First of the Best of Resort 2016: Tory Burch’s textiles

Best of the Best Knits of Resort 2016: Tory Burch

Tory Burch’s Resort 2016 collection is a bit of an odd mish-mash of girly florals and Southwest-ish motifs, but the high points are so high. Namely, the kachina doll necklace and shoes, and the two textile-riffic outfits above. It’s hard to imagine that vest with the tassels and fringe not winding up as my Best of the Best for this season, but I’m also crazy for the black-and-ivory pullover with that incredible woven skirt.

One of my personal goals for Slow Fashion October is to sew something from fabric woven by my friend Allison, and this gets my mind racing.


PREVIOUSLY: Best of Fall 2015


Yarny links for your clicking pleasure

Hey, thanks for the all the love for yesterday’s new Hatalong pattern, Hermaness Worsted! It’s been really fun to watch all the downloads and see it climbing the Hot Right Now page at Ravelry. If you haven’t already faved or queued it over there, the pattern page is right here.

Meanwhile, Elsewhere:

Can fashion be fast and sustainable? (thx, Lori D)

Awesome clothesline basket tutorial


— New fantasy yarn shopping destination is Avril in Japan thanks to random successive visits by @vic_pemberton and @keristk

— Also fantasizing about the beautiful new linen fabrics from Purl Soho

— Does everyone know about Fibreshare? (thx, Nutmeg)

— Must-watch #1: Miss Wool of America, 1965

— And Must-watch #2: Yarn 101 (did you sign up for that CreativeBug membership the other day?)

ALSO: Summer Solstice is my favorite day of the year, and to me summer and magazines go hand in hand, so from now through Sunday night, all in-stock Books & Magazines are 15% off with the code MAGADDICT at Fringe Supply Co. Happy stocking up, and happy weekend!


PREVIOUSLY in Elsewhere

Fringe Hatalong No. 3: Hermaness Worsted by Gudrun Johnston

Fringe Hatalong No. 3: Hermaness Worsted by Gudrun Johnston (free pattern)

The Shetland Trader Book TwoI’ve mentioned not once but twice how much I admire and want to knit Gudrun Johnston’s Hermaness hat, from her beautiful collection The Shetland Trader – Book Two. When I thought about how much I wanted us all to knit a quick and simple lace hat this summer, Hermaness was all I could think about, but it’s fingering weight. So I asked Gudrun what she thought, and she generously worked up a worsted-weight version and has made it available to us as a free pattern for Fringe Hatalong No. 3! Just click to download the Hermaness Worsted pattern PDF.

I ADORE it at this chunkier gauge and hope you’ll love it as much as I do. As I mentioned in the preview, this is very simple lace, so if you’re a seasoned lace knitter you can do it in your sleep. If you’re a lace first-timer, it’s an absolutely perfect place to start! And if you don’t believe me, try swatching it — it’s important to swatch anyway, and it’ll be good practice before you start in on the real hat. I’ve got lots of how-to advice below, and the whole Hatalong community will be happy to help if you have any questions or trouble along the way!

If you prefer the fingering-weight version, you can buy that one individually at Ravelry or buy the book. You’re welcome to knit either Hermaness or Hermaness Worsted for the knitalong. Remember to share everywhere with hashtag #fringehatalong.

Fringe Hatalong No. 3: Hermaness Worsted by Gudrun Johnston (free pattern)HOW TO SWATCH FOR

Gauge for the pattern is 22 sts per 4 inches in the lace pattern, and it’s an 8-stitch repeat. So if you cast on three repeats [3×8] that’s 24 sts, which should get you 4 inches of knitting to measure. You do need to swatch “in the round” and you’ll need a couple of stitches on either side of the lace to keep it intact and measurable. So I cast on 30 sts: 3 in stockinette, 24 in the lace stitch, and 3 more in stockinette. Target row gauge is 29 rounds per 4 inches, so I worked 30 chart rows: 1-20, then 1-10 again. Block before you measure since lace, of all things, changes once it’s resting.

As far as how to measure this one, Gudrun’s advice is to pick an identifiable spot in the lace to measure from — either a yarnover or a psso — and measure to a spot that is 8 or 16 or 24 sts away from that. For instance, if I measure from the left edge of the left-most yarnover in my swatch to the equivalent yarnover two repeats away (16 sts away) I get 3 inches. 16 sts divided by 3 inches is 5.33 sts per inch. Multiplied by 4 inches is 21.32 sts, so my gauge is slightly bigger than Gudrun’s 22 sts. The body of the hat is worked over 120 sts — at 5.33 sts per inch, that’s a 22.5-inch hat, so I’ll need to go down one needle size. Make sense? Ask questions below if not.

