New Favorites: from Farm to Needle

New Favorites: from Farm to Needle

First, can I just tell you: I am blown away by the response to the Slow Fashion October kickoff. I’ve been reading all of the comments and blog posts (linked from the comments) and Instagram posts and their comments and ensuing discussions and … wow! I’m a little fearful of my ability to keep up with it all! But so thrilled to see that this has struck a chord and that so many people are into it. I’m more excited than ever to see what everyone has to say and share this month.

Second: This post is weird. But New Favorites is all about patterns I’m dying to knit, right? And right now at the top of that list is my own pattern. Weird, weird, weird. A lot of you had asked me to write out my version of the vintage men’s waistcoat I knitted earlier this year, but I really wanted to rework it from the ground up — different weight, stitch pattern, shoulder shaping, the whole nine yards. So when Anna officially asked me if I’d like to design something for her book — now known as Farm to Needle — given that Anna is a vest fiend like me, I suggested doing just that. And the Anna Vest pattern was born. The thing is: I didn’t knit it, and it’s not my sweater. I wrote the pattern and enlisted my amazingly talented friend and master sample knitter Jo Strong to do the principal knitting for me. I did the finishing and sent the vest off to be photographed, and am left wanting one of my own. So there it is: on my New Favorites list, with all the usual longing. (I also want the model’s braids.)

There isn’t a single thing in the whole collection that I wouldn’t love to make and have, but to my great surprise, the one other pattern I can’t get out of my head is Dianna Walla’s Aspen legwarmers (and socks), which must surely be the most fabulous legwarmers in history. Yes, I did just profess my love for a pair of legwarmers.

Weird, weird, weird.


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Dress-down sweaters

Knit the Look: Rachael Wang’s silvery cables

Knit the Look: Rachael Wang's silvery cables

You know my current obsession is slouchy dress-down sweaters over simple dresses, and I like ’em cropped, but I’m loving this long, all-platinum version photographed on Rachael Wang. To approximate her fisherman-cable sweater, all you need is Paton’s free pattern, the Honeycomb Aran pullover, knitted it in something luxe and silvery, such as Woolfolk’s Far in Color 03 or The Fibre Company’s Knightsbridge in Barley. Make it a size too big, and add a repeat or two above the hem.

If you’ve got the chops for sewing silk, you could easily make the dress to go under it. See April Rhodes’ Slip Dress pattern, which comes included with the Date Night Dress. Just cut it straighter and longer.

See Vanessa’s post for another look at Rachael’s outfit, head to toe.


PREVIOUSLY in Knit the Look: Alex Yuryeva’s plaid pullover


Street style photo © Vanessa Jackman; used with permission

Elsewhere: Cowichan edition

Elsewhere: Cowichan links edition

Although I picked it simply because I loved it and wanted to knit it, I had hoped the pattern pick for the Fringe and Friends Knitalong this year (Pierrot’s Cowichan-style Geometric Vest) would stir up some interest in Cowichan sweaters — despite the fact that it’s Cowichan-style and not an authentic Cowichan. Happily, there’s been even more questioning and discussion than I had imagined. I have a Q&A coming up with panelist Andrea Rangel about Cowichan Valley and the people and their sweaters, which has always been part of the plan, but I thought I’d preface that today with a special edition of the usual Elsewhere links list: a Cowichan edition. These links should offer some background as well as some specific guidance for those planning to knit along.

Note, too, that I have a conversation coming up on Monday with panelist Meri Tanaka in which we talk about Japanese patterns, how to read them, and specifically how to read this one. So if you’re nervous or having any difficulty interpreting the chart, look for that on Monday. For now, some links—


Cowichan knitting history at Wikipedia (somewhat flawed, as all Wikipedia entries are) which also talks a lot about the wool

The Story of the Coast Salish Knitters
PLEASE READ BEFORE CLICKING: Panelist Kathy Cadigan told me about this documentary before the knitalong kickoff, and it’s been mentioned both in the comments here and on Instagram. This is a pirated film — it was based on knitting designer Sylvia Olsen’s thesis and is on YouTube without the filmmaker’s permission, so it is a copyright violation. Sylvia herself is conflicted about this, as discussed in this blog post of hers, because it’s apparently the only way to see it. Follow your own conscience.

The Cowichan Sweater of Vancouver Island, a great piece on how things went terribly awry when the Vancouver Olympics committee tried to make a Cowichan the official sweater of their Olympics, shared by Alina in the comments


I am not in possession of any of these, but plan to rectify that asap! Some are out of print, but used copies can be found—

Salish Indian Sweaters: A Pacific Northwest Tradition by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts

Knitting in the Old Way by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts (pictured above, photo courtesy of Jess Schreibstein)

Working with Wool: A Coast Salish Legacy and the Cowichan Sweater by Sylvia Olsen

Knitting Stories: Personal Essays and Seven Coast Salish-inspired Knitting Patterns by Sylvia Olsen

Thanks to @kathycad and @thekitchenwitch for the recs.


Several of you have seized on Kathy’s comment in Meet the Panel about trapping the floats on every other stitch, which is how true Cowichan sweaters are knitted. We don’t know of a tutorial online that’s specific to Cowichan, but this technique is also called the woven method of stranded knitting, and Kathy sent me two fantastic links:

The first — the two-handed Fair Isle technique by Philosopher’s Wool — is a great intro to the two-handed method of stranded knitting, in which she also demonstrates trapping floats every other stitch when working from the knit side of the fabric.

The second — Weaving two-handed Fair Isle in purl and knit by Jodie Gordon Lucas — shows how to work the same technique from the purl side, which you’ll do if you’re knitting colorwork flat.


