Hot Tip: Mind your edge stitches

Hot Tip: Mind your edge stitches

I’m pretty sure the first person to ever clue me in on this one was my pal Meg Strong. A lot of times there will be an edge of your knitting that’s exposed — say, the long sides of a scarf or the edge of a button band (when knit integrally or vertically). Or, as pictured above, the armhole edges of the superbulky sleeveless turtleneck I’m working on, which are especially prominent at this scale. If you work the edge stitches normally — for instance, in stockinette — you wind up with a bump on the edge of your knitting at each row. Sometimes it looks fine, like if it’s garter stitch ridges at the edges of the work anyway. But often it’s nicer to have that edge look smoother and more finished. Current patterns will often specify how to work edge stitches when they’re meant to be picked up or seamed together (e.g., stockinette selvage or twisted stitch selvage, or whatever the case may be), but it’s less often noted what to do when the edge will not be disappearing into a seam. For the cleanest finish on a visible selvage, all you need to do is slip the first stitch on each row with the yarn held in front, work to the opposite edge of the fabric as written, and then knit the last stitch. So on the right side, the first stitch gets slipped wyif. When you come back to that slipped stitch at the left edge of the wrong side, you knit it. Same thing on the wrong side: slip the first stitch wyif, work to the other end, knit the last stitch.

Try it on a swatch  — knit a few rows in plain stockinette and then a few rows with the edge stitches slipped — and you’ll see what a difference such a simple thing can make.

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PREVIOUSLY in Hot Tips: Off-center your buttons

So thankful for this

So thankful for this

I’d planned on having a nice juicy Elsewhere for you guys today, but this week has been utter chaos and yesterday got 100% derailed with both mortgage and factory concerns vying for my attention. However difficult and time-consuming it may be, the good news is A) we’re buying a house! and B) the project bags are being made! Today I’m actually visiting the factory to see the first of the completed bags, and I should have more news about that at the beginning of next week. The other good news (if you’re me! haha) is that in the midst of all of this, I had a tiny window — maybe 45 minutes — of some of the happiest, most blissful making of my life. On Wednesday night (a day which also brought us a desperately needed break from the oppressive heat), I managed to get my sewing machine running again and fell into a trance while working through the first few steps of that Gallery Dress I wrote about on Monday. I don’t think of sewing as a good time. I find it tedious but rewarding, frankly. Maybe it was the mayhem I was escaping; maybe it was the magic of creating that placket (I kept thinking of the first time I did Kitchener stitch — being stunned by the sorcery of it) but I had the most fun working on this dress for that short span of time. I know not everyone finds their bliss the way we do, knitting and crochet and sewing and whatever, but I was so thankful that I have this outlet at times like this. And I hope for everyone that if they don’t have this, they have something.

Here’s to a weekend with at least a few happy making moments for every one of you. See you next week!

Blog Crush: Temple of Knit

Blog Crush: Temple of Knit

I’m going out on the limb again with another very new blog, but I love this one so much I want to offer any and all encouragement with regards to Temple of Knit, by the lovely Swedish knitter known on Ravelry as fiksi. Her real name is Simone, and I do love her for the fact that she’s linked to Fringe Association several times (which is how it came to my attention), but that’s the least of it. It seems everyone in Sweden is born with an innate sense of spare style, and Simone might have gotten even more than her fair share. Her photos are beautiful and we have similar taste in knitwear, so of course the whole things makes me drool. But she’s also published a couple of very simple and perfect patterns so far — the Simple Lines 2.0 scarf and Simple House Slippers (inspired in part by my old Tootsie Toasters shenanigans with Meg) — and hopefully we can all look forward to more of that!

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PREVIOUSLY in Blog Crush: Voices of Industry

New Favorites: the WATG x Raeburn beanies

New Favorites: the WATG x Raeburn beanies

I love a pleasant surprise. As previously noted when the collection first walked the runway, I really like the pieces Wool and the Gang designed for Christopher Raeburn’s Fall 2015 show. My favorite was the giant beanie, especially for the way the mixed yarns mimicked that incredible bouclé tweed fabric used for the coat it was worn with. Well, the knit kits have just hit the WATG website, and what I missed when looking at those photos before (or have long since forgotten about) was the solid black version. Seeing it yesterday in white, up top, gave me a whole new appreciation for this hat. But even more than that, I LOVE the way it looks folded up (like, you know), as opposed to the way it was worn on the runway. So now I’m coveting it in white, black and the runway-multi version. It’s not sold as an individual pattern (at least at this time) but the solid kit is called Abyss and the multi-hued version is Atlantis.

