Slow Fashion October, Week 2: SMALL — and some of my hardest working garments

Slow Fashion October, Week 2: SMALL — and the hardest working garments in my closet

So again, WOW on the response so far to Slow Fashion October. Today begins Week 2 and our theme is SMALL — we’re talking handmade / living with less / quality over quantity / the capsule wardrobe / indie fashion / small-batch makers / sustainability in every sense. I’d love to hear about everything from your favorite local-to-you designers to how and when you choose to add new items to your closet, wherever they may come from. A lot of people have pledged to spend this month really evaluating their wardrobes and their works-in-progress and making considered decisions about what stays, what gets finished/frogged/donated, what the gaps are, and how those will get filled. So this week should be great!

For me, for starters, I thought I’d show you the Gallery Dress I finished last month and keep going on about. I didn’t really realize it until it was finished, but this dress epitomizes the kind of thing I want in my small closet, being so incredibly versatile and wearable. (Albeit linen.) A few weeks ago, Kathy Cadigan came to Nashville to photograph a bunch of Fringe stuff with me over the course of two days. I had just finished the dress and couldn’t stop wearing it, and the night before our shoot, I was demonstrating to her that I could pull almost anything out of my closet, throw it on with this dress, and look (and feel) pretty damn great. So the next morning, we took a little bit of time to shoot some of those variations. (In our still-empty new living room, which I now think we should never furnish.) At the time, I wasn’t thinking of it as a Slow Fashion October post, but as I waited for the images and thought about it, I realized one of the most interesting parts is what I chose to grab for these photos. I didn’t do a lot of strategizing about what to include, wasn’t trying too hard to make it any particularly pointed range of looks. But as it happens, the things I reached for were some of some of my all-time favorites. The way that all of these beloved, hardworking, long-lasting pieces go together is exactly what I’m striving for with any new garment I decide to make or buy.

The dark spot in this is that some of these things are not of known origins, having been purchased before I began paying attention. So all I can do is hope that no humans were harmed in their making, wear them as long as possible, and do all I can to avoid new things being manufactured on my behalf.

TOP: Worn with a trench vest from J.Crew circa 2009 or ’10. Vests and trench coats are two of my favorite things, so I bought this immediately upon seeing it several years ago, and I can’t imagine there will ever be a year of my life that I don’t wear it. I love it immeasurably. I see now that it was made in the Philippines, hopefully in a reputable factory, but I don’t know. The tote is via Fringe Supply Co, made by a small and conscientious San Francisco company whose workroom I have visited. The boots are new J.Crew, made in Romania, and I wish I could know more than that. Ethical shoes are one of the hardest challenges. Regardless, I’ll be wearing these for years to come.

Slow Fashion October, Week 2: SMALL — and the hardest working garments in my closet

Paired here with the denim shirt I wear probably 150 days a year (including in a ridiculous number Fringe Supply Co. photos). It’s Madewell from several years ago, a dead-ringer for an identical predecessor I wore for at least ten years, and was made in China, so all the same caveats as above. When the time comes, I vow to sew my own replacement. The bag is handmade. The boots are Gap — any markings have worn off, but given what I paid for them I’m guessing they were made in China.

Slow Fashion October, Week 2: SMALL — and the hardest working garments in my closet

Here it is on its own. I was considering this one a try-out of the pattern and sewed it from some inexpensive linen I had on hand — made in China, purchased at JoAnn. It’s the dress version of the Gallery Tunic and Dress pattern (obviously), lengthened by 1.5 inches, band collar variation, and I left off the sleeves, finished the edges with bias. I’ll absolutely be making it again and will address the one fit issue which is the way it wants to form pleats at the shoulders. After consulting Liesl about it, I need to compare the slope of the shoulders to some other patterns that sit better on my frame and figure out how to adjust for that. If you sew and pay attention to this stuff, you know finding fabric that was not made in China is incredibly difficult, and I hope we’ll be able to explore that this month. Handmade bag. And J.Crew sandals from a couple summers ago, made in Italy.