(For further thoughts on the why and how of swatching, see How to knit a hat, part 2: Gauge and size.)

How to knit from a chartHOW TO KNIT FROM A CHART

A chart is simply a picture of the right side of a piece of knitted fabric, with each stitch mapped out. They can be infinitely easier to mentally process than long strings of written-out instructions, and yet charts can seem intimidating when you’re new to them. I think the most important thing to keep in mind right off the bat is that we only knit one row at a time, so if you only look at one row, it will seem instantly less scary! It’s a good idea to use a post-it note or piece of washi tape (or the thousand other really great suggestions people will make in the comments) to track which row you’re working on. Some people stick it below the row they’re working; some stick it above. Do whatever makes the most sense to your own brain — there’s no right or wrong. I’m a post-it-below person, but for the sake of reducing the chart to just Row 1 for you, I stuck it above for this photo. See how much more digestible that is? Go ahead and print out the PDF or have it open on your screen so you can see the whole thing and the legend while we talk about how to work it.

We knit from right to left and each new row is created on top of the one before it, so you’ll see a little number 1 at the bottom right corner of any chart — that’s where you start. Generally speaking, an empty square is a knit stitch, and a square with a black dot in it is a purl stitch, of which there are none in this particular chart. For any symbols you don’t recognize (you’ll memorize the basic ones the more charts you use), there’s always a legend telling you what each symbol means. I classify this as a simple chart for three reasons: 1) it’s only 8 stitches wide, 2) there are only three kinds of stitches (knits, yarnovers and that broom-looking thing we’ll get to in a minute), and 3) there are only three different stitch sequences. At least in the main chart.

Row 1 of this chart tells you to knit the first two stitches, then that broom-y thing (consulting the legend plus the abbreviations list if needed) means “sl1kw (slip 1 stitch knitwise, or “as if to knit”), k2tog (knit 2 together) and psso (pass the slipped stitch over),” then knit two more stitches, yarnover (wrap your yarn once around your needle), knit one, yarnover. You can totally handle those eight stitches — just take them one at a time — and then you simply repeat the sequence until you reach the end of the round. Row 2 is all knit stitches! And then you’ll notice Row 3 is exactly the same as Row 1 — nothing new to learn. In fact, all of the even numbered rows are just knit every stitch, and the odd rows 1 through 9 are all the same. Then the odd rows from 11 through 19 are the same three stitches just in a different order. So like I said, there are only three different stitch sequences in the whole body of the hat, one of which is just knit every stitch. Plus the whole chart repeats, as indicated by the red border. (In some cases there might be stitches on either side of the chart that don’t repeat, but there’s none of that here.)

The other reason this is a great first lace or chart project is that a hat is knitted in the round, which means every row/round is worked from the right side. Since we’re never turning the work and working a wrong-side row, we never have to imagine ourselves behind the chart, like you do when you’re knitting flat. We’ll tackle that some other time! For now, just take pleasure in working every chart row from right to left, exactly as pictured in the chart. By the time you get to the Crown Shaping Chart, you’ll have chart-reading licked.


Stitch markers are your friend. I’m a perfectly competent knitter but I have a very short attention span and I also watch TV while I knit (sometimes with subtitles!) so I find it very helpful to place a marker between each repeat. In other words, when you get to row one of the chart, work the 8 stitches of the chart, count that you have 8 sts on your right-hand needle, and place a marker. Then work the 8 sts again, pm, etc, all the way around. Make sure your Beginning of Round marker is different in size, color or something so you know where your round ends and a new one begins. And then be careful, in this case, that the yarnover next to a marker doesn’t try to pop over the marker.

As is counting. Now as you work your way through the chart, if you ever find yourself with more or less than 8 sts between your markers, you’ll know right away that you’ve done something wrong.

Those knit rounds are saviors. If you do make a mistake, just take a deep breath and look at what you’ve got between your markers as compared to what the chart says you should have. Tink back as needed and straighten it out. And if you can’t figure it out — or you spot a mistake in an earlier row — rip back to a knit round. If you rip out a lace round, the one before it will have been all knit stitches, which are much easier to put back on your needle so you can start again. No need to panic about trying to put lace stitches back on your needles!

A lifeline might help you sleep. I think the knit-stitch rows are really all the safety net you need in this case, but some of you might like a lifeline just for good measure. To create a lifeline, you simply thread a length of smooth waste yarn (cotton is best) onto a tapestry needle and run it through a full round of stitches on your needle, being careful not to split your yarn in the process. Why would you do this? If you need to do a big rip, you just rip back to the lifeline and it will hold that row of stitches safe for you to slip your needle back into. So perhaps you want to place one after every five or ten successfully completed rounds. Then just pull it out when you’re all done.

