New Favorites: Martin Storey’s mega cables

New Favorites: Martin Storey's mega cables

If it’s anywhere near as hot where you are as it is where I am (hooray, we finally made it to Nashville!) this photo might make you recoil. But this is one of my favorite things I saw at the trade show in May, and I’m happy to see the pattern is now published. It’s Brecon by Martin Storey and it’s somewhere between a poncho and a cardigan, which I would expect to hate, but I love it. Or at least I remember loving it. Based on my reaction to it at the time, I feel certain I’ll be longing to knit and wear it once the temperature starts to dip. But it is kind of hard to imagine at the moment.

.

SPEAKING OF MY MOVE, things continue to not go as planned (which I guess I should have expected) so shipping is going to continue to be not-quite-daily for the time being. I’ve got a note at the top of the webshop about next projected ship date(s) and will keep that up for as long as it’s sporadic. Back to normal soon! (Or else somebody please shoot me.) But thank you to everyone for your patience in the meantime.

Cross-country knitting

Cross-country knitting

True confession: I had a meltdown on Monday morning. All I’m gonna say is our move did not go as planned — thanks, U-Haul! — and the long packing/loading/cleaning nightmare that should have ended on Sunday evening was nowhere near over. I woke up Monday in the guest room at my cousins’ house totally overcome with exhaustion and anxiety about the day ahead and gave my husband the impression that he might need to check me into a loony bin somewhere. Thankfully, I’m an ox (moments of weakness aside) and we have amazing friends and neighbors, and by Monday evening we were finally — finally! — out of our loft and into our car, pointed east. I told you a couple weeks ago that I had been managing to sneak in a few rows of knitting here and there to save my sanity, but it turns out that had ended shortly before that post. By the time we got into the car, I hadn’t knitted a stitch in thirteen days, and you’ll all understand when I say that was a contributing factor.

ANYWAY, among the many beautiful things about being in the car is that I can finally knit again. Hallelujah. But here’s the thing: I barely have! Between Tahoe and Salt Lake City on Tuesday I finished the upper part of the front of this tank. And between SLC and Denver on Wednesday, all I did was pick up and knit the neck. The landscape is so relentlessly stunning I didn’t want to take my eyes off it for even a second, but the combination of staring out the window (not packing!) and knitting a little bit here and there has been wildly therapeutic. And the happiest thing I have to report is that, despite previous misgivings, it fits perfectly. It should be done by Kansas City.

Have a fun-filled 4th of July weekend, y’all!

.

Future most-worn handknit

Greetings from Utah! Awhile back Ashley Yousling, one of my favorite knitterly people, happened to mention that she had never knitted anything for herself — only for other people. I loved what happened next, and am happy to have her here to tell us all about it today. Thanks, Ash!
—kt

Future most-worn handknit

My journey as a dedicated knitter first began much like Karen’s, with the discovery of Joelle Hoverson’s Last Minute Knitted Gifts through a friend I worked with. The seed was planted years earlier as a child, when a great aunt taught me the basics of knitting. Renewed interest and patience did not come until adulthood and even then it would take time to foster this fiber relationship. I’d often start projects and never finish them. This was an enduring trait I’d had since childhood. But when my niece was born, I chose small projects and found great satisfaction in finishing them. I completed a variety of knits that year, ending it with an ambitious goal of knitting everyone’s Christmas presents. My interest waned drastically. It wasn’t until I found out I was pregnant with my son that I picked up my needles again. That is when my love affair with knitting and wool truly began.

I again started with small projects, but this time chose increasingly more difficult and time consuming patterns. Much of my renewed dedication to knitting was owed to my growing knowledge of fibers and technique. A few months back I realized I had never actually knit anything for myself. Someone tagged me on Instagram asking, “What is your most-worn hand knit?” I didn’t have one! The next day I started on my first personal knit, a pair of very colorful socks.