Slow Fashion October, Week 2: SMALL — and the hardest working garments in my closet

This outfit makes my heart sing. The sweater is designed and knitted by me — version two of this one, pattern coming soon — and the bag is handmade by Poglia in NYC (a definite investment piece that will weather beautifully over the years). I would wear this every single day if I could get away with it. But what’s especially pleasing to me about it is that I sketched it and then I made it come true.

Slow Fashion October, Week 2: SMALL — and the hardest working garments in my closet

So we went on to shoot all the planned stuff for two days, and on the third morning, I got up and got dressed to drop Kathy at the airport and head to work. I put the dress back on and pulled my favorite sweatshirt over my head, and Kathy got the camera back out for one last shot. I don’t even know how old this sweatshirt is or where it came from. The tags are long gone. It has holes and stains and paint splatters, and should really never leave the house, but I love it too much to let it go. I’m going to attempt to copy it for myself, and also want to knit a sweater that fits exactly like this, for pulling on over everything. My pouch is handmade by Bookhou, one of the most thoughtful and admirable makers I know. (Returning to Fringe Supply Co. soon.)

I’m not sure I’ve ever owned a garment that elicited as many compliments this dress does, which isn’t why I wear it multiple times a week, but is a pretty nice benefit! I’m still wearing it, even though it’s linen and the weather has taken a serious turn, so if you expect to run into me anytime soon, odds are I’ll have it on.


PREVIOUSLY in Slow Fashion October: Week 1, You (me, all of us)

Photos by Kathy Cadigan

Slow Fashion October, Week 1: You (me, all of us)

Slow Fashion October, Week 1: YOU (me, all of us)

Happy first day of Slow Fashion October! If you haven’t seen the introduction (with the weekly themes/prompts), take a minute to read that over. The theme for this partial first week is YOU. As in you, me, all of us who are participating in any form. This is your chance to introduce yourself. Who are you — are you a knitter/sewer/mender/thrifter/weaver/small-batch-fashion designer? How did you come to be interested in the slow fashion movement, and what are you hoping to get out of this month? And do you have a special project in mind? This is also a time to think about how you want to participate — whether it’s daily, weekly or one contribution for the month; in the form of a comment here on the blog or in posts to your own blog and/or social media feeds. Whatever you’re comfortable with, that’s what you should do! If you do publish something on your blog, leave a link here for people to see, and be sure to use hashtag #slowfashionoctober on social media so everyone can follow along.

Each week, I’ll be highlighting some of my favorite contributions here on the blog, and will also feature people in various ways on the @slowfashionoctober feed on Instagram.

For my part — for anyone who might be new here — I’m Karen Templer and this is my blog. Last year I moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to Nashville, where I live with my husband and run Fringe Supply Co. I’ve known how to sew pretty much my whole life but have done it very sporadically. Learning to knit four years ago reminded me how incredible it is to wear something you made with your own two hands, bringing me back to sewing. And tapping into the incredible community of makers online really raised my level of awareness of some of the more political issues around disposable fashion and the human and environmental costs thereof. I’ve written an essay for the current issue of Amirisu about much of my motivation for building a handmade and/or known-origins wardrobe, and talked quite a bit about it in my Woolful podcast interview last winter. I also did an interview for Curious Handmade recently, wherein she asked a lot of really great questions around these subjects. So if you want to know more about me and where all of this is coming from, I’d recommend reading that interview! I also did a blog post last year about my Handmade wardrobe role models, and hope you’ll take a look at that if you missed it.

I’ll be posting here on the blog and on my @karentempler Instagram feed throughout the month, following the weekly themes. And my special project for the month will be to sew a garment from fabric my friend Allison Volek-Shelton of Shutters and Shuttles is weaving for me. So expect periodic check-ins on that project, as well. (And wish me luck! So scary.) To learn more about Allison, listen to her on last week’s episode of Woolful.

p.s. SPEAKING OF AMIRISU, a little bit of shop news: Yesterday we got another short stack of the fall issue of Amirisu (the one with my Slotober essay), and also have some amazing new additions to the vintage fiber mill spindles for you. Check it out!


