Idea Log: the mildly Folksy tunic

Idea Log: The mildly Folksy tunic

Earlier this summer, I was having lunch with my friends Anna Maria and Rebekka one day and Anna started telling us a sweet and funny story about a Panamanian woman who had just been in her shop, Craft South, who Anna felt sure was judging her harshly (based on the look on her face as she looked around) but who actually apparently liked what she saw — to the point that she wound up giving Anna a trove of small embroidered pieces from her home country. They’re made by the Kuna people, and she was convinced that Anna was a person who would appreciate them. Anna was blown away by the gift and by the pieces themselves, especially the more unusual embroidered collar-and-cuff combos that were part of the collection, called molas. She wound up pulling them all out for us to see, and insisted Rebekka and I each take one of the pieces to do something fun with. I immediately chose this charming fish and knew I wanted it to be a pocket. On something!

In the ensuing weeks, I decided yes, definitely a pocket, and that while it would be fantastic and appropriate on something like Cal Patch’s Folk Blouse sewn at dress length, I would almost certainly never wear it. So what I want is just a nod to that — a loose, casual, simple tunic on which my pocket can shine. The challenge would be fabric, since the embroidery is done on a sort of off-black cotton that wouldn’t be easy to match.

Well. Along came serendipity in the guise of Jaime and Amber of Fancy Tiger Crafts. They were coming to Nashville for a workshop at Craft South, as it happens, and Jaime sent me a text one day that just said “olive drab or off black?” I thought it was a message typed into the wrong text window — you know how it is — and responded “?” She said that’s all, I just had to pick, and I said I couldn’t possibly since those are basically my two favorite colors plus I had no idea what I was picking. When they arrived, they handed me a little bundle adorably stitched up in a brown paper bag, and what I pulled out of that parcel was a length of Japanese linen-cotton that is a dead ringer for the background of my fish pocket, which they knew nothing about.

I am so grateful for my friends, and not just because they give me gifts that add up to awesome clothing.

So what about the pattern? Surfing around the internet the other day, I saw a dress someone had sewn that led me to the Sutton Blouse pattern, which seems to be just about perfect for this.

(Beloved Fashionary panels from Fringe Supply Co., of course.)


By the way, speaking of Craft South, I should mention that I’m going to be there on Tuesday eve the 15th, hanging out, knitting, and answering any knitting questions anyone might have. Anna calls this “knit picking my brain.” I’ll also have the thoroughly awesome Kathy Cadigan in tow that night. So if you’re in Nashville, please come! Details on their site (and I promise to brush my hair).


PREVIOUSLY in Idea Log: The cinched shift

Knit the Look: Alex Yuryeva’s plaid pullover

Knit the Look: Alex Yuryeva's plaid pullover

What could be more appropriate for the 1st of September than an image of a plaid pullover, eh? (Even if temps are headed into the ’90s over here.) This black-and-white number was photographed on model Alex Yuryeva, and my inner back-to-schoolgirl wants it. Debbie Bliss’ Tartan Sweater pattern is a perfect match in terms of the kind and scale of the plaid, and at least one of the recommended yarns comes in black and white. (Another option would be Quince and Co’s Osprey in Frost and Crow, pictured.) All we need to do to make it more like Alex’s is to knit solid black ribbing at the waist and cuffs before embarking on the plaid, and then knit a black ribbed neckband instead of the turtleneck. The only hardship is finding a copy of Milano, the Debbie Bliss booklet this pattern was published in. Why oh why don’t people make things available for download?

See Vanessa’s post for more views of Alex’s outfit and sweater.


PREVIOUSLY in Knit the Look: Slouchy sweater perfection


Street style photo © Vanessa Jackman; used with permission


New Favorites: Summer’s last temptation

New Favorites: Summer's last temptation

Just as summer is winding down, I found myself tempted by a pile of oatmeal linen yarn on markdown at Craft South the other day, followed by an email from the Purl Bee with this Box Pleat Top sweater pattern, pictured above, which made me regret having left the yarn at the store. It’s too late for me to knit this sweet little tank for this year, but I’m putting it at the top of my list for next spring.


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: from Pom Pom 14


Elsewhere: Maker links for your clicking pleasure

First off, Dianna Walla has written a post for her blog about the 4th Fringe Hatalong (Laurus) in which she talks about not only why she chose Lark for the yarn, but also about Quince’s amazing color-picking tool. Check out both her post and that killer tool. But make sure you have a minute, because it’s pretty addictive.

Professor Clara Parkes on splitty yarns and needle tips

Intriguing discussion of top-down set-in sleeves and a better way to knit them

DIY espadrilles (I’m kind of blown away by this)

8 tricks for perfect top-stitching

How to match plaids when you sew (I suddenly can’t wait to sew something plaid!)

A handmade wedding — exceptionally well done

That’s one pretty yarn cabinet

So wish I could go to this event

– And that I could visit here and here (note to self: London trip)

And that I could wear this outfit every day forever

UNRELATED SHOP NEWS: the mini scissors are back and we’ve got a fresh batch of hand-carved wood bowls plus a small cache of the coveted red vintage fiber mill spindles. Make haste!


