Will you show me yours if I show you mine?

What's in your Fashionary? (enter to win)

I get asked a lot about Fashionary and how to use it — either how I personally use it or how one would/should/could use it. Simply put, Fashionary is a faint template onto which you can easily draw clothes, which means there are millions of potential applications for it — designing garments, planning outfits, deciding what to pack for a trip or to wear for Halloween. I find myself extremely curious to see what everyone’s been drawing in all the stacks of them that have been bought from Fringe Supply Co., so I thought I’d put the question to you, and then endeavor to piece together a post about all the many ways this tool is actually being used by this community. You interested?

I’ll start: I use both the Fashionary sketchbook and the perforated panels all the time. For me, the larger templates and loose-leaf nature of the panels makes them perfect for working out ideas that may wind up getting tossed. I might sketch out sweaters or sewn garments I’m thinking of concocting, but I mainly use them for wardrobe planning — as a way to see how (sometimes imaginary) garments could work together, and whether I would like them. A while back, I used them to draw up variations on the basic outfit types that work for me, to try to guide my sewing and knitting plans. And I also occasionally flip through those in the morning if I’m having a hard time getting dressed! Being loose, they’re easy to shuffle around, pin to the wall, clip to my Knitters Graph Paper Journal where I might be working out the specs to go with whatever it is. I love the portability and impermanency of those sketches.

The notebook, on the other hand — being bound and all — has become a semi-permanent record of my knitting. It’s literally a visual representation of my queue. So when I decide I’m going to knit a certain item, I draw it into the lineup. If it’s an existing pattern, I’ll write the name of it and the pattern gauge. If I have specific thoughts about what yarn I’ll use, I note that, too. If I decide against something I simply erase it, and eventually something else will get drawn onto the same figure. And once I’ve knitted something, I make a check next to it — so satisfying! In this way, eventually a spread will only contain things I’ve already knitted or still intend to. So it’s both a planner and a diary, and I love love love looking at it and I wish I could go back and draw in all the things that came before it.

For those reasons — the perpetual erasing and redrawing — I only use pencil. And not only do I not put anything in pen or add color, I don’t even do any fancy shading or anything. Strictly pencil line drawings and chicken scratch for me. (Although maybe I should ink in the finished ones, huh? I’ll have to think about that.)

So how about you? Are you a designer or a recorder? Free-spirited or high-concept? Do you draw in pencil or pen? Tack yarn or swatches? Color or shading? Fun or utility? The notebook or the panels? I want to see what you’re doing in there! To give you a little incentive to share, here’s what I’m gonna do: (Assuming there’s a critical mass of shares) I’ll round up a variety of responses and put together a post here on the blog. I’ll also pick one winner at random from everyone who posts, and that person will get a $100 gift certificate to the webshop. By giving you the basic outline to follow, Fashionary makes you look like you know what you’re doing, but drawing skills are really beside the point here. What we’re all interested in is what you’re drawing, not how professional those drawings look. (Although we want to see those, too!)

Here’s how to enter: Take a nice (new!) photo of your Fashionary sketchbook or panels and write a couple of sentences (or however much you like) about how you use it, however straightforward or conceptual that might be. Post it to Instagram, mention @fringesupplyco and hashtag it #fringefashionarypeek. Or blog about it, including a link to this post, and then leave a comment below with the URL. You do not need to have bought your Fashionary from Fringe Supply Co. to participate, but if you don’t yet have one and want to play along, we are of course happy to sell you one.

Share anytime between now and the end of July, at which point I’ll pick and announce the random winner!

Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you back here next week—

A handful (or two) of Hermaness Worsted

A handful (or two) of Hermaness Worsted

It was hard to guess how much participation there might be for A) a wool hat knitalong kicking off in June and B) a lace knitalong. Combine the two, and I was really wondering! But it’s been a month since the Hermaness Worsted pattern went live and the hats continue to come rolling in. I’m trying to make mine last — and even switched from Soot to Fossil — but continue to be in awe of all the hats and yarn choices and stories to go with them. And I’m beyond thrilled at the number of people who’ve taken it on as their first lace knitting project and have said they wouldn’t have attempted it if not for my notes. Yay for trying new things! And thanks again to Gudrun Johnston to giving us all the pattern to work with.

It’s also interesting to see how much more neutral the color choices have been for this one, as compared to the rainbow of L’Arbre hats that came before it. It’s incredibly hard to pick favorites from so many beautiful contributions but I wanted to highlight a few of the many that have been shared on Instagram.

From top left to bottom right, working across the rows:

@leighsideknits who is simul-kal-ing — pictured is her finished hat with her #quillKAL shawl

@ellalcgordon who was the model for the original Hermaness

@2littlesticks with an excellent road-trip knitting shot

@whit_knits so pretty pic of the yarn she selected and nettle-dyed (see her feed for the finished hat)

@pinkrosecottage is one of many people to have knitted multiple Hermanesses (Hermanessii?)