PREVIOUSLY in Slow Fashion October: Get ready!

Slow Fashion October — get ready!

Slow Fashion October — get ready!

Ok, lovelies. Here’s my outline for Slow Fashion October (previously discussed here and here). There’s nothing formal or prescriptive about this — you can do as much or as little as you like; use my prompts or ignore them entirely. Whether you just spend the month reading along and pondering these topics, or you take specific steps of some kind with regard to your wardrobe, or you address any or all of these issues in whatever way — on your blog or Instagram or around the table at your local yarn/fabric shop or wherever — it’s all entirely up to you. I just want to present a little bit of a framework for those who find it useful.

Slow Fashion is a big subject, and I want every week to be inclusive of everyone who might be interested — from sewers and knitters to thrifters and menders and anyone just trying to be more mindful and informed about where their clothes are coming from and what environmental impact their buying habits have. So I’ve broken the month down into weekly themes that encompass everyone, hopefully—

“Week” 1,  October 1-4: YOU
First let’s introduce ourselves: Where are you at with all this / What first got you interested in Slow Fashion / What are your skills / What do you hope to get out of Slow Fashion October / What are your personal goals for the month / Do you have a special project you plan to tackle this month?

Week 2, October 5-11: SMALL
handmade / living with less / quality over quantity / capsule wardrobe / indie fashion / small-batch makers / sustainability

Week 3, October 12-18: LOVED
proudest accomplishment / most loved item / most frequently worn item / thing you saved up for / investment pieces / thing you worked a long time on / oldest thing that’s still in rotation

Week 4, October 19-25: WORN
second-hand / mending / caring for things / laundering for longevity / design for longevity (bucking trends, quality materials …) / heirlooms

Week 5, October 26-31: KNOWN
favorite sustainable resources / “local” / traceable fabric and yarn origins / traceable garment origins / reference books, films, videos

Again, use this if it’s helpful, or take a whole different approach if you like. There’s no right or wrong. However you choose to go about it, if you’re sharing publicly use pingbacks or leave comments with URLs here so everyone can see. And also be sure to use the hashtag #slowfashionoctober to connect with others who are participating. I’ve also created an official Instagram account, @slowfashionoctober, so go ahead and follow if you’re there! I’ll fire that up on October 1 for general announcements and highlighting great posts and such. And of course I’ll be posting my own contributions on my @karentempler feed, in addition to all the blog content.

I’m sure you’ll all have a ton of brilliant ides and angles I haven’t thought of, so please be sure to weigh in below. And I’m so excited to see what everyone comes up with next month!

This fall on Fringe Association

This fall on Fringe Association

Have I mentioned how happy I am that it’s September? I know you’re all with me on this (in this hemisphere, at least). I’ve been getting a lot of questions about Slow Fashion October, in particular, and seeing lots of speculation here and there about the various upcoming knitalongs. I get that everyone’s curious and excited and also increasingly busy as we head toward the holidays, so I thought it’d be good to take a minute to discuss the fall highlights!

Fringe and Friends Knitalong
As noted last week, there’s another big Fringe and Friends Knitalong coming your way in two weeks. (If you missed last year’s Amanda/fisherman knitalong, it’s all here.) I’ll announce the pattern pick on Friday Sept 18th and introduce you to this year’s illustrious panel of knitters on Monday the 21st, and we’ll be off and running. Er, knitting. I’m super excited to show you these swatches! This year’s sweater is a super quick knit — the opposite of last year’s — and is in some ways insanely simple and in other ways interestingly challenging. It’s going to be a ton of fun to see what each of the panelists does with it — and what you all do.

Slow Fashion October
Yes, Slow Fashion October is happening! As you know, it’s inspired in large part by Me Made May, in the sense that it’s meant to be super participatory and a total community event. The focus and structure will be different, and I hope to involve not even just knitters and sewers, but also anyone who wants to be more thoughtful about their wardrobe and where their clothes are coming from.