Fringe Hatalong No. 3: Hermaness Worsted by Gudrun Johnston (free pattern)

DOWNLOAD THE HERMANESS WORSTED HAT PATTERN and remember to share your progress with hashtag #fringehatalong wherever you post. I’ll be on the lookout for photos everywhere, and will be answering questions posted in the comments below. (Sorry, I’m not able to reliably answer questions across multiple platforms!)

I can’t wait to see your hats!

And make sure to save/fave it on Ravelry: Hermaness Worsted


PREVIOUSLY in the Fringe Hatalong Series: No. 2 L’Arbre by Cirilia Rose

New Favorites: Fair-weather friends

New Favorites: Fair-weather friends

Summer has arrived in full force, after a really lovely and long Spring and pre-Summer, as I’ve been calling it. Which means the air conditioners of Nashville are all officially on full blast, my sinuses are on the fritz (TMI, I know), and all I can think about is how to keep my neck warm. These pale beauties are both calling out to me:

TOP: The Purl Bee’s Crosshatch Cowl is as spare and simple as it gets — and would make the perfect constant companion (free pattern)

BOTTOM: The Bonnie Banks Shawl has flirted with me twice in my inbox — first in a link from a Clara Parkes email about the yarn, then in an email from the designer, Beatrice Perron Dahlen, who had kindly sent me the pattern after I’d favorited it at Ravelry. I’ve sworn off shawl knitting, of course, but this one is mighty tempting.


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Crochet temptations

Free learning!

Free learning!

There’s something else I learned this weekend that I want to pass along, which is that CreativeBug is free for 30 days right now. (This is not in any way a sponsored post. There are none of those here.) CreativeBug and Craftsy are two very deep rabbit holes I’ve so far avoided falling into, but I’ve been especially tempted lately when my friends Jaime and Amber (of Fancy Tiger) have mentioned their latest CreativeBug classes, on both knitting and sewing. During the course of Liesl’s workshop this weekend, she also mentioned several times “by the way, I have a CreativeBug video on [whatever the topic might have been] if you need a refresher,” which really drove home the utility of it. And then one of my classmates mentioned that it’s free right now. Not the “give us your credit card and we’ll start billing you in 30 days” kind of free; the “create a login and start watching all you like” kind of free. There’s a link and code on Liesl’s blog. It looks like the code is good through June 30th and your 30 days start at the time that you use it. (As opposed to its expiring on June 30th. Hope I’m right about that.) And yes, I already fell in. Major binge fest coming up!

My weekend with Liesl

My weekend with Liesl

I had the most remarkable weekend and want to tell you guys all about it, but it’s big jumble of a story about friends and family and bust size and handmade clothes and … I hardly know where to begin. So let me start here:

When I was at Squam last June with lots of people asking about our decision to move to Nashville, several said, “Have you heard about Anna Maria Horner’s thing, Craft South?” I hadn’t, and I knew the name Anna Maria Horner only as someone big in the sewing world, which I wasn’t especially tuned into at the time. When I got home and looked it up, I discovered that Craft South was a yarn and fabric store that was nearly a year from birth, but in the meantime it was a series of weekend-long workshops, one of which was three days with Liesl Gibson, a pattern designer I’d been following on Instagram (where she’s @lieslgibson and @oliverands). This was around the time I took a solemn vow to get past my Lifetime Beginner status as a sewer, and I wanted desperately to sign up for that workshop, but it coincided with the move in a way that just wasn’t possible. Plus it was crazy expensive and we were already taking on quite enough crazy for one summer, thankyouverymuch.

Shortly after we got here, I got a long and very sweet email from Anna Maria out of the blue, introducing herself and welcoming me to town, and her friendship has been one of the great blessings of the move. As Craft South got close to opening a few months ago, they sent out their workshop schedule for the new space, and I was thrilled to see Liesl’s class on there again. There was still the hard-to-swallow matter of the expense and it wasn’t entirely clear what it was about, other than something to do with fit, but I figured whatever she was teaching I wanted to learn it, and I didn’t want to miss another chance. So between Friday night and yesterday afternoon, I spent a total of 22.5 hours holed up at the shiny new shop with Liesl and Anna Maria and another 15 talented women, having a complexly wonderful and challenging time.

