 1: Jaime Jennings

FO No. 1: Jaime Jennings' Amanda cardigan

Jaime Jennings is the first of our illustrious knitalong panel to have finished knitting her Amanda cardigan, and it’s a beauty in undyed Heirloom Romney. She put up a thorough post on the Fancy Tiger blog on Friday, and I had a few questions for her as well:

First, Jaime, let me say your sweater is SO CUTE. It’s motivating me to keep going. I especially love that natural dark grey. And the leather buttons. But enough fawning! So how are you feeling about having knitted for Team Seamless? Were there any aspects that came up during the knitalong that made you wish you’d done any part of it any differently?

I’m so glad I was Team Seamless! I took out all the selvedge stitches so the side panels on my sweater and underarms look amazing with absolutely no breaks in the honeycomb pattern. There were two reasons that Team Seam might have been better for this. One was that I didn’t fix any cable mistakes. (I made a few.) I had so much work on the needles for the body, I was scared to drop down and fix anything and risk really messing up a lot of knitting. It makes you question ripping out more since there is just so much knitting on the needles. Second was the button holes, which were hard to line up evenly not knowing the exact length of the finished garment. Next time I would knit the sweater seamlessly, but I would knit the bands as written, back and forth after the rest of the garment was completed. I’m still glad I did Team Seamless though.

Do you think you’d still have been the first one finished if you’d knitted it in pieces? I want to pit you and Kate head-to-head in a knitting race sometime.

Maybe … seaming doesn’t really take that long. Kate would definitely win in a head-to-head knitting race. She had to take a break to knit another sweater and I just knit this one sweater.

One of the reasons you were confident knitting this seamlessly is that your Heirloom Romney is such a sturdy yarn, and it does seem (based on the photos) like it also worked up into something almost lopi- or jacket-like in density and warmth. I know it’s a big subject but what’s your nutshell stance on softness versus durability or ruggedness when it comes to yarn and choosing yarn for projects?

My nutshell stance is I’ll take durability over softness any day. You’re talking to a woman who has made four lopi sweaters, three Heirloom sweaters, and three sweaters in Loft or Shelter … it’s pretty obvious where my heart lies in terms of my love of a rustic wool. Amanda is a lot of work. I would be heartbroken if it started pilling or wearing out in a short amount of time. I wear my knit garments a lot — I wear them hiking, camping, while shoveling snow, snowshoeing, while wearing backpacks, you name it. I love being confident in knowing I can wear my finished garments often. This is especially true of a cardigan when you know you’ll always have a shirt on underneath, so softness isn’t such a concern. Of course, depending on the pattern, I might want a yarn with more drape, and every once in awhile I’ll knit something that’s just really soft that feels amazing. My next sweater is going to be Northdale, and again, that’s a big commitment. I’m going to knit it in Jamieson and Smith for durability.

You mentioned at the beginning that you were a little intimidated by the volume of cabling involved. Would you say you’re a cable devotee now or just glad you did it?

I am! I loved the cables. It was (surprisingly) easy to get into a rhythm with them, and I love the look. This sweater made me feel super confident in my cabling skills, so now I feel I can knit anything!

You talked a little bit about your neck modifications in your blog post — the neck being the thing you and I were mutually concerned about at the outset. Are you really thinking about ripping it back and altering it more?

I might … The jury’s still out. I’m going to wait and see more people’s finished sweaters. If one looks really hot, I’ll redo mine. But that’s not going to stop me from wearing it right now. I’m growing to like it more and more each time I wear it and I’ve gotten tons of compliments, so that is awesome!

Have you picked out your next cable project yet?

No, but I’ve got my eye on about 10 things from Brooklyn Tweed. I especially love Field — because I definitely didn’t get enough of the honeycomb stitch. Honeycomb forever!!

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Thanks, Jaime — and congratulations on the gorgeous sweater! Will the rest of us ever finish? Time will tell …

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PREVIOUSLY in #fringeandfriendsknitalong: The simple joy of seaming

All you want for Christmas …

The ultimate gifts for knitters, crocheters and fiber crafters

Ok, lovely readers. Today I’m nearly speechless as I unveil the very first Fringe Supply Co. clickable holiday catalog, full of incredible gifts for knitters, crocheters and other fiber crafters — aka all you want for Christmas. I wasn’t so speechless in writing the intro or product descriptions, so I hope you’ll spend some quality time poring over it all! I had the most amazing time with Kathy Cadigan last week, who took such beautiful photos I can hardly stand it, and I’m thrilled to share all of this with you. So please, click here or on the mini-catalog below, which will open a larger version, and from there every product image is linked — clicking the little blue link icon will take you right to that page in the webshop.

The star of the show is the all-new Fringe Supply Project Bag, which I’ve been unintentionally teasing you with for months, and which is finally here — albeit in small-batch form. We’ll have a very limited number here at Fringe for the holidays, and it’s at just three stores for now: Purl Soho on the east coast, Tolt Yarn and Wool out west, and Fancy Tiger Crafts in between.

http://issuu.com/fringesupplyco/docs/fringe_supply_co_catalog_holiday_20?e=14440192/10252820

If you love the catalog or any part of it, I hope you’ll use the share links, embed it in your blog, download it, print it out and mark it up for Santa, whatever the case may be. I can never thank you enough for supporting me and Fringe Supply Co. and other small businesses. It means the world.

Happy browsing!