There won’t be any kind of pledge or commitment — how you participate will be entirely up to you. There will be a hashtag of course (#slowfashionoctober), and I’m planning to structure it around weekly themes, with which you can do as you please. That may mean just thinking about these subjects and ways to apply them to your own life and closet, but it will hopefully mean sharing your thoughts and efforts and conclusions on your own blogs and social media, as well as in your offline social circles or around the community table at your local yarn/fabric shop or whatever the case may be. So I’ll declare a theme for each week and give you some ideas of subjects to think and talk about within that theme, and you take it from there!

I’ll post the outline for that here in the next week or two and again on the first of October. Cool?

I’ll be doing lots of posts here on the blog and on my @karentempler Instagram feed relating to those themes and prompts. But I’m also declaring one specific, ambitious project for myself to tackle during that month, and I hope you’ll think about doing the same. Mine is that I’m going to sew a garment from fabric that my friend Allison Volek Shelton will be weaving for me. So I’ll have lots more to say about that, too! Your project might be to knit your first sweater, or to try your hand at sewing, or to push your own boundaries in whatever way, with the idea of creating a really special something that will have meaning to you for years to come.

Fringe Hatalong Series
The Fringe Hatalong Series (aka #fringehatalong) will continue throughout all of this, as well. You guys all know my one true love (for knitting and wearing) is cables, so of course the fall hat is a cable hat. It’s an original pattern designed for the hatalong by one of my favorite people, and it is just perfection. I cannot wait to show it to you and to cast on, so keep that in mind for mid-October. Totally doable even if you haven’t done cables before.

And then the last hat in the series will be revealed in either late November or early December. They’ve all been excellent hats for gift-giving, and I know a lot of you have been stockpiling them for that purpose, but this one is especially great for holiday knitting. It’s a men’s/unisex hat with really interesting construction, and again, I’m dying to get to it because I can’t wait to see for myself how it works.

I’ll have more on all of the above as their respective dates draw near! Which part are you most excited about?

Center photo by @shuttersandshuttles, used with permission

Q for You: Are you a kit knitter?

Q for You: Are you a kit knitter?

One of the most fascinating things about knitters, to me, is the variety of approaches and attitudes toward choosing yarn and projects and yarn for projects. There are people who have no interest in patterns and want to make everything up for themselves — finding half the joy in the planning and even the trial-and-error aspect of it. People who like a pattern but go their own way where yarn is concerned and/or make lots of pattern modifications. People who will only use the recommended yarn, either knowing that the pattern was designed for that yarn and using it will increase the likelihood of success, or not trusting themselves to choose something else. People who want exactly the pictured item, and will use not only the recommended yarn but the same color as the sample. And people who prefer the pattern and yarn be sold together in a kit, so not only is there minimal risk and no decision-making required, it’s a single purchase. I love it!

Like most things in knitting (and life) there is absolutely no right or wrong. We all come to knitting for different reasons. Some have mind-numbingly dull day jobs and knitting is their creative outlet. Others find the greatest escape and relaxation in having had someone else do all the math and planning for them — they just want to sit down and knit, and to feel reasonably confident the outcome will be positive. Among a million other scenarios. I get it: Some days I’m one of these people, and some days I’m the other. But most days I’m somewhere in between. I feel like if I want the thing exactly as pictured (which happens often enough), I’d rather buy it as finished goods, since there’s no room for me to bring any of my own thinking to it anyway. On the other hand, kits can be such enticing objects unto themselves. The Latvian mitten kit I won a couple years ago is one of my prized possessions, to the point that I can’t imagine unboxing it, so I guess that’s maybe a kit being too good? Wool and the Gang does such a beautiful job with their boldly bagged kits. (Of course, I like to think my own Fringe kits are pretty appealing!) And the other day I ran across Kit Couture and found myself wanting kit after kit. So that’s my Q for You this round: Are you a kit knitter? Or where do you fall on this spectrum?