PREVIOUSLY in Elsewhere

New Favorites: from Pom Pom 14

New Favorites: from Pom Pom 14

There is so much I love about this new Pom Pom Issue 14 — the deft color story throughout the gorgeous photos, the fact that three of the pieces were shot on both a boy and a girl, the abundance of great patterns. It’s definitely one of my favorite issues so far, and to my surprise, I find I’m most smitten with the accessories. The cute dala horse hat, Karusellen by Erica Smith, and Melody Hoffman’s pretty Woodland Tales mitts are both on my wish list. But these are the two pieces I most urgently want in my possession:

TOP: Oak Crest by Maisie Howarth is a hat I thought I disliked and now find I can’t stop thinking about. The crown looks almost like some sort of weird exoskeleton, which I’ve apparently decided I’m in favor of, and I’m obsessed with that topknot.

BOTTOM: Pianissimo by Thien-Kieu Lam is a scarf knitted with the most intriguing shifting rib texture, plus I’m a sucker for long stretches of ribbing at the ends.


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: High school flashbacks

Knit the Look: Slouchy sweater perfection

Knit the Look: Slouchy sweater perfection

Here’s another take on the slouchy off-white sweater to pair with everything, this time spotted on an unidentified beauty in Paris. We don’t know the girl’s nationality, but her outfit is classic all-American with a twist. The sweater itself is dead simple, and could be easily improvised from the top down (in any weight you like) in seed stitch or waffle stitch or whatever your heart desires. Or if you want a pattern, I’d go with Heidi Kirrmaier’s Such a Winter’s Day. To get the look of the street-style pullover, knit it quite oversized — maybe 9 or 10 inches of ease. Leave a long side slit and work a few inches of ribbing at the hem on the front and back. And when you pick up the neck stitches, pick up a few fewer than recommended and knit two inches of ribbing instead of the prescribed funnel neck. For yarn, any off-white worsted would do, but the one on my mind is the one in my hands right now — Quince and Co’s Lark in Egret.

See Vanessa’s original post for the full-length look.


PREVIOUSLY in Knit the Look: Elisabeth Erm’s everyday everywhere sweater


Street style photo © Vanessa Jackman; used with permission

Top 5 ways to use Fashionary (plus big news!)

Top 5 ways to use Fashionary

The results of my little #fringefashionarypeek challenge were delightful, and I promised to share some of the highlights here. BUT FIRST I have a little bit of other shop-related news for you: The project bags are coming!! I know I’ve been saying that forever — sorry to tease you for so long! — but what I mean today is that they are literally here in the studio, at long last, and also in boxes making their way to the five stores who’ll be first to stock it: Tolt Yarn and Wool (WA), Fancy Tiger Crafts (CO), The Yarnery (MN), Fibre Space (VA) and Purl Soho (NY). It will be available in those locations and at Fringe Supply Co. as of next Wednesday the 19th at 12pm CDT. So if you’ve been eagerly waiting, set an alarm! Also, it’s now officially called the Field Bag from Fringe Supply Co.

With that said, here are 5 creative ways to use Fashionary, with tips from pros and amateurs alike—

1. Design sketchbook
Not surprisingly, the number one use of Fashionary, whether the sketchbook or the panels, is by designers for designing. It was pretty awesome to get to peek at the sketches of Michele Wang, Olga Buraya-Kefelian, Julia Farwell-Clay (above: top, middle and bottom) and so many others too numerous to post. But please go look!

Top 5 ways to use Fashionary

2. Project planning
Many use Fashionary for helping them decide on and keep track of what they plan to knit and sew — some in the form of simple drawings and others with detailed notes and even swatches attached, such as @elizabethstreetstudio up top. @clairesounes has used hers to sketch out different options for a striped sweater. So in addition to her swatches of the different options, she’s  exploring how they’ll look over the whole garment. That is THOROUGH.

Top 5 ways to use Fashionary

3. Wardrobe planning
Whether you’re planning how to put garments together for the next season or your next vacation, this is a fantastic tool. One variation on the theme that I hadn’t thought of came from @bombasinedoll who uses hers to plot out how she’ll style garments for photo shoots.

Top 5 ways to use Fashionary

4. Logbook
You already know I use the notebook to keep track of my queue, which gradually becomes a record of my finished makes. @annespicks is smart enough to also record pertinent measurements on hers! I started a chart once upon a time to help me keep track of relative measurements of different sweaters, and don’t know why I didn’t think of adding them to my Fashionary. (I do note gauge, after all.) I’ll be adding that info post haste. Another clever one is @thefibersprite, who sketches sweaters she’s spotted in the wild and wants to remember.

Top 5 ways to use Fashionary

5. Freeing your inner artist
I know of at least two little girls who use Fashionary to give voice to their inner designer: the daughters of @nutmegster and @toltyarnandwool. But during the course of the challenge, it was also super fun to watch @anelementallife decide to give it a try, having thought she had insufficient drawing skills, and find that (as I’m always saying!) Fashionary makes it easy for anyone to draw well, allowing you to express what you thought you couldn’t. Sara quickly went from simply drawing a garment in her queue to plotting out her makes (with swatches) and envisioning garment pairings across seasons.

Top 5 ways to use Fashionary

Bonus: Random artifact
I had made a mention to DG in the studio one day about Nutmeg’s daughter’s drawings and how it looked as if she were designing clothes for Wonder Woman. He replied that he was going to document the entire wardrobe of Golden Girls (he loves nothing quite like a Golden Girls reference) and I encouraged him! He wound up creating a cultural history of TV and movie fashion — from the the Dynasty outfits (and hairdos) above to the three Elizabeth Taylors and more. Scroll through his feed to see them all.

All of which goes to show: There’s just really no limit to how it can be used! Definitely go check out all of the great posts at #fringefashionarypeek. And although the contest is over, I hope you’ll keep using the tag. I love seeing your sketches!

Have a creative weekend and I’ll see you next week!