Vintage sweaters, snow days and Elsewhere

Vintage sweaters, snow days and Elsewhere

My friend Victoria Heifner of Milkfed Press (she prints the Yarn Pyramid) recently came into possession of a trove of vintage craft supplies and asked me if I would like these two Jack Frost pattern booklets from 1950-51, one book of men’s sweaters and the other of women’s. These vintage booklets always kill me. They’re generally not more than 32 pages each but they are so packed with patterns (even with the full-page photos), and every pattern is a little gem. They’re not tricksy or fancy in any way — just solid, useful, beautifully designed garments. Page after gorgeous page of them. The patterns are all much briefer than knitters have come to rely on these days; they assume you know how to knit, so they cut to the chase. The two books here have as many as 3.5 sweater patterns per page. I adore them, and clearly so did their original owner. The spines have been taped together after falling apart from use, and not recently — the tape has been there long enough to have yellowed and disintegrated by now. The ladies’ book also had the previous owner’s notes tucked inside. Such incredible treasure, Victoria, thank you. I can’t wait to knit from these.

The vintage vest I’m currently knitting is coming along nicely — you can see a glimpse of the finished back piece here. And I did actually sew last weekend for the first time in a year! Rather than diving into the Sonya Philip pattern I wrote about last Friday, I decided it would be wise to start back in with a pattern I already know — dust off those particular brain cells after their long disuse. So I traced off a modified Wiksten Tank and cut it out of some khadi cloth I bought at A Verb for Keeping Warm last spring. We had another snow day in Nashville yesterday, which for me means a work-at-home day, and I spent what would have been commute time finishing it up. I’ll show it to you soon!

Meanwhile, a mini-Elsewhere for your weekend clicking pleasure:

– There’s a promising new webmag called Woven Magazine that just kicked off with a terrific interview with Nashville weaver Allison Volek Shelton, who you’ve heard me raving about before.

– It’s been a long time since I professed my love of Karen Barbé’s blog, but anytime I want to be inspired by the way someone else’s mind works, a trip to her site always pays off. Her aesthetic, her photos … so good.

– I’m happy to hear that Kelbourne Woolens is planning to do Crochet Summer again — maybe that and this free pattern will mean I finally make that granny-triangle shawl I’ve been talking about for … how long?

– And have you ever seen anything more beautiful than these sheep?

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone — thanks for reading!


PREVIOUSLY in Elsewhere

Next of the Best of Fall 2015: A Detacher forever

Next of the Best of Fall 2015: A Detacher forever and ever

If I hadn’t already professed my undying love for Mona Kowalska of A Détacher, I would certainly be doing it now. Her Fall 2015 collection got all my juices flowing; clicking through the images, my brain was thinking up things to sew and knit faster than my fingers could sketch them. Mostly simple little tops and dresses my closet and I are longing for (albeit not in those particular prints — other than the amazing volcanic explosion print!), but the way she’s mixed those breezy little pieces with knits here is classic quirky Mona. Along with simple little change-ups like a woven vest over a sweater dress and knit vest over a woven dress. There’s just no one like her. And nothing, especially, like that look below: quilted jacket over dress-length aran sweater over quilted pants. Ms. K, can I borrow your brain for just five minutes? And also this quilted dress?

Next of the Best of Fall 2015: A Detacher forever and ever

PREVIOUSLY in Fall 2015: Wool and the Gang walks again

New Favorites: Linda

New Favorites: Linda

I’m truly savoring every cold minute we have left to us, living in dread of the swamp heat I know will be here soon, but also trying not to lose sight of the coming loveliness of Spring. I am eager to trade in my heavy wool pea coat for a cozy scarf or shawl, and there is one that shot straight to the top of my list last week: Linda by Deb Hoss, from Quince’s Scarves Etc. 4 collection. I love the proportions of this thing. And the dense side fringe? Even better than how great it looks is that it’s very cleverly achieved.

I have the exact right amount of yarn left over from my Bellows. Wouldn’t it make it easier on me, when I must give Bellows up for the season, to have this to take its place?


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Modified ganseys

What to wear under cardigans

What to wear under cardigans

I promised you a post about tops to wear under cardigans, and it’s turned into a monster. I’m attempting to boil it down here and will expand on it over time, no doubt. Suffice to say: My favorite thing to wear under a cardigan is a sleeveless top with a non-plain neckline of some sort. If it is shirttail-hemmed and/or tunic length, even better. And the be-all end-all is pockets. (Especially since somehow none of my cardigans have pockets of their own.) The two tops I wear the most right now are 1) the Endless Summer Tunic my friend Alyssa Minadeo made for me in that Robert Kaufman dotted chambray the whole sewing world is quite reasonably in love with (seen here and here — I’d like another one about two inches shorter and a hair less flouncy), and 2) a natural linen sleeveless tunic I bought at Express twenty years ago, which I know for certain because I wore it to a concert with my now-husband in the summer of 1994. (I found it in a box of sentimental favorites under the bed when we were packing for the move.) It buttons all the way up the front and has, uh, half-kangaroo pockets — do you know what I mean? — and despite being linen I’ve been wearing it all winter. Like, I’m in jeopardy of wearing it out.

I like both of these because the fabrics go with everything, they both have something other than a plain round neck, and I’m really into that length right now; I think it’s great for layering over. In third place is a collarless, half-placket chambray shirt that I cut the sleeves off of. And right behind that is this, which I’m desperate to duplicate in a natural fabric.

It’s a matter of personal preference, but I don’t like shoving shirt sleeves into sweater sleeves if it can be avoided — it always feel too bunchy. The only thing that would make my existing sleeveless tops better as winter layering pieces (or even wear-alones in the milder parts of spring and fall) is if they were made of heavier fabric, or even a brushed cotton or flannel or boiled wool. So that’s where my head is at.