@recklessglue is another, and I just love this FO shot of her third

@waldorfmanufaktur scaled it down in sport weight for her daughter’s birthday (and one for herself)

@evergreenviolet working on one thing while pondering the next, as we do

@things_from_scratch’s (in handspun!) is one of the many pale ones that made me switch, and I love her caption

@gudrunjohnston herself, wearing the sample — in Iceland, no less

There is an incredible amount of great knitting photography to be found in these accounts (and many others participating) so be sure to click around and explore! The whole knitalong feed is at #fringehatalong, and it’s never too late to join in. All three patterns so far are now listed in the right rail over there (if you’re on a full-sized browser). Dive in with any pattern anytime! The next one’s coming up in August.

One other note: You may recall I meant to feature a hat charity with each installment of this series. Regrettably, with everything going on in my life these days, I didn’t have a chance to pick and vet one for this hat. But I would love to hear from you all about your favorite charities that take hat donations. If you have a suggestion, please leave it in the comments below!

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PREVIOUSLY in the Fringe Hatalong Series: No. 3 Hermaness Worsted by Gudrun Johnston

Knit the Look: Elisabeth Erm’s everyday everywhere sweater

Knit the Look: Elisabeth Erm's everyday everywhere sweater

This is two Looks in a row featuring a statement mini paired with an ultra-basic slouchy sweater. In the case of this Elisabeth Erm ensemble, it’s more of a summer-into-fall sort of pullover — drop-shouldered, long-sleeved, thin but warm. The sort of sweater you think of as your weekend sweater but you actually would happily wear seven days a week, for as much of the year as you can get away with, layered over everything from your best shirt to your nightshirt. The trouble with oversized sweaters is it’s a fine line between slouchy and sloppy. Wearing men’s sweaters isn’t really the answer. Which is why I love Jared Flood’s Agnes as the recommended pattern for this — slouchy and drop-shouldered but with all the necessary proportioning to keep you from drowning in it. The only difference between it and Elisabeth’s sweater is the edging. Knit a long ribbed hem (elongating the sweater in the process), ribbed cuffs and a ribbed neckband — and, of course, skip the stripes in this case — and voilà! If you like it tweedy, go with Brooklyn Tweed Loft in Fossil. Or for a really luxurious, pure ivory version, knit it in Woolfolk Tynd in color 01.

See Vanessa’s post for more shots of the sweater and Elisabeth’s most excellent sneakers.

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PREVIOUSLY in Knit the Look: Kia Low’s perfect summer sweater

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Street style photo © Vanessa Jackman; used with permission

Then just like that, a sweater

Then just like that, a sweater

This felt like a miracle, after all the stress and distraction and feeling so disconnected from my making. While I was writing Friday’s post about not knowing what my next sweater project would be — about not knowing what my Hole & Sons yarn would be — I pulled my copy of Rowan Pioneer off my shelves, which is always a joy to spend time with. The leading contender for the H&S yarn is Dwell, from that book, but I have concerns about the armholes and wanted to look at the pics vs the schematic. On the next page is a sweater I hadn’t really taken note of before, Hearth. I don’t like it much — the waist shaping and the little ribbed cap sleeves and the cowl-ish neck put me off — but it brought to mind that Elizabeth & James sweater I praised here awhile back, and then I couldn’t get those photos out of my mind. Friday afternoon I had a much needed few moments of calm and focus, gazing at the various photos, imagining my own version and how I would wear it. And sketching it into the queue in my beloved Fashionary notebook, knowing for certain what my next sweater would be.

Friday night I wound three skeins of my camel-colored Shibui Merino Alpaca into one giant cake and cast on. At first, I thought I might loosely adapt Hearth, just leaving out the sleeves and the waist shaping, but after closer inspection I realized the only part of it that works for me is the cast-on count. So I’m winging it — working straight to my desired dimensions and writing shaping for almost slit-like armholes and a turtleneck that’s big but not enormous. The photo above is the first pass at the armholes — too cut in for what I want here — so I ripped back and redid it. I had knitted that entire back piece in two evenings, so I didn’t mind a bit.

Queue Check — July 2015

Queue Check — July 2015

It’s possible I spoke too soon about that house we have under contract. We got a not-so-good inspection report this week and now the whole thing is up in the air. So instead of marching through the steps toward closing, I’m in limbo, daydreaming about it. All I can think of when I think about that house is that it will be Fall there. It’s almost like I think that will somehow be true on the day we move in! I imagine the leaves turning on the all the big trees, and picture sitting out on the covered patio (in the rain!) when the temperatures get milder and the humidity packs its bags and shoves off. For when it gets colder, I have visions of knitting in front of the fireplace. A fireplace! Then there’s that screeching sound in my head as I remember the fireplace needs extensive repairs before that can happen. Anyway, somehow that house and Fall are inextricably entwined in my mind, and it makes me want it more than I want to want it when it may not happen.