Soon thereafter, due to much knitting jealousy (it’s a real thing I swear) I wondered if I had the gumption to knit a sweater for myself. I had never knit anything adult sized for the very reason I mentioned earlier. With much encouragement from knitting friends Karen and Anna, I took the plunge and ordered ten skeins of Brooklyn Tweed Loft for my first sweater, Reine. As soon as the yarn arrived, I got to work, focused on doing everything the “right” way. Swatching, measuring, note taking and so on. Progress was slowed only by my career and motherhood, not by any lack of interest. With every hurdle overcome, I fell more in love with knitting, more infatuated with wool and more confident in my skills as a maker. I suppose I had a very well-written pattern to thank as well.

This past week I knit the final stitches on the sweater, made just for me. I still can’t believe the fit or feel. It’s pretty magical. I discovered the antique buttons at a local haven I’d been hearing about, Exclusive Buttons in El Cerrito, and couldn’t be happier. If you’re ever in the Bay Area, make sure to visit. The sweet little old lady Mary has owned the place for 30 years and has a story or two to go along with your purchase.

If you’ve been holding back, consider this a pep talk. Go knit yourself something amazing.
—Ashley Yousling

Future most-worn handknit

For more from Ashley, check out her blog, Woolful, and follow @woolful on Instagram. And p.s. I can’t believe I never made it to Exclusive Buttons before I left town!

.

Q for You: How do you store your patterns?

Q for You: How do you store your patterns?

My friend and former wonder-helper Anie proposed this Q awhile back, and it came to mind as I was packing my desk for the move. Most of my knitting patterns are downloads. The moment a PDF comes into my possession, I drop it immediately into Evernote and add some helpful tags so I’ve always got them available. In that regard they are all neatly stored and organized. But when I’m ready to actually knit from a pattern, I almost always print it out. I’m still a pencil-and-paper girl when it comes to annotating things, so I mark it all up before I start, and I leave myself notes about my mods at the end, so that I can (in theory) refer back to it if I ever need to. The prints have just been stacking up on my desk over the last couple of years, along with any paper patterns that come into my possession, which does happen from time to time. They’re not in any particular order or anything. And right now they’re in a giant ziploc bag in the back of the car, headed east. I like the idea of organizing them in some fashion in a binder, along with the ball band from the yarn, maybe a swatch? (ha!) But this is sure to get some interesting answers, so here’s my Q for You: How do you store/organize your patterns?

.

To live and dye in Oaxaca

To live and dye in Oaxaca

Jess Schreibstein, aka @thekitchenwitch, took a trip recently that I wanted desperately to see and hear more about, so while I’m (knock wood) on the road today, she’s here to tell us all about it. Thanks so much, Jess!
—kt

To live and dye in Oaxaca

The sun rises early in mid-May in Oaxaca. Around five in the morning, daylight crests the blue Sierra Juárez mountains and roosters begin crowing. I get up slowly, throw on a cotton dress and scarf, and join my host, Josefina, in the kitchen where she prepares coffee, eggs with avocado, sliced papaya with lime. It’s nine o’clock by the time I make my way down the cobblestone main road to the home of Federico Chavez Sosa, a third-generation master weaver who teaches me to weave rugs in the traditional Zapotec style in the small village of Teotitlán del Valle.

I had wanted to visit Oaxaca, and Teotitlán in particular, for years. It’s a fiber Mecca, with cascades of naturally-dyed skeins of churro wool baking in the sun, intricately patterned geometric rugs hanging from every shop doorway, and embroidery of fantastical animals adorning huipiles. But it wasn’t until last fall, when one of my closest friends, a Mexican, called me up to say that she was getting married in Oaxaca and that I was in the wedding so I better be there, that I finally bit the bullet and bought my plane ticket.

I arrived in Oaxaca City, a stunning old colonial town where all of the buildings are painted in pinks, tangerine orange, rust and aqua. The streets are a churning river of markets, hawkers, vendors selling icy sweet nieve and fresh tortillas with quesillo and roasted grasshoppers, teenagers texting, women in floral dresses with long black plaits down their backs. Teotitlán is a thirty minute drive east of the city and is everything the city is not – quiet but for the church bells and farm animals, brown adobe and brick walled houses overgrown with cacti, men and women greeting you with a Buenos días or Buenas tardes on the main road.