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: from Rowan 58

Idea Log: The cinched shift

Idea Log: The cinched shift

Apparently all my best ideas come from Madewell emails. In my inbox there recently appeared a pic of their Lakeshore Midi dress (top photo) — super simple and comfortable but also the perfect dress-it-up, dress-it-down dress. That shirred waist reminded me instantly of April Rhodes’ Staple Dress pattern (middle left), with some obvious key differences. Pulling up the images of that one, I started thinking about Frankensteining something together — using the fitted bodice from my Liesl Gibson class, the Staple’s waist treatment, and maybe the shirttail hem from the Wiksten tank-dress.

While I pondered that one, I cut out the next thing I intend to sew, which is Liesl’s Gallery Tunic/Dress pattern (middle right). I’ve been planning to make it knee length, with the band collar, but sleeveless. (First in plain linen to try it out, then in one of those amazing fabrics I scored from Imogene+Willie.) My machine has been acting up after all the sewing I’ve been doing lately, but I went ahead and cut it out a week ago and hoped for a little equipment miracle of some sort … which didn’t come. Even after a good cleaning (I watched Fancy Jaime’s CreativeBug class!), it’s still no go. So the pieces have just been draped desolately over my ironing board, begging to be sewn. As I stared at them longingly one morning, I realized the answer to the Madewell-inspired dress was right there in front of me, in the form of the front and back pieces of the Gallery Dress: sleeveless, jewel-necked (before the placket gets cut into it), and shirttail hemmed. I held the front piece up to myself in the mirror and it’s perfect. All I have to do is cut the back in half to create a center seam and neck closure — it already has extra width built in for a back pleat, so that will just become center-seam allowance. The bodice will be less structured and detailed than the original, but that will suit me better anyway.

Now my conundrum — machine woes aside — is whether to go ahead and sew up the linen pieces into the Gallery I meant it to be, and then follow my plan for this other dress with other fabric, or go ahead and modify the linen pieces into this dress. But as you can see from my sketches up there (and last Friday; sorry for the repeat!), I’m already imagining multiple versions of it in my wardrobe. Linen for now, flannel for later. Sleeveless and sleeved. And layered with every single sweater in my closet …

(UPDATE: Hey look, Kristi and I have fraternal-twin blog posts today!)

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PREVIOUSLY in Idea Log: The pinstripe dress

Will you show me yours if I show you mine?

What's in your Fashionary? (enter to win)

I get asked a lot about Fashionary and how to use it — either how I personally use it or how one would/should/could use it. Simply put, Fashionary is a faint template onto which you can easily draw clothes, which means there are millions of potential applications for it — designing garments, planning outfits, deciding what to pack for a trip or to wear for Halloween. I find myself extremely curious to see what everyone’s been drawing in all the stacks of them that have been bought from Fringe Supply Co., so I thought I’d put the question to you, and then endeavor to piece together a post about all the many ways this tool is actually being used by this community. You interested?

I’ll start: I use both the Fashionary sketchbook and the perforated panels all the time. For me, the larger templates and loose-leaf nature of the panels makes them perfect for working out ideas that may wind up getting tossed. I might sketch out sweaters or sewn garments I’m thinking of concocting, but I mainly use them for wardrobe planning — as a way to see how (sometimes imaginary) garments could work together, and whether I would like them. A while back, I used them to draw up variations on the basic outfit types that work for me, to try to guide my sewing and knitting plans. And I also occasionally flip through those in the morning if I’m having a hard time getting dressed! Being loose, they’re easy to shuffle around, pin to the wall, clip to my Knitters Graph Paper Journal where I might be working out the specs to go with whatever it is. I love the portability and impermanency of those sketches.

The notebook, on the other hand — being bound and all — has become a semi-permanent record of my knitting. It’s literally a visual representation of my queue. So when I decide I’m going to knit a certain item, I draw it into the lineup. If it’s an existing pattern, I’ll write the name of it and the pattern gauge. If I have specific thoughts about what yarn I’ll use, I note that, too. If I decide against something I simply erase it, and eventually something else will get drawn onto the same figure. And once I’ve knitted something, I make a check next to it — so satisfying! In this way, eventually a spread will only contain things I’ve already knitted or still intend to. So it’s both a planner and a diary, and I love love love looking at it and I wish I could go back and draw in all the things that came before it.