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UPDATE: the mini-catalog seems to only want to display about half the time for reasons I’m having trouble understanding. But you can just click through to full version!

New, new and brand new!

New, new and brand new!

Good morning! Yesterday was magazine mania at Fringe HQ with no fewer than three new magazines arriving one right after the other: the new PomPom, the new Taproot and the debut issue of Knit Wit are all ready and waiting for you at Fringe Supply Co.

BUT HERE’S THE THING! Today is the day I’m finally unveiling all of the amazing new holiday goods in truly delightful fashion. So there might be some other things you’ll want to put in your cart. If all goes as planned, the happy moment will come at noon today (Central time). But at whatever moment it happens, I will announce it here and on the shop newsletter, so if you aren’t already signed up for one or the other of those notification lists, plug in ye olde email address — in the right rail here for blog alerts and in the top right corner of the webshop for shop updates.

Sorry to leave you sitting on the edge of your seat, but I promise it will be worth it.

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The simple joy of seaming

How to work mattress stitch

Can I just take a minute to publicly say how awesome Kate Gagnon Osborn is? When she signed on as a member of our Panel of Experts for the #fringeandfriendsknitalong, she offered to share her seaming wisdom (and enthusiasm). In the meantime, she’s taught us all so much more: how to accurately measure gauge with a cable swatch, how to account for post-blocking changes in row gauge, how to work increases “in pattern,” and even how to rewrite neck shaping. She blows my mind on a regular basis. (And we’ve laughed a little over how few comments there have been on her ultra-detailed posts. Did she blow your minds, too?) And now it’s finally time to talk about seaming! Kate has an excellent tutorial on the Kelbourne Woolens site (in their ever-expanding Tips & Tricks section) and I can’t see any point in reinventing the wheel. So she’s updated that tutorial with Amanda photos and you can read it at the other end of this link: How to work mattress stitch. (Thanks for being you, Kate!)

Despite my ongoing issues with knitting sweater pieces (all of which boil down to ADD) I genuinely enjoy the act of seaming those pieces together. It is so easy and so magical, pulling that strand and seeing pieces come together to form a whole.

So after blocking your joined sweater and sewing up those side and sleeve seams, all that’s left is to finish off the button bands, including working the button holes, and pick up stitches for the neck band. For guidance on picking up stitches, particularly for the curved portions of a neckline, the best resource I know is Pam Allen’s passage on the subject in Knitting for Dummies, which I think everyone should own. I also love her discourse on button holes in that same book. For those of you who don’t own it, I refer you to the buttonhole/band episode of Knit.fm. Well worth a listen!

From here on out, I’ll be checking in with our panelists as they finish their sweaters, starting with Jaime Jennings. And I also have more to say about the specific tiny mods I’ve made to my Amanda. And of course, we’ll all be watching the hashtag for as long as there are people using it!

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PREVIOUSLY in #fringeandfriendsknitalong: Skiff hats of the knitalong

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Photos © Kate Gagnon Osborn

New Favorites: BT’s best shawl collars

New Favorites: Brooklyn Tweed's best shawl-collar cardigans

When I was talking to someone recently (can’t remember who/where) about putting a shawl collar on my Amanda cardigan for the #fringeandfriendsknitalong, they said something about how on-trend that will be. And I suppose it will, but it got me thinking. There are definitely lots of shawl collars in the stores right now, but aren’t there always? I genuinely don’t think there’s ever been a year when there haven’t been amazing shawl-collar cardigans I’m dying to own. Certainly the shapes and details vary, and they may be more “in” one year than the next, but a shawl-collar cardigan is never out of style. And I think that timelessness is a big part of why I keep casting them on! It seems perfectly reasonable to me to invest large chunks of knitting time on a garment that cozy, and that I believe has a greater chance of wearing out than falling out of fashion. So that train of thought and yesterday’s Wool People release got me looking at the Best of Brooklyn Tweed shawl collars:

TOP: Field by Kazekobo, the newest entry, from Wool People 8. Honeycomb on the body, reverse stockinette sleeves, and compound raglan shaping — a total classic. Plus based on the gauge, it appears to be the perfect pattern from which to borrow the neck shaping and collar method for a shawlified Amanda. (Was there anyone at BT reading these posts thinking “Hold on! We have the perfect candidate!”?)

ROW 2 LEFT: Channel Cardigan by Jared Flood, from BT Winter ’14, knit-purl splendor already on my needles. Even though I’m planning to leave out some of the details that make it so exceptional, I think this is the Sweater of the Year.

ROW 2 RIGHT: Timberline by Jared Flood, from BT Men. I could stare at those intricately branching cables all day, and think the collar on this one is perfection.

MIDDLE: Little Wave by Gudrun Johnston, from Wool People 6, textured stitch panels with garter-stitch accents. And pockets! This one didn’t make that huge of an impression on me until I tried on the sample and fell in love. (I’ve also been taking a second, third and fourth look at Persimmon lately.)

BOTTOM LEFT: Burr by Veronik Avery, from BT Fall ’12, in stockinette with stylized shaping. Looks like such a simple sweater, and then you start to notice all the amazing, subtle details.

BOTTOM RIGHT: Bellows by Michele Wang, from BT Fall ’14, allover texture with cable accents. Seriously, it’s all I can do to not cast this on before finishing Amanda and Channel. And actually, my all-time favorite BT shawl collar might be another Michele design: the Arlo kids cardigan.

I wish I had every one of them in my closet right now and forever.

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Offshore