My weekend with Liesl

A few weeks ago, we got an email about what to bring to class and the main thing was “a fitted dress sewing pattern with either princess seams or a basic bust dart.” In other words, the last garment you’d ever expect to see me in! But whatever — I want to understand how sewing works at least as well as I understand how knitting works (so I can be free to modify or improvise in the same way I do with knitting), and if that meant learning the mechanics of bust darts, I’m game! So Liesl — who is utterly lovely in every way — taught us how to do a Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) and its more applicable counterpart, in my case, the Small Bust Adjustment (SBA). She taught us how to make a Muslin like a pro, and we all spread out with our tracing paper and muslin and deliciously old-school carbon paper, and we sewed our first drafts. For the rest of the weekend, we took turns putting on our muslin, being pinned in by a friend, and having Liesl go over it with us inch by inch, explaining and marking tweaks to be made to get our bodices to more perfectly match our bodies — or in some cases, instructing us to start over, for whatever reason.

I started out thinking it was a slightly abstract exercise for me — that I was absorbing pattern theory to be applied in other, as-yet-undetermined ways — but somewhere along the line I got hooked. The main reason I’ve never worn a lot of fitted garments is that fitted garments don’t fit me. (You’ve all heard this song: If they fit my giant shoulders, they’re huge in the torso, and if they fit my torso, I can’t move my arms without ripping out the seams.) But it slowly dawned on me that here I was on the brink of having markings on a piece of tissue paper that I could translate into a closet full of garments that actually fit. Exactly the sort of total control I live for.

It didn’t hurt that I was just plain having a ton of fun, 100% absorbed in the activity, and happy in the company of these women. I was also riding a wave of nostalgia. We’d all talked on Friday night about how and when we learned to sew, and Liesl said something about her mom that rang so true for me but that I’d never specifically thought about — as hers had, my mom taught me at a very young age that patterns are modular and adaptable. And what an enormous impact that has had on me.

My mom is always with me when I’m sewing, as is my sister, in a sense. Each time I wind a bobbin or watch for the right seam allowance marking as I feed my fabric through the machine, I still hear my mom teaching me how, and I also hear myself teaching my sister, which I hope to finally do one day soon.

When we were little and shared a hideous inherited bedroom — our Holly Hobby bedspreads (made by mom) plunked down in a room with two bright yellow walls and two that were papered in a wide black-and-white stripe — my sister and I used to take my mother’s tracing wheel and run it all over our hand-me-down dresser, entranced by the constellations it carved in the soft old wood. Using Liesl’s carbon paper and tracing wheels, which I haven’t done since my mom first taught me how, I couldn’t help but think of them all — my mom and sister and my dad, who got so mad at us about that dresser — and the fact that they were together at a family reunion I was missing in order to take this class. There was some kind of Old Country radio show playing on the shop’s sound system, and in the afternoon it was a vintage recorded performance of Merle Haggard’s. I died the moment I heard him tell the audience the next song would be “Corrina Corrina,” the song my dad sings to my mother, Colleen, as “Colleena Colleena.”

On my drive home late Saturday night, I found myself elated at the prospect of being back there at 9:30 in the morning to start over. At that point, I had a pattern that fit me perfectly across the chest and shoulders, which I knew I’d be able to adapt to all sorts of sleeveless garments the likes of which I’d been unable to draft for myself before. But Liesl had marked a change to the armhole on my muslin that would make a sleeve fit me correctly. (In theory — I still have another draft to attempt.) I was savoring the notion of getting out my tracing paper again, tracing over that first draft (eliminating all the extraneous markings from the SBA in the process), making the armhole change, and marking up a new muslin. The prospect of seeing myself in a “garment” that fit me simultaneously in the torso and the sleeve was compelling enough all by itself, but the fact is, I had fallen in love with the process. It dawned on me that it has everything in common with what graphic design was when I was in art school in the ’90s, all the aspects I loved that were lost when it became a computer job — rulers and mark-making devices and meticulously annotated layers of tissue.

So I loved every minute, and walked away with three priceless slips of tracing paper and all the magic they contain.

My weekend with Liesl

Special thanks to Kay Gardiner, who happened into the shop on Saturday afternoon to my great delight, and who snapped the pic above of Anna Maria and me, wearing my first draft.


Long-lost favorites

Long-lost favorites

After six months of waiting for these beloved folding baskets to reappear — tormenting so many of you with the Coming Soon sign on them in the webshop — I was ready to say a silent goodbye and remove them for good. Then just as I was about to hit the big red button, I got word they were shipping! I refused to believe it until I was literally holding them in my hand, but here they are. Will there by more after this? Your guess is as good as mine. But if you’ve been wanting one for knitting projects or rolls of clean towels or to take to the beach, now’s your chance! (Please note that the blues this time around are slightly more teal than navy.)

But they’re also not the only elusive bestsellers to have reappeared this week. You’ll also find (while they last) Macramé Pattern Book, Cable Fashion Drama, ebony repair hooks, bonsai scissors and lots of other earthly delights — all just a click away at Fringe Supply Co.

Have an amazing weekend, everyone! What do you have planned for Knit in Public Day tomorrow, eh?