For those reasons — the perpetual erasing and redrawing — I only use pencil. And not only do I not put anything in pen or add color, I don’t even do any fancy shading or anything. Strictly pencil line drawings and chicken scratch for me. (Although maybe I should ink in the finished ones, huh? I’ll have to think about that.)

So how about you? Are you a designer or a recorder? Free-spirited or high-concept? Do you draw in pencil or pen? Tack yarn or swatches? Color or shading? Fun or utility? The notebook or the panels? I want to see what you’re doing in there! To give you a little incentive to share, here’s what I’m gonna do: (Assuming there’s a critical mass of shares) I’ll round up a variety of responses and put together a post here on the blog. I’ll also pick one winner at random from everyone who posts, and that person will get a $100 gift certificate to the webshop. By giving you the basic outline to follow, Fashionary makes you look like you know what you’re doing, but drawing skills are really beside the point here. What we’re all interested in is what you’re drawing, not how professional those drawings look. (Although we want to see those, too!)

Here’s how to enter: Take a nice (new!) photo of your Fashionary sketchbook or panels and write a couple of sentences (or however much you like) about how you use it, however straightforward or conceptual that might be. Post it to Instagram, mention @fringesupplyco and hashtag it #fringefashionarypeek. Or blog about it, including a link to this post, and then leave a comment below with the URL. You do not need to have bought your Fashionary from Fringe Supply Co. to participate, but if you don’t yet have one and want to play along, we are of course happy to sell you one.

Share anytime between now and the end of July, at which point I’ll pick and announce the random winner!

Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you back here next week—

A handful (or two) of Hermaness Worsted

A handful (or two) of Hermaness Worsted

It was hard to guess how much participation there might be for A) a wool hat knitalong kicking off in June and B) a lace knitalong. Combine the two, and I was really wondering! But it’s been a month since the Hermaness Worsted pattern went live and the hats continue to come rolling in. I’m trying to make mine last — and even switched from Soot to Fossil — but continue to be in awe of all the hats and yarn choices and stories to go with them. And I’m beyond thrilled at the number of people who’ve taken it on as their first lace knitting project and have said they wouldn’t have attempted it if not for my notes. Yay for trying new things! And thanks again to Gudrun Johnston to giving us all the pattern to work with.

It’s also interesting to see how much more neutral the color choices have been for this one, as compared to the rainbow of L’Arbre hats that came before it. It’s incredibly hard to pick favorites from so many beautiful contributions but I wanted to highlight a few of the many that have been shared on Instagram.

From top left to bottom right, working across the rows:

@leighsideknits who is simul-kal-ing — pictured is her finished hat with her #quillKAL shawl

@ellalcgordon who was the model for the original Hermaness

@2littlesticks with an excellent road-trip knitting shot

@whit_knits so pretty pic of the yarn she selected and nettle-dyed (see her feed for the finished hat)

@pinkrosecottage is one of many people to have knitted multiple Hermanesses (Hermanessii?)

@recklessglue is another, and I just love this FO shot of her third

@waldorfmanufaktur scaled it down in sport weight for her daughter’s birthday (and one for herself)

@evergreenviolet working on one thing while pondering the next, as we do

@things_from_scratch’s (in handspun!) is one of the many pale ones that made me switch, and I love her caption

@gudrunjohnston herself, wearing the sample — in Iceland, no less

There is an incredible amount of great knitting photography to be found in these accounts (and many others participating) so be sure to click around and explore! The whole knitalong feed is at #fringehatalong, and it’s never too late to join in. All three patterns so far are now listed in the right rail over there (if you’re on a full-sized browser). Dive in with any pattern anytime! The next one’s coming up in August.

One other note: You may recall I meant to feature a hat charity with each installment of this series. Regrettably, with everything going on in my life these days, I didn’t have a chance to pick and vet one for this hat. But I would love to hear from you all about your favorite charities that take hat donations. If you have a suggestion, please leave it in the comments below!

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PREVIOUSLY in the Fringe Hatalong Series: No. 3 Hermaness Worsted by Gudrun Johnston