For four days, I visited Federico’s sunlit home and worked on my tapete, or rug. The middle of the bottom floor is an open courtyard reserved for carding, spinning, and dyeing yarn, a common feature in most homes in Teotitlán. For yarn, I was free to choose my colors from the dozens of skeins hanging from hooks on the wall in brilliant reds (cochineal), indigo blue (from the fermenting indigo vats), lemon and mustard yellow (marigold flowers), and sage green (Spanish moss). Each one was dyed by Federico and his family, who are all talented weavers and dyers in their own right. I was given my own treadle loom, a beast of a structure brought over by the Spanish in the early 1500s that for many replaced the simple but limited backstrap tension loom used by the Zapotec Indian people in Oaxaca. I stood bent over my work all day, shifting my feet on pedals to change the warp and throw the shuttle through the threads. It felt like skiing.

On the last day, Federico taught me how to “make the colors,” or dye yarn with plant and animal dyes. Out from the closets came bags filled with dried marigold, which he had gathered in the nearby mountains and smelled like anise. He showed me mango skins that his son had added to the bubbling indigo dye vats for acidity. And then, he revealed a glass jar filled with what looked like small, silver beads. It was cochinilla, the cochineal insect, carefully cultivated on cactus pads and dried, to be later ground into a fine powder that produces the richest natural red and purple dyes the world has ever known. He ground a small amount in a coffee grinder and added it to a big, boiling pot of wool. An hour later, we pulled the skein out of the dye vat, the color of royalty. The color of bougainvillea. The color of Oaxaca.

To live and dye in Oaxaca

I arranged my workshop with Federico through Oaxaca Cultural Navigator, an incredible resource for those interested in intensive weaving and dyeing workshops and cooking classes in Oaxaca. Norma Hawthorne connects interested travelers to local teachers and arranges lodging during your stay. More information is available at oaxacaculture.com.
—Jess Schreibstein

.

You may remember Jess from Our Tools, Ourselves. To keep up with all of her adventures, follow her blog Witchin’ in the Kitchen or @thekitchenwitch on Instagram.

.

All photos © Jess Schreibstein

TAC Magazine is here! (plus mid-move shipping schedule)

TAC Magazine is here!

This weekend begins the big move — and no, I’m not ready — but today I am thrilled to hit the pause button on that, because finally TAC Magazine has landed at Fringe Supply Co. and I am here to ship you your copy! Textile Arts Center in New York is a place I’ve been dreaming about ever since listening to a Design Sponge interview with one of the founders a couple of years ago. So when they announced they were doing a print magazine, my heart skipped a beat and I did a little dance. And then I immediately contacted them and bought a huge stack, sight unseen, trusting that it would be amazing. And it is! You can read all about it and grab your copy over at the webshop.

. . .

Speaking of shipping and the big move: As of Monday morning, Bob and I will be in a car headed for Nashville, but it will take us a week to get there. So there will be limited (partially mobile) shipping between now and July 7th.

HERE’S THE SHIPPING PLAN*:

  • Orders received this morning (06.27) will ship today
  • Orders by Sunday morning (06.29) will ship Monday morning (o6.30)
  • Orders between Sunday morning and Thursday morning (07.03) will ship Thursday
  • Orders after Thursday morning will ship the following Tuesday (07.08)

*That is my plan, but there are multiple stars that must align (i.e., circumstances not necessarily within my control) for it to work out that way, so I can’t make any guarantees, only statements of intention!

Likewise, if you send me an email or have a customer service issue to work out between now and the week of July 7th, please expect and forgive a slower-than-usual response.

I have some really good stuff lined up for the blog next week (again, stars willing) so do check in! And meanwhile, have a fantastic weekend!

.

New Favorites: Cable-ish socks

New Favorites: Cable-ish socks

I never did knit that cable-hat palate cleanser I was on about last month. But I still have a yearning for cables (I always have a yearning for cables) and am reminded of my goal to knit at least one pair of socks this summer. Ergo, cable socks — or at least cable-ish socks — are my new fixation:

LEFT: The Planorbis Corneus Socks by Hunter Hammersen are actually lace stitches that look a bit like basic cables (free pattern)

RIGHT: The Cross-Rib Socks by Ann Budd are cable stitches that look more like gothic cathedral architecture than traditional cables

.

PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: In my size, please