A few people have asked where they can buy authentic Cowichan sweaters — i.e., from the Coast Salish tribespeople — or how to make a donation. I have googled but don’t feel good about linking to anyone selling Cowichans online without having a way to say for sure that they’re dealing fairly with the Coast Salish knitters. If anyone reading this does know of a sure, reliable resource that sells online, please let me know or leave a link in the comments below. And that goes for any links you think are worth sharing! This list is certainly far from comprehensive, so bring it on!

. . .

Wabi Mitts kits are back in stock at Fringe Supply Co

IN SHOP NEWS: The time is right for my Wabi Mitts, and the kits are now back in stock in all 8 gorgeous colors of Habu’s incredible linen-wool roving. And if you’ve been looking for any of the sold-out sizes or colors of bone and horn buttons — either the narrow-rim or concave styles — look again! We got a bunch in this week. Get those and more at Fringe Supply Co.

Thanks for a great week, and please have an amazing weekend!


PREVIOUSLY IN #fringeandfriendskal2015: Meet the Panel! (full series here)

New Favorites: Dress-down sweaters

New Favorites: Dress-down sweaters

My new favorite thing in the world is dresses. Sadly, at the moment, I only own one! Since finishing it while I was in Florida, I’ve worn my linen dress nearly every day. (Post about that coming soon.) But basically, all I want to wear is dresses right now, with other stuff layered over them. As we’re heading into fall, that means I’m thinking about those layers. What I crave — in addition to the sleeveless turtlenecks and vests I’ve been smartly lining up — is simple, boxy, slightly cropped, super casual sweaters. Sweaters with which to dress down a dress. A consult with my closet this weekend showed me this is a major void right now, thanks to my recent focus on cardigans. The two that are always on my list are Purl Bee’s Sweatshirt Sweater and Julie Hoover’s Sanford (along with Shellie Anderson’s new Trace, of course), any of which I want to knit a little bit wide and cropped. The same goes for these two newer additions to my list:

TOP: Element by Kirsten Johnstone, another classic sweatshirty shape

BOTTOM: Inscribe by Shellie Anderson, a perfect layering piece with that deep V


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Crazy good colorwork

New Favorites: Crazy good colorwork

New Favorites: Crazy good colorwork

Seems like every time I’m writing about Marie Wallin, it’s her colorwork. And almost every time I’m writing about colorwork it’s Marie Wallin. All my favorite things lately seem to be colorwork (including Julie Hoover’s Ashland from BT Fall ’15), so I better hurry up and get more comfortable knitting it. I want a fully stranded sweater, and right now I want it to be Sleet by Marie Wallin, above. I don’t want it to be alpaca and mohair, mind you, but the patterning and the shape of this are slaying me right now. I even want it in those exact colors. (I mean: Duck Egg, Steel, Clay, Pearl, Ancient, Drab, Carbon and Anthracite? Come on!) Bought the pattern the instant I saw it.

I’m also immensely smitten with this month’s free Rowan download, more amazing Marie Wallin colorwork, which is Jura, below. Exquisite.

New Favorites: Crazy good colorwork

PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Trace

New here and there

New here and there

A little later this morning, the Brooklyn Tweed fall collection launches — always a fun moment — but this time around the collection also comes with a new yarn from them. So be ready to check that out later on. Also, announced yesterday is a book I’m extremely excited about. My pal Anna Dianich of Tolt Yarn and Wool asked me last spring if I’d be interested in contributing a pattern to a book she was planning, and I couldn’t be more honored to be part of it. It’s called “Farm to Needle: Stories of Wool,” and it tells the stories of five US yarn producers (with incredible photos by my other great pal Kathy Cadigan) along with patterns designed for the yarns from those farms, designed by Dianna Walla, Andrea Rangel, Veronika Jobe, Tif Fussell, Ashley Yousling and Annie Rowden, and me. Preorders start Friday and you can find out more on her Instagram feed.

MEANWHILE, there’s lots of great stuff at Fringe Supply Co. for you today. First of all, my very favorite wool soap is finally available at Fringe! (I’ve waited about two years for this, y’all.) The new Amirisu fall issue is here and it’s fantastic. The knitting patterns — two pullovers, two cardigans, a triangle shawl and two wraps — are so impeccable and wearable. (I also have some involvement in this one, with an essay about why I make my own clothes and about Slow Fashion October.) With the cooling temperatures here, we’ve finally put the beloved balms back up for sale! Both the Little Seed Farm balms for keeping your hands in great condition, and the Etta + Billie balm for immediately smoothing your fingertips when it’s time to pick up your knitting. Plus everyone’s favorite rulers are also back in stock, along with more repair hooks. So hop on over to Fringe Supply Co. and treat yourself!


Elsewhere: Fibery links for your clicking pleasure

Last day in Florida today and it’s been such a makeriffic week! I have lots to show you. But for now, Elsewhere:

“I love showing kids that you can take what was garbage, and with your own two hands and old equipment and no electricity, you can literally clothe yourself from head to toe.”

Cutest socks ever

– This whole issue of Seamwork looks amazing — my first click will be this brief history of tartan

This put a smile on my face, for obvious reasons

Another fantastic birth of a yarn story, Buchaille (plus scenes from the mill)

IN SHOP NEWS: The new Taproot is here! With a shawl pattern by Courtney Spainhower, among other treats. We’ve also replenished various sizes/kinds of buttons (still more coming soon), the Bento Bags, the repair hooks and the Field Bags!

Have a fantastic weekend — thank you for reading!


PREVIOUSLY in Elsewhere