The photo above is my Instagram pic from the other day of Sonya Philip’s Dress Pattern No. 1, for which my sweet friend Marlee is hosting a sewalong. I believe it’s actually tunic length, and if I were to split the front and add buttons, and change the shape of the pockets, it would be my beloved linen tunic. So I might do that. But I’ll probably sew it as drafted first. Sonya has been a big influence on me in my desire to craft a handmade wardrobe, so I’m thrilled to be about to sew one of her patterns.

With all of that said, here are a handful of sleeveless sewing patterns that are simple and reliable (by all accounts) and that lend themselves to modifications of length, hemline, neckline, etc. All on my to-sew list—

What to wear under a cardigan: Or, sleeveless-top sewing patterns

Wiksten Tank by Jenny Gordy is the only one on this list that I have sewn before, and I can vouch for its being an excellent pattern and suitable for new sewists. It’s no wonder there are thousands of them on the internet. For my next one, I’m planning to sew a longer version and raise the neckline. (See also: Grainline’s Tiny Pocket Tank)

Sorbetto from Colette Patterns (free pattern) is another simple tank, but this one has bust darts. It’s easy to imagine adding length and/or volume to it, and I love the box-pleat detail down the front. I’m eager to hybridize this and the Wiksten Tank.

Alice by Tessuti is one that Felicia Semple has sewn multiple appealing versions of. Those gathers under the bustline would provide just enough interest if you’ve got a cardigan over it, and I love the sleeve-cap detail for when it’s worn alone. I also really want the dress version of this one for my summer closet.

Tova by Jenny Gordy is not a sleeveless pattern, per se, but one of my favorite Tovas I’ve seen is Sam Lamb’s sleeveless version (check out her Wiksten tank in that same post).

Sailor Top from Fancy Tiger is the next best thing to sleeveless. I think those little sleeves would layer quite nicely, and the wide neckband with gathers makes it an appealing layering piece to me. (By the way, there’s a Creative Bug class for this one.)

Endless Summer Tunic from A Verb for Keeping Warm, noted above, has lots of really nice details — including optional side-seam pockets — but is probably the most challenging pattern on this list. I’ll get there.

Just typing this up has me itching to grab my Fashionary and sketch out all the mods and hybridizations that are running around in my head, which I promise to share. And I’m sure many of you have other great suggestions, so please add them below!

This weekend I’ll be sketching, sewing, knitting and taking Bellows pics. (Yes, that is a glimpse of it in the top photo up there.) Love to hear what you’re working on—


First of the best of Fall 2015: Wool and Gang walks again

First of the best of Fall 2015: Wool and the Gang walks again

Following last year’s Eek hat for the Giles Fall ’14 collection, my friends over at Wool and the Gang had more knits walking the runway at London Fashion Week yesterday. This time they collaborated with Christopher Raeburn on his shark-themed Fall ’15 collection. As seen in the photos here (from @woolandthegang and @jade_harwood) the pieces include a pair of shark-shaped mittens plus a killer multi-color slouch beanie and big fringed scarf. The mittens, dubbed the Bruce Knitmitts, are available on their site straight away, both as finished goods and a knit kit, and they’ve promised to let me know when the hat and scarf patterns are available later this year. My compliments to the Gang on what must have been another thrilling ride. And to Raeburn, who looks pretty pleased with those mittens.

p.s. They were kind enough to send me an Eek hat kit when I was crying for a fast break from my four months with Amanda, but I haven’t knitted it up just yet. Love. That. Hat.

p.p.s. If I had the sewing chops, I would totally be making my own version of that olive-drab duffel coat with Grainline’s pattern. That is my dream coat right there.


New Favorites: Modified ganseys

New Favorites: Modified gansey sweaters

I’m always hearing people talk about the gansey — relative of the cabled aran jumper in the classic fisherman-sweater family — and its characteristic underarm gusset. One of these days I’ll knit one and understand more specifically what the traditional construction is like. But it might have to get in line behind these recent interpretations, which are both calling out to me —

TOP: Eastbound Sweater by Courtney Kelley has an “exploded gusset” and slouchy shape, looks like the perfect spring/fall sweater to me

BOTTOM: Alvy by Jared Flood might be gussetless (not sure) but borrows the gansey look for a nicely androgynous sweater


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Foldover mitts

Boxes out and boxes in

Boxes out, boxes in, boxes out

It’s been such a surreal week, being snowed in (iced in) for the first time in years, along with the rest of Nashville. I always loved that feeling of an entire community waving the white flag in the direction of normal daily proceedings and going sledding instead. But this week was more about cabin fever while working at home, and just trying to get the Fringe Supply Co. orders shipped in a timely fashion, which we were mostly able to do! I’m also happy to report that UPS and USPS arrived bearing boxes we’ve been waiting anxiously for:

– the sold-out Bookhou storage boxes and large pocket pouches are sold out no more!
– the Bookhou flat rectangle pouch is also back, in three prints plus two waxed canvases, and the large pocket pouch now also comes in tan wax — I’m in love with this!
Knitters Graph Paper Journal is back in stock
– the concave horn buttons are restocked, along with the cream bone version
– and the narrow-rim buttons are filled back in and also now available in cream bone too, in all three sizes

It’s also been a joy this week seeing copious Audrey hat knitalong hats appearing on Instagram (under #fringehatalong), along with a handful at Ravelry. If you haven’t cast on yet, no worries. There’s no schedule, so there’s no such thing as too late!

I’m jealous of everyone headed for Stitches West this weekend but am looking forward to sitting on my couch and knitting. How about you?