Between all of that and the fact that Fall really is coming soon (it is! it is!), I’m rethinking my knitting queue. June mayhem didn’t allow for that summer sweater to get cast on, and now it seems too late to start. Time to start in, instead, on the sweaters I want to be done with in time to wear them on that covered patio, right? But my plans feel a little scrambled. All of this secret and required knitting the past few months has amplified my aversion to knitting that feels in any way like an obligation, to the point of making me a tiny bit allergic to my own to-knit list. Next up was supposed to be whatever that dark grey Hole & Sons is meant to become, but I haven’t solved that riddle yet. And next after that was supposed to be my Channel Cardigan, finally and again, but there too I’m on the fence about yarn. My latest theory has been that I would use the camel Shibui Merino-Alpaca I stocked up on when it was discontinued, but I fear it will be too hot and heavy with all that fisherman’s rib and textured stitch. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past few years, it’s not to cast on a sweater before really knowing it’s right and worthy, but these past couple of months without a sweater on the needles have been agony! So for the moment, I’m enjoying my Hermaness Worsted (have you seen all the #fringehatalong hats?) and pondering the notion of turning that Merino-Alpaca into a Linda. A big cozy fringed scarf might not satisfy me in the knitting like a sweater does, but it would in the wearing.

I hope you all have a magnificent weekend! We got a fresh batch of Yarn Pyramids in this week, and there are tools allegedly arriving this afternoon — bonsai scissors and counters and crochet hooks, among other things — so if you’ve been waiting, check in later today or tomorrow morning! xo

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PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: June 2015

Good reads

Good reads

There have been a lot of good books piling up on my table lately—

Home & Away: Knits for Everyday Adventures by Hannah Fettig
I loaned Hannah a few Fringe Supply goods to be used as photo props for her latest book and she sent me a copy in return. I couldn’t be happier to be associated with it — such a beautifully photographed, beautifully produced book! It’s a collection of 8 sweater patterns (and 1 hat) but it’s also a compendium of all the basic info you need if you’re new to sweater knitting — from choosing your size to picking up stitches for the edgings.

Madder Anthology 2: Simple Pleasures by Carrie Bostick Hoge
I bought the digital version when it was first announced and forgot a print version would be landing on my doorstep one day. Great collection — as I raved at the time — and another gorgeously produced book.

Nordic Knitting: Thirty-one Patterns in the Scandinavian Tradition by Susanne Pagoldh
This is the out-of-print gem mentioned in my post about Jules’ Faroese shawl. My friend Kate brought her copy to Columbus for the trade show in May so I could have a look at it, and wound up sending it home with me — on loan, mind you. Her last words to me that weekend were, “You have to send that book back.” And I better do it soon, but will definitely be acquiring my own copy.

Worn Stories by Emily Spivack
This was sent to me by a very kind reader (another Kate!) and I am beyond in love with it. Spivack asked sixty-some notable people (from John Hodgman to Rosanne Cash and Rachel Comey) to tell her the story of a single garment in their wardrobe — “memoirs in miniature” — and they’re SO GOOD. Each day when I need a little brain break, I open the book and read the next one, and I’m sad I’ll run out of them in a couple of months’ time. Probably the appropriate thing to do when I reach the end is to send it on to the next person, but this one will be on my shelf (or maybe my bedside table) for life.

Fix Your Clothes by Raleigh Briggs
I bought this little zine from Have Company and it’s the most charming and useful thing — all handwritten and illustrated, of course, and covering everything from emergency fixes to proper mending and darning techniques to dealing with buttons and zippers. Love.

Yokes by Kate Davies
My admiration for Kate Davies is well-documented and naturally I bought her new book when it published a few months back. The subtitle is “Eleven signature designs, with stories of the sweater that changed the shape of modern knitting,” and it starts out with an incredible history of the yoke (across regions) that I can’t wait to sit down with someday soon.

Similarly, I’m incredibly eager to get may hands on Susan Crawford’s book, Vintage Shetland, which isn’t published yet. Crawford — a self-described “knitting anthropologist” — has spent four years painstakingly creating patterns for 25 pieces from the Shetland Museum. The patterns and writing and photography (of Shetland, the museum pieces and the pattern samples) are all done and the printing is being crowdfunded. Her Pubslush campaign started today, so you can find out lots more over there.

New Favorites: from Rowan 58

New Favorites: from Rowan 58

There’s one thing and only one thing I love about July — that moment where I can feel the sands almost imperceptibly shifting. We’re far from the floodgates of Fall, but the trickle of comfy-cozy sweater patterns is beginning to begin, with Rowan 58 as a whopping example. This volume of the illustrious British mag-book contains 35 sweater patterns and 5 accessories, but these are the ones I’d buy it for—

TOP: Glacier by Martin Storey — I’m slightly dubious about the neck shaping, but those chain-link cables are to die for

MIDDLE: Alderney Cardigan by Martin Storey — perfectly proportioned and I’m surprisingly into the giant leaf pattern; I want it in black and navy!

BOTTOM LEFT: Anglesey by Marie Wallin — another for the long list of classic stranded Wallin jumpers

BOTTOM RIGHT: Colonsay by Lisa Richardson — boxy plaid jacket that is just plain cool

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Grille