PREVIOUSLY in Q for You: How do you store your yarn?

So about that yarn storage conundrum …

So about that yarn storage conundrum ...

Back in June, when we were just on the brink of looking for a house, I brought up the question of yarn storage — as in, what’s the safest thing for the yarn as opposed to the prettiest method of display. This weekend, I got to unpack the ridiculous amounts of stuff that go into my lovely but small new workroom — aka the third bedroom in our new house. Or at least I made a big dent in it: I still have plenty to do — including one very large box of mishmash that has to somehow fit into this storage wall — and perhaps when it’s “done” I’ll do my own Our Tools, Ourselves interview, but meanwhile I wanted to follow up about the yarn.

It was my hope with that Q for You that you’d sort of give me permission to stop storing yarn in plastic bags and bins, but the opposite wound up being true. In organizing these shelves, I’ve got one narrow row (below the large patterns-and-tools shelf) that’s designated for sweater quantities and upcoming projects — things that are on the brink of being used. And all the rest of the yarn is (in theory) in those four plastic bins along the bottom shelf. Those bins are mostly single skeins, many of which I bought long ago before I really knew what I liked, so that’s a project right there. Then there’s still a lot of actual beloved yarn in that big basket, which will move into these bins once I’ve separated out the chaff. So I guess those plastic bins are staying. I’m trying to talk myself into taking the on-deck yarns — the ones on the about-to-be-used shelf — out of their ziplocs. It would look a million times nicer, and possibly also ensure they do get used up efficiently, since they’d be right there staring at me in all their splendor. But I just can’t bring myself to do it! Yet.

So far, my favorite part of all this is my WIP shelf — the row of four folding rice baskets and two Field Bags. (One early prototype and one from the launch batch coming Weds!) I’m aiming to limit myself to what fits in this shelf: roughly two larger/garment/knitting projects, two sewing projects, plus two smaller or partial knitting projects in the Field Bags. And the same goes for the fabric stash — what fits on this shelf is plenty! It’s like portion control for the craft room.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Victoria Pemberton

In Our Tools, Ourselves, we get to know fiber artisans of all walks, ages, styles and skill levels, by way of their tools. For more on the series, read the introduction.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Victoria Pemberton

Australian multi-crafter Victoria Pemberton is one of those people I fell for on the Internet before knowing she was a knitter. A year or two ago, a bunch of Aussies I follow on Instagram were suddenly all talking about a really amazing sounding pop-up that was happening, and it involved repeated mentions of one @vic_pemberton, whose shibori home goods were really beautiful. After following her for a little while, I was thrilled to discover that not only does she dye and sew, she knits! And I’m happy to be able to give you a glimpse into her world today. Thanks, Vic!

Be sure to check out Vic’s blog and her gorgeous wares at Bind | Fold.

. . .

Do you knit, crochet, weave, spin, dye, sew … ?

I knit for pleasure, and also for the resulting product. I had three goes at learning to knit, and the third time is the one that stuck. I was 6 months in to being a mother, and I wanted to knit my son a jumper. I just went for it — I was so determined that this time I was going to ROCK at knitting. I was very slow, and I knit an awful sweater, and it was a struggle. My finishing was pretty rubbish, but then I learned about all these great things like mattress stitch, and kitchener stitch and knitting in the round, and OMG continental knitting! Switching my yarn to my left hand was the clincher for me — I could suddenly knit 3 times faster, with better tension, and I could hold both needles up at the same time.

I am also a sewer. I had wanted to sew a quilt for a really long time, and one day I borrowed a sewing machine from a friend and I made a quilt! And it was amazing! After that I got really into it — I bought my own sewing machine and made a few quilts. These days I sew mostly items for sale, but I also like to sew clothes for myself and my son when I can. I’d really like to learn how to make jeans and jackets. I love both of those things very much.

Finally, I am also a dyer. This is my work, my life, and the craft I pursue more than any other. I work with indigo and I have what feels like a living relationship with my work. I took up dyeing when my son was one year old (I seem to measure everything by his age), and it was summer and I wanted to give it a shot. I’d been thinking about quilting again and textile design, and dyeing looked like a good start. It was immediate and hands on. I used cold water dyes for awhile, but I became interested in traditional dye techniques, discovered shibori and then moved to natural dyes.


Tell us about your tool preferences and peccadilloes.

For knitting, I use knit pro bamboo circulars. A woman I met on the internet put me onto them quite early on in my knitting journey and I’ve never used anything else. I really like that I can just change the tips and I’m good to go. I do need to look into getting metal ones for smaller sizes, though. I must have freakishly strong hands because I keep snapping them.

My sewing gear is quite limited. I have my trusty Bernina, my universal or microtex needles, and either cotton or poly thread depending on what I’m making. I don’t really deviate outside of that. Oh yeah, and scissors. Everyone get ready to cringe: I
cut paper with my fabric scissors all the time!! Arrgh!! Sorry internet.

For my dye tools, I love a good C clamp, a pipe and a well-twisted piece of cotton string. I’m also quite partial to bathroom tiles for using as a resist — it’s always interesting when you clamp them too tight and they crack. It can do really cool things.

How do you store or organize your tools? Or do you?

Ok, my secret is out. I am an extremely organized disorganized person. I suffer from what I call “organizational fits.” These usually come about after “creative fits” where I have so much going on in my studio that I can’t find or do anything.

With my knitting, I’ll put all my needles, cables, tapestry needles, and stitch markers and string and tiny scissors in a basket. Then over the course of a few weeks, that basket gets full, so I reorganize into smaller baskets of stuff, grouping similar objects. This then deteriorates to stuff just being everywhere in random baskets, bags, cases and surfaces as I use things, change needle tips and start new patterns. My needle tips just end up everywhere, most recently I’ve been putting them in my random tool jar on my desk.

My sewing and dye tools are pretty much stored in the same way. They all have specific homes, it’s just they don’t get to live in them all the time.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Victoria Pemberton

How do you store or organize your works-in-progress?

Ah, I’m not too bad with this one. I’m a one-project-at-a-time woman, most of the time. For knitting I used to just “store” my WIP on the back of the couch, and stuff the pattern pages down the side of the arm where I sit. But we got a puppy a few months ago and she is obsessed with my knitting, and she steals it and eats it! So now I have a basket up high next to the couch, and I only keep the project I’m working on and the tools I need for it in it, until it’s done. All within arm’s reach at the end of the day, ready for my next knit marathon. So far the dog has left it alone under threat of being forced to sleep on the floor.

My sewing works-in-progress get piled (neatly) all over the studio, on the ironing board, my desk, the back of my chair, and they just get moved about from all these really visible places. I leave them out to remind myself to “do some work!”

My dye works-in-progress just get to hang out in buckets with lids on them until they’re washed out. Then they join the piles in my studio. These then get organized into cupboards and shelves during one of my “organizational fits.”

Are there any particularly prized possessions amongst your tools?

No :( I should get some. I do love all my tools, though — they’re so useful. I’ve just asked a farm where the owner is also a spinner to hand spin me some top that I’ll dye first for a jumper. So that will be a splurge and it’s going to be a great project once it happens. It kind of makes me want to learn to spin too!

I suppose I do have one thing that is special. I visited Hiroyuki Shindo recently and I bought a new little pouch from him, made from his dye work. It’s my new knitting bag.

Do you lend your tools?

Well I haven’t so far, but that’s because I’m a bit of a solitary crafter. I do let my students use my tools when I’ve got a workshop on, does that count?

I’ve been trying to convince my husband we should do a “knowledge swap.” Where once a week, we teach each other something about things we love doing. I want to teach him to knit, and I said he could teach me computer programming, but he doesn’t seem that keen. I don’t think he has any faith in my geek abilities. I don’t know if I could lend anything, though; What if I
need it? Maybe I’ll buy my husband his own set of needles. Now I know what to get him for his birthday.

What is your favorite place to knit/sew/crochet/whatever?

My fave place to knit is on the couch, in front of the telly, or while listening to an audiobook. I have it all set up, with a little lamp so I can see my knitting late at night. My feet are on the coffee table. I have a cup of cocoa, and my basket of knitty things is beside me. On weeknights our dog curls up and sleeps beside me, and on weekends if I’m lucky my son comes and
sneaks in under one arm and we’ll watch a movie together. It’s pretty special actually. I sew only in my studio, and I dye only in the yard. If it’s really really pouring rain and I have to work and I only have small things to dye, I’ll work in the laundry. I don’t like to though, because there isn’t much room and it’s a white room. Every time I drip dye on the floor I freak out a little that it will stain. It hasn’t yet, but I still worry that it will.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Victoria Pemberton

What effect do the seasons have on you?

I knit almost all year round. Last year I took maybe a two-month break around November. I think because it was quite hot, I was busy with work and next winter seemed so far away that I just stopped! I guess I sew more in summer, I’m obsessed with short sleeve tops made out of linen and other lightweight breezy fabrics.

I do like to knit in summer though, I feel like I’m preparing for winter. I like to have at least one sweater finished by March/April because that’s when it starts to get cold here. Sometimes to get me into the groove, I’ll watch movies or TV shows that have snow in them. It totally works! It just makes you want to get cozy.

I sew and dye all year around, since it’s for work, but boy, dyeing outside in winter can really be brutal. Last week I had three work days in a row where I needed to be outside dyeing, and we’ve just had what is being referred to as an “antarctic blast” — kind of like the polar vortex you had in the US, but milder I suppose. It wasn’t mild for us though, it was 2 degrees outside the other day! I spent all day with my hands in cold water in 2 degrees!

In summer though, gosh it’s great. It’s sunny, warm, and just relaxing. I think I could definitely get into being a seasonal crafter. I never used to like summer until I became a dyer, but now I kind of love it.

Do you have a dark secret, guilty pleasure or odd quirk, where your fiber pursuits are concerned?

When I first started sewing, I felt like building a stash was really important. I was really into quilting, and I loved all the great quilting fabric you could get, so I amassed quite a bit of it. The thing is, though, I never sewed with it. I ended up selling it, because I’d always find a different project that it wasn’t right for. I do have some amazing linen that I just bought in Japan, which totally makes me a hypocrite, but I have very real things to make with them, they’re not just for a future not yet thought of project.

So I guess I don’t really believe in having a stash! The same goes for my knitting. I like the immediacy of picking a project and the yarn at the same time. It makes it exciting. It’s a thrill. More of a thrill, I think, than finding a great pattern and then thinking “Dammit, now I have to use up some of the yarn I have, and it’s all BORING.”

No guilty secrets or quirks for my dyeing. However, I do really enjoy the different scents of most natural dyes. Is that weird? Some of them just smell like a warm hug.

What are you working on right now?

I am just sinking my teeth into the new Koto pattern by Olga Buraya-Kefelian. I love how structural it is; I’m really excited by it. It reminds me of Japanese architecture, concrete slabs and minimalism. I find it organic, geometric and soothing. Hopefully that makes sense! The yarn I’m using for it is from a farm called Tarndie, about two hours drive from Melbourne. It’s an amazing place and the owners are the descendants of the family who bred Australia’s first sheep, the Polwarth. It’s amazing yarn and I actually love it so much that my last three projects before this used their yarn. It’s incredibly soft and warm. For dyeing, I’m doing some new exciting stuff too, actually. I’ve been keen to try out some new ideas for awhile and I’m finally getting around to it. At the moment I’m trying out different resist techniques on different fabrics. Hopefully I’ll have something to show for it soon!

Our Tools, Ourselves: Victoria Pemberton

PREVIOUSLY in Our Tools, Ourselves: